The Castlegate Prize

Like many a good idea, The Castlegate Prize was born of an evening in front of an open fire with a bottle of wine. Art prizes have been an integral part of the UK art world for decades; many are well known, such as The Turner Prize and the John Moores Painting Prize; other less so and yet in many ways as important and valid. What we realised however was that very few if any seemed to recognise that not only could art and artists be promoted and rewarded through such competitions, but they could also do some good.

It was that simple; “why don’t we create a national open art competition with all entry proceeds going to a charity?” By the second glass each we’d decided to contribute the £10,000 prize money from gallery funds and to have an “inspiration word” for the work to link it with the chosen charity. From 8pm to 8:20pm, The Castlegate Prize was formed; no committee to review, no funding to seek, just a decision and a drive and a desire to make it work.

Mental health charities are very close to our hearts, and those supporting youth mental health in particular. YoungMinds is a truly excellent charity working with young people throughout the UK suffering with mental health issues, or indeed those who live with and support them. We will forever be thrilled at the enthusiastic way YoungMinds greeted our idea for The Castlegate Prize, for not only will it directly benefit YoungMinds financially, we hope it will do a splendid job of spreading the word about such a wonderful charity and also the need to support those young people within our communities and families going through difficult times, some of which most of us can little imagine.

Because of this, we chose “hope” as the word to inspire the art entries for the 2019/20 prize, be they painting or drawing. It’s up to each artist to take that inspiration in whatever manner they see fit, but it felt the most appropriate word for the inaugural Castlegate Prize.

Steve and Christine Swallow