These ‘frequently asked questions’ (FAQs) are here to help artists through the competition process at all stages. Please do read them carefully. We will be updating these FAQs if and when additional questions are asked of us.

The John Moores Painting Prize 2020 exhibition will be at the Walker Art Gallery 11 September 2020 to 14 February 2021.

The call for entries period starts on 17 February 2020. The deadline to enter (register and pay the entry fee) is 12 noon on Tuesday 24 March 2020.

History of the John Moores Painting Prize

Who or what is John Moores?

John Moores (1896-1993) was the founder of Littlewoods, a Liverpool-based company. A man of fierce local pride and a keen amateur painter, he was concerned at London's increasing domination of the national arts scene.  He helped to establish the John Moores Painting Prize in 1957 as a competition open to anyone and sponsored the exhibition’s prizes. He received a Knighthood in 1980, becoming Sir John Moores.

Today, the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust works in partnership with National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside (operating as National Museums Liverpool)  to organise and present the John Moores Painting Prize at the Walker Art Gallery every two years.

What is the John Moores Painting Prize?

The prize is an open competition for artists working with paint, which, since it launched in 1957, has culminated in an exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. The exhibition is open to all artists aged 18 years or over, living or professionally based in the UK. It showcases the best new painting produced in Britain today and attracts a broad spectrum of artists. Named after its founding sponsor, the first John Moores exhibition was a great success and led to it becoming a biennial event. By the early sixties, the exhibition was regarded as the UK’s leading showcase for avant-garde painting. Many of the prize-winning works were purchased by John Moores and presented to the Walker Art Gallery for its permanent collection.

Since John Moores 23 in 2004, the first prize is no longer such a purchase prize. Instead, the painting that wins the first prize may be purchased by the Walker, meaning that the artist receives not only their prize money but the value of the painting in addition.

Call for entries

When is the call for Entries for John Moores 2020?

The call for entries period starts on 17 February 2020. The deadline to enter (register and pay the entry fee) is 12 noon on Tuesday 24 March 2020.

There are three main stages: Call for Entries, Stage 1 and Stage 2.

Call for Entries: registration and payment - During this stage artists can register and pay their entry fee online. On registering, and once the payment fee has cleared, the artist will receive their unique entry number. This entry number will be used for the artist throughout their whole period in the competition and should be quoted in all correspondence.

If an artist is unable to register and pay online, please read our FAQ below: How do I register?

Stage 1: including submission of image  - Once the entry number has been received, the artist must as part of Stage 1, submit an image(s) of their work and complete the online form. The jury then views and discusses all the entries from the digital image submitted. Like all the judging stages, this process is completely anonymous: jurors are not given the names of the artists but are provided with the following information: title, size and medium.

During the Stage 1 process, the jury shortlists the paintings that are to progress through to Stage 2. Artists are notified as soon as possible after the Stage 1 selection about whether they have been selected for Stage 2.

Stage 2 - Artists shortlisted for Stage 2 will be asked to transport their shortlisted painting to one of six depots around the UK. The paintings are then brought to Liverpool for judging. Working together, the jury views and discusses each painting individually to select the works for the final exhibition. They also decide the prize-winners. As with Stage 1, this stage is also anonymous: jurors are not given the names of the artists but have access to the following information: title, size and medium. However, in addition and on request, they have access to the artists’ statements about their work (but not their biographical information).

If I am shortlisted for Stage 2, does the painting I send in have to be the same as the one in the image I submitted for Stage 1?

Yes. It must be exactly the same painting. Artists found to be submitting different paintings will be disqualified from the competition.

What if, for some reason, the same painting is not available?

If this happens you must notify the organisers as soon as possible. We regret, however, that in such circumstances you will be unable to progress any further through the competition as this will invalidate your entry.

How do I register?

Artists enter via our website.

How much does it cost to enter?

£30 inclusive of VAT (non-refundable). Payment should be made online by debit/credit card via the John Moores Painting Prize web page. Please do not send cash. Alternatively, artists can register and pay via post or in person at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool using a printed registration form. You can request a form from the John Moores Painting Prize office using the contact details above.

