Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Threadneedle Prize 2014 - what's changed and how to enter

Some important changes have been made to the Call for Entries for the Threadneedle Prize 2014 for figurative painting and sculpture with a prize valued at £30,000
  • This post 
    • highlights the changes in process
    • unpicks and summarises the "call for entries"
  • highlights the key dates in the processes for submission, selection and exhibition
  • highlights my blog posts about the Threadneedle Prize last year

Paintings in the Threadneedle Exhibition 2013 - in The Threadneedle Space at the Mall Galleries 

The Threadneedle Prize

The Threadneedle Prize is about contemporary figurative art. It's aim is to
  • champion the most interesting figurative artists working in Europe.
  • offer both established and emerging artists a high profile opportunity to showcase their work at a leading venue in Central London. 
  • maintain its status as the country’s leading competition for figurative and representational painting and sculpture

Previous winners and shortlisted artists include
  • Nina Murdoch, now represented by Marlborough Fine Art, and 
  • Rose Wylie, who is currently on show at Tate Britain. 

Figurative Art Today (the 2014 exhibition) will include the selected artworks for the final exhibition and will intentionally represent a comprehensive survey of both high quality and variety in figurative art being produced in the UK and Europe.

The Threadneedle Prize was established in 2008 with the support of Threadneedle Investments, a leading international investment management firm with long-term commitment to supporting the arts.

The changes

1.  The entry process

This is the first year in which ALL ENTRIES must be submitted using the new Digital Selection process.  This includes all sculpture and 3D submissions for the first time.

The process has also changed for entries from outside the UK - and that relates to the next major change.  All entries for sculpture and all entries from outside the UK will be selected on the basis of image alone.

2.  Change in VAT registration for artists

It gives me no pleasure to say I spotted this and told the organisers about it.
It's now affecting all competitions and open exhibitions held at the Mall Galleries (and any other gallery or open exhibition or art competition in the UK).  It's quite possible that there are a few exhibitions breaching the VAT regulations as I write!

The bottom line is that the VAT regulations relating to art have changed. This means that artists submitting work to the competition from Europe (i.e. those artists without a UK residence - which effectively means not domiciled in the UK for tax purposes) 

  • either MUST be registered for UK VAT 
  • or intend to register for UK VAT in time to supply their VAT registration number to Mall Galleries before they can sell works of art in the exhibition. (ie no VAT registration = no exhibition)

3.  The prizes

Last year the £30,000 first prize was split between two artists who jointly won the First Prize (see Clare McCormack and Lisa Wright win Threadneedle Prize 2013). Interestingly neither winner minded as they regarded the fact of winning as the most valuable thing for them.

This year, the First Prize continues to have a total value of £30,000 however this now has two components
  • a cash prize of £20,000 
  • plus a very significant new addition. The winner now has the opportunity to exhibit a wider body of work in 2015 at their own exhibition in at the Mall Galleries in central London. Plus a further £10,000 will be granted towards exhibition expenses for this exhibition (no more worrying about rental of a space and framing costs!)
We recognise that for one work to win a major prize represents a great achievement, but for a body of work by the winning artist to be exhibited in a central London gallery represents a huge opportunity.
The timing of the exhibition means that an artist will have approximately a year to get a body of work together for the exhibition.

Visitors to the exhibition are invited to vote for the Visitors’ Choice Award, a further valuable prize worth £10,000 to the winning artist.

4. Panel of Selectors 2014

The Threadneedle exhibition has to some extent been a little eclectic in the past with the outcome of the selection being influenced by the panel of selectors rather more than most. This appears to have revolved around a debate about what figurative art means - and the personalities of those making the judgements

This year's panel are:
  • Nancy Durrant -  the Arts Commissioning Editor and an Art Critic at The Times, 
  • Kevin Francis Gray - a sculptor who has exhibited globally and whose work is in collections around the world
  • Whitney Hintz - Independent Advisor and Curator of the Hiscox Collection and a a board member of the Crossrail Arts Programme and ‘Sculpture in the City’
  • John Martin - Founder and First Director of Art Dubai and Founder and Director of the John Martin Gallery.
I personally do think it helps to look at the art they make or the art they like to see if there is a chance your art might fit the bill.  My take on the choice of selectors suggests sculpture is likely to have a pretty good year this year.

