Saturday, March 25, 2023

Want to watch the Portrait Artist of the Year 2023 being filmed?

As per usual the Heats of Portrait Artist of the Year are being filmed at the Battersea Arts Centre in April 2023. The Series 10 episodes will then be broadcast in the Autumn.

What it really looks like on "the set" when filming is taking place

This is what "the studio set-up" looks like rather a lot of the time. Judges talking to artist and cameraman, sound person and assorted others standing and sitting around. Other artists trying to concentrate and finish their painting. Spot the sitter!

However the way it's going to work will be DIFFERENT this year. See below for more information which includes:
  • Venue: Battersea Arts Centre - and how to get there
  • Dates: PAOTY Heats Series 10 x 6
  • Be in the Audience: how to book to be there when the filming takes place
An empty Grand Hall, Battersea Arts centre - before the set-up and people arrive

Portrait Artist of the Year:
Series 10 - Filming of the Heats

Venue: Battersea Arts Centre

Battersea Arts Centre - on Lavender Hill

The address for Battersea Arts Centre is Lavender Hill London SW11 5TN. I know! No clue as to where.


Invite to attend

The website for Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year has provision for people to sign up for notifications about the series - including when and where filming takes place.

That's the best way of keeping in touch with what's happening - and there are can be last minute changes on occasion.

The Public are invited to attend - particularly those who are fans and/or have previously entered but not got in. 

This year, Stuart Prebble (who runs Storyvault Films who make the series) has said that 
We are welcoming back an audience to watch art in action at the Battersea Arts Centre. Spaces will be limited so entry shall be on a first come first served basis for each date. This includes our family friendly day on the 18th of April. NB: Please be aware that “first come first served” does mean that you may arrive but not be admitted due to overcrowding.
After feedback from people in the Facebook Fan Group who said that they wouldn't want to travel long distance and then find they couldn't get in and/or can't afford a hotel to be sure of getting there early in the morning, the arrangements have been changed relative to previous years.
We have revised our arrangements for admitting the public to the recordings of Portraits. We have decided to offer 2 sessions a day for members of the public to come along to watch the filming of PAOTY Series 10 at Battersea Arts Centre.

We will be welcoming audience on to the set both in the morning (arrival of 8:45am) and the afternoon (arrival of 1:10pm). Please can you register which session you would like to attend by email to

Please note, if you would like to attend the entire day, apply for both the morning and afternoon sessions and we will try our best to accommodate your request.

Dates of the Heats

This year the dates for the filming at Battersea Arts Centre are listed below.
By the way, the order of the Heats - as filmed - is NOT the order of the heats as shown in the episodes.

There are eight heats - which means one of them will be for Celebrity PAOTY - but they don't say which one!

  • Tuesday 18th April (family friendly) AM or PM Family friendly means small children are welcome. Which I take to mean, by implication, not so much on other dates! Don't forget it's a film set so wailing babies or very noisy kids may well need to be removed from the Hall because of the sound.
  • Wednesday 19th April AM or PM
  • Thursday 20th April AM or PM
  • Friday 21st April AM or PM
  • Monday 24th April AM or PM
  • Tuesday 25th April AM or PM
  • Wednesday 26th April AM or PM
  • Thursday 27th April AM or PM 

The semi Final is interesting - but more difficult to see what's happening because they're all looking at one sitter - and they're at a fair old distance! Plus cameras need space to get in front of / at the side of and behind each artist!

The challenge is to try and work out which three will go through to the Final - based on the heat portraits at the back of the hall and the portraits of the celebrity sitter being developed in front of you. I picked all three correctly when I attended this semi-final!

Look at the distance between easels and sitter
  • Wednesday 3rd May (semi final) AM or PM
Reviewing the semi final portraits of Elaine Page in April 2019
for PAOTY 2020


The Final has traditionally been filmed at the National Portrait Gallery - but it doesn't reopen for another two months so the Final is at Battersea.
  • Thursday 18th May (final) AM or PM
There are facilities on site for getting refreshments - but there can be long queues so you may think it better to bring your own.  

It's also a VERY long day. It starts early and finishes late. You need to factor that in if staying for the afternoon session

Friday, March 24, 2023

Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Prize 2023: Last Call for Entries

I missed the announcement of the Call for Entries for the £10,000 Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Prize 2023 - hence why this is a "Last Call for Entries" as the deadline for all entries is Midnight on the 31st March 2023!

From the artworks submitted the 2023 prize judges will select 
  • a winner of the £10,000 Ruth Borchard Prize and 
  • a number of distinguished entries will be acquired for the Next Generation Collection.
Before you start reading you might want to know that 
  • the fee for an entry is £38 and 
  • this competition attracts artists from across the spectrum including professional and prize-winning portrait artists.
If you're interested, you can see examples of the works selected to hang in the exhibition of the Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Prize 2019 at The Kings Place - in an album on my Facebook Page.

one wall in the Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Prize 2019 Exhibition
at The Kings Place, Kings Cross, London

Who can enter?

All ages and abilities can enter. Individuals under the age of 16 wishing to enter are required to have consent from a parent or legal guardian.
Artists of all backgrounds, established and emerging, are invited to enter. Even if this is your first ever self-portrait or artistic creation we welcome your contribution.

