MAKING A MARK: New Light Art Prize now open for entries

The New Light Prize Exhibition is now open for entries

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.

Excluded artwork includes

  • Pure photography 
  • artwork that is not static or incapable of being wall-hung 
  • bigger than the stated maximum dimensions
  • produced more than 3 years ago

Pieces shortlisted for the prizes must be available for final judging at the launch venue and be available for sale until the end of the Prize Exhibition tour.

Who is eligible to enter

Aspiring and established artists can enter.

The special feature of the current
Call for Entries for The New Light Prize
is that it’s ONLY open to artists from the North (of England).

A prestigious art competition is now open for entries for aspiring and
established artists from the North. 

My first question was – does “from the North” include those “born in the north and now
living elsewhere” i.e. me – and the answer is yes!  However, the he defining criteria is BORN, LIVE OR HAVE STUDIED IN one of the historic
counties of the North.

Artists who were born, live or have studied in one of the historic
counties of the North of England – Cumbria, Durham, Lancashire,
Northumberland, Yorkshire and – for the first time – Cheshire, can now
submit their work online via

That’s quite a catchment population!

Map of the catchment area
– highlighting historic counties and metropolitan areas

IMPORTANT NOTE – to avoid confusion 

  • Strictly speaking this is a map of 50 years ago after chunks were lopped off the historic counties and combined with the old County Boroughs to create the new metropolitan counties (speaks the geographer in me who did her dissertation at Cambridge on how well the boundaries implemented following the Redcliffe Maud report and the Local Government Act 1973 actually following natural and social flows! I can wax lyrical on this one!) .  
  • I take this to mean they’re referring to the historical counties PRE 1972 which are not accurately reflected in the above map but do include all the area shown in it – and in any case the historical counties did not include the existing County Boroughs!
  • I am querying this. They just happened to send the press release to a local government reorganisation expert!

How to Enter

Entry is ONLINE ONLY. You cannot submit an entry via email or post.

To enter, entrants MUST:

  • register first (click on SIGN IN/REGISTER at the top of the Call for Entries page) 
I assume they mean this “Register” – I can’t see any other one
  • complete their Account PROFILE by clicking on EDIT in their Account DASHBOARD – PROFILE.
  • upload only one image per artwork submitted as follows:
    • JPEG format, 
    • 300dpi (max 8MB). 
    • Do NOT include any frame in the image unless you consider it to be integral to the artwork itself.
    • confirm that artwork is original i.e. s/he own the copyright of the image or have the copyright owner’s authority to distribute the image for reproduction.


Entry is ONLINE only. You can upload images after you have provided all necessary details for registration and received the email confirming you are eligible to enter.

Entries into the competition cost: 

  • £20 for the first two pieces of artwork and 
  • £10 for any subsequent entries.

There are a number of very specific rules relating to framing, labels and transportation – and who is responsible for what.

Selection and Judging

The judging process will run from May until July 2023 

The Judges include:

  • Olivia Heron, Curator of The Whitworth Gallery, 
  • Matthew Hall, Director of Panter and Hall, London, 
  • Nan Perell, New York Collector specialising in contemporary British paintings, 
  • Mark Demsteader, renowned figurative artist and 
  • Rebekah Tadd, Development Director of New Light Art. 

About New Light Art

Established in 2010, New Light is a charity that celebrates and promotes both well-known and emerging artists by offering some of the region’s best awards and opportunities. It runs

  • the New Light Prize, 
  • New Light Art for All, an education programme which includes talks, workshops and school projects. 
  • in 2021 it launched the New Light Collection which aims to make the best in Northern visual arts available to more people, by loaning pieces free of charge to public bodies and charities. 

The common thread through everything New Light does is a deep belief that the visual arts matter and the north of England deserves to be celebrated. New Light is run by a dedicated group of people who are passionate about the visual arts in the north of England and relies entirely on donations and sponsorship. 

For more information visit

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