Sometimes you embark on an initiative that you just can't wait to launch. The Write on Art essay prize, which we are launching today with our partner and neighbour, the Paul Mellon Centre, is such an event.

'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', Jeremy Deller, one of the Write on Art judges.

Write on Art poster

Write on Art poster

This annual award has been set up to encourage an interest in art history amongst young people at school and university. In this our first year, we are focusing the award on schools before moving on to include undergraduates in the prize's second year.

Given the disturbing decline in focus on art and art history education in schools, Art UK and the Paul Mellon Centre hope that this award will underline the importance of the subject as an academic discipline as well as highlighting the broader value of sharing ideas about art through good writing. Our institutions hope this prize will be of particular interest to students and teachers in state schools.

Art UK and the Paul Mellon Centre are very grateful to the five judges who have agreed to support the award. They will doubtless have to make some difficult choices from among the shortlist of entries. Our judges are:

Jeremy Deller, Turner Prize winner

Dr David Dibosa, Course Leader for MA Curating and Collections at Chelsea College of Arts

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery

Dr Janina Ramirez, cultural historian and broadcaster

Jackie Wullschlager, Chief Art Critic of the Financial Times 

Write on Art judges

Write on Art judges

The prize is open to all students aged 15–18 studying in the UK. There are two prize categories. In each category students are asked to select and write about one artwork from the Art UK website, responding to the simple prompt: 'Choose an artwork that fascinates you and persuade your readers to share your interest and take a closer look at the artwork'.

Full details on the prizes and how to enter can be found on the Write on Art website at

If you would like a copy of the poster to hang in your school, there is a high-resolution PDF attachment for you to download. Alternatively, if you would like us to send you a printed A3 poster, please email  

We are grateful to Gravity Road for designing this.

The Paul Mellon Centre and Art UK hope that everyone who enters the prize will enjoy exploring the nation's incredible art collection online and expressing their thoughts on paper about their chosen artwork.

The closing date is 26th February 2018.

Andrew Ellis, Art UK Director