What can you enter?

You can use any size and medium. I've seen some huge works in past exhibitions!

However these are the details in the T&Cs
  • The artwork must be a self-portrait. 
  • All variations of work – figurative or abstract, alone or in a group, from life or from memory – will be accepted.
  • The artwork must have been created in the year of or after 2000.
  • There are no restrictions of size of work.
  • Multi-part works, i.e. works in the form of a diptych or triptych etc., are eligible and will be regarded as one work.
We welcome a wide variety of media, including but not restricted to; painting, drawing, digital art, photography, sculpture, tapestry and ceramics. 
an exhibitor in the 2019 Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Prize Exhibition
(happy to give credits if anybody recognises the work)

How to enter

All works must be submitted online via the Self Portrait Prize Zealous portal. Access to the portal can be found at:

You can enter more than once - but every entry requires a separate submission.

To enter you MUST:
  • upload a high quality image of your self portrait
  • provide all the details about the artwork
  • complete the application form and agreement to T&Cs. This needs to include as supporting information:
    • Artistic Statement – maximum 200 words – this is a space for you to tell the judges anything you feel is relevant to the application and/or about you or your artwork.
    • CV (optional) - Whether you are a full time professional artist or have a completely alternative career the option to upload a CV allows the judges to find out more about the individual behind the artwork
    • gallery representation (optional - not considered as part of the judging process - which suggest the above two are!)
    • personal details and contact information
  • pay the fee for entry
This is £38.00 from a UK based bank account and £48.00 if payment is being made from overseas.2 Ruth Borchard Collection and Self-Portrait Prize are funded by a charitable foundation and the submission fee goes a small way to covering the cost of running the Prize.
View of the 2015 Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize 2015 Exhibition at Piano Nobile

If selected, how your work will be exhibited

From the submissions 250 artists will be invited to participate in an exclusive online selling exhibition. Shared and promoted via 
  • an exclusive Ruth Borchard Collection virtual gallery and 
  • Artsy online viewing room 
this gives artists the opportunity to have their work seen by international collectors.

If you win your artwork will hang in a curated selection of distinguished and shortlisted artworks to be exhibited at The Atkinson Museum, Southport, from September - December 2023. The exhibition will coincide with the Liverpool Arts Biennial.

The last exhibition in 2021 was at Coventry Cathedral.

So far as I'm aware there's no plans to bring any sort of physical exhibition to London.

The Judges

 The judges include 
  • Gabriele Finaldi (Director of the National Gallery), 
  • Melanie Gerlis (Financial Times Art Market Columnist), 
  • Andrea Rose (former Director of the British Council), 
  • Stephen Whittle (Principal Manager The Atkinson Museum), 
  • Lucy Jones (2021 Prize Winner) and 
  • David Borchard (grandson of Ruth Borchard)
These are the Judges from 2021 talking about the artwork entered into the exhibition. It gives you an insight into how Judges can look at artwork and what their expectations are - albeit this year those views might all be different because it's a different set of Judges.

Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize 2021 film from Ruth Borchard Collection on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

How artists are selected for PAOTY or LAOTY

This post is about how artists get selected by the Judges for the Artist of the Year competitions on Sky Arts - and how the communication process works.

My next post is about how to watch the heats of Series 10  being filmed in April.

Judges deliberating during a heat at Battersea Arts Centre
with a self-portrait I remember very well in the background

This week people who applied for Portrait Artist of the Year have been getting their notifications as to whether or not they've made it into Series 10 which is due to start filming in April.

As usual, for those who've not got selected  the sentiments range from 

  • phlegmatic and stoic ("I'll just apply again next year - and go paint another self-portrait") 
  • to sad ("Again!") 
  • and then there are some who are rather irritated and imagine all sorts of dire reasons why they've not been selected!!
For the record there's a LOT of people who do end up in heats who did not get in the first time they applied - so do not despair if you got the "not successful" letter

How artists are selected for PAOTY or LAOTY

Today's post is going to be about how artists are selected to avoid some of the rumours which periodically do the rounds in relation to why some people get chosen and others do not.

Stuart Prebble, the Chairman of Storyvault Films, the independent television company who make the series for Sky Arts has explained how selection works

Hi. May I take the opportunity to clarify the processes carried out for selecting the artists who appear in both Landscape and Portrait Artist of the Year? I do so because I have seen one or two inaccurate or misleading claims - and I'm keen to put them right. Stuart Prebble


we know that artists entering our competition go to enormous trouble to do so, and we want to reassure everyone that the selection process is fair, thorough and has integrity. Stuart Prebble

Here's my bullet point summary of what he said because his was a very lengthy explanation . It's got my commentary after stages/points in burnt orange.

