Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Call for Entries: ING Discerning Eye 2019

This is about the Call for Entries for the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition 2019 at the Mall Galleries between Thursday 14 November – Sunday 24 November 2019

There have been some changes this year and you are recommended to read the Call for Entries carefully.

Very oddly the exhibition page on the ING Discerning Eye website lacks a link to the Call for Entries website run by artopps - although it is there on the Home Page.

artwork in last year's exhibition

Below you can find:
  • information about the exhibition
  • a summary of information about prizes
  • a note about the judges - with links to their websites (or other information about them)
  • Call for Entries - How to Enter:
    • a summary of the information for artists e.g. who can enter what etc.
    • information about the deadlines and dates and where to find information about regional collection points
    • links to websites and my blog posts showing images of the art selected and hung in past exhibitions for those unfamiliar with this art competition.
NOTE: The Deadline:
  • to pre-register: 27 August 2019, 5pm
  • Submission of artworks Deadline: 7th September 2019, 4pm

It also ("sort of") explains why one of the Selectors won the main cash prize in 2018! 
(Note: This post has been revised slightly since it was first published)

THe ING Discerning Eye Exhibition

The 2019 exhibition is open to the public from Thursday 14 November – Sunday 24 November 2019 between 10am and 5pm daily, at the Mall Galleries. Admission is free - and it's certainly an exhibition that I recommend people going to see.
The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition is a show of small works, independently selected by six prominent figures from the art world. It has established an outstanding reputation among artists, collectors and enthusiasts for its unique curatorial approach, providing a rare opportunity for lesser-known artists to exhibit their works alongside internationally recognised names. (Mall Galleries)
This art competition and open exhibition is promoted by the Discerning Eye which is a charity promoting visual art and sponsored by ING.

(Images are from the 2018 exhibition).

What's the same as other open exhibitions

  • Drawings, paintings, fine art prints and sculpture are exhibited
  • It's an opportunity for works by lesser-known artists to be hung alongside contributions from better known artists.
  • All works are for sale.

What makes this open exhibition different?

The exhibition is unusual for a number of reasons
  • The exhibition is large but smaller than it was (c.500 artworks rather than the c.600 in the past) but the artworks are all SMALL
  • It includes divergent styles and media -  it also includes mixed media works, ceramics, photography and film
the 2018 ING Discerning Eye exhibition attracted a record-breaking number of entries. A total of 491 works by 240 artists were selected for the exhibition.
In the 2018 exhibition 78% of the artists and 63% of the works are from the open submission. Painting and drawing make up over 47% of the works, mixed media and sculpture about 30%, printmaking about 13%, and photography and film about 10% this year. ING Website - 2018 Exhibition archive page
  • There is no selection committee; in order to get selected you only have to please one selector. Each of the six invited 'exhibition curators' - two artists, two art collectors and two art critics - operates independently of the other curators and compete with them for artwork submitted via the open entry
  • The exhibition comprises SIX small and diverse exhibitions - one for each selector/curator. Each small exhibition (of c.70-100+ works) represents the individual interests, taste and style of that individual curator
  • Some of the artwork exhibited will be by INVITED artists the curator likes and wants to include in their mini-exhibition - hence the open entry is smaller than 600 pieces. (see very welcome statistics re 2018 below) If a selector leans very heavily towards artists they know/favour and have invited to exhibit (as has happened on occasion in the past eg one educator selected all her students!) then this disadvantages the open entry.
  • works by artists from the open have tended to sell better than work by invited artists 
  • Last year, works by Selectors were exhibited (for, I think, the first time) - and one of them won the main cash prize - to the surprise (and embarrassment?) I guess of most concerned.
This was my review of last year's exhibition - see Review: ING Discerning Eye Exhibition 2018 - which was written more with a view to informing those artists contemplating an entry in 2019.

