The Pyrenean Mountain Dog Club
Of Great Britain

Bridget Olerenshaw Competitions


Annual Competitions for Best Photograph and Best Painting or Drawing

Back in 1990, a fund was set up because it was wished to do something permanent in the memory of Bridget Olerenshaw.

Bridget, who lost her fight against cancer on 30th October 1989, as well as being an Honorary member of the Pyrenean Mountain Dog Club of Great Britain, was one of the top canine artists in the country. She began specialising in canine portraits in 1958 and over the years she had probably painted more Pyreneans than any other breed - she always said that they were her favourites. She was commissioned by Country Life to paint the front covers for several Crufts editions of their magazine; had illustrated editions of Country Life Book of Dogs, and had completed commissions for many well-known firms. She also provided some illustrations for the book "The Complete Great Pyrenees" published in the USA by Howells, and her drawings, to accompany the breed standard, were used by Foyles in their handbook "The Pyrenean Mountain Dog". As well as local galleries in her own area, exhibitions of Bridget's work were also seen at Crufts and at the Tryon Gallery in London.

Bridget was very well known to most Pyrenean club members during the 1960's and 1970's when, assisted by her husband Charles, she had a stand at many Championship Shows as well as at several of our own Club Shows. She always had a keen interest in the Pyrenean Mountain Dog Club of Great Britain and was very proud of the fact that she had been made an Honorary Life Member. Over the 25 years of her association, she had not only designed the covers for the various Club Newsletters, but supplied drawings for the original sweatshirts and T-shirts, as well as the notelets and CHristmas cards. her designs for the Club Badges and her special sets of "puppy" drawings, which were first used in the Golden Jubilee year, are still in current use.

Following the win of Bergerie Knur, when he went Best in Show at Crufts in 1970, Bridget was commissioned by Mr & Mrs F S Prince to paint his "official" portrait, and her drawing of the bronze, sculptured by Geoffrey Davien for Heredities Ltd., was incorporated into a diploma, also designed by her, prints of which are awarded annually with the bronze to the Best of Breed at Crufts. In 1975 when Ch Briarghyll Falstaff became Top Dog under the two systems then operating, she was asked by the Club to paint his portrait which was presented to Mr & Mrs Fielden, his owner/breeders, at the following AGM in commemoration of his achievement.

In the few years prior to her death, following her initial surgery and subsequent radium treatment, Bridget's painting inevitably took a back seat but she did manage to sculture the model which was professionally moulded and available through the Eleanor Jones Pottery and to complete a large painting of a standing Pyrenean with a mountain background which was auctioned by the Great Pyrenees Club of America.

It was thought that a Memorial Trophy for a competition which could be open to everyone in the Club and be for something particularly associated with Bridget's skills, would be a fitting tribute and as donations to the fund exceeded all expectations, two trophies, in the form of magnificient Rose Bowls, were able to be purchased. So the competition was organised in two sections - (A) For the Best Photograph of a Pyrenean (or Pyreneans) taken by a current Club member and (B) for the best Painting (in water colour, oil, pastel, gouache or other medium of one's choice), or a Drawing (in ink or pencil) of a Pyrenean or (Pyreneans).

It was also agreed that the pictures did not need to be technically perfect photographically nor need the dog (or dogs) be in the standard show stance, as originality, humour, etc., were considered just as important, and that entries should close on 31st January each year, so as to keep clear of the Christmas postal rush. The chosen Judge would then select a short list of six in each category for display at the following Annual general Meeting, when the winners would be announced and the trophies awarded. Replicas would also be given to the winners to keep, whereas the main trophies would be held for one year only.

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