Saturday, March 03, 2012

Call for Entries for £30,000 Threadneedle Prize 2012

The Threadneedle Prize aims to attract the very best in new figurative and representational painting and sculpture.  This post:
  • tells you about the Threadneedle Prize 
  • unpicks the process of submitting work and 
  • highlights the key dates for submission and the exhibition.
2011 Threadneedle Prize Winner
© Henrietta Stimson "Bad Government (After Lorenzetti)"
About the Threadneedle Prize

The PURPOSE - my emphasis (in red) highlights the focus of the competition
The Threadneedle Prize is the UK's leading showcase for contemporary figurative and representational painting and sculpture.

Our aim is to promote and display works that use a variety of different mediums, styles and approaches, with an overall focus on the quality and confidence of the finished work. The competition sets out to promote and encourage excellence.

Experienced and emerging artists are invited to submit fresh and intriguing works that are strong and topical observations on the world around us.
The PRIZE MONEY (see The Prizes) and other benefits

The Threadneedle Prize is potentially the most valuable art competition for a single work of art in the UK.  An artist will win £40,000 if their artwork wins both the Threadneedle Prize (£30,000) and the Visitors' Choice Award (£10,000).

The Threadneedle Prizes 2012 total £46,000 and comprise:
  • The Threadneedle Prize: £30,000
  • The Visitors’ Choice: £10,000
  • The Threadneedle Prize Finalists (5 awarded): each £1,000
  • Visitors' Choice Finalists (2 awarded): each £500
The Threadneedle Prize provides additional benefits to selected artists:
  • Your work will be reviewed by respected artists and curators
  • Work by selected artists will be seen in:
    • a three-week exhibition at the Mall Galleries in central London.
    • an online exhibition on the Threadneedle Prize website.
  • Invites to events and opportunities to speak about your work with potential collectors.
  • Media coverage of the Prize in broadsheets and top art blogs (including this one!) and occasional press photos.

This is the fifth year of the competition. Click the links to see previous winners who are:
  • 2008: Nina Murdoch, Untitled (71 works exhibited)
  • 2009: Sheila Wallis, Self Portrait (87 works selected for exhibition)
  • 2010: Patricia Cain, Building the Riverside Museum (46 works selected)
  • 2011: Henrietta Simson, Bad Government (After Lorenzetti) (52 works in exhibition)
Notice a trend? Every year this competition has been won by a woman.  Last year 6 of the seven shortlisted artists were women and all were under 40.  I'm not of the opinion that it's some sort of feminist clique so much as the fairer sex maybe getting a better crack at the prizes - possibly due to the selectors being different every year.  Mind you this year they're all male!

How it works

The selectors create a shortlist of six works from which they then choose the winner of the £30,000 Threadneedle Prize. The six runners up each get a prize of £1,000
  • The winner of the £30,000 Threadneedle Prize is chosen by three selectors from a shortlist of six works submitted through the open submission.  Each of the five runners up will receive £1,000. 
  • The £10,000 Visitors' Choice Prize will be awarded by the general public.  The major plus point for selected artists is that ALL the artwork selected for the Exhibition is eligible to win this prize. Two Visitors' Choice Prize runners up will also receive £500. Voting for the Visitors' Choice Prize takes place in the gallery and ends before the final exhibition day.  
Threadneedle Prize 2012 - Call for Entries 

This is an OPEN art competition but there are some restrictions which are explained below.

Last year 4,350 works were submitted by the 2,377 artists - and 52 works were selected for exhibition.

That's the equivalent of 0.01% of the those who submitted work.  On the other hand if you do get selected it's a major boost to your CV and you might just win that £10,000 prize irrespective of whether the selectors think you're eligible for the top prize!

Every single entry selected for the final exhibition is sourced through an open competition process. Each year, the panel of selectors choose a number of paintings or sculptures which are then displayed in exhibition held at the Mall Galleries in September 2011.

Key points of interest for artists are:
  • There should be no entries promoted by Selectors or the Gallery or the Sponsors
  • The selection panel is changed every year
  • There are no invited artists. 
  • Everybody has an equal chance - and the rest is up to the merit and judgement of the selectors.  As ever that mean's it gets a bit personal as to their preferences but the selection panel change every year - so what was definitely flavour of the month last year might not be favoured this year. 
The 2012 selectors (See Selectors)

This year's selectors are:
Below you can find out who can enter and progress through to what you can enter.

Can I submit artwork? (see Official Page: Who is eligible to enter?)

Artists living or working in the UK or Continental Europe are eligible to enter this competition.
  • you can be any nationality
  • you MUST be aged 18 or over on 1 January 2012
  • BUT you cannot enter if you are an employee of the Federation of British Artists and Threadneedle, and their agents. 
Unlike the BP Portrait you can enter again even if you have won before (as can any of the previous prizewinners).  You can also submit up to three works, but they are not eligible to win the same prize for a period of three years.

What type of artwork can I enter?

In each section I provide a link to the official related page on the Threadneedle Prize website which provides further information

Does it need to be new work?  Works must NOT have been exhibited in any other prize or competition in the UK or elsewhere.

