2022 Write on Art Winners

  • 20 September 2022

The Paul Mellon Centre and Art UK are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2022 cycle of Write on Art. Aimed at students in the last four years of school, the award is jointly run by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (PMC) and Art UK.

South Asian woman wearing white top standing in front of room whilst speaking. In August, our three judges – artist Sutapa Biswas, art historian Jo Baring and archivist and curator Arike Oke – had the difficult task of selecting the winners and runners-up from a staggering 190 submissions of strong and diverse essays. Jo Baring commented: “I thoroughly enjoyed it and loved reading all the essays – they were so spirited, full of zest and very inspiring”.

Several of the shortlisted essays dealt with topical issues, connecting historical artworks to contemporary issues, such as the first-prize winning Year 12/13 essay by Tavishi Gupta on Laura Knight’s 1913 oil painting Self Portrait aka The Model. As Sutapa Biswas added: “All of the submissions were heartening in their optimism and thoughtful engagement not only with the subjects of the paintings in question but their relevance in the context of our current challenging times. Brava!”.

The Year 10/11 shortlist was one of the strongest yet, showing there is much hope for the future of arts writing, as Arike Oke explains: “The range of works selected by the young people was surprising, and inspiring. The insights and writing displayed vulnerability, sincerity and clear analytical thinking. All of the shortlisted entries were great in their own right, and instilled in me confidence for the future of art, audiences for art and thinking about art”.

After two online ceremonies during the Coronavirus pandemic, we were delighted to once again meet in person with the shortlisted students on Saturday 10 September for a prize-giving ceremony. 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.

While some of the shortlisted students intend to study art history at university, others plan to study architecture, English literature, geography and journalism, reflecting their diverse interests and how they will continue to utilise their visual literacy skills in exciting ways beyond their success in Write on Art.

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 in schools. Submissions for 2023 prize – our sixth year of the competition – will open in January 2023.

Nermin Abdulla, Learning Programme Manager at Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

Esme Boggis, Learning Programme Coordinator at Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

Shane Strachan, Learning and Engagement Officer at Art UK

A group of young students and staff standing in front of a Georgian building.

The 2022 Write on Art Shortlistees at the Paul Mellon Centre. Photo by Ollie Patterson,

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

Years 12 and 13

First place: Tavishi Gupta on Self Portrait aka The Model by Laura Knight

Second place: George Rowe on Satan Smiting Job with Sore Boils by William Blake

Runner-up: Jayden Formston-Jones on ID Crisis by Zanele Muholi

Runner-up: Yueshi Yang on Lady Staunton with her Son George Thomas Staunton and a Chinese Servant by John Hoppner

Runner-up: Hettie Farmer By His Will, We Teach Birds How to Fly No.1 by Ibrahim El-Salahi

Shortlisted: Hannah Barnett, Alice Febles, Farrah Gower, Alex Lake and Lena Radzins

Years 10 and 11

First place: Miranda Black on Large Blade Venus by William Turnbull

Second place: Isabel Chan on My Mother Alone in Her Dining Room by Anthony Green

Runner-up: James Rayner on Human Frailty by Salvator Rosa

Runner-up: Amy Pinckney on A Selection of Five Pots by Barry Flanagan

Runner-up: Alexa Nettelton on A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet

Shortlisted: Mehda Dixit, Heike Ghandi, Luella John, Nina Luong and Lara Wong