Monday, June 29, 2015

The John Ruskin Prize 2015: Call for Entries

The John Ruskin Prize 2015 invites artists to submit entries in a range of 2D media in response to the theme: ‘Recording Britain Now: Society’. The First Prize is £5,000 and there's a runner up prize of £2,000 and a student prize of £1,000.

The theme - Recording Britain Now

The theme for the third year of this competition is ‘Recording Britain Now: Society’.
This year we invite emerging and established artists to respond to the theme: Recording Britain Now: Society, to re-assess their practice and focus on the prevalent social issues of 2015/16. In the same way that Recording Britain sought to map familiar townscapes and countryside under threat, this will be an invitation to engage with a society in rapid transition. (my red)

Recording Britain Now - The History

Starting last year, the competition is riffing on Kenneth Clark's initiative during the second world war to "Recording Britain Now". This was an initiative which was an extension of the Official War Artist Scheme and I guess was the artistic side of the wish to record how life was being lived in the UK on the outbreak of war.

The aim was formally expressed as:
‘secure a record of historic scenes, site and buildings which may be endangered through enemy action or by utilitarian encroachment.’
  • The collection of artwork which resulted from the initiative is now housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It includes more than 1,500 watercolours and drawings "of lives and landscapes at a time of imminent change".  If you visit the Prints and Drawings Study Room you make a request to see the artwork from the Recording Britain project (click the link to see examples of work in the collection)
  • The Scottish end of the 'Recording Scotland' project is housed in the Museum Collections Unit at the University of St. Andrews.

Recording Britain Now - now!

I think it's a splendid idea to continue with this theme! For the 2014 competition the theme was very broad
The theme of the second prize exhibition is Recording Britain Now. Artists were invited to 
...present fresh, contemporary visions of their urban, rural or social environment.
The subsequent exhibition was shown at Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery for five months accompanying the V&A tour of Recording Britain. Then it moved to the gallery Trinity Buoy Wharf. in East London (next to the Royal Drawing Schools's annexe) for a second showing in November - which is when I saw it - see Recording Britain Now - exhibition and prizewinner.

Winner of the John Ruskin Prize 2014Slowly creeping by Maggie Hargreaves
Here it is (right) hanging in the exhibition at The Electrician's Shop Gallery
- the door gives some scale
The winning drawing was purchased by Architect Mike Davies, a founding partner of the Richard Rogers Partnership who has worked on the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Millenium Dome now known as the O2).

Recording Britain in 2015

What makes it different for 2015 is the emphasis on "society". I'm guessing that might be because a lot of the work in last year's show had lots of unpeopled landscapes!

The John Ruskin Prize - how to enter

Who can enter

The John Ruskin Prize is open to anyone 18 or over, resident or domiciled in the UK.

What you can enter

The work entered MUST be:
  • two dimensional 
  • relief work and book art are also eligible 
  • Time-based media, photography and sculpture are not eligible.
  • should not exceed 2.5 metres in any direction (that's 8.2 feet for the old imperialists amongst you).  You might want to note that the work which won last year was BIG!
  • how large some of the drawings are
  • how some large drawings are not framed but rather are suspended from fishing wire lopped through small bulldog clips which attach to the sheet of paper. This seems to be have become an accepted way of showing large works on paper - if for no other reason than everybody avoids the problems with weight and the risk of broken glass!
Recording Britain Now - exhibition and prizewinner
  • must be available for inclusion in the two exhibitions (see dates below)
  • made in the last five years
  • represented by a high resolution jpeg image submitted with the entry form and fee


  • Deadline for Entries: 23 November 2015
  • Notification re. selection: 15 December 2015

How to enter

  • decide how many artworks you are entering (the fees reduce as the number of artworks increase)
  • complete the online entry form at the bottom of
  • (Note you can also print out the form, apply offline and pay by cheque)
  • complete the image details - title, date, media and dimensions
  • submit the form
  • pay the fees via PayPal.

The Selection Panel

The Selection Panel's job is to
  • identify and shortlist 15 artists for the Prize and 
  • select work by them for inclusion in 2 showings of the Recording Britain Now: Society exhibition.
For the 2015 competition the panel comprises:
The competition is organised by the Campaign for Drawing in collaboration with the Guild of St George and The Pilgrim Trust.

The Exhibition

The exhibition can be viewed in 2016 at:
  • The New Art Gallery Walsall, Recording Britain Now: Society, 26 February – 17 April 2016
  • The Electrician’s Shop (Gallery), Trinity Buoy Wharf, London in early summer 2016.

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