What The Judges Do

  • Every Judge looks at every single one of the self portraits submitted
  • In most cases, they also look at the second and third artworks
(I'd take this to mean you can't redeem a bad self-portrait, but second and third works should do what they're intended to do and will help establish whether a "possible" artist should go forward or not)
  • Each Judge looks at all the self portraits on their own.
  • They give a tick to every artist they think should go through.
(They will be looking at the digital images wherever they do their quiet focused work. I've done this myself when judging other art competitions and to do it properly you really don't want to be anywhere with distractions as you need to stay very focused to get through all the submissions. I understand there's been about 1,200 entries this year)
  • Subsequently they all meet together and every entry is reviewed again in terms of the ticks awarded while working solo
  • All entries which receive three ticks are likely to go through automatically
(I'm guessing somebody will then tell them how many of the 72 places for Heat Artists artists (eight heats in 2023 x 9 artists in each heat) they have filled - and how many more they need to fill. I'd love to know how many of the three tick people end up winning heats!)
  • The Judges then review all artists receiving two ticks and discuss their merits. This is to see whether any Judge wants to change their mind and add or remove a tick.
  • Finally, they then review all the artists with only one tick - and the judge awarding the tick gets the opportunity to make a case.
(Ultimately how much time they spend on each 'tick section' depends on:
  • how many places need to be filled. 
  • the calibre of the entry
  • the number of artists awarded three or two ticks)
  • Producers are available to provide any information about the artist that is requested. However they play no part in the selection process
(Unlike reality shows, where you can work out the 'characters' which have been cast!)

What the Producers do

After the selection has been made, there are more jobs which need to be done before artists can be informed
  • Artists have to be allocated to heats. 
  • Producers try to get an interesting mix taking account of factors like media they use, gender and age
(I'm guessing they also probably mix up the three tick people with the two tick peole so that they don't have all the ones who look like they might be really good in the same heat! Sometimes they get this right and sometimes they don't - and we all notice when this happens! I've never ever noticed any predisposition to allocate people to the heat which is local to where they live. I make a point of recording where they come from and it's always very mixed)
  • Successful Artists then have to be contacted. 
  • They check details and availability and then take 48 hours to try to contact the artist. 
  • They can cease trying to contact an artist if not contacted within that time - and move on.
(You get a message to ring a number if you don't answer your phone. Now Stuart maintains that they can't remember a time when they've been unable to contact an artist. However, I had somebody wrote to me recently who had a very good reason why she couldn't be contacted by phone - but presumably forgot to explain this clearly in her submission! So her phone got the message but she didn't have access to it and couldn't ring back within the 48 hours. Now she may of course have been mistaken and the message was about something else completely.  I'll follow up with Stuart on this individual who contacted me. I've seen the self portrait and the supporting artwork so I'm clear she entered)
  • Next everybody who has not been successful gets an email to say they have been unsuccessful this time.
This doesn't mean that their work is inferior in any way at all - we all know that art appreciation is entirely subjective, and we rely on the opinions of our expert judges - who have done a difficult but excellent job for nearly ten years of the series.
Stuart Prebble
(I've seen them. They're very helpful and supportive emails)
OVERALL my conclusion is that they're running a very fair system.  It's also a pretty standard system these days for a lot of art competitions - albeit there can be variations on a theme elsewhere.

Splitting individual views from the group process used to select people for the heats is a very good idea. It avoids "Groupthink" - which can occur when people sit in groups and look at images on a screen - as happens at many art society selections "in person". 

Fortunately the Pandemic has now got lots of judges very used to independently screening and assessing digital images online on their own before they ever get to contribute to the next stage!

They're also not using other people to screen out the 'total no hopers' (i.e. people whose artwork is very adrift from the calibre of artist they're wanting to see in the Heats.) I know that this does occurs in some other art competitions (I'm not naming names!) - and frankly with some you need to do this because of the sheer amount of poor quality work which can be submitted. Bear in mind in other art competitions, a number of the Judges will be working for free - which I don't think applies in this instance - and to get them to judge, organisers need to keep the time required to something reasonable!

My one recommendation would be that I think that it would be very useful if an explanation of how the selection and notification process works could be online and available to all to view. I think this would be very well received by all those interested in applying. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Call for Entries: UKCPS Annual Open International Exhibition 2023

This year's Annual Open Exhibition held by the UK Coloured Pencil Society (UKCPS) will be held online opening on 1st August 2023.


There are a number of awards
  • Best in Show: £500
  • Second Best in Show : £250
  • Best Pure Colour Pencil (no other media used) : £150
  • Pat Heffer Award
  • The Colour Pencil Shop Award
  • People’s Choice: £100

Terms and Conditions of Entry

The call has gone out for submissions to the exhibition.
The deadline for entries is 15th June 2023.

Who can enter?

Any artist can enter this exhibition if 
  • you are living
  • aged over 18 years old
  • you can be any age and live anywhere in the world. It's not limited to artists living in the UK. 

What can you enter?