Why is the fee £30?

The entry fee helps us to finance the John Moores Painting Prize. The competition and exhibition could not go ahead without this contribution. The fees also help to ensure free admission to the exhibition itself. The artist's entry fee has remained at £30 since 2014, and in setting the fee we benchmark the Prize with other competitions. We understand that some artists feel the fee is already high so we are working hard to try and avoid further increases. 

When is the registration and payment deadline?

The deadline to register, including payment of the entry fee, for the John Moores Painting Prize 2020 is 12 noon on Tuesday 24 March 2020.

Where can I view the full terms and conditions of entry?

The full terms and condition of entry can be found on our terms and conditions page or on request from the John Moores Painting Prize office – see contact details above.

When do I submit my image?

Following registration and payment and receipt of your unique entry number you must submit your image as part of the Stage 1 process by 12 noon on Tuesday 24 March 2020. If it is received after this date your entry will be invalidated.

How many images of the work can I send in?

You may send a maximum of two images. One of these must show the complete (whole) painting. An optional second image of the work, showing a detail, may be submitted. If you are submitting a detail, please choose this image carefully. Examples of details that are useful to the jury include images of areas of impasto on the paint surface or very small features within the painting’s imagery.

What if I miss the registration deadline?

No late entries or submissions can be accepted unless the John Moores Painting Prize organisers have made an announcement stating otherwise.

Who can enter?

Any UK-based artist aged 18 years or above on the day the artist registers and makes their payment.

Do you have an upper age limit to enter?

No - there is no upper age limit.

Can I enter if I am not a trained artist?


Can I enter if I live abroad?

No. You must live or be professionally based (for example by having a studio) in the UK. For the purposes of this competition the UK refers to England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. It does not include the Republic of Ireland.

Can my work be a collaboration with another artist, or artists?

Yes, but please note that an artist or collaborative artists may only submit a maximum of one work in total. All collaborative artists must be living or professionally based in the UK.

Can my work be a copy of, or closely based on, another artist’s work?

The work that you submit should be of your own origination and you should hold all moral and intellectual property rights in that work. If, however, your work does recognisably reference the work of another artist (for example if your painting is a copy of a photograph or painting by a known individual, or is from a known online or archival source), you must have obtained the necessary copyright permissions and credit lines and paid any fees due.

The resolution of any such unresolved issues discovered by the organiser will become the responsibility of the artist, including any fees due. You must state on your Stage 2 entry form if your work is a copy of, or closely based on, another artist’s work and confirm that you have obtained any relevant permissions. If the rights holder has given you a credit line to use, we will need that for use in the catalogue and in exhibition publicity, if you are selected for the exhibition.

Do I have to frame my paintings?

No. You may enter and, if shortlisted/selected, send in unframed work, but you must make it clear on your Stage 2 entry form whether the work is framed or unframed, and supply the overall dimensions as requested. If you regard the frame as an integral part of the work, and therefore would like it listed as part of the painting’s media, you must say so. For example, for Keith Coventry’s 2010 first prizewinner 'Spectrum Jesus', in which both the frame and the glass were integral, the medium was listed as: oil on canvas, wood and glass.

Can I enter diptychs/triptychs as one work?

Yes, but the overall size must not exceed 3m by 3.75m by 0.5m (depth).

How recent does the work need to be?

The painting must be a new or recent work, preferably created since 1 July 2018.

What is meant by painting?

The painting must be wholly or partly executed in any painted medium and designed to hang on or be fixed to a wall.

Am I eligible if my work is video based?

No, even if your artwork is a film of you making a painting.

Can I enter using an alternative exhibiting name?

Artists can use a pseudonym or exhibiting name, but must use the same name throughout the registration and competition process.

Can I enter more than one work by using different names?

No. Any artist found to have done this will be deemed in breach of the Prize’s conditions of entry and will have all their entries disqualified.

What happens if I change my postal or email address, or phone number, after entering?

