New prize looks to put art history back on UK’s academic agenda

Judges, including Jeremy Deller, hope that Write on Art will inspire young people to take up the subject

Write on Art poster

A new heavyweight scholarly prize backed by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art aims to put art history back on the agenda in schools and universities. The new award, entitled Write on Art, is also supported by the arts charity, Art UK.

Both organisations “have decided to try and turn the tide [after] a disturbing decline in the teaching of art and art history in schools”, a statement says. The move bolsters the arts in the national curriculum after the art history A-level came under threat last year. October last year, the exam board AQA decided to drop the subject but another board, Pearson, developed a new art history a-level, which launched in September.

Entrants are invited to “choose a work from the Art UK website, and persuade readers to take a closer look”. The winning essays will be posted on the Art UK and Paul Mellon Centre websites. There are two prize categories (15-16 year olds and 17-18 year olds), with each winner receiving £500. The competition deadline is 26 February 2018. 

Judges include Gabriele Finaldi, the director of the National Gallery in London, Jackie Wullschlager, an art critic at the Financial Times, and the artist Jeremy Deller who says: “Art history is the study of power, politics, identity and humanity and we should be doing all we can, with projects like this, to get as many young people as possible excited by art history and involved in it.”