We are thrilled to announce the winners of the fourth annual Write on Art prize. This award is jointly run by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (PMC) and Art UK, and is aimed at students in their last four years of school.

Melanie and Me Swimming

Melanie and Me Swimming 1978–9

Michael Andrews (1928–1995)


Rising above another academic year disrupted by the pandemic, over 200 students persevered to write and submit an entry to this year's competition in time for our June deadline. In August, our four judges – artist and academic Lubaina Himid, author and broadcaster Emma Dabiri, broadcaster and art critic Alastair Sooke, and Iwona Blazwick, Director of the Whitechapel Gallery – selected our winners and runners up after some lively discussion around what made for a great art essay from their differing artistic and critical perspectives.

We Are Making a New World

We Are Making a New World 1918

Paul Nash (1889–1946)

IWM (Imperial War Museums)

The judges were particularly struck by the originality of this year's winning entrants, with Iwona Blazwick commenting: 'The subjective readings contributed by our essayists were really impressive – some of the essays were prose works in their own right. They demonstrated a high degree of imagination and confidence in using art as a springboard for creative writing. Surprising and exciting!' This is particularly evident in the first-place winners in both categories, who daringly blend their analysis and research into essays that speak from unique points of view.


Jazz 1985

Anthony Frost (b.1951)

Cornwall Council

The winners and runners up of this year's competition are as follows:

Years 12 and 13

First place: Aoife Hogan on Children and Chalked Wall 3 by Joan Eardley
Second place: Hanifah Smith on All Will Be Forgotten by Chris Wilson

Runner up: Jasmine Donaldson on Melanie and Me Swimming by Michael Andrews
Runner up: Maisie Fraser on We Are Making a New World by Paul Nash
Runner up: Penelope Ogieriakhi on Jazz by Anthony Frost

Shortlisted: Anna Townend, Katie Swain, Abigail Jones, Toby Berryman and Nephele Mylona

Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene

Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene 1864

Simeon Solomon (1840–1905)


Years 10 and 11

First place: Variaam Tratt on Preserve 'Beauty' by Anya Gallaccio
Second place: Hannah Bugeja on Lilith by John Collier

Runner up: Taya Minchington on Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene by Simeon Solomon
Runner up: Ella Male on Nameless and Friendless by Emily Mary Osborn
Runner up: Ava Winter on 1939 by Hans Feibusch

Shortlisted: Lily Whitelock, Alisha Sri-Ram, Jocelyn Tin, Keira Magee, Fayo Idowu and Satya Patel

The winning students in each category received £500, the second-placed students £200 and each of the runners up received £100. The top two essays in each category will be published on the Art UK and Paul Mellon Centre websites this week.


1939 1939

Hans Feibusch (1898–1998)


Years 12/13 first place winner Aoife Hogan entered the competition in her final month at Largs Academy on the west coast of Scotland. She is now about to begin a degree in Painting and Printmaking at Glasgow School of Art, following in the footsteps of the artist she wrote about in her winning essay – Joan Eardley – whose centenary is being celebrated this year.

1962–1963, oil, newspaper & metal foil on canvas by Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley (1921–1963)

Children and Chalked Wall 3

1962–1963, oil, newspaper & metal foil on canvas by Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley (1921–1963)

Several of our other Years 12/13 winners are moving on to further studies in art and art history, as is the hope of many of our Years 10/11 students. We wish all the candidates in this year's competition great success in their future careers.

Art UK and the Paul Mellon Centre launched the Write on Art prize in 2017 to encourage a greater interest in art and art history at schools. Submissions for the 2021/2022 prize – our fifth year of the competition – will open in November 2021.

Shane Strachan, Learning & Engagement Officer at Art UK