Please inform the John Moores Painting Prize office as soon as possible of any updates to your contact details. Contact us quoting your unique entry number:

Email: jmpaintingprize@liverpoolmuseums.org.uk

John Moores Painting Prize office
National Museums Liverpool
127 Dale Street,
L2 2JH

Does my work need to be for sale?

Yes. All work has to be available for purchase from Stage 2 through to the end of the exhibition period. By entering the competition you are agreeing to this requirement. If selected for the exhibition, you will be party to a commercial agreement with NML Trading Ltd (the trading company of National Museums Liverpool) who will exclusively undertake all sales of shortlisted paintings in the exhibition.

Can the Gallery advise me on how much I should charge for my painting?

No, we are not permitted to advise you on this.

Stage 2 of judging

When will I find out if I have been selected for Stage 2?

We will contact you. We regret we cannot respond to individual enquiries. All entrants will be contacted by post or email to let them know whether or not they have successfully progressed to Stage 2. Successful entrants can complete their Stage 2 entry form online or alternatively, using a Stage 2 entry form (pdf). The Stage 2 entry pack (pdf) also contains information about the dates of the sending-in week and the depots to be used.

Can I have feedback if my work is not selected?

No. We regret that we are unable to provide such feedback at any stage of the competition.

What and when is sending-in week for Stage 2?

This is an allocated time period during which artists must take their work to one of several regional collection depots. Dates and opening times may vary according to the particular depots. Details of the location of the regional depots and these dates and times are in the Stage 2 entry pack. The organisers will collect the works all at once from each regional depot, so it is important that you meet the deadlines for delivery to your chosen depot.

Will my painting be insured by the Gallery?

No. If shortlisted, the artist is advised to take out their own commercial insurance to cover their work in transit (two-way), at the depots, throughout the judging period and if selected, during the exhibition period.

How should I pack my work for Stage 2?

Entrants must submit their works wrapped or, if preferred, in a crate or transit crate (measuring no more than 3m x 3.75m). The following are general guidelines for the wrapping and protection of works during transport. They are intended to help protect both your own and other artists’ work. Please follow them wherever possible.

Wet or tacky paint

Please do not submit work with paint that is still wet or tacky. Such works are extremely vulnerable in transit and, once unwrapped, become a hazard to other works of art. We reserve the right not to unwrap works that are discovered to be wet or tacky. Such works may be declared invalid.


Please fill in all the details on the set of labels provided. The tie-on label should be attached securely to the reverse of the work at the top. The appropriate self-adhesive label should be stuck to the back of the work, if possible on the frame or stretcher. If the work is on canvas, do not stick the label to the back of the canvas. Your second self-adhesive label should be attached securely to the outside of the crate or wrapping so that it is clearly visible.

Wrapping  unframed work

  • First, completely wrap your painting in strong, clean, clear polythene. Bubble-wrap should not be used for this wrapping.
  • Then seal the edges of the wrapping on the reverse side with parcel tape, near the edge of the work. Make sure all the edges are completely sealed.
  • On the outside of the polythene, use Jiffy pads, bubble-wrap or cell-air foam to make protective corner pads. Attach them to the wrapping with parcel tape.

NB: if an unframed work has a vulnerable surface or high impasto, some form of extra edge protection should be provided before wrapping or it should be placed in a transit frame. 

Wrapping  framed work (unglazed)

Before fully wrapping in polythene and adding protective unglazed corners as described above, tie cotton tape or ribbon around the frame, with tissue or cell-air foam padding under the tape to protect the frame. The tape prevents the polythene wrapping from touching the paint surface.

Wrapping  framed work (glazed)

Before fully wrapping in polythene and adding protective corners as described above, place strips of low-tack glass tape in a regular criss-cross grid pattern on the glazing. Do not allow the sticky surface of the tape to come into contact with your frame surface. Please do not tape perspex.

Where are the depots?

There will be depots situated in Belfast, Bristol, Leeds, London, Scotland and Liverpool. Successful applicants will receive detailed information in regards to dates and opening times, as they may vary according to the particular depot. An alternative depot can be used for the return of works if preferred but this must be clearly stated when you complete the Stage 2 entry form. 