You can enter up to five artworks. However, no more than two pictures per artist will be shown, irrespective of how many they enter

The artwork MUST be 
  • original (concept, design and execution by the artist) 
  • at least 50% colour pencil, 
  • demonstrate compositional and drawing skills, 
  • demonstrate the ability to use the medium of colour pencil. 
  • Entries must not have been shown in any previous UKCPS exhibition.
  • Each artwork must have a title
  • Each work submitted MUST comprise at least 50% dry colour pencil (i.e. wood-cased, and wax- or oil-based colour pencil, including watercolour pencil if used dry). This definition excludes pastel pencils. 
  • The remaining 50% of the work may be in any other medium, including any water or solvent used.
Artwork is ineligible IF any one of the following apply:
  • Any image produced by drawing over a digital reproduction. 
  • Artwork executed in whole or part under instruction and/or in any teaching or workshop situation. 
  • Any work copied from someone else’s photograph(s), even with their permission. 
  • Use of an individual’s image without that individual’s permission, in accordance with UK privacy laws. 
  • Any work shown in any previous UKCPS exhibition. 
By implication it can be an artwork which you have entered into another open exhibition and it was selected and exhibited. So, for example, this amazing work by Curtis Holder which I recently saw in the SGFA Exhibition at the Mall Galleries could be entered. It's also an example of a mixed media artwork.

copyright Curtis Holder 
Coloured Pencil over acrylic gouache

How to enter

You first need to read the detailed pdf about How to Enter - which is very clear and should answer all your queries.

After that, you can complete the online form (2023 Annual Exhibition) 

You will need images for each artwork entered. These must be
  • JPG or PNG files only; 
  • min. size 1MB, 
  • max size 5MB.
Poorly presented images, especially those that are out of focus, badly lit or pixelated will affect your chances of success. Each entry will be judged on your submitted image(s) alone. It is therefore very important to represent your work as best you can
You can find advice and information for how to take a good photograph of your artwork on my Art Business Info. for Artists website - see How to photograph art - for Artists

Entry fees are as follows
  • UKCPS Members: 1st entry free, additional entries £10 each 
  • Non-Members: £20 per entry
All fees are non-refundable. Entries are not complete until payment has been received


The pictures to be exhibited are chosen by an independent selection panel, who will be asked to select works to produce a varied exhibition showing the full range of capabilities of the colour pencil medium. All submitted images will be presented to the selection panel anonymously. No personal data, including name, will be given during the selection. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Money Laundering, NFTs and artists selling their own work.

NEW WEBPAGE: Money Laundering and the Art Market

Back in April 2021, I wrote about how I needed to update my Art Business Info for Artists website for new law, rules and regulations for the Art Business and Artists.
For example:
  • completely new law and regulations relating to Money Laundering in the Art Market
  • updates for existing law and regulation eg international trade and shipping for post Brexit ramifications (some is done - but this is still a work in progress as things work their way through - I'm waiting for the resolution of the Irish angle)
I started my Money Laundering Page - but it soon became clear that there were going to be a lot more developments so I held off from Publishing.
A number of other industry sectors, such as banking, have long been the subject of an anti-money laundering regulatory framework. The reason for now extending that framework to the art market is a concern that the art market could be used by criminals to launder the proceeds of crime such as drug trafficking, modern slavery, tax evasion, corruption or theft.
Today I published the new page - in part in response to an artist friend who wrote to me about the nuisance (scam) communications relating to NFTs - to which my response was "they're scams - it's all about money laundering!" 

However to write about the NFTs I needed to provide some context in terms of the MEGA changes in law and regulations which MUST now be complied with by a variety of those who are active players in the art market - so I can highlight how most NFTs approaches to artists are linked to money laundering. 

It's all about a very welcome exemption from the Regulations for artists trading their own art.

NEW: Money Laundering & the Art Market

Plus here's the main reason why I held off.......
  • The Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019 took effect on 10th January 2020. This introduced the notion of the Art Market Participant who must comply with the regulations
  • The 2019 Regulations indicate that the definition of Art Market Participants (AMPs) is as follows
    “a firm or sole practitioner who by way of business trades in, or acts as an intermediary in the sale or purchase of, works of art and the value of the transaction, or a series of linked transactions, amounts to 10,000 euros or more”
  • In 2022, the Money Laundering Regulations related to the draft legislation recorded the fact artists are not included as AMPs 
The changes introduced mean that from 10 January 2020, AMPs as defined in the MLRs (which excludes artists selling their own work (my underlining) – see paragraph 19 below) must: 

  • Register with HMRC before they carry on with their business, where this involves a transaction of 10,000 euros or more, or a series of linked transactions of 10,000 euros or more 
  • Carry out a written risk assessment of the extent to which they are exposed to money laundering 
  • Maintain a written prescribed range of policies, controls and procedures 
  • Carry out CDD measures on customers before they conclude a transaction 
  • Appoint a nominated officer 
  • Train staff appropriately 
  • Report suspicious transactions to the authorities 
  • Keep appropriate records of CDD and of transaction

This is the relevant link to the supporting HMRC Page Guidance - Money laundering supervision for art market participants

This is the new guidance on artists in relation to AMPs ( my bold )

19. Artists selling their own work, whether as an individual/sole practitioner or through a business they own, are not within the scope of the MLRs, and so are not required to register as an AMP. This extends to sales of an artist’s own work through their business, which only sells their work (but not for sales of other artists’ work if also sold through their business). Similarly, sales out of an artist’s estate, or sales of an artist’s work by someone employed by the artist, or the artist’s business, to sell the artist’s work, are not within scope of the MLRs.

How this affects artists and NFTs

The major change affecting artists is that artists are now NOT identified as "art market participants" (AMPs - who must register and comply with all the legislation) any more IF they are only selling their own art.

