Art Prizes

Sir John Hurt Art Prize Winner 2021

Barbara Nati
Briny Chronicles
digital collage

The series is inspired by the acidification process in our oceans. This is caused by the considerable amount of carbon dioxide ending up in the water from the atmosphere as a further consequence of pollution. One of the effects it creates is living creatures such as shells and corals become so thin and fragile they turn transparent, almost invisible.

Highly Commended
Rosie Phillips 

Sworders Prize Emerging Artists Winner 2021

Rosie Phillips
Chien d'amour
oil on canvas

The title for this was inspired by one of the many nicknames my dad has invented for the dog - this painting depicts a typical night in for the two.

Sworders Prize Emerging Artists - Highly Commended


Phoebe Leach

This portrait of my friend Mercy aims to honour identity and heritage, contrasting cultural influences with contemporary youth.

Sworders Prize Young Artists Winner 2021

Mia Mack
New Shoes
oil on paper

Inspired during lockdown by how much music can change how you feel, I created this piece to capture my usual reaction to hearing the song New Shoes by Paolo Nutini – dancing. Given the subject of the song, I thought my favourite shoes should take centre stage and be in a musical environment, hence the drum-kit that lives in the garage where I took my reference photographs. I closely relate music with art and am fascinated by the impact that both can have on a person in a small space of time. It took approximately 50 hours to complete in oils.

Sworders Prize Young Artists - Highly Commended

Sophie Duez
Face Time
graphite on Stonehenge paper

In response to the growing pressures young people face with social media, Face Time is a surrealist portrait constructed using a 0.2mm mechanical HB pencil.


Libby Ye
Fluidity of the Human Psyche
oil on canvas

The predominantly skin-toned colour scheme reflects a flushed individual, whilst the sporadic streaks of cooler tones are reminiscent of lights flowing across a river. The incongruity between these two distinct spectrums of colours thus illustrates an individual whose very fluidity in identity strikes semblance with nature. The Chiaroscuro lighting from the right establishes a somewhat eerie mood, whilst the “absurd” pose reveals a figure unsatisfied with the norms in which individuals are expected to adhere to. This piece thus urges audiences to re-evaluate modern standards through illustrating the fluidity of the human psyche. After all, identities are fluid and evade generalisations.

Download the pdf of Shortlisted Work by clicking here

Shortlisted Artists

Felix Allen
Graham Allen
Guy Allen
Momina Anwar
Diana Ashdown
Rachel Shaw Ashton
Kay Barker
Phil Barrett
Lynda Baxter
Keron Beattie
Maria Belderbos
Sean Bennett
Emma Blount
Mary Blue
Frances Blythe
Day Bowman
Gabriella Buckingham
Jess Burgess
Mark Burrell
David Caines
Julia Cameron
Claire Cansick

Rose Carver
James Colman
Andrew Cuthbert
David Cottridge
Helena Czeczenikow
Ipshita Debnath
Nick Dittrich
Sophie Duez
Zelda Eady
Adrian Eckersley
Caroline Evans
Merrie Curtis Fuller
James Gilmour
Stacey Gledhill
Annie Hall
Ophelia Hare
Imogen Hawgood
Ronald Hellen
Helen Herbert
Mark Houghton
Michael Horn
Robyne Horner

Erin Hughes
Susan Isaac
H J Jackson
Sophia Kapoor
Wendy Kimberley
Sara Lamb
Phoebe Leach
Lucinda McLaren
Michael McVeigh
Mia Mack
Caroline Mackintosh
Chloe Mandy
Tess Meadows
Inês-Hermione Mulford
Barbara Nati 
Ann Oram
Felix Page
Vivian Pedley
Rosie Phillips
Chrissie Richards

Kirsten Riley
Sally Roberts
Erica Roch
Tracey Ross
Georgia Salmond
Johnna Slaby
Eve Smith
Jude Smith
Gina Soden
Beth Stilgoe
Sarah Strachan
Emilia Symis
Corrin Tulk
Candide Turner-Bridger
Imogen Tyler
Nicola Stratton Tyler
Kate Walker
Jane Wareham
Zheni Warner
Bobbie Wilson
Libby Ye
Paul Zawadzki

If you would like to watch the Winners' Announcements which were held on Sunday 25 July please click here

Judges 2021

The Sir John Hurt Art Prizes

Stuart Pearson Wright – Artist & Curator

Named with Hockney, Doig, Ofili and others in December 2020 by Contemporary Art Issue as among the most important living figurative painters in the UK, Stuart trained at The Slade and then the Royal Drawing School, London, where he is now a visiting lecturer. He won the BP Portrait Award in 2000 and has been shortlisted for the Garrick/Milne, Jerwood, Hunting, Windsor & Newton and Singer & Friedlanger/Sunday Times prizes among others. Brian Sewell described his portraits as “images of such eccentricity and even madness that they fit perfectly the English tradition of the odd man out…”. His work is in numerous public collections including the National Portrait Gallery, British Museum, National Gallery of Ireland and the Fitzwilliam & Ashmolean Museums. In recent years Stuart’s work has expanded beyond painting to include film, sculpture and music.

David Case - Curator & Publisher

David was at the centre of print publishing in the UK for several decades. In 1972 he was one of the founding directors of Christie’s Contemporary Art (now CCA Galleries). In the early 90s he moved to Marlborough Fine Art as a director and as head of their graphics department, where he published etchings and lithographs by luminaries such as Paula Rego, Frank Auerbach and Victor Pasmore. After stepping down he has worked as a private dealer and curator.

Amanda Geitner - Curator

Amanda Geitner studied Art History and Literature at the University of Western Australia, Perth and began her career there, at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery. In 1995 she moved to the UK to take up the role of Assistant Curator at the Mead Gallery, University of Warwick, soon moving to become Chief Curator at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia. Eighteen years later in 2015 she was appointed Director of The East Anglia Art Fund which is dedicated to enriching cultural life in our region by supporting the best in exhibitions and art education.

Sworders Art Prizes

Nichola Johnson - Art & Architectural Historian

Nichola trained as an archaeologist and then an art/architectural historian. Until 2010, she was Director of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. She has been a trustee of the National Trust and of Dulwich Picture Gallery and chaired the boards of Clore Leadership, the Ruskin Foundation and the University Museums Group. She is currently chair of the East Anglia Art Fund and on the boards of various other heritage and cultural organisations.

Adrian Hill - Gallerist

Adrian’s grandparents opened the first art gallery and artists' supplies shop in Holt in the early ‘70s, which was subsequently run by his parents. Adrian has recently reshaped and relaunched The Gallery having in 2013 opened his own gallery Adrian Hill Fine Art next door. In the autumn of 2020 he opened a further gallery in the market town of Stamford.  The galleries show contemporary work by a range of British artists as well as showcasing a selection of original works by among others Hockney, Lowry and East Anglian favourite Edward Seago. Adrian Hill at The Gallery generously gives the winner of the Sworders Art Prize for 19-23 year-olds a commission free exhibition, as well as hosting the The Holt Festival Art Prizes' Shortlist Exhibition 2021 at Adrian Hill Fine Art next door.