Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize 2017 - Call for Entries

Any artist can enter a self-portrait for the £10,000 Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize - and you don't have to be a portrait artist to enter!

The Call for Entries for the Fourth Biennial of this Prize has been published and the deadline for entries is 12 April 2017.

I've summarised the prize below. More details can be found on the website (see above links).

Features of the Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize

View of the 2015 Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize 2015 Exhibition at Piano Nobile

Eligible artists

You must MUST live and work in the UK or Ireland.
  • an amateur or professional artist - but you don't have to be a portrait artist
  • any age. There is no age restriction.
The exciting thing about the prize is that it is open to all kinds of artists, not just portraitists. In fact it brings together a wide range of diverse artists of all ages and experience, who briefly, inquisitively, turn their eye upon themselves. We often find the majority of entrants have never even painted a portrait before, let alone one of themselves. Subject and object become one and the same, seeing and being seen in a moment of revelation and self-reflection – it’s fascinating. In 2015 we saw a thousand entries and we are hopeful we can build on that in 2017Dr Robert Travers, Director of Piano Nobile
  • you will be asked to share about yourself and your art

Eligible self-portrait

Works must be a self-portrait of the artist, but this may be alone or as part of a group, from life, from memory, from a photograph, figurative or abstract.
The work can be in any recognised medium and any size.
  • Eligible media: drawing, painting, watercolour, print, collage, photo-collage, mixed media, and low-relief sculpture and construction.
  • NOT Eligible: Pure photography, stand-alone sculpture, and moving image works 
  • There are no restrictions on size - how very large works would be difficult to accommodate (i.e. use your common sense - go big and you start limiting your chances of being selected because you have to be better than several other artists who merit selection!)
  • Multi-part works, i.e. works in the form of a diptych or triptych etc., are eligible and will be regarded as one work.
  • there needs to be a label on the reverse stating your full name, the title of the piece and the date of the work as a minimum.
  • Works entered must have been created post-2000.
  • All works must be for sale and include the gallery’s 50% commission in the sale price.
Works may be signed, but do not need to be signed.

How to Enter

There is no cap on the number of entrants.

You can enter ONE ARTWORK ONLY.

Submissions will:
  • be online via registration on the Ruth Borchard website
  • open on 1st February 2017 
  • close at midday on 12th April 2017
  • For the initial stage you will be asked to upload
    • a short biography to a maximum of 1,000 characters, and 
    • a PDF of your CV maximum 2-pages.
    • one photograph of your self-portrait in .jpeg, .png or .gif format (maximum file size: 5MB) - plus details of dimensions. Selection is based solely on the digital image.
If the photograph does not show the whole work then the work will not be considered for the Prize.
    • images of two other recent works to support your application (to enable a fuller appreciation of your practice).  File format and file size as for the self-portrait.
    • contact information, including your website if relevant.
The administration fee is £25 and will be payable at the end of the submission process. (Note this prize is run by a charitable institution).


selection for the exhibition will be based on the digital photograph, therefore it is in the interest of the artist to upload a good quality photograph.
120 artists will be selected for the exhibition. From these, a selection of works will be purchased for the Next Generation Collection. There is no upper limit for the number of works purchased – this is entirely dependent on the quality of works submitted.

The winner of the £10,000 Prize in 2015 was
Shanti Panchal

with his painting Artist and the Lost Studio
Judging will take place on Monday 8th May 2017. The finalists and winner will be selected by a prestigious panel of judges:
  • Alistair Sooke - deputy art critic of The Daily Telegraph; one of Britain's leading arts journalists and broadcasters (with the BBC)
  • Shanti Panchal - 2015 Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize winner 
  • Charlotte Mullins - art critic, writer and broadcaster
  • Richard Borchard (Ruth’s son), and 
  • Marilyn Scott, Director of the Lightbox, Woking (the 2017 Museum Partner for the Prize).
During the judging, the panel will award the £10,000 cash first prize - and the Winner will be notified prior to the opening.

Artists will be notified on Wednesday 26th of April whether or not their work has been selected for the exhibition.

Entrants whose work is selected for the Piano Nobile Kings Place exhibition will be required to send or bring their work to Kings Place, Kings Cross, London, between 10am and 5pm on Friday 5th May or 11am and 4pm on Saturday 6th May 2017.

Prizewinners to date

The past prizewinners are:

Both Thomas Newbolt and Shanti Panchal are represented by the Piano Nobile Gallery. Celia Paul is represented by the Victoria Miro Gallery.


All one-hundred and twenty works will be hung, and the exhibition will be free and open to the public.

The Ruth Borchard Prize 2017 exhibition will be held at Piano Nobile Kings Place from Friday 18th May to Friday 22nd September 2017 (You can see images of the 2015 exhibition on the website - it looks a splendid place for an exhibition). There will be a Private View opening event on Thursday 17th May.

You can also see the ‘Ruth Borchard Collection: Artists’ Self-Portraits’ in an exhibition at The Lightbox gallery and museum between from 25 March until 25 June 2017. This will present displaying one hundred self-portraits by significant modern British artists such as Michael Ayrton, Cecil Collins, Roger Hilton, Ithell Colquhoun and Carel Weight.

The Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Collection

Read more about the collections on the website

Facts about The Ruth Borchard Collection:
  • the UK’s only public collection of self-portraits by British and Irish artists
  • a life-long project of Ruth Borchard (1910-2000). Between 1958 and 1971, Borchard collected one hundred self-portraits by British, Irish and British-based artists.  She set a ceiling of 21 guineas for any one picture.
  • 168 works currently in the collection which continues to grow.  
  • It includes works by Michael Ayrton, Roger Hilton, Anne Redpath, Keith Vaughan, Jean Cooke and Patrick Procktor.
The biennial Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize was launched in 2011 and The Ruth Borchard Next Generation Collection were launched by her son in 2011 in partnership with Dr Robert Travers, Director of Piano Nobile.
You can see more about past exhibitions - and the works selected for exhibition - on the website

The Next Generation Collection currently consists of 68 self-portraits by contemporary British and Irish artists, including Maggi Hambling, Anthony Eyton, Celia Paul, Tony Bevan and Thomas Newbolt.  The exhibition also tours.


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