It's odd how artists are now being bombarded - mainly via Instagram - with requests to make their artwork available for NFTs.

Hence, given they are excluded from the monitoring requirements, artists are now prime targets for those wanting to launder money.

So if you are one of those being bombarded with NFT requests:

  • just be aware, and stay away from unconventional sales of unconventional art commodities if you want to play it safe and avoid being involved with money laundering.
  • make NFT a term which means that a message cannot be sent to you
  • ALWAYS check that you know who you are dealing with - particularly if the transaction is international.

NOTE: I've still to do a detailed note and update about NFTs for the Money Laundering page.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Call for Entries: The Great Pottery Throw Down (Series 7)

One of my favourite television series about art and crafts is The Great Pottery Throw Down
  • I'm a fan of ceramics and love seeing what's possible with clay.
  • I think the series often exhibits more creativity and imagination than many of the other art competitions I see on television and real life! 
  • I like the fact it tests a team of potters across a range of knowledge, skills and practice - and accepts that not everybody is good at everything
  • It's very inclusive - especially in relation to age. Nice to see 
    • some older people getting a chance to shine! 
    • lots of very nice people from diverse backgrounds and absolutely nobody who falling into the truly awful "I wannabe on the telly" or "been practising selfies a lot" categories
  • It's also joyful and is a very definite feel good programme!
  • Plus the Judges are skilled PRACTITIONERS who are very respectful and appreciative of those who take part - which is a VERY good reason for taking part.
(Why can't more art competitions be judged ONLY by those who are experts who practice their art or craft? Nudge nudge Sky Arts!)

Note: you can read a longer version of the above in The Great Pottery Throw Down is back!

I also love and highly recommend their Facebook Page which celebrates both the potters and their handiwork.

Call for Entries: The Great Pottery Throwdown Series 7

For those who need a prod - here's a quick summary of how to enter by 12 pm on Monday 17th April

Who can apply

  • aged 18 years (or over) on 26th February 2023.
  • resident of the UK (incl. Isle of Man and Channel Islands).
  • able to commit to all the filming days (currently expected to be up to 30 days over a 9 to 10 week period during AUGUST, SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER 2023)
  • in no way associated with Love Productions - who make the programme
You MUST NOT be:
  • a professional potter, meaning that you do not work full time as a potter, either at home or in a professional environment, nor does your main source of income derive from commercial ceramics or pottery.
  • a Fellow or a Selected member of the Craft Potters Association (CPA) 
    • nor have ever been,
    • nor can you be judged, by us, to be at that level.
  • somebody who has been convicted of any serious crime. Details of convictions should be listed on the application form.

What you need to supply

You have to provide evidence of what you can do.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

New Light Art Prize now open for entries - Northern Artists ONLY

The New Light Prize Exhibition is now open for entries

A montage of some of the artworks
which have won the £10K New Light Art Prize in the past

One of the features of this blog is that over the years I've only featured Art Competitions with EITHER prestigious reputations and/OR a first prize of £10,000 or more (sometimes a lot more!).

I've also - as many of you will be aware - lamented over the disappearance of many long-running art competitions.

But new art competitions also surface and in 2021, I highlighted one of these for the first time in my post about The New Light Prize run by New Light Art, a charity dedicated to encouraging passion about the visual arts in the North.

This post looks at:

  • the nature of the New Light Art Prize: History / Prizes / Exhibition
  • Call for Entries
    • what you can exhibit
    • who can exhibit
    • submission 
    • selection and Judges

About the New Light Prize

The New Light Prize is a biennial art exhibition:

  • It was established in 2011 to celebrate and promote Northern Art - and celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2020
  • It offers some of the region’s best awards and opportunities for aspiring and established artists.
  • 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


Prize winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on 29th September 2023 at The Williamson Art Gallery and Museum in Birkenhead where their artwork will feature in a prestigious launch exhibition. 

The full list of prizes include:
  • The £10,000 New Light Valeria Sykes Award – open to all artists over 18 with a connection to the North of England, whether through birth, degree level study or residence 
  • The £2,500 New Light Patron’s Choice Award – presented on the night of the private view where all exhibited works are considered 
  • The New Light Emerging Artists Prize sponsored by The Saul Hay Gallery – offering mentoring, professional advice and exhibition opportunities including a solo show 
  • The New Light Printmakers’ Prize sponsored by Zillah Bell Gallery – all forms of original printmaking are eligible; the winner will be offered a solo exhibition at the Zillah Bell gallery in North Yorkshire, host to some of the UK’s very best printmakers’ shows
  •  The New Light Visitors’ Choice Award – visitors are asked to vote for their favourite work at each venue 
  • New Light Purchase Prize – the winner’s work is purchased by the charity to add to its Collection 

