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MS Amlin sponsors the most democratic arts prize of them all

The World Art Vote is judged by an international public vote and sponsored by MS Amlin.  Part of the annual National Open Art competition (NOA), the only major competition that is judged anonymously. What should you be looking for when casting your vote? We asked one of last year’s NOA judges, illustrator Anna Kosta.

It’s the democracy behind NOA that interests MS Amlin.  All entries are judged anonymously on talent, not connections. That means artists taking a risk with their submissions. And the MS Amlin sponsored World Art Vote goes further, throwing the judging process open to the public rather than experts for their views on what makes great art.

When illustrator Anna Kosta was asked to join the judging panel she too was intrigued by its democracy; a panel with a broad mix from across the art world, from gallery owners to art historians, critics, educators and working artists.

A renowned freelance food illustrator for 25 years, Anna’s work has graced more than 100 books.

 “Art can sometimes feel like a fortress that is very difficult to break into,” she said.

“To find an art competition that was extremely inclusive was a breath of fresh air. Art shouldn’t be a closed club, open only to members. Art is for everyone and this competition reflects that philosophy.”

As a judge, last year Anna evaluated thousands of entries to arrive at her shortlist.

“I thought it would be a bit daunting, but actually I was overwhelmed by the bravery of the artists who just decided to have a go,” she said.

“You have no idea of the artist’s name or reputation. So, you just have to decide which ones touch you in some way.”

Democratising art

Unlike the rest of the competition the World Art Vote is judged by the public. Everyone has the chance to show select their favourite work.

So what does Anna look for when judging art for the rest of the competition?

“I’m looking for something that brings out that empathy of recognition; when you feel that understanding of what the artist is trying to say.

“Whether it’s because it feels familiar or is projecting a completely unconventional thought or concept, I’m looking for something that resonates with me.

“I don’t have any formal training in art, either in mediums or history, so for me it is purely from an instinctive, almost visceral perspective

“You’re looking for some skill, of course. But I try to ignore the title as sometimes they can be a bit too long and descriptive. I look for understanding what the artist is trying to say to interpret what something meant to them.”

World Art Vote opens on August 2. You will be able to see the entries so you can cast your vote on the National Open Art website.

The artwork with the most votes will be revealed and exhibited in the 21st National Open Art Exhibition at Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Southbank, London from 17 - 26 November 2017 (Free Admission) and in the Winners’ Exhibition at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester 6 - 17 December 2017.

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