Wells Art Contemporary (WAC) is an international competition giving artists the opportunity to exhibit their work in Wells Cathedral, win a wide range of prizes, and be selected by distinguished judges. The competition is open to all artists over the age of 18, working around the world in all mediums and styles.
WAC provides two ways for artists to exhibit their work: artworks in the Cathedral cloisters; and installations within the Cathedral and its grounds. A highlight of the city’s cultural life, attracting thousands of visitors each year, the WAC exhibition will take place in July and August 2022.
All shortlisted artists will be in the running to win generous awards, including cash prizes, a residency in Provence, France, gallery feature opportunities, one-on-one mentoring, and more. A prestigious panel of artists will select the WAC 2022 shortlist: Matthew Burrows MBE, contemporary artist and founder of the Artist Support Pledge; Dale Lewis, contemporary painter represented by Edel Assanti, and Nana Shiomi, artist-printmaker whose work is held in collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum.
The entry fee is £15 per work or £10 per work for current fine art students aged under 26 who are enrolled on a recognised Bachelor or Masters Fine Arts course.
Now in its 11th year, WAC draws thousands of entries from artists wishing to show their work in such unusual, inspirational and prestigious spaces. The competition’s international reputation and reach has grown hugely in recent years through the exhibition’s presence online. Antony Gormley has recently chosen to exhibit a work in niche 338 on the Cathedral’s West front.
Wells Cathedral, completed in the 14th century, is the only entirely Gothic cathedral in Britain. It has an awe-inspiring interior with wide, high, uncluttered spaces, monumental scissor arches, a fan-vaulted octagonal Chapter House and some of the finest medieval stained glass in the country. On the Cathedral’s South side lie stone-carved, medieval cloisters adjacent to the Camery Garden. This a quiet, contemplative open space showing the remains of the earlier places of worship and a view of the famous springs of flowing water from which Wells takes its name.
Wells Art Contemporary allows artworks to be shown in two distinct areas. Work may be submitted into either, or both, of these parts of the competition. A specially-convened panel of established artists evaluates all entries before selecting works for the show. All submissions conforming to the practical guidelines below will be considered.
NOTE TO ARTISTS: Wells Cathedral is not a traditional art gallery but a place of spiritual and historic importance which receives thousands of visitors. WAC encourages all artists to respond imaginatively to the space while being alert to the challenges of installing and showing work in such an ancient building.
Artists are offered the opportunity to show their work in the Gallery which runs around the Cloisters, a vaulted medieval quadrangle surrounding an open courtyard on the South side of the Cathedral. The cloisters are part of the main visitor route round the building (see diagram below). A well-lit, white-wall gallery is specially built here to display work. Artwork in any medium will be considered, including 3D and video.
Artists wishing to submit work for the Gallery should note the following:
All selected works are installed in the Gallery by our experienced team and will also appear in WAC’s Virtual Exhibition and Online Shop. Artists are encouraged to provide prices and edition sizes if copies or prints of their submission are available. Artists who are selected for the Gallery will be required to send their artwork – or deliver in person – either to our subsidised London-based storage and delivery partner, Art Moves of Chelsea, or directly to Wells Cathedral. See below for a delivery timetable.
The decision of WAC is final with regards to the selection and placing of any artwork.
The guidelines below apply only to work submitted to the Installations component of WAC. Please note that there is a different process for making installation entries: see below for more information.
Artists are invited to submit proposals for a site-specific installation or intervention in a chosen site anywhere within the Cathedral, the Chapter House, the Camery Garden or the Palm Courtyard. The selectors will be looking for ideas which respond to the architectural, spatial or spiritual aspects of the selected site. Not all of the spaces are grand. There are also intimate, almost secret, corners. Striking installations can make an enormous impact here. You are encouraged to be bold and imaginative.
The selectors will consider ideas in any medium and of any size. Your initial submission should outline
Artists should consider the Cathedral’s long sacred history, its material fabric and its continuing use as a place of worship and contemplation. A virtual view of the gallery is available here. In principle, very few of the Cathedral spaces are completely out of bounds if the work is right. However, please note that the installations will be subject to certain restrictions around access, safety and the protection of the building’s fabric.
We strongly urge you to visit the Cathedral in advance. Take photos, make sketches, get a feel of where your work will best engage with its audience. How it will stimulate a wide range of responses and experiences through sound, light, performance, projection or any other medium. Initial written proposals should be of maximum 300 words, concisely explaining the work so the selectors can ‘see’ and appreciate what you have in mind. All entries will be considered. The selectors will then compile a long-list of submissions for further development (see timetable below). Long-listed artists will be contacted by the WAC team with advice on producing a more detailed proposal along with consideration of what is feasible. Any restrictions relating to the fabric of the building and the safety of visitors can also be explored at this point. Where a visit is not possible we can send images, video, descriptions, measurements and technical information to help inform your plans. Bear in mind that reaching this stage does not itself guarantee a position in the show.
Long-listed artists will then be required to submit a final proposal for consideration by the selectors. This should include crisp, clear descriptions with dimensions, materials, sketches, digital mock-ups or maquettes, photographs, links to website/Instagram accounts/ video logs, etc. – anything practical, in fact, that will help our selectors to visualise your creative idea. These detailed proposals will be used by the selectors in making their final choice of works and their installed positions.
The decision of WAC is final with regards to the selection and placing of any artwork.
Delivery of Installations
All selected artworks must be delivered, installed and removed by the artist who is also responsible for any assistants they may require to achieve this. The WAC team will be available to advise and support the process, to make the installation as simple as possible. This may include advising on transport, access and physical infrastructure. Installation will take place from the 11 – 18 July 2022 by arrangement directly with the artists.
Entry is by online submission through this website and the deadline for entry is 5pm, Wednesday 4 May 2022.
All entrants are asked to ensure they have read all Rules and Guidelines before entering.
All artists based in the UK or internationally, who are over the age of 18 on the 1st January 2022 are invited to apply. A third party may also submit work on the artists behalf with the full permission of the artist.
Entry Fee is £15 per work or £10 per work for current fine art students aged under 26 who are enrolled on a recognised Bachelor or Masters Fine Arts course.
For further details on all the prizes please read the Rules and Guidelines
* Please tick the box on the Entry Form if you wish to be considered for this Prize.
** Any printmaking technique (including Digital Print, Ink-jet print and 3D print) is acceptable.
A panel of distinguished artists forms our selection panel for the Gallery.
Selectors for the Installations include:
|Submissions deadline||5pm, Wednesday 4th May 2022|
|Gallery artists notified of judges decision||Monday 23rd May 2022|
|Installation artists notified of judges decision||Tuesday 31st May 2022|
|Selected Gallery artwork accepted for London storage||From 24th June to 12th July|
|Installation artworks installed by artists||From 11th to 18th July 2022|
|Selected Gallery artworks to be delivered to WAC at Wells Cathedral||15th and 16th July only|
|Private View||Friday 29th July 2022|
|Cathedral Show opens to the Public||From Saturday 30th July to Sunday 28th August 2022|
|Virtual exhibition of Gallery artworks||Saturday 30th July to Sunday 28th August 2022|
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