Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The New Light Prize

The New Light Prize Exhibition is coming to London next month. In a time when we seem to see art competition with major prizes (£10,000 or more) dropping like flies, it's great to see an art competition which has a very precise focus - and still has a £10,000 prize.

The common thread through all we do is a deep belief that the visual arts matter and the North of England deserves to be celebrated.

What is the New Light Prize?

The New Light Prize is a biennial art exhibition:

  • It was established in 2010 to celebrate and promote Northern art - and celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2020
  • In the last decade it's become one of the UK's largest open exhibitions of contemporary art, showcasing well-known and emerging artists.
  • The exhibition tours art galleries in the UK - with a focus on the north
  • You can see the artworks selected for the 2020-21 exhibition on the website. It's always interesting to see what's sold. I'll maybe do an analysis when the exhibition comes south and I've actually seen it....

The Prizes

  • £10,000 Valeria Sykes Award – open to all artists over the age of 18 with a connection to the North of England, whether through birth, degree level study or residence.
  • £2,500 Patron’s Choice Award – this award will be presented by our patron on the night of the Private View; all exhibited works will be considered.
  • Saul Hay Emerging Artists Prize offering mentoring, professional advice and exhibition opportunities.
  • Zillah Bell Printmakers’ Prize – all forms of original printmaking are eligible for this prize, the winner of which will be offered a solo exhibition in the Zillah Bell Gallery in Thirsk, which plays host to some of the best printmakers’ shows in the country.
  • The tig Visitors’ Choice Award – where visitors will be asked to vote for their favourite work in the Prize Exhibition.
  • New Light Purchase Prize – the winner’s work will be purchased by New Light to add to the New Light Collection.
Artists awarded a prize will be asked to provide original evidence of how they meet the entry criteria.

The Judges for the 2020 Prize were 

  • Sam Phillips is a London-based arts writer and editor. He is the editor of RA Magazine, published by the Royal Academy of Arts.
  • Anne Desmet RA - a world renowned wood engraver who was born and brought up in Liverpool.
  • Grant Scanlan - from the Lake District and now responsible for the management and programming of Huddersfield Art Gallery
  • Annette Petchey lives in the North and is a lover of art and, in a small way, a collector.

How is "the North defined?"

The prizes offered by New Light are open to all artists who
  • were born in the North of England or
  • are currently living in the North of England or
  • studied at degree or postgraduate level (in an arts-based subject) in the North of England.
For these purposes, the North of England is defined as being the historic counties of Cumbria, Durham, Lancashire, Northumberland and Yorkshire.

Prize Map
The North of England

The next Call for Entries

The next Prize Exhibition will probably open for online entries in Autumn 2022 for the 2023-24 Launch. 
Those interested in submitting artwork would be well advised to take a look at the exhibition currently touring the country.    

To view entry criteria and guidelines, please click here: All you need to know

Who can enter?

  • Entrants can be at any stage in their career; 
  • There is no upper age restriction - however artists who enter mused be aged 18 or over by the deadline for entries.

What can be entered?

The Prize is open to 
  • all static works, 
  • capable of being wall-hung 
  • without requiring any power source.
  • There is no maximum size for two-dimensional work
  • Three-dimensional work cannot exceed a depth of 50cm. 
  • Pieces shortlisted for the prizes must be available for judging and sale until the end of the Prize Exhibition tour.
  • There is no maximum number of submissions per artist; however no more than 3 works will be shortlisted per artist.

Eligible Media

  • Digital processes are allowed.
  • Photography is excluded.
Note that criteria for entry is always under review.

Where can I see the New New Light Prize Exhibition?

This biennial Prize Exhibition has been on display at:

  • Scarborough Art Gallery 19th September 2020 – 17 January 2021
  • The Biscuit Factory - 4th June 2021 – 29th August 2021- the UK’s largest independent contemporary art, craft & design gallery set in the heart of Newcastle’s cultural quarter.

At present, the exhibition is at 

and from next month it can be seen at
  • Bankside Gallery (15th – 21st November 2021) in London - which concludes the tour

The exhibition brings together over 125 pieces of contemporary art, showcasing well-known and emerging artists. The artworks range from printmaking to sculpture, from the hyperreal to the purely abstract.

Demonstrating the wealth of artistic talent that prevails in the North of England, this diverse exhibition showcases artistic skill from the hyper real to the abstract and across a range of media. All artwork is available to purchase


Associated New Light Initiatives

The organisation aims to 

What is New Light "Art for All"?

"Art for All" on the New Light website

This is an education programme which includes talks, workshops and school projects.
New Light offers a varied programme that allows people to chose whether they want to look at art, talk about it, or try their own hand at making something. Always keen to engage young people creatively we take art directly into schools. Through the New Light Collection we reach out to those who find access to contemporary art difficult.
The website provides links to:
  • Young Creatives - demonstrating how the initiative has worked in the past with young people at each place where the exhibition is shown
On each leg of the Prize Exhibition tour we aim to engage young people of all ages in contemporary art. We do this by running a series of projects managed by a professional artists, with many leading to an Arts Award qualification. 
  • Workshops and more - opportunities to meet the artist or engage with different artistic activities during the tour of the exhibition

What is the New Light Collection?

The New Light Art Collection - items can be borrowed from the collection

The organisation loans pieces from the New Light Collection free of charge to public bodies and charities. 

The aim is to 
  • make contemporary art with northern roots become more accessible to a wider group for people
  • enable more people to experience the thrill of having art of the highest quality displayed on their walls.

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