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Mercia Marina launches £10,000 annual sculpture competition

Mercia Marina launches £10,000 annual sculpture competition

The UK’s largest inland marina has announced an annual international sculpture prize designed to celebrate the best established and up-and-coming artists of today.

The launch of this year’s Mercia Marina Sculpture Prize was marked this week with the unveiling of a three-metre-high oak carving of Neptune, the latest of several art installations already commissioned by the Derbyshire leisure destination.

With the competition limited in its inaugural year to five shortlisted applicants, a prize of £10,000 will be paid to the winning artist – one of the most valuable sculpture prizes available.

In addition, the marina’s owners have pledged to purchase the first-placed piece and install it permanently on site.

All entries will be displayed at the marina between September 10 and 11, where a judging panel, including Mark Richards, a fellow of the London-based Royal Society of Sculptors, will choose an outright winner.

The remaining works will either be purchased or auctioned by the marina or returned to their creators.

Artists are invited to submit ideas, in any weatherproof medium, for sculptures of up to two metres in height, this year based around the theme of ‘water’.  

John Thornton, principal shareholder of Mercia Marina, said:

“The main purpose behind this annual prize is to give an outlet to the many artists out there to showcase their incredible talent. And we are delighted to have confirmed the involvement of the Royal Society of Sculptors through guest judge Mark Richards.

“Sculpture rarely fails to captivate its audience, particularly when it’s created on a scale that can be viewed from many angles and distances. As an art form, sculpture also has a unique ability to complement and enhance its surrounding environment.

“The beautiful and tranquil location we are so lucky to have at the marina, with its expanse of water and wildlife trails, lends itself perfectly to sculpture.

“We’ve already commissioned several exceptional pieces, but we’re keen to install more in order to create a destination not only for boating, holiday lodges, shopping and relaxation, but as a champion of the arts.”

The full judging panel for this year’s sculpture prize will be announced in the near future.

In addition to the giant Neptune wood carving, created by Derbyshire artist Alistair Farson, Mercia Marina has also previously commissioned sculptures including the two-metre-tall Bird of Happiness, cast in bronze by celebrated sculptor Simon Gudgeon. Simon is best known for his 10ft bronze Isis sculpture in London’s Hyde Park.

Submissions for the Mercia Marina Sculpture Prize can be created with any material suitable for year-round outdoor display, though the organisers will particularly favour works that use sustainable materials. The marina has a limited supply of oak or Douglas fir, which it will provide on request free of charge to artists working in wood.

New and established artists are invited to apply by sending five images of their recent work along with a short CV and a statement describing how they might use Mercia Marina to inform their work for the competition.

For further information, visit, email or phone Tony Preston on 01283 703332.

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