A MAJOR art competition offers an artistic alternative to the Great North Run as a means of benefiting good causes.
Love Where You Live, launched today, has a prize fund of £41,000, which makes it one of the country’s most lucrative art competitions.
What makes it different is that the winning artists, rather than keeping their prize money, will decide which charitable cause, school or community group on Teesside it should benefit.
The competition is the brainchild of Mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art) and the Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, a charity set up in 2011 to provide social and economic opportunities in the area.
The competition is backed by a host of high-profile Teessiders, including artist Mackenzie Thorpe, footballer Jonathan Woodgate, and Jessie