What will happen to my work after Stage 2 judging?

If your work is selected for the exhibition we will retain it until the exhibition ends. If you have not been successful at Stage 2 your work will be returned by us to the regional depot it was collected from, unless you have specified otherwise. You will be expected to collect it from that depot within the specified time frame. If you do not collect the work within this time frame, you will incur a charge. The regional depot will charge you directly for this. It is not the responsibility of the organisers to organise or pay for this. Every effort will be made to contact artists regarding unclaimed paintings, however works unclaimed after 6 weeks will be destroyed.

Do I get any say in how my work is displayed?

The exhibition layout is determined by the jurors and the organisers. It is not possible to consult with all the artists over how their work is displayed. However, if your work has very particular display requirements, for example if it has to be hung at a certain distance from the floor, or in a particular configuration, you will have an opportunity to give us this information through your Stage 2 entry form. If you need to be physically involved in the installation  perhaps you have to paint an element of the work onto the gallery wall, for example  we will invite you in to do that during the exhibition’s installation period.

If my work is accepted, when is the private view for exhibitors?

Details regarding any private view or special event will be printed on your notification letter if you are successful following Stage 2.

When can I collect my work if it has been included in the exhibition?

Your work will be available for collection shortly after the exhibition, depending on which depot you have selected. The John Moores Painting Prize office will notify you of your collection dates in advance.

What will happen to my work if I don’t come to collect it?

Once the notified collection period has ended and your work is not collected a storage charge will be applied by the depots concerned. Unclaimed works will be destroyed after six weeks.

If I don't collect my work during the collection period, will I have to pay a storage charge?

Yes  you will be liable to pay this charge and will be invoiced by the depot concerned. It is not the responsibility of the organisers. It is in your best interests to collect your work within the timeframe specified.

Information for exhibitors

What happens if my work has been sold?

You or your nominated representative will be notified by NML Trading Ltd (the trading company of National Museums Liverpool) as soon as possible after the sale and you will be contacted about payment. After the exhibition we will arrange for the purchaser to collect the work.

Can I find out who has bought my work?

The name of the purchaser of a work is shared with the artist of that work unless the purchaser has requested otherwise.

Will there be an illustrated catalogue for the 2020 exhibition?

Yes. The exhibition will be accompanied by a full colour catalogue featuring images of all the paintings in the exhibition. It will be available from the Walker Art Gallery shop and from the online shop. Your work will be re-photographed by the organisers for use in the catalogue.

Will I be able to check the image of my painting before it goes into the catalogue?

No. Owing to tight timescales, it is not possible for us to send colour proofs of the images to the artists for approval. We will only contact you if we have a particular query to discuss.

Who writes the catalogue?

The catalogue is prepared by the organisers of the competition. If shortlisted you will be requested as part of your Stage 2 entry process to send a statement about your painting, or your work in general, and information for a biography. Final editorial decisions about catalogue content are made by the organisers.

Will I be able to check and approve my catalogue entry?

No. Owing to tight timescales and the number of artists included in the exhibition, this is not possible. You will only be contacted during the cataloguing process if we have a query about the information you submitted – if you do not hear from us it means we have no queries about the information you supplied. Final editorial decisions about catalogue content are made by the organisers.

Will I be given a copy of the catalogue?

All exhibiting artists included in the exhibition are given one complimentary copy of the catalogue.

Are there any catalogues available from previous John Moores exhibitions?

Copies of some of the past John Moores catalogues are available from our online shop.

When will the next John Moores Painting Prize exhibition open to the public?

The dates are still to be confirmed.

Is there an admission fee to the exhibition?

No. Admission to the venue and John Moores Painting Prize 2020 exhibition will be free. 

How do I contact the John Moores office?

Email: jmpaintingprize@liverpoolmuseums.org.uk

John Moores Painting Prize office
Exhibitions Department, National Museums Liverpool
127 Dale Street,
L2 2JH

Tel: 0151 478 4218