Wells Art Contemporary - Gallery Show




Exhibition: Wells Cathedral, Somerset, and online. An additional exhibition of 2023 prizewinning work will be held at GBS Fine Art during September.

Awards: up to £2,000 in cash prizes plus artist residency, further gallery exhibitions, mentoring, art materials, etc.

Based in Wells, Somerset, the annual WAC exhibition is a highlight of the city’s cultural life.

Gallery Show:

  • Calling for: artworks in all mediums.
  • Selectors: artists Curtis HolderNina Murdoch, and Kelvin Okafor.
  • Deadline: Wednesday 10 May 2023, 17.00 BST.
  • Entry portal: new.artopps.co.uk/opportunities/Wells-Art-Contemporary2023

Established in 2012 by artists for artists, Wells Art Contemporary (WAC) is an international opportunity for innovative visual artists working in all genres.

The 2023 WAC exhibition will run from 5th August to 2nd September 2023, with a private view on Friday 4 August 2023.

WAC allows UK and international artists to put their work before a prestigious panel of judges. Selected entries are exhibited in the remarkable Gothic spaces of Wells Cathedral and seen by up to 50,000 people annually. They are automatically entered for a wide range of awards, including cash prizes, a residency, mentoring and more. Work may be offered for sale.

WAC is open to all artists over the age of 18 working around the world in all media and styles.

WAC provides two ways for artists to showcase work:

  • the Gallery Show, which presents artworks in a temporary white-wall gallery in the Cathedral cloisters,
  • the Installation Show, which invites site-specific proposals for installation within the body of the Cathedral and its grounds. Both shows run concurrently.  

The WAC Gallery is a unique exhibition space installed along three sides of Wells Cathedral’s Cloisters, where a white-wall gallery is built to display work. It forms part of the main visitor route round the Cathedral and can be very busy, especially in summer.

Artwork in any medium will be considered for exhibition in the Gallery Show, including painting, drawing, sculpture, print, photo, video, digital, textile, mixed media, and more.

The Gallery Show will be selected by three distinguished artists:

  • Curtis Holder, working in pencil on paper, winner of Sky Portrait Artist of the Year 2020, with artworks in the collections of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and Soho House. His solo exhibition, The Makers: Portraits from Backstage, is open at the National Theatre, London, until November 2023.
  • Nina Murdoch, a painter whose work is characterised by a meticulous technique resembling that of the early Renaissance, working in egg tempera on boards primed with gesso. Awards include the ING Purchase Prize, ING Discerning Eye 2019.
  • Kelvin Okafor, known both online and offline for his life-like portraits in pencil, winner of the de Laszlo Foundation Award, Royal Society of Portrait Painters 2013. “I am delighted to be a judge at this year’s Wells Art Contemporary” says Kelvin Okafur. “Open exhibitions were a giant stepping stone for my art to gain visibility many years ago. It led to winning awards and being featured in several major media outlets, affording me the pleasure of being a full-time artist.”

The deadline to enter the Gallery Show is Wednesday 10th May 2023, 17.00.

Prize Summary: 
Win cash prizes, residencies, mentoring and more
Prizes Details: 


Artists taking part in Wells Art Contemporary 2023 – both the Gallery Show and the Installation Showwill be entered for a wide range of prizes:

  • Howden Art Award£2,000 awarded to one artist selected by Howden Group.
  • NG Creative Art Residency Award: a two-week placement at the NG Art Creative Residency & Gallery in Provence, France, including board and lodging, studio space, mentorship and outings.
  • JGM Gallery Prize: works by selected artists will be showcased online by JGM Gallery.
  • Student Prize: £1,000 awarded to a current fine art student aged under 26 by Tracey Grace.
  • Parker Harris Mentoring Prizea one-to-one mentoring session covering all aspects of professional development to a selected artist.
  • Somerset Art Works Prize: a one-to-one mentoring session with Somerset Art Works.
  • People’s Choice Prize: £500 awarded to one artist selected by visitors of the exhibition.
  • St Cuthberts Mill Award: 20 sheets of Saunders Waterford 300gsm worth over £120.
  • Artist residency in Provence, France

There will be an additional exhibition showing prizewinning works at GBS Fine Art in Wells immediately after the Cathedral show closes.

Wells Cathedral

Entry Fee:

Fee Detail: 
The entry fee is £17.50 per proposed installation or £10 per work for students.
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Artmagazineium Issue: 41 / July 2024