Mike Holtom Award

Mike and one of his oils.
Mike and one of his oils.

Mike Holtom, Southwold based abstract artist, was one of the founding members of the Inspired by Becker Art Society.

Present at most plein-air sketch meetings, his drawing was closely observed and finely executed. His studio work then transformed these representational marks into those elements that claimed his attention.

Mike wrote of the inspiration he found in Harry Becker’s work:

“Some aspects of Becker’s work that I admire: Spontaneity, simplicity, fluidity and swiftness of execution capturing moments of movement or stillness.  Spare use of paint to express shape, form and atmosphere.  An economy of means.  Figures and animals that have a classic grace and dignity set in landscapes that avoid the picturesque.  A truthfulness and artistic integrity”.

The Mike Holtom Award was created after Mike died in 2017, and is presented annually to an artist in the show who submits an entry to the Award which best responds to elements of Becker’s work, be it use of colour, mark making, subject matter, expressing movement etc.  It can be figurative or abstract; the key feature is that it demonstrates a connection to Becker’s work rather than replicating his style. 

In some years the society will identify a particular theme, but the basis of the award encompasses the above ideals. 

2020 Award theme: ‘The changing landscape.’ (Note for artists).

How might Becker have responded to all we hear about the effects of farming on biodiversity and climate change? Choose a landscape or particular subject within the landscape which you feel reflects some of these issues. In June/July, you will be asked to provide a statement of around 100 words which describes your choice and approach to making the piece. (The Award statement will be separate from your statement for the main exhibition). Also in June-July, when your submission details are sent to the team, you will be asked to identify which of your 5 submissions is your Award entry. 

2019 Award theme was: ‘Choose one original Becker work, and explore how you want to respond to it, creating an original piece which reflects this response.

Our judge was Meryl Doney, curator and former London gallerist.

11 artists took part and the winner was Mary Gundry, (far right).


Mary’s drawing “Blacksmith” was judged to be the entry which most effectively reflected the artist’s response to Becker’s work.