Calling All London Artists! A New Reality TV Series About the City’s Art Scene Is Looking for Contestants

Contestants must be aged between 17 and 30.

Image courtesy "The Next Big Thing."

A new television series airing in 2021 will pit young artists in London’s booming art scene against one another in a test to find the next hot-ticket artist.

The show, called “The Next Big Thing,” aims to boost the profiles of emerging artists while their standard vehicles for visibility—degree shows, open days, and gallery exhibitions—are out of the question.

The competition is open for applications through midnight on December 23. Entrants must be aged between 17 and 30 and are invited to submit images or videos of existing works that fall into one of five categories: portraiture, photography, street art, sculpture, and landscape.

A jury including the chief curator of the National Portrait Gallery, Alison Smith, and the director of Dulwich Picture Gallery, Jennifer Scott, will select 10 finalists, with the public voting online for an 11th candidate.

“When looking at the different works presented, I will be thinking about three things: skills, attitude, and ideas,” Andrew Wamae, co-founder of the Essential School of Painting, and one of the show’s judges, tells Artnet News.  

Image courtesy The Next Big Thing.

Image courtesy “The Next Big Thing.”

The 11 contestants will be filmed over the course of a month as they create an original artwork that captures “the spirit of London.” Along their journey, they will be supported by mentors including painter Bradley Theodore, portraitist Miriam Escofet, and photographer Nicky Johnston. The contestants’ works will be shown in an exhibition at a yet-to-be-determined venue before they are sold in an online auction.

The show’s presenter, the chairman of Maddox Gallery, James Nicholls, said in a statement that the show could provide “potentially life-changing opportunities” for young artists during this challenging period.

“During tough times art has a vital role to play in providing hope and documenting history,” he said. “We feel strongly about creating a space and a platform to build awareness of some of the city’s incredible young emerging artists who have potential to be the ‘Next Big Thing’.”

Up for grabs also will be a judges’ award, which comes with a stand at the next edition of the Other Art Fair in London.

A special “Next Big Thing” bursary from the visual-arts branding company New England will provide the winning artist with the tools—including website design, social media support, and promotional videos valued at a total of £10,000—needed to grow their audience and drive sales.

The competition will air on the London Live network in spring 2021. London Live has been broadcasting for six years, and has an average weekly viewership of 1.1 million people.

Applications for “The Next Big Thing are open through midnight on December 23. May the odds be ever in your favor.

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