The ING Purchase Prize 2018 (£5,000) went to one of the selectors! 
I'd say that caused some "unnecessary disappointment" 
(see Non-Broadcast CAP Code below)


Interestingly the information about prizes has been expanded to state who chooses the prize after the total embarrassment surrounding last year's top prize. 

It does NOT excuse what happened.

The 2019 exhibition prizes total over £10,000 and are:
  • ING Purchase Prize* – £5000
  • The Discerning Eye Founder’s Purchase Prize** – In honour of Michael Reynolds - £2500
  • The Discerning Eye Chairman’s Purchase Prize** – £1000
  • Meynell Fenton Prize* – £1000
  • Wright Purchase Prize* – £500
  • Humphreys Purchase Prize* – £750
  • Discerning Eye Sculpture and 3D Work Prize** – £250
  • Discerning Eye Original Print Prize** – £250
  • Regional Prizes** – There will be up to 8 prizes of £250 each awarded to an outstanding entry from the national regions
  • St Cuthberts Mill Award* – £200 worth of paper
  • Parker Harris Mentoring Prize*: Parker Harris will give a one-to-one mentoring session covering all aspects of professional development to a selected artist.
Importantly an EXPLANATION has been provided as to the meaning of the asterisks re. who selects the prizewinners.
*  These prizes are selected by the individual prize givers, not the selectors. 
**  These prizes are selected by members of the Discerning Eye Educational Board, not the selectors.
Now all we need is an assurance that Selectors' work will NOT be exhibited in the exhibition and/or will NOT be eligible for prizes!! To do otherwise would be to downgrade this "open" exhibition in the eyes of very many artists and, in my view, would be non-compliant with the CAP Code - see below.

 I'd just like to remind the organisers and the sponsors that there are RULES which apply to advertising open art competitions/exhibitions - which can be found in the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code)
UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) is the rule book for non-broadcast advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing communications (marketing communications). 
08 Promotional marketing  An important section about promotions (e.g. competitions, prize draws, instant wins, front page flashes, charity promotions etc) and incentive schemes. The rules cover the administration of the promotion, as well as the publicity.
and specifically
Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.
I know a lot of artists who were very disappointed by the behaviour of those who selected the main cash prize last year.

In addition, why should anybody need to explain that it is extraordinarily disappointing - and brings a competition into disrepute - if one of the selectors wins a prize?  ING and the organisers should have known better than to let this happen. However, having said that, I feel pretty confident in saying it won't happen AGAIN!

If a bank wants to enhance its reputation by supporting an art competitions then it would do well to remember ethics and integrity count for a LOT i.e. if you want to buy work by an artist for the bank then just do it - but don't do it via the Purchase Prize in this competition! Actions speak louder than words when it comes to reputation.

The 2019 ING Discerning Prize Selectors

The Discerning Eye and ING have announced the 2019 selectors:

Art Collectors

Very "arts" - an actor and a lyricist. (I'd personally love to see the choices made by people who have nothing whatsoever to do with "the arts". You don't have to be involved to collect!)
  • Kwame Kwei-Armah, OBE, (born Ian Roberts), is a British actor, playwright, director, singer and broadcaster. He was Chancellor of the University of the Arts at one point. Since 2018 he has been Artistic Director of the Young Vic.
  • Sir Tim Rice, lyricist and librettist 


This doesn't feel so much about art as about artists who work in fashion.
  • Gill Button, "Instagram sensation" (says the Parker Harris newsletter) - a British painter and illustrator whose work, focusing on the world of fashion, has been featured in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and Tatler amongst others. 1992-1995: Kingston University London, BA (hons) Illustration 1991-1992: Maidstone College of Art
  • Charlotte Hodes, Professor of Fine Art at London College of Fashion, UAL - and a painter, whose practice includes ceramics, glass, papercuts and installation. Her collage and ceramic work can be seen in many public collections. Hodes studied at Brighton College of Art and subsequently at the Slade School, University College, University of London, graduating with an MA in 1984.

