Derbyshire student wins award for her painting of Matlock flooding with Boris Johnson quote

A Derbyshire teenager has won a £400 bursary for her giant painting depicting the devastating effect that flooding has had on the Matlock area and its residents.

By Gay Bolton
Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 12:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 12:19 pm

Natalie Cooper, 19, who lives in Wirksworth, was awarded the bursary by Arts Society Derby for her wall-mounted painting which flows onto the floor.

Her artwork includes a quote from Prime Minister Boris Johnson who reportedly told a local newspaper during a visit to see flood damage in Matlock for himself in 2019: ‘But in the end, you’ve got to…face reality..’.

Former Anthony Gell School student Natalie said: “My intentions with this painting were to raise awareness of the issue of climate change and flooding and to encourage people to question whether natural disasters should be treated in such an accepting manner.”

Natalie Cooper, right, with Arts Society Derby judges Liz Harris, Mary Scott and Vikki Fitt, left to right.

Natalie chose the theme Natural Disasters for the semi-abstract painting which she created for her final project at Derby College’s Joseph Wright post-16 Academic and Arts College. Her artwork was among entries from students at the college that were shortlisted for the annual Bryan Harris Bursary award – named after the society’s founder and former chairman who died seven years ago.

She said: “I am over the moon to have won this bursary and delighted that the judges liked my piece."

Natalie plans to spend the bursary on essential art materials and a stencil printer to support her Fine Art degree studies at the University of Derby this September. She has her sights set on becoming a secondary school art teacher.

Vikki Fitt, Young Arts representative at Arts Society Derby, said: “We have awarded a bursary every year for more than 20 years to Derby College students to support them in their university studies.

“The standard was again incredibly high this year and we particularly loved the visual impact of Natalie’s work which is incredibly powerful and thought provoking.”

For more information about the Art Foundation Diploma and all the full and part time courses available at Derby College, telephone 0800 028 0289 or visit

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