Top prizes on offer in art competition

March 28 2018
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A NATIONAL press launch, an exhibition at London’s prestige JGM Gallery and a cheque for £1,000 are among the first of many lucrative prizes in the 2018 Wells Art Contemporary (WAC) competition.

The call for entries is now open on the WAC website.

WAC, which runs during October in The Bishop’s Palace and is in its sixth year, has always been about promoting local artists and their practice.

But it has grown from a purely local focus to realise the ambition of co-founder Kate Noble for these same artists to leave their comfort zone and measure their talent and vision in the heat of international competition.

From its inception, WAC has thought big and reached out to challenge assumptions of where great work is being done.

“Two previous winners, Frances Borden and Dominic Bradnum, have already shown what the competition can do to showcase ability and promote a career,” said Paddy O’Hagan, chair of WAC.

“We want that possibility for all artists in our catchment, aspiring or established. We’re building this to be the most influential and exciting contemporary art competition in the West Country.”

It helps that the judging panels have read like an honours board of the most able and influential in the field: Roy Ackerman, Maria Lalic, Mariele Neudecker, Michael Porter, Anita Taylor, Richard Wentworth and the controversial Royal portraitist and Cathedral School laureate Justin Mortimer have all served.

The appointment of the Parker Harris visual arts consultancy promises the competition, its entrants and finalists a high profile and broad national exposure.

Patrons include Hauser & Wirth and Michael Eavis. RK Harrison is the major sponsor, with great support from solicitors Chubb Bulleid.

At its fifth anniversary last year, WAC staged a highly successful exhibition of new work by past winners in The Bishop’s Palace. The Palace will again be the venue for an exhibition of this year’s shortlist from October 8-22.

As a preface to it, a 64-page catalogue will be produced showcasing the entrants’ work and providing commentary by the judges and endorsement by sponsors. The website (wellsartcontemporary.co.uk) has full details of entry requirements and will carry examples of work by all those accepted.

• Picture: Garden Gnome by Pete Burkeet, shortlisted in 2016