Art Critics

Two men with a background in journalism and a penchant for art. It's always interesting to know how people dubbed 'art critics' developed their expertise for being critics of contemporary art but it's not very evident online.
  • John Penrose, Chairman of the Discerning Eye from 2007 – 2018 who retired last year. He spent his working life as an investigative journalist, and is the ex-husband and manager of Anne Robinson (for those of you like me who thought his name was familiar - but couldn't quite place it). He spent over 50 years collecting and dealing in art and antiques before opening The Dollar Street Gallery in Cirencester which he has since divested and he now represents and acts as an agent for artists - but is not online.
  • Louis Wise, a freelance writer and critic covering freelance writer. According to PH he is the "Associate Culture Editor for The Sunday Times"; according to Google he actually left in 2018 but still writes for The Times (and the Evening Standard and The Guardian). Looks a bit filmic and pop culturish to me - not a lot of commentary on art!

In the North Galleries

Call for Entries - the short and the long versions

The really important information is highlighted in red below. SEE https://thediscerningeye.artopps.co.uk/

The short version

  • UK-based artists working in any medium 
  • can submit up to six original works - entry fee varies (see below)
  • for the annual exhibition of c.450 works at the Mall Galleries in November 2019
  • Your work must be for sale and 
  • it must be less than 20 inches (50cm) in its greatest dimension. 
  • all artwork in the exhibition is selected from the actual artwork (ie no digital selection)
  • it is financially advantageous to pre-register as submitting art
  • Initial entry is by OPTIONAL online pre-registration. Online registration closes at 5pm on 27 August 2019.
  • they have regional collection points and the fee for collecting one item is only £8 on top of the entry fee
  • all works submitted must have a fully completed, signed Entry Schedule and a fully completed Discerning Eye Work label.
  • Full details can be found on our Information For Artists page.

Who can enter?

  • ONLY artists who are currently RESIDENT in the UK.

What kind of artwork is eligible?

  • Up to six works can be submitted for competition.
  • all artwork must be an original creation by the artist. This usually means THAT
    • the work has not been copied from another artwork or photograph.
    • the artist must be able to assert copyright (i.e. the work is not derivative)
  • Painting, prints, drawing, photography and sculpture are all accepted.
  • Maximum size limit: 20 inches / 50 cms INCLUDING THE FRAME.
    • (3D – 20” x 20” x 20” (50 x 50 x 50 cm) including base/stand).
    • Works exceeding these dimension in any direction will be rejected.
    • (I feel like going round with a 20 inch measure during the exhibition. I wasn't convinced all work in last year's exhibition by invited artists complied with these dimensions)
  • All works must be for sale. This is essential / not optional.

What sort of framing is acceptable?

There are very specific requirements as to framing and presentation for hanging
  • Don't let your work get rejected because you didn't read the small print!
  • Frames and mounts of unusual colour, size or design may prejudice the selectors’ judgement.
  • Be consistent with your frames - and they may be hung together
  • Don't forget to include the dimensions of the frame in the submission.
Another wall in the North Galleries - five sets of consistent framing

What does it cost?

This year, the cost of entry has been changed and simplified.
  • The entry fees for those artists who don't use pre-registration have been INCREASED to take account of the aextra admin involved - see below
  • The additional transport fee to pay if you submit via a regional collection point has now been included in the fee. (Note some require you to make an appointment) 
I have to say the transport fee is of £8 is jolly reasonable, when compared to the alternatives, and it's nice to see an art competition which is organised about its regional submissions.

Pre-registered submission fees:

  • London Submission: £12 per work
  • Regional Submission: £20 per work (inclusive of transport fee)

Works NOT pre-registered online submission fees:

  • London Submission: £20 per work *
  • Regional Submission: £28 per work (inclusive of transport fee) *
* The submission fees for works which haven’t been pre-registered have increased to cover the administrative costs involved in manually processing applications.