5.  The exhibition - The Threadneedle Prize: Figurative Art Today

This year two separate exhibitions will run concurrently:
  • Threadneedle Prize: the exhibition of works selected by the Panel of Judges from the open entry - in the West and north galleries
  • an exhibition in the Threadneedle Space - with pieces selected by a Guest Curator - the independent art critic, writer & curator Sacha Craddock.  (see her talk about who she is and what she expects from degree shows on YouTube
“Although it could be said that in one way or another all art relates to the figure, I am excited at the opportunity to curate an exhibition of current figurative art. I am hoping to bring together a discreet but ambitious range of work, experience and expression, that will provide a thought-provoking complement to the open competition section.” Sacha Craddock

The exhibition opens on the 25 September - 11 October 2014 at the Mall Galleries, The Mall (near Trafalgar Square) London SW1.

All works by both established and up and coming artists are for sale.

Who can submit an entry

Artists of any nationality, aged 18 or over on 1 January 2014, presently living or working in the UK or Europe (except employees of the Federation of British Artists and Threadneedle, and their agents).

Previous prizewinners may also submit up to five works, but they are not eligible to win the same prize for a period of three years.

What kind of art is eligible?

Art media 

You can submit paintings, drawings, original prints, sculpture, mixed media constructions, small scale installations and reliefs.... We only accept photography and video entries where they form part of a mixed media installation.
Detail is provided at What to submit

Type of figurative art

Artists are encouraged to submit fresh and intriguing works that are strong and topical observations or interpretations on the world around us.
You can check out the artwork which has been selected for previous exhibitions in the archive.

You can also reference the images in previous posts about the Threadneedle Prize on this blog - which actually give a much better sense of scale.

Threadneedle Prize Exhibition 2013 - A view of the West Gallery at the Mall Galleries

How to enter

Details of how to submit can be found on the Threadneedle website - including details of how to use the online website where you enter your submission.

Online submission

  • Entry to this competition is via online submission for ALL ENTRIES.
  • The deadline for entries is 12 noon on 3 July.

The method of submission now differentiates between UK works and sculpture and works from outside the UK.

IMPORTANT: If your work differs dramatically from the image submitted online, or arrives in a condition unfit for exhibition, the Exhibition Administrators reserve the right to exclude your work from the exhibition.

Paintings, prints and drawings submitted by artists living in the UK

All paintings, prints and drawings submitted by artists living in the UK must be initially submitted online.
  • Those pre-selected for the longlist will then be asked to deliver their artwork for the final selection process. 
  • If your work is pre-selected, it must be delivered, exhibition-ready, to the Mall Galleries on Sunday 27 or Monday 28 July between 10am and 5pm for final presentation to our selection panel.

Sculpture / work submitted by artists living abroad

The selection of work for the exhibition - if it is sculpture or artwork submitted from outside the UK - will be now based entirely upon the images you submit with your entry.
  • Which means great care should be taken to submit high quality images and ones which properly reflect scale and colour.  Don't let your work down by taking poor photographs.
  • You will only be asked to deliver your artwork if it is selected for exhibition
  • If accepted, you will need to send a high-resolution image of your work for possible inclusion in the illustrated exhibition catalogue. 
  • If selected, your work will need to be delivered to Mall Galleries by 5pm on 16 August.

Submission Fee

  • £12 per artwork, 
  • £10 for students and FBA Members


  • Deadline: 3 July (12 noon)
  • Pre-Selection Notification: 10 July, 12 Noon
  • Receiving Days: 27 & 28 July, 10am - 5pm
  • Online Acceptance Notification: 1 August, 12 Noon
  • Collection of Unaccepted Work: 2 August, 10am - 5pm
  • Short List announced: Wednesday 13 August 2014
  • Winner Announced: Tuesday 23 September 2014
  • Exhibition: 25 September - 11 October 2014
  • Collection of Unsold Work: 16 October, 10am - 5pm

For more information on how to submit please visit the Threadneedle Prize website

The Threadneedle Prize 2013

Threadneedle Prize 2012 - more from Making A Mark

2011 Threadneedle Prize 


  1. Thanks for this! A small note, last year trying to afford a courier to take my work down from Edinburgh for the pre-selection (and possible trip back up, on not getting in!) I was allowed to consider Scotland 'abroad' and thus panel looked at my jpeg alone. Getting your work in on submission days when you are far from London is always tricky with these things!

  2. Interestingly I was stood in the Mall Galleries only last week discussing what would happen re. the vAT question if Scotland left the UK!

  3. Would a non UK but EU resident be able to enter if she/he is registered for vat in her/his own country or if the work is not offered for sale?

  4. Now that's an interesting question. I think VAT registration applies across the EU - but I'm not certain about that. I know different EU countries use different VAT rates

    It's worth an email to the Prize to find out for certain - we're all finding our way on this one

    I'm thinking of doing a post today asking people for their questions about this change!


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