What sort of media is eligible? In terms of painting you can submit:
  • work in a variety of mediums, including oil, tempera, acrylic, ink, vinyl, watercolour and other dry mediums - so long as the work is dry by the second pre-selection viewing stage and is ready to hang.  (Can't you just tell the organisers are not thrilled by work being submitted which is still wet or sticky)
  • work on any form of support (canvas, paper, wood, plastic etc).
Other media you can enter include:
  • original drawings
  • original prints
  • sculptures
  • mixed media constructions (photography and video is only eligible within the context of a mixed media installation)
  • small-scale installations and 
  • reliefs 
If you're not sure whether your work fits a category contact the organisers.

Presentation, size and format all matter!  All work pre-selected for handing-in must be received in exhibition condition (i.e. all canvases must be dry and mounted on stretchers or board) but with no hanging devices.

With respect to size:
  • diptychs and triptychs can be entered as one work
  • the unpacked size of works must smaller than 2.4m (and works must be delivered UNPACKED)
  • works in excess of 2m squared may not be accepted by the regional collection service or other delivery/collection services. Check before you start rather than just assuming the carrier will accept it.  
How many works can I enter?

A maximum of three NEW artworks can be entered. In addition:
  • The work must have been completed AFTER 1 January 2011. All artwork must be recent - old artwork is NOT eligible 
  • This must also be the first exhibition for each work. That means works which have been previously exhibited in any other prize or competition anywhere in the world are NOT eligible. 
  • ALL works have to be for sale. (i.e. no commissions/sold work). Commercial galleries are not a charity and these days priority tends to be given to works which can earn them a commission.
Last year the aim was to accept 65 but the selectors only took 52 works.  Personally I inclined to the view they were being a bit too precious. (Read my Review: Threadneedle Prize Exhibition 2011)

How to enter

Last year the process became two-stage, with the first stage involving the submission of a digital file. This resulted in a big increase in submissions from the regions - who no longer risked an expensive journey to London or the cost of a carrier for the less than 1% chance they'd get a work selected.  Now artists only need to bring their artwork to London if they make it through to the second stage.

It does need to be emphasised that this is a prestigious exhibition with a seriously big entry.  The numbers of entries went from some 2,100 in 2010 to 4,350 in 2011 - all because the selection process switched to the digital file for screening purposes.

Digital Images

It's worth saying a word about digital images.  Selection is based on the quality of the image as well as the quality of the artwork
Image files may be JPG (recommended) or PNG at no more than 4MB in size. The system will accept varying resolutions and image dimensions. (Recommend is a maximum resolution of 300dpi and maximum pixel dimensions of 1024 pixels wide or high for optimal viewing).
The problem is, it's probably an understatement to say an awful lot of artists have still not quite got the hang of how to photograph their work to do their work justice and give it a fighting chance of selection.  If you don't know what you're doing and/or have not got a good enough digital camera you probably need to employ a professional photographer.  Try and find one who is used to photographing artwork rather than weddings - it really does make a difference!

I keep meaning to wrote a blog post about how to photograph your artwork!


To enter you need to register and submit a digital file.  Registration opened on 1 March and closes at 12pm  on Wednesday 23 May 2011.  It costs £12 per work to enter. Artist members of the FBA and full-time students pay a reduced entry fee of £10 per work.

You can find the registration portal at - click the button for The Threadneedle Prize

In order to enter you must do four things
  • PHOTOGRAPH: take a photograph of your work and create a digital file(see notes below). Slides or prints are not acceptable - it must be a digital file. Plus save to a CD if submitting entry by post
    • either complete the online registration form 
    • or secure and complete the printed version. You should print off the form from the website (or get one posted to you)
    • upload digital images via website
    • post digital image(s) via a CD with a completed printed form and a cheque for the fee to the Mall Galleries' office address to arrive by no later than
  • PAY: pay a fee via one of three methods
    • via paypal after you have received your login code
    • via a credit card over the telephone
    • via a cheque by post (for postal entries)

To register you need:
  • all the information for the registration form
  • the ability to pay online using Paypal or by telephoning the gallery and using a credit/switch card
  • the digital file (not exceeding 4MB)
Pre-selection Notification

You need to login again on 30 May 2012 to find out the Pre-selection results on the notification date.  If successful you'll be told what to do next - but you can also see this on the FAQs page

2nd stage: submission of work

IF SELECTED, Your artwork(s) should be delivered, unpacked, to the administrative offices of the Mall Galleries at 17 Carlton House, London SW1Y 5BD between 10am and 5pm on Fri 8 June or Sat 9 June 2012.  Here's details of how to get there. Work which has not been selected will NOT be accepted and works delivered on other dates will also NOT be accepted.

Receiving Day
The entrance to the basement of the Administrative Office at 17 Carlton House Terrace
Prior to this there are a number of regional handing in points - to which work can be delivered AFTER the announcement has been made about which works have been selected and prior to the Mall Galleries delivery deadline.

The Exhibition

The Exhibition is held at the Mall Galleries and will open to public on 26 September 2012 and close on 13 October 2012.   There is an Dinner on at which the Prizes are given.

Good luck!


2011 Exhibition:
Other information about art competitions in the UK

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