  • A commission of 40% + VAT shall be charged by The Discerning Eye on the price paid for work or work commissioned at the exhibition or as a result of introductions arranged by The Discerning Eye.
  • Price entered on the entry form is the catalogue selling price - and if sold BOTH commission and VAT payable is deducted.


The Discerning Eye makes no provision for individual insurance of works and all artists submitting work for exhibition are strongly advised to make their own arrangements in this regard.

How to submit artwork


  • Deadline for submission of artwork entries is 4pm on 7 September 2019 at the Mall Galleries. There are earlier deadlines for those wanting to submit their work via a regional entry.
  • Paperwork: Download the documentation for entries that you need directly using these links:
  • Complete and sign the entry schedule - making sure each copy is legible (in doing so you accept all the terms and conditions of the competition)
  • Label each work LEGIBLY in block capitals and attach to work. Include your regional area to become eligible for a regional prize

Optional online pre-registration for artists.

  • Step 1 - Click on the online entry tab and fill in the details on the entry form including where you want to submit and how many works.
  • Step 2 - Make your payment. You will be sent an email confirmation with your Unique Reference Number. 
  • Step 3 - Download the Entry Schedule and Work Labels on the Download/Links page (see above also) and fill them out.
  • Step 4 - Bring your artworks and the completed Entry Schedule and Work Labels to your chosen Submission Centre on the appointed day and time.
If you want to add any more work or wish to change your submission centre, you can do this up to the deadline for online pre-registration on 27 August 2019, 5pm.
If you would prefer not to register online beforehand, or if you have not registered the maximum number of works and would like to add more, you may still hand in your works to your selected Submission Point without being pre-registered and pay either by cheque or cash.
  • Provide a digital image of each work. This is NOT for selection purposes - rather it's for inclusion in the online catalogue.
  • Note that you can still hand in or hand in more works even if you have not registered them

How to deliver - hand-in artwork

  • Hand-in dates are the first week of September and dates are very specific as to location
  • Make sure your work is insured (see Insurance for Artists)
  • Take your labelled artwork and entry schedule by the deadline for that location to
    • EITHER a regional collection point
    • OR Federation of British Artists (rear of the Mall Galleries), 17 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5BD 17 Carlton House Terrace 
  • You can submit direct to the Mall Galleries on 6th OR 7th September 2018 (hours vary)
  • Alternatively use the Submission by Courier at a cost £8 (inclusive of VAT) per work. Various dates for various places around England, Scotland and Wales between 3-6 September including:
    • England: Berwick-Upon-Tweed; Birmingham; Bristol; Doncaster; Exeter; Kendal; Manchester; Newcastle; Norwich; Penzance; Plymouth;
    • Scotland: Edinburgh; Errol, near Perth/Dundee; Glasgow, Stirling
    • Wales: Cardiff;
Interestingly the notes say nothing about wrapping or delivering unwrapped. This is what I had in my notes LAST YEAR
  • All 2D works should be delivered unwrapped, although corner and edge protection on paintings is permissible. Frames must be able to accept a small screw or nail in the back for hanging purposes. Mirror plates will be supplied by the organisers.
  • 3D work should be sent in sturdy cardboard boxes. Do NOT bind wrapping materials with tape or string.

Selection Results

Artists will not be notified of the results of their entry directly. Results will be posted on the Downloads/Links section of this website from Thursday 12 September 2019.
If your work is selected you will be asked to provide and confirm further information for inclusion in the catalogue. This will include a written statement about the work(s) included in the exhibition of 300 words along with a brief biography of and 200 words for press purposes.

For further details or any queries please contact please call the entry help line on 020 3653 0896(9.30am - 5pm Monday to Friday)

More about the ING Discerning Eye 

The Discerning Eye website maintains an archive of:
The following are all posts about the ING Discerning Eye competition/exhibition on Making A Mark over the last 12 years.


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