Monday, July 19, 2021

Call for Entries: ING Discerning Eye 2021

This post is about the Call for Entries for the 2021 Exhibition of The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition which will be held at the Mall Galleries and Online between 11 and 21 November 2021

The Deadline for Entries is Tuesday 7 September 2021 (5pm)

The ING Discerning Eye is an educational charity, established in the UK in 1990, to encourage a wider understanding and appreciation of the visual arts and to stimulate debate about the place and purpose of art in our society, and the contribution each one of us can make to its development.

The exhibition comprises both publicly submitted works and works independently selected by six prominent figures from different areas of the art world: two artists, two collectors and two critics. Each section is hung separately to give each its own distinctive identity. The impression emerges of six small exhibitions within the whole.

Last year - due to the exhibition being held online only - there was a there were the number of entries was larger than usual and there were over 600 artists and nearly 1000 works.
Which seems odd to me - I'd expect there to be much more entries than this given the numbers received by other open exhibitions and competitions. 
I've criticised this competition in the past for having too many artworks by artists selected by the selectors from OUTSIDE the open entry. 
  • Maybe that changed in 2020. 
  • Maybe it will return back to the normal bias away from the open entry in 2021. 
  • Who knows? It would be nice if they were much more EXPLICIT AND TRANSPARENT about something which is a competition with paid entries!

What stays the same in 2021

The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition in 2021 will: 
  • be OPEN to all artists resident in the UK 
  • who can submit up to six original works 
  • accept digital only entries
  • include only 
    • works constrained by size i.e. only small works are permitted (it must be less than 20 inches (50cm) in its greatest dimension.)
    • which MUST be an original creation by the artist
  • comprise works independently selected by six prominent figures from different areas of the art world
    • two artists,
    • two collectors and
    • two critics
    • each selector is solely responsible for their own selection
  • AND all artwork submitted via the open entry MUST be for sale
In addition, the DE continues with the Discerning Eye bursary of £1,500
Plus the Call For Entries site will be via ArtOpps

What will be different in 2021 

  • The exhibition returns to the Mall Galleries as a hung exhibition that people can visit (subject to any pandemic constraints during that period). 
  • Between Thursday 11 to Sunday 21 November 2021 will be TWO exhibitions:
    • at the Mall Galleries and 
    • online - on the ING Discerning Eye website
    • I think this is a wise idea. Pandemics do not provide any guarantee that the exhibition at the Mall Galleries will be able to open.
  • There's been a change in the prizes on offer (see below)
  • This is also the first exhibition without Tony Humphreys at the helm as Chief Executive of the Discerning Eye. It's unclear who is now in charge
  • DE has invited artists to take over the ING Discerning Eye Facebook page for a week at a time

The Prizes

Overall, there has been some turnover in terms of what's on offer. 
  • The value of prizes has reduced and 
  • The number of prizes has increased. 
  • The net effect is more small cash prizes

Prizes selected by the Prize Givers

  • ING Purchase Prize* – £5,000;
  • The Mervyn Metcalf Purchase Prize* – £500;
  • Parker Harris Mentoring Prize*: Parker Harris will give a one-to-one mentoring session covering all aspects of professional development to a selected artist. 

i.e. two prizes valued at £2.75k no longer offered, plus one new prize worth £500 

Plus the Discerning Eye Bursary for Drawing of £1,500 (Six artists are shortlisted and one wins)

Prizes selected by members of the DE Educational Board

  • The Discerning Eye Founder’s Purchase Prize (In honour of Michael Reynolds) £2500
  • The Discerning Eye Chairman’s Purchase Prize – £1000
  • Discerning Eye Sculpture and 3D Work Prize – £250
  • Discerning Eye Original Print Prize – £250
  • Discerning Eye Cityscape Prize - £250
  • Discerning Eye Portrait Prize - £250
  • Regional Prizes – Up to 8 prizes of £250 each awarded to an outstanding entry from the national regions 

i.e. Three new prizes - value at £250 each - for cityscape, landscape and portrait 

The Selectors

The Selectors are listed below - in the three categories.The ING Discerning Eye provides ZERO information about them - which I have attempted to remedy.
  • This year there is no info about the selectors on the General Info Page - 
  • however there is more information being provided on the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition Facebook Page. 
  • I'm left wondering how people find this out if they don't visit Facebook! - AND how this complies with the basic principle (of all competitions) of equity of information for all those looking at the Call for Entries on the website.  
  • I think "somebody" needs to take a look at UK laws and regulations relating to competitions!!
I recommend you have a very good look at their websites. No harm in working out what sort of artwork might be favoured by the different individuals.  
The notion that there are two artists, two critics and two collectors seems to have been varied. What we have are two artists, two media people and two collectors. Maybe the number of journalists who are art critics are reducing?


  • Peter Brown PNEAC, RP, ROI, RBA, PS - President of the New English Art Club and very well known plein air painter (Pete the Street). He is also a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters' The Royal Institute of Oil Painters, The Pastel Society, Bath Society of Artists and an honorary member of the Royal Society British Artists.
  • Adelaide Damoah RWA FRSA - A British-Ghanaian multidisciplinary artist - a painter and and >performance artist who uses her body as the starting point for much of her work. Her work explores colonialism, spirituality and intersectional feminism. She is a founding member of the Black British Female Artist Collective, co-founder of the Intersectional Feminist Art Collective and the first black artist to become an academician of the Royal West of England Academy >.


  • Anna Brady - Art Market Editor at The Art Newspaper. She has reported on the arts industry for over 10 years and was previously features editor at @harpersbazaar Art and wrote for the Antiques Trade Gazette.
  • Russell Tovey - Facebook Post - an actor, author and playwright. He has a collection of over 300 works of contemporary art and has hosted the Talk Art podcast with the gallerist Robert Diament since 2018. With over 100 episodes, the pair discuss art with leading artists, curators, gallerists and art enthusiasts.⁠ In May 2021 his book about Talk Art was published - and is now a Sunday Times bestseller!


  • >Roland Cowan/b > - an architect and contemporary art collector. He is a trustee of Outset Contemporary Art Fund, supporting a number of their programmes that fund exciting and innovative contemporary art projects.⁠
  • Tony Humphreys - former CEO of ING Discerning Eye.

How to Enter

What you need to know

READ CAREFULLY the Rules and Guidelines for the Ing Discerning Eye Open Entry 2021 - main points highlighted below are:
  • The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition is open to artists born or resident in the UK only.
  • All works must be for sale.
  • All works must be within the maximum size limit of 20 inches (50cm) including frame.
  • 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 - (including prints from i-pad drawings)
This is the Online Entry Form - which you need to complete
  • you must register first
  • then pay for registration
  • you get a unique number which allows you to login and upload your entry
  • For each slot you will need to upload an image and the following details: Title, Medium, Year, Dimensions and Price.
  • Image can be a maximum of 1MB
The deadline for Entries is 5pm on 7 September 2021

You will be notified of the results of the selection via email in the week commencing 1 October 2021.  There is no discussion about decisions made - and you don't receive any feedback. 
You will only need to hand in artwork if you are selected. Delivery is to
  • either the Federation of British Artists at Carlton House Terrace (on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 November 2021)
  • or regional pickup points - on dates to be advised

The Costs

  • The fee for entering is £10 per artwork (i.e. £60 for six artworks)
  • COMMISSION: If you sell an artwork the commission charged is 40%

Key Links

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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