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55 artists painted the Cathedral during painting competition

05/10/2002 The Cathedral became the inspiration for 55 artists who participated in the first Open-Air Painting Competition.

05/10/2002 On 5 October of this year, Vitoria-Gasteiz´s Old Cathedral became the inspiration for 55 artists who participated in the first Open-Air Painting Competition organised by the Santa María Cathedral Foundation. This competition, which is the first in a series of events scheduled by the ´Encounters with the Cathedral´ cultural programme, was attended by artists from all the neighbouring provinces. The first prize for over 15s was won by Luis González from Vitoria. Marian González, from Miranda de Ebro and Koldo Gojenola from Vitoria were awarded second and third prizes, respectively.

The panel of judges responsible for awarding the prizes underlined the high artistic level of the competition. The chairman, artist José María Solitario, highlighted the ´excellent quality´ of the majority of the entries. For this reason, the Santa María Cathedral Foundation decided to rethink its original plans and give nine more artists the opportunity of displaying their works in the exhibition due to be held in the Cultural Centre in February 2003. Originally, only the prize-winning works were to be displayed, along with another four runners-up to be selected by the judges panel. The competition awarded a total of € 2,825 in prize money. Asier Balza, Alejandra Cabos and Iván Marquínez were the winners in the under 15s category.

Participants in the first Open-Air Painting Competition hailed from a number of different provinces, including Alava, Vizcaya, Guipúzcoa, Navarra, La Rioja and Burgos. The competition was held between nine o´clock in the morning and 6 o´clock in the evening, in the immediate vicinity of the cathedral. The only requisite regarding subject matter was that the paintings must feature Santa María Cathedral in one way or another. Artists chose a number of different approaches, ranging from the inside of the building with its archaeological excavations and massive walkway down the central nave, to the outside of the cathedral with its majestic towers and facades.

Gonzalo Arroita, managing director of the Santa María Cathedral Foundation, highlighted the importance of the painting competition as ´yet another activity designed to promote the gothic cathedral and its restoration´. ´The excellent response to the event shows the great cultural, aesthetic and symbolic significance that the Old Cathedral holds for the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz,´ he added.

The painting competition was organised as part of the ´Encounters with the Cathedral´ initiative that is scheduled to take place between October 2002 and February 2003. The extensive and varied cultural programme includes literary workshops with such prestigious writers as Ken Follett and Mario Vargas Llosa, film and religious music cycles, a short story competition, radio open days and a Gregorian chant concert. The series of workshops will begin next Thursday with a talk by Ken Follett.