From left to right: Angela Samata (John Moores Painting Prize) and artists Rose Wylie, Rae Hicks, Mandy Payne, Juliette Losque and Alessandro Raho. A prize-winner at the John Moores Painting Prize in 2014, artist Rae Hicks has been speaking to us about his experience of being part of the John Moores and the effect it has had on his career: "I first saw my work on display at the Walker Art Gallery in the John Moores exhibition in 2012. It was a very big deal for me, especially as I had only just graduated from my BA. I was only just beginning to think that there was a point to me painting, so it very much helped crystallise that growing sense of possibility. This time around it was quite a surprise to find out that I was included. I'd had to put it out of my mind because of all the waiting, so it came out of nowhere a bit! The opening event was just great fun, definitely a highlight of that year. It was good meeting the other artists and sharing in the strangeness of the prize announcement day whilst also trying to be chilled out. Also, we all move in such different circles, so there was an element of slight absurdity about that too! Rae Hicks with his work, 'Sometimes I forget that you're gone' There's no doubt that being a prize-winner at the John Moores has had a very positive effect on things for me, although it's not always clear how. I will say though that at the time of being shortlisted, I was very much just starting out, and it gave me a huge boost of confidence and validation which I guess has been something of a foundation for my practice as it continues. I really like telling people about it as well. If I was asked for advice by an artist who has entered the 2016 prize, I'd say; "Just forget about it! There's nothing you can do now! The deed is done. You're in or out. If you're in, it's a great, great thing. If not, it's a total tragedy." There is no more to be said. I am not in this year either. Such is the way of the great wheel."