Sir John Hurt Art Prize
Sir Jon Hurt presenting the Award in 2014 to winner Francesca Perkins. Photo credit Rodney Smith.

Holt Festival Art Prize renamed the Sir John Hurt Art Prize – now open for entries

One of the east of England’s top art prizes has been renamed in honour of one of Norfolk’s most famous adopted sons. The Holt Festival Art Prize will be known as Holt Festival – Sir John Hurt Art Prize to celebrate the screen and stage acting legend, who, before his sad death in January had been a great enthusiast for the Prize. He served on the panel of judges and presented the award to the winning entry as often as acting commitments allowed.

Holt Festival – Sir John Hurt Art Prize is open to artists everywhere. In previous years there have been entries by artists from all over the UK. There is a cash prize of £1,500 for the winner and in addition the winning artwork will be exhibited at Norwich’s prestigious Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in the autumn.

All types of visual art are welcome but entries must be submitted before the deadline of midnight Sunday 18th June 2017. Judges will select a shortlist of 25-30 that will be exhibited at the Auden Theatre, Holt from 23-30 July.

The winner will be announced at a private view on the evening of 23 July. The exhibition is part of the Holt Festival Art Trail that also takes in many other galleries and exhibition spaces around the town.

Last year’s competition once again attracted an extremely high standard of entries with Norfolk artist Lara Cobden winning with her painting The Enchanted Garden, unanimously selected from almost 200 entries.

2016 Winner Lara Cobden (black dress) with judge Amanda Geitner. Photo credit Rodney Smith.

Alongside his amazing acting career the late Sir John Hurt was a gifted painter. At the age of 17 he attended The Grimsby Art School (now the East Coast School of Art and Design) and in 1959, he won a scholarship to Saint Martin’s School of Art (now Central St. Martin’s) in London. He continued to paint throughout his life. He was also passionately interested in encouraging others, in recent years becoming Chancellor of Norwich University of The Arts.

Holt Festival Art Prize organiser and international art appraiser James Glennie commented ‘Holt Festival was keen to acknowledge the support and friendship Sir John offered the Festival. It seemed an obvious move to rename the Art Prize in his honour, he generously supported the Prize, either awarding or judging or both almost every year since its inception.

Adney Payne, Chair of the Board of Trustees for Holt Festival said ‘It was with great sadness that I heard of the death of Sir John. He was a great supporter of the Festival and we were also honoured to have him as a performer and judge of the Art Prize on several occasions. He loved living in North Norfolk and we loved having him here. Sir John was a kind, generous and charming man who was a great ambassador for, and supporter of, the arts in the county. We all miss him greatly and shall especially do so in Festival week, where he became such a familiar face’.

This year’s judges are well-known Modern and Contemporary British art specialist Robert Upstone who spent 23 years as a senior Tate curator, Amanda Geitner, Director of The East Anglia Art Fund and Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts Acting Deputy Director and Head of Collections Calvin Winner.

Entry forms can be downloaded from

The 2017 Holt Festival runs from 22 – 30 July and has become acknowledged as the leading new festival in the county. The charming Norfolk Georgian country town comes alive for an exuberant week of international music, drama, visual art, dance, comedy and children’s shows. It has recently announced its first 14 highlights and the full programme will be revealed in May.

Holt Festival Sir John Hurt Art Prize:
Closing date for submissions midnight Sunday 18 June. 
Winner announced on Sunday 23 July at The Auden Theatre, Cromer Rd, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 6EA
Winner and shortlisted entries will be exhibited 23-30 July

Let us promote your editorials on IceniPost.

We have had over 24,000,000 page views of our content: Online Advertising