Have you taken a photograph or painted a picture that you think is good enough to sell? If your creative work features Shaftesbury, or was inspired by our town, it could earn you money or win you a cash prize with the Shaftesbury Arts Centre’s ‘Portrait Of Shaftesbury’ exhibition.
Gallery curator Kate Pickard told ThisIsAlfred that there is plenty of scope for entrants.
Every two years, amateur photographers and artists have a chance to have their work hung on the walls of the Bell Street Gallery for a small fee, which goes towards the Arts Centre, a charity. “It is an open art exhibition. Anybody can enter. All you have to do is bring your work to the Arts Centre,” said Kate.
Each time, the exhibition follows a theme inspired by the competition partner. This year the Arts Centre is working with Gold Hill Museum so there’s a broad category for entries. “The theme this year is Shaftesbury 1,000 years. As we are linking up with Gold Hill Museum, you could go there and find something. There’s a wonderful fire engine,” suggested Kate.
There are also lots of pictures of Shaftesbury 100 years ago in the Museum’s exhibition, commemorating the ‘sale of Shaftesbury’ in 1919 and Kate believes that many of these buildings, and others around the town, could provide a rich source of ideas and inspiration. “Some architecture in Shaftesbury has changed. At one time there was an Abbey and now it’s in ruins,” she said.
You don’t have to be a dab hand with a paintbrush or pastels either. You can even enter an old family photograph. “As long as it can be hung on the wall,” said Kate. So you might have an old sepia picture of Victorians strolling along Park Walk or a more contemporary photo of a misty sunrise over Enmore Green. “What visitors like is variety,” said Kate. “As this is an open exhibition, they have no idea what they are going to go and see. There’s usually something that appeals to everybody.”
There are some rules. If somebody submitted a photograph or a painting of their cat, they would need to justify its submission under the ‘Shaftesbury 1,000’ heading, if it was not obvious that the piece was composed in Shaftesbury.
“We have to have some sort of idea of why you had painted the picture of the Shaftesbury cat. Where did it live? Where did you get the inspiration to paint the cat? If it’s come from the cat in the museum, brilliant!” said Kate, although painting that mummified moggy might not meet everyone’s taste. “When it comes to hand-in day, we will have lots of questions and hopefully the artists will have lots of answers,” she added.
Shaftesbury means the Parish or the Town Council area. If you have visited Win Green or Hambledon Hill to paint your scene, it cannot be entered. For some people, having their work up on the gallery’s walls offers a sense of pride and accomplishment. But there’s an additional financial incentive for entering the competition. Anybody whose work is displayed can offer it to gallery browsers who might wish to buy it.
“It doesn’t have to be for sale but we do encourage it. It is one way for the Arts Centre to make some money. And for those who do enter there is the chance to win the visitors choice,” said Kate. “Every visitor who comes in is asked to vote. All of the entries have a number. If you like entry number 47, you just put the number on a piece of paper, put that in the box and hopefully number 47 gets the most votes and the artist will win a prize,” Kate explained.
So it helps to have a big family! “It does,” said Kate. “But it’s lovely for the children as well because they get a special prize of their own.” The first prize for adults is £25, followed by £15 for the second-most popular submission. There are usually between 60 and 70 entries to this competition. There is a small fee for taking part. “We charge £5 per person with a maximum of two entries. Under 18’s are free,” said Kate.
Many first-timers might be unsure how much to charge for their pictures or paintings. There’s no broad, sliding scale that tells you how to price your artwork but Kate says the Gallery team will offer guidance. “We put on the ticket however much the people would like. There is a commission payable, which is common in most art galleries. If you sell something for £100, the Arts Centre takes £25 and you will get £75,” said Kate.
There is a narrow window for submitting entries. “It has to be handed in between 5pm and 7pm on Tuesday, 21st May. We are quite strict about that because we have a very short turnaround,” Kate explained. The preview event for the exhibition is 5.30pm to 7pm on Friday 24th May.
You can pick up an entry form with full terms and conditions at the Shaftesbury Arts Centre, on their website or from the Cygnet Gallery in Swan’s Yard.