Exhibition Dates

Exhibitions (and PVs) are being held around the North and in London - at:
  • The Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead: 29 Sept 2023 Prize Exhibition Launch & Prize-Giving - closes 22 Dec 2023.
  • Bankside Gallery, London: opens (+ PV) - 27 Feb 2024 - closes 3 Mar 2024 
  • Rheged Gallery, Penrith: opens 14 Mar 2024 - closes 2 Jun 2024 
  • The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle: opens 21 Jun 2024 (also includes the launch of the New Light Sculpture Prize-Giving & Exhibition); closes Early Sept 2024 
  • The Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate: opens 12 Sept 2024 - closes 21 Dec 2024 
“This is a wonderful opportunity for new and established artists to get their work seen by thousands of people in some of the finest galleries in the UK. Those shortlisted will exhibit their work across the UK, from Cheshire to Yorkshire, Northumberland, Cumbria and London.
Our aim is to support Northern artists; whether that’s artists who grew up in the North, studied or currently live in the North – it is an area that breeds so much talent. At this time of financial uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to support artists by providing opportunities to exhibit their work. We are delighted to be working with The Williamson Art Gallery and Museum to create a fabulous launch and awards ceremony and the following tour is our biggest yet, spanning 14 months.” Rebekah Tadd, Development Director of New Light Art. 
A number of these who have entered in the past already had successful careers prior to this prize being established - but it is very notable that RAs enter this competition!
Past New Light shortlisted artists who have had huge success with exhibitions across the UK and further afield include Norman Ackroyd CBE RA, Anne Desmet RA, Maxwell Doig, Mark Demsteader, Christopher Cook, Mandy Payne, James Naughton and Jo Taylor. 
You can view past prizewinners on the website. 

Call for Entries for The New Light Prize

What you can enter

The Prize is open to all artworks
  • static and capable of being wall-hung (using mirror-plates) without requiring any power source.
  • produced within the last 3 years
  • no bigger than 
    • 175cm for the largest dimension of a 2D artwork
    • three-dimensional work cannot exceed a depth of 25cm from the wall.
  • All forms of original printmaking are acceptable.
  • Digital processes are allowed but have to be declared on the entry form.
This year sculpture can be entered for the first time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

What do you do if you don't respond to the PAOTY call in 48 hours?

Today I received a query about somebody who has entered the Portrait Artist of the Year (Series 10)  competition which will be filmed shortly - and was then contacted.

But there's a problem!

What do you do if you don't respond to the PAOTY call in 48 hours?

I'm going to repeat the query below - after removing all identifying information - as my comments might be applicable to more than just the individual who wrote to me.

I recently applied for Sky POATY. I received two phone calls from them last week, which I unfortunately missed since [legitimate explanation].  

I have since written 2 emails to them about this, but have received no reply, and I am slightly worried since the T&Cs state applicants can be discounted if they don't respond to contact attempts within 48 hours.

Since you have written such helpful blog posts on the series, I was hoping you could tell me what this means, and how I can get in touch with them? 
  • Do you know if there is any way I can contact Sky directly, 
  • Or whether they would actually discount an applicant for not returning a call? 
Don't worry if you don't know anything about this, but I thought it was worth asking your advice since you are so knowledgeable about the programme! I look forward to hearing back from you.

First the BAD NEWS: On the whole, I think the moment of opportunity has passed.

Organising heat artists from some 2,000+ applicants is tedious and complicated. 

  • First they have to sift through  all the applications and discount all the "no hopers" and come up with a long list
  • Then lots and lots of phone calls to lots and lots of people - and of course you won't get everybody first time.....
  • Next, they need to talk to the long list to see whether they can do the dates for the heats - which will fill up as they progress through the phone calls. My guess is they probably have two lists 
    • people we really really want
    • people we're happy to have if we don't get all the first group
  • if they don't provide a phone number it's because they don't want lots and lots of people who want to be on the television ringing them up and begging to be allocated a place in the heat! ;)
The reason for having a deadline for you to get back to the PAOTY organisers is because they need to get on and complete the arrangements for the heats because these will be filmed in April.

So - bottom line - I think the moment passed before you contacted me....

One thing which is worth bearing in mind - to improve your chances - should you want to apply again, is that you could have 

  • either included an explanation as to why you have limited access to a phone on occasion AND indicated 
  • either another person to call 
  • or times when you will be able to respond (or not respond - whichever is most appropriate)

For what it's worth, I'd be completely useless at entering a competition like this as I won't answer numbers I don't recognise!

TIP: ALWAYS Pay attention to all dates and times highlighted in any of the Call for Entries information relating to Artist of the Year

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Review: Society of Graphic Fine Art Annual Exhibition 2023

The Society of Graphic Fine Art is holding its Annual Open Exhibition in the East and North Galleries of the Mall Galleries this week (13th - 18th March 2023) - and I went to see it yesterday after it opened at midday.

View of the East Gallery of the SGFA Annual Exhibition 2023

You can view the artwork ONLINE:
There are also a number of Demonstrations in the East and North Galleries being used for the Exhibition - see details at end. 
  • HOWEVER please note that there is no underground service on Wednesday and a reduced service on London Overground on Thursday and Friday although the buses will continue to run - but might well be a bit busier than usual. I'd avoid the commuter rush hours if possible. (Check status for a specific date with TFL as the situation can change)

About the SGFA

This is an exhibition by an art society which also calls itself 'The Drawing Society'. It focuses on drawing and the graphical qualities of fine art. Consequently it's an exhibition which should be of interest to anybody interested in drawing
Founded in 1919, the Society promotes fine drawing skills in both traditional and contemporary media. Today there are more than 130 elected members of the SGFA across the UK — professional artists from all areas of the art world who work in all drawing and printmaking media.
You can find out more about the activities of the SGFA and see artwork by its members in its bulletins which are available online e.g. SGFA Winter Bulletin 2022.

