AIR: National Open Art Competition

By Shannon Brien

National Open Art is committed to the support of up and coming artists. Their annual competition, which is currently in it’s 19th year, promotes these emerging artists and makes high quality art accessible to the public. This year they introduce, alongside pre-existing categories; the adult static competition, children’s art and adult moving image, a new category; the world vote.

This is the first time that the NOA have allowed the public to participate in the judging. After the first round of judging by an expert panel, the thousands of entries will be whittled down to a mere 500 art works that “will then be released on our website…and people will be able to vote online for their favourite”, says Neil Lawson Baker, Chairman of NOA.

Allen Chrys - Walk in Progress. Bedrock - 6129_12064Allen Chrys – A Walk in Progress

“For us, it’s about giving emerging artists the maximum exposure possible and the World Vote provides a great way for artists to get their work out to a wider audience. It will be fascinating to see which artists really strike a cord with people, and which piece emerges victorious,” Baker continues. The voting opens today and will close on August 31 where the winning piece will be revealed and fast tracked to the RCA exhibition.

Midnight Johny - Tooting Lido - 4921_9110Midnight Johny – Tooting Lido

The World Vote category exemplifies the NOA’s promise of widening public understanding and engagement with art by taking the elitism out of it. “Art is for everyone. People should engage with it as they see fit and not be swayed by intellectual opinion, which has made art confusing and off putting for many”, says Baker. The NOA hold exhibitions at prestigious London venues but also create exhibitions outside the capital.

LadyM - Sex on the Brain (part of Pornucopia - Memoirs of a 1980's Nymphomaniac) - 6189_12306Lady M – Sex on the Brain

“This year, we curated our first ever pop-up exhibition at Brighton Fringe, a different audience to those who might visit the Royal Academy, which felt like an exciting departure for us. At the exhibitions we have walk about tours and crucially all of NOA’s exhibitions are free – regardless of how well established the artists being shown are.”

The driving force behind this organisation is to nurture young and emerging artists which is predominately done through the competition. The prizes include bursaries and funds which help the artist continue their work but the biggest prize of all is the one that money cant buy such as the opportunity to be commissioned by a gallery, and such exposure is invaluable.

Jones Isla - Rooms of the House 2 - 5848_10807Jones Isla – Rooms of the House 2

The Duke of Richmond begun this charity in 1995 to help aspiring and widen public understanding of art but to also achieve his wider vision of  Chichester becoming internationally and nationally known as “the  city of the arts” by 2020. Presently, his vision is fast becoming a reality with Chichester being home to an array of venues of the arts such as The Festival Theatre and The Minerva which are considered by many to be the best in the UK.

Bellwood Sarah - Live.Eat.Kill.Die - 5842_10792Bellwood Sarah – Live.Eat.Kill.Die

The Chichester Cathedral is home to works from the likes of Chagall, Piper and Sutherland and Baker boasts that “we also have the Cass Foundation, one of the finest sculpture parks in Europe, and the Fishbourne Roman Palace, the largest Roman mansion north of the Alps. Add to this an Oxmarket gallery, street art across the city, incredible collections at Petworth House, Arundel Castle and Goodwood House, and of course NOA, and you have an offer worth shouting about.”

To take part in the World Vote and for more details on NOA’s Winter Exhibition visit

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