29 December 2017 by Ann Bukantas
We often get asked about the juries for the John Moores Painting Prize. How are they selected and what is their role?
The exhibited works and prize winners are selected by a jury who are chosen by the exhibition organisers, that is, the Walker Art Gallery in partnership with the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust.
Jury members have included artists, writers, art critics, broadcasters, curators and musicians, and varied in size from three to six people. The appointment to the Jury in 1965 of renowned American art critic Clement Greenberg caused considerable excitement. Other well-known selectors include Sir William Coldstream, Ron Kitaj, Patrick Heron, Germaine Greer, Sir Peter Blake, Jarvis Cocker, Tracey Emin and Tim Marlow. John Moores himself chaired the jury on several occasions, but since 1989 there has been no formal Chair.
The jury is left to evolve its own selection criteria, since the selection process is completely anonymous. The jury is not given the artists’ names at any stage in the competition’s process. Anyone who has been a juror will know how carefully and securely this is managed by the Gallery staff. Only painting titles, details of the media used and size are made available. The jury’s task is to reduce the numerous artworks submitted to create the exhibition, and finally to award the prizes.
The number of works entered has always been high: consistently over 1,000, frequently over 2,000 and in 2008, a record 3,322 entries. The jury’s task is therefore a large one, with judging taking several days, over two separate stages. Once the jury has selected the final group of paintings for inclusion in the exhibition, their last task is to work together to select the prize winners. Their decision is then kept a closely guarded secret until the organisers are ready to make the all-important announcements.
The jury for the 2018 John Moores Painting Prize will meet in January to begin the process. To see who past John Moores jurors have judged to be winners of the competition, you can see a selection on display at the Walker until 31 January 2018.
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