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MS Amlin celebrates artistic excellence with 2nd year of support for National Open Art competition

Sarah Shaw won a major prize in last year’s National Open Art competition, which is supported by MS Amlin. As the deadline for this year’s competition approaches, we talk to her about the impact the award has had on her career.

The deadline is fast approaching for entries for the National Open Art (NOA) competition, one of the leading events in the arts calendar.

Open to amateur and professional artists in the UK and Ireland, since 1996 it’s grown to recognise talent with prizes across a wide variety of mediums and styles.

But it’s a risk for well-known artists.  Unlike many other competitions entries are judged anonymously.  The upside for emerging artists is that winning against high profile names can have a big career impact.

Sarah Shaw, a Brighton-based artist, won a NOA Regional Award in 2016 and has gone on to further success, being shortlisted for the Royal Academy Summer Show and winning first prize in the British Women Artists Competition.

 “I felt very emotional receiving the award. It felt like a vindication of all the solitary time spent in the studio. All those nights painting till the early hours, and a verification that, somehow, I am on the right track,” says Sarah.

She added: “I really appreciate the fact that the prize is completely anonymous. So, unlike many major art competitions, your submission is based on an objective opinion, regardless of background and history.

“Winning an award like this gives your career a boost and has a knock-on effect when applying for different opportunities.”


New for this year MS Amlin is offering a prize for artistic responses to the theme of ‘Continuity in an uncertain world’ a topic at the heart of our business.

As Adrian Britten, Director of Brand & Communications says: “For MS Amlin, ‘continuity’ means helping people, businesses and communities carry on in the face of adverse events.

“As part of one of the world’s largest insurance companies, every day MS Amlin helps clients overcome challenges, providing continuity to people, businesses and communities when they need it most.

“The competition celebrates artistic excellence and being open and inclusive gives MS Amlin a significant and meaningful way of supporting an important part of the cultural life of the UK.”

The panel of judges changes annually and features some of the most experienced and influential figures in the art world, from Royal Academicians to critics, curators and professionals.


For Sarah, the award has helped grow her reputation and helped her to develop as an artist.

Having worked with every conceivable material for her work, Sarah now mainly works with oil on canvas.

She added: “The NOA are an amazing organization.  They are a registered not for profit art charity who provide an open and inclusive platform for UK and Irish artists.

“I’ve sold more paintings and been handed more opportunities since receiving these awards than I have in the last ten years so yes, they do make a difference.

“The most important difference though is in that sense of growing in confidence.”

Entries for this year’s competition close at midnight on Sunday July 23. You can find all the details here.


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