The Artwork

One of the interesting aspects of the exhibition is to look at the very many different ways in which drawing can be expressed across paintings, drawings and original fine art prints - from conventional graphite and charcoal - through ink in all its many forms - to coloured pencils and watercolour which are most typically used to add in colour to artwork. However there are also examples of silverpoint on gesso and needlework being a couple of examples I spotted yesterday

I found LOTS of monochromatic examples of drawings in graphite, charcoal and ink.

Monochrome artwork in the far north gallery

There are also very many drawings in coloured pencils and/or soft pastels or oil pastels in the show - and some which mix media.

More colourful artwork

In terms of paintings, there were many excellent watercolours - but I did find some paintings which puzzled me in terms of not being artwork I normally associate with SGFA.

One interesting aspect I noted this year is that more and more artwork is being produced by artists who have earned their membership of FBA art societies (the Mall Galleries is the home of the Federation of British Artists).  That's not to say that all are also members of the SGFA but rather that other FBA members (eg Ian Sidaway RI) are sending entries in via the open entry

Monday, March 13, 2023

A timely art business reminder

It's a timely reminder for me! 

In the days of digital calendars we can set up reminders to renew:

  • website hosts
  • domain name registrations
  • any other service we pay for relating to our website
The thing is we tend to input credit card details or include a balance on the account to pay for these - thinking everything will just rollover automatically when it comes time to pay. No need to worry

Forgetting that our cards all have expiry dates - and when the card is expired - as mine did at the end of last month - it cannot be used to make the automated payment.

I just spotted the email in time to get things sorted - as my payment was due and the notice about my card having expired had been issued 

This was the notice I got this week.

It's really very easy to lose an email if you get a lot (as I do) and they race off your front page or you're very busy and don't look at your emails for a few days - or you get ill!

  • keep a note of the credit card used against each website service / domain name and WHEN it need to be updated
  • input the renewal dates for all relevant services to your digital calendar - with an alert set up for a week beforehand and an annual reminder turned on
Otherwise your website or your domain name could end up like VERY MANY I've come across in my time looking for artists websites - offline and potentially dead and buried.

To be honest, the most common problem seems to be the failure to renew the domain name. I've come across many websites which indicate a domain name renewal problem.

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Review: £10,000 Commission for Landscape Artist of the Year 2023

This post is about:

  • the challenge of the Landscape Artist of the Year commission
  • the Commission Programme
  • the Commission Painting produced by the winner of Landscape Artist of the Year 2023.

This week I went to Greenwich to view the £10,000 Commission Painting painted by Finn Campbell-Notman as winner of Landscape Artist of the Year 2023 for the Royal Museums Greenwich. 

You can find photographs of the painting hung in the Queen's House below.

The LAOTY 2023 Commission

Like many others I watched last week's programme about the development of the Commission with interest. (It followed on from the programme about the Final). 

For me, it threw up so very many questions - which I'd been asking myself all the way through the series

Personally I thought that the commission might be described as "a poisoned chalice"! Sounds good - until you start to think about how to do it!

So what was the commission and when did the artists find out what it was?

I've heard from artists participating in the series, including at least one of the finalists, that NOBODY knew what the commission was until after the competition finished and the winner was announced. 

I've talked to other artists from previous series about this and nobody knew what their commission was until they'd got to the point where they needed to know. 

The programme suggested that even the Judges didn't know what the Commission was!

According to Robert Bligh, the Senior Curator: World and Maritime History at the National Maritime Museum - who is presumably not somebody who often commissions paintings - the commission was as follows...
A contemporary seascape and maritime painting inspired by the lives and work of the Van De Veldes
The rationale was that the NMM was holding an exhibition at the Queens House in 2023 - which opened last week - to mark the 350th anniversary of the arrival of the Van De Veldes - Elder (father) and Younger (son) in 1672 in Greenwich as leading maritime artists. (I'll be writing my review of the exhibition next week having viewed it for the second time on Monday).

What I shall never ever understand about this series - and irritated me throughout - was that the commission as presented bore no relation to either:
  • locations chosen
  • knowledge / skills of the various participating artists
The fact that each programme, when broadcast, was prefaced by the announcement of the prize commission for the winner (i.e. commission for the National Maritime Museum relating to the Van de Veldes Exhibition in Greenwich) 

However - and it cannot be repeated too much - the subject and scope of the prize commission was NOT KNOWN BY THE ARTISTS at any time during the course of the competition! Or it would appear any of the people making the programme!!

Which means:
  • only one of the locations related in any way to the commission i.e. Lough Neagh is an inland sea like one which exists in the Netherlands - but is also tidal.
  • none of the artists were really tested in relation to painting water - except in the last heat. The opportunities that Blackpool and Castle Ward presented were wasted as the pods focused on structures rather than the sea.

The Commission Programme

As well as a commission, Finn Campbell-Notman also had to make a television programme about working out how to do the commission!

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

About Wren 300 in the City of London

Today is the tercentenary of the death of Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) 

He's the closest equivalent to Leonardo da Vinci - except he didn't paint! He was however a mathematician, astronomer, physicist, anatomist and one of the United Kingdom’s greatest architects. 

One of the more remarkable things he did was rebuild 51 churches in the City of London after the Great Fire in 1666. This of course included what is generally regarded as his masterpiece, St Paul’s Cathedral. Wren is buried in St Paul's and part of the Latin inscription on his gravestone translates: 'If you seek his monument, look about you.'
In 1670, the first of the Wren churches was built; 87 churches had been destroyed in the fire, some parishes were united, and 51 were eventually rebuilt. Over the next 46 years, Wren was to design and supervise the building of these churches (and much more).
The Wren 300 festival is celebrating his achievements with a year-long education and conservation programme for children and adults.

The Henry Moore Altar - made of Traventine Marble
in St Stephen Walbrook, surrounded by very contemporary Matisse like knee cushions!

His tercentenary is being marked by The Wren300 Square Mile Churches programme which has been awarded a £241,00 grant from the National Lottery Fund. It offers a range of opportunities to explore the work of Sir Christopher Wren through conservation, heritage, and musical activities. The idea is to help a great range of people to appreciate the architecture, arts, heritage and music of his time.

Projects include: 
  • A Schools Programme 
  • The 'Dastardly Triple Dome - school pupils building a replica of the dome of St Paul’s during School Science Week
  • A Conservation Workshop - about new construction techniques and sustainable conservation materials - run by Cliveden Conservation Workshop
  • The ‘Wrenathon’ - working with choirs from across The City of London to sing music ranging from the baroque to the contemporary and jazz!
Plus an exhibition of fire artists. In September 2023, a number of churches will be hosting exhibitions of fire artists, depicting the destruction and rebuilding of Churches by Wren following the Great Fire of London.

I had the very great pleasure on Monday of being taken on a walk of four churches:
  • St Stephen Walbrook (1672 and 1679) - The 63 feet (19 m) high dome is based on Wren's original design for St Paul's, and is centred over a square of twelve columns. This is also the church where the Samaritans were. founded by Chad Varah and started out in the crypt.
  • St Mary Abchurch - first mentioned in 1198–1199 / rebuilt 1681–1686. It which has a magnificent alterpiece carved by Grinling Gibbons
  • St. Mary Aldermary - the most important late 17th-century Gothic church in England, according to Pevsner - and looking not unlike Kings Chapel, Cambridge but on a smaller scale - with a cafe at one end!
  • St Mary-Le-Bow - which has the Bow Bells
with guidance from Harry Mount, the architectural historian and Editor of "The Oldie". 

Wren was hugely skilled at making churches seem extremely spacious even when they were located on tiny sites. He also was able to create designs which mixed the Gothic spires with the Classical style he preferred - so the skyline looked the same - but the interiors felt light and spacious

Below you can see some of the photographs I took of the amazing designs and interiors. 

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Review: Royal Society of British Artists Bicentennial Exhibition

The Bicentennial Exhibition of the Royal Society of British Artists is currently on display at the Mall Galleries and this post comments on the exhibition and the artwork I liked.

This is a review of what I saw last week and also identifies artwork I liked.

You can read who won the prizes in this post Royal Society of British Artists 2023 | Award Winners published by the Mall Galleries.

See also my previous posts

There are 489 artworks spread across the three galleries of the Mall Galleries.  Rather a lot of them seemed to me to be smaller than usual.

One of the display walls in the centre of the west gallery.

You can see digital images of all the artwork on 
I'm also uploading my photos of the artwork in the exhibition to my Facebook Page -  - and will list the gallery albums below.
You can see albums of my photos of the exhibition irrespective of whether or not you are a member of Facebook or are logged in or not. I think these help you to appreciate the size of works better and what they look like on the wall with frames etc
North Gallery

This is a YouTube Video of Mick Davies, President of the RBA introducing the exhibition during the hang process.

The galleries seemed a tad more crowded than usual - but that's unsurprising given the nature of the exhibition and the wish to include 200 artworks from the Open Entry to mark the Bicentennial.

Styles of artwork are as varied as ever and coupled with the fact the RBA accepts drawings, paintings, original fine art prints and 3D artwork makes for a very eclectic exhibition - but one which is rather more contemporary than exhibitions I can remember from when I first started covering this art society's exhibition. The RBA has come a long way in recent years under the Presidency of Mick Davies.

The feature wall next to the Cafe

Most of the smaller 3D art, ceramics and sculpture are in the East Gallery - with larger pieces seen elsewhere in the exhibition.

There is a very impressive Bicentennial Catalogue 1823 - 2023 which provides an excellent one page profile of each of the members in 2023. I can't find a link to where you can purchase it online but it's available at the exhibition.

I did have a niggle. I didn't think either of the normal feature walls i.e. the walls at the extreme west and east of the Mall Galleries had the impact they should have had. Nothing against the art on the walls - it just wasn't the right art for those walls i.e. artwork which makes you want to walk over and take a closer look - from 50 feet away - and didn't have a particularly coherent hang!