Sir Peter Blake announced as first patron of John Moores Painting Prize

Influential artist supports UK’s biggest painting prize

Sir Peter Blake has been named as the first patron of the John Moores Painting Prize, the UK’s biggest painting competition.

He will represent the competition which has a first prize of £25,000, and is held biennially at the Walker Art Gallery. He will take on this role 50 years after winning the Junior section of John Moores 3 with his painting Self Portrait with Badges in 1961.

Peter Blake, who will celebrate his 80th birthday next year, is perhaps most famous for designing the cover of The Beatles’ album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). However he has been a prolific artist during his career and his status in the art world far exceeds Sgt. Pepper’s. Due to his contribution he became a Royal Academician in 1981 and received a CBE in 1983. In 2002 he received a knighthood for his services to art, becoming one of only five arts knights.

The Walker Art Gallery is also currently hosting An Alphabet, a display of one of Peter Blake’s alphabet series. On until 4 December 2011 the display is made up of 26 silkscreen prints

Reyahn King, director of art galleries at National Museums Liverpool says:

“We’re thrilled to announce Sir Peter Blake as patron and representative of the John Moores Painting Prize. He is one of the most significant and influential painters in the UK, making him the perfect choice.
“He is also a former winner of a John Moores Painting Prize in the year that John Moores himself was on the jury. I’m sure his championing of the Prize will attract more artists to enter their work and the public to visit the exhibition.”

Lady Grantchester, from the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust and daughter of Sir John Moores says:

“The trustees and I are delighted that Sir Peter Blake has accepted our invitation to become the first patron of the John Moores Painting Prize. It is an accolade for us that an artist of his standing has given his support to the Prize and we very much look forward to working with him in the future.”

Sir Peter Blake says:

“I am delighted to accept the Walker Art Gallery’s invitation to be a patron of this fantastic competition. You won’t see a show like the John Moores Painting Prize anywhere else. The Walker Art Gallery is one of the most important galleries in Europe and has threaded its way through my career. It’s the gallery where I first displayed Self-Portrait with Badges and where I had the privilege of working as a judge for John Moores 24. Now I have the pleasure of returning again to represent the John Moores Painting Prize as patron.”

Born 25 June 1932, in Dartford, Kent, Peter Blake was one of the leading figures in the development of British Pop Art, incorporating imagery from modern culture into his work, including comic books, consumer goods and advertisements. He remains one of the most significant and influential painters in the UK.

During his career he developed strong links with Liverpool, and has played a big part in the city’s cultural landscape. He first visited Liverpool when he carried out National Service with the RAF (1951 – 53). Part of his training required that he went over to Belfast. To get there he would travel by ferry from Liverpool, and it was at this time that his affection for Liverpool started.

His links with Liverpool got stronger in 1961 when he won the John Moores Painting Prize Junior section at the Walker Art Gallery for his work Self Portrait with Badges. In reference to winning the prize he said,

“It was a thrilling moment when I was told I’d taken first prize in the Junior section and it spurred me on.”

In 2000, Peter Blake curated the exhibition About Collage at Tate Liverpool which drew on his own, and Tate’s, collections to reveal the radical and far-reaching impact of collage on 20th century art.

In 2006 he was invited to return to the Walker Art Gallery to judge John Moores 24. Alongside Jason Brooks, Andrea Rose, Ann Bukantas and Tracey Emin he chose Martin Greenland as the winner of the £25,000 prize with his painting Before Vermeer’s Clouds.

The following year in 2007 he exhibited his work in Peter Blake: A Retrospective at Tate Liverpool. The major retrospective exhibition of paintings by him was the largest since his Tate Gallery exhibition in 1983. He also created an updated version of Sgt. Pepper’s - with famous figures from Liverpool history - as part of the successful campaign for Liverpool to become European Capital of Culture 2008. 

The call for entries is now open for artists to have the chance of winning the John Moores Painting Prize 2012. The Prize is entered anonymously and open to all UK-based artists working with paint.

The John Moores exhibition is held in partnership with the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust and remains true to its founding principles: to support artists and to bring to Liverpool the best contemporary painting from across the UK.

The final deadline for artists to enter is 20 January 2012. Online registration can be found on and winners will be announced on 13 September 2012. Artists can also register by post, registration forms are available at the Walker Art Gallery or can be requested and delivered by post.

Notes for editors

About John Moores 3, Peter Blake’s winning year

  • Jurors on the John Moores 3, 1961 panel were Sir John Moores  (founder of the prize), Alan Clutton-Brock, Robert Medley, Robert Melville and John Russell. 
  • Peter Blake won £250 in the Junior section with his painting Self-Portrait with Badges.
  • The winner of the John Moores Painting Prize that year was Henry Mundy with his painting Cluster winning £1,000
  • The John Moores Painting Prize Junior section was for artists under 36 years old. 
  • The same year that Peter Blake won first place in the Junior section, David Hockney was one of the five prizewinners, winning £50. 
  • The former Beatles member, Stuart Sutcliffe also entered the Junior section of the competition but didn’t win.
About the John Moores Painting Prize
  • The competition is £25 to enter. 
  • John Moores Painting Prize is organised in partnership with the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust.
  • Supported by official hotel partner Hope Street Hotel, Liverpool and media partner a-n Magazine.
  • John Moores Painting Prize is part of Liverpool Biennial, one of the UK’s largest and most exciting contemporary visual arts events. The 7th Liverpool Biennial International Festival of Contemporary Art, will take place from 15 September – 25 November 2012.

About National Museums Liverpool

National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic.

We attract 2.5 million visitors every year. Our venues are World Museum, Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, UK Border Agency National Museum, Sudley House and Lady Lever Art Gallery.

Our newest venue, the Museum of Liverpool, opened on 19 July 2011. Located at the city's Pier Head, part of the city's World Heritage Site, it tells the definitive story of Liverpool and its people and contains more than 6,000 items.

Walker Art Gallery William Brown Street, Liverpool Admission FREE

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