Why not enter the Black Swan Arts Open 2017

The Black Swan Arts Open Competition is an annual exhibition available to artists of all professions and disciplines to enter. The competition welcomes a diverse range of works – with no limitations to medium or size. Each year the gallery attracts some of the best contemporary artists and artworks regionally and nationally.

Artists of all professions and disciplines who can submit original works in any medium and in any size. The event offers artists the chance to have their work viewed by a panel of highly respected judges including broadcaster and journalist, Mariella Frostrup, and local artist and winner of 2015 Art Open Solo Show prize, Seamus Nicolson, and to exhibit at a regionally important gallery where their work will be seen by hundreds of visitors.


This year the invited panel of judges for the competition are esteemed artists and individuals within the arts industry:

Mariella Frostrup – Mariella is a writer and broadcaster, firmly established as an intelligent and accessible commentator on a wide range of programmes and publications. She is currently best known as presenter of Radio 4’s long-running weekly programme Open Book, and until recently presenter of Sky Arts Mariella’s Book Show. She co-hosts The Big Painting Challenge alongside Rev Richard Coles; which pits amateur artists against each other.  The series recently transmitted on Sunday nights on BBC1 to audiences in excess of 4 million.  Other recent broadcasting projects include Bringing Up Britain, the Radio 4 series which looks at the challenges of modern parenting; and Objects of Desire for Sky Arts, a 6-part series exploring the world’s most desirable objects.

Seamus Nicolson – Winner of Black Swan Arts 2015 Solo Art Show. Seamus Nicolson is a photographic artist, who uses the medium to seek out the surreal and the over-looked within our everyday environment. Working and exhibiting since the mid 90’s, Nicolson’s work has encompassed rave culture, the multi-cultural communities of London and now currently the rural environment of Somerset, where he lives. Since participating in the Becks New Contemporaries graduate exhibition at Camden Arts Centre in 1997, Nicolson has exhibited widely nationally and internationally. His work is in public collections such as the Tate Collection, the Government Art Collection and the Arts Council Collection.
Winner of the BSA 2016 Open.

Gary Sangster – Gary Sangster is most recently member of the UNSW Art & Design faculty, Sydney and Consulting Director of Drawing Projects, Bridge House, UK, as well a Trustee of Arnolfini, Bristol. In 2016 he was Interim Managing Director of Arts Catalyst – Centre for Art, Science and Technology, London. He is a founding Director and member of ‘Reframing the Curatorial Project’, ‘in.site’, ‘Toxicity’ and ‘Art and the Document’ research groups at UNSW and the University of Sydney. He has international experience as a curator, writer, and museum director in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the USA, curating more than 100 museum exhibitions.

Stephen Snoddy – Stephen has worked across the country in Bristol, Manchester, Southampton, Gateshead and Walsall in running Museum’s and Gallery’s and he was the founding Director of Milton Keynes Gallery. He has worked with such artists as Gilbert & George, Chris Ofili, Bruce McLean, John Baldessari, Christopher Le Brun, Rita Donagh, Annette Messager and Rachel Whiteread in presenting solo exhibitions of their work. He has been on the Board of the New Contemporaries, the Visual Arts and Galleries Association and the Visual Arts Committee of the British Council. He is a painter and recently had solo exhibitions in Brussels and at Southampton City Art Gallery.

Dea Vanagan – Dea joined Hauser & Wirth Somerset in September 2016 to work closely with Senior Director Alice Workman and the team to help expand and support the creative programme in Somerset, and to develop national and international networks. Prior to joining Hauser & Wirth, she was Associate Director of curatorial collective Artwise (2007-2016); co-curator of the Official Azerbaijan Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015); Associate Curator for Situations (2014-2016); Founding Artistic Director of The Bomb Factory Art Foundation (2015-2016); and Assistant Curator of Collections at the Contemporary Art Society (2006-2007). Dea is a Trustee of the Bomb Factory Art Foundation, AWITA member, part of the Clore Leadership Network and a DCMS-funded group born out of WLMN


  • Hauser and Wirth Somerset First Prize – £750
  • Frome Town Council – People’s Choice Award of £250
  • Mount Art – £150 framing of a piece for artists in full time education or three years out of full time education
  • Postscript – 3D prize for art materials to the value of £100
  • Sam’s Kitchen – Prize for local art of a meal and selected work exhibited at Sam’s Kitchen
  • Black Swan Arts Solo Show in 2018/2019
  • Babington House Prize of a mentoring lunch/dinner with Kate Bryan, Head of Soho House Group Collections
  • Friends of Black Swan Arts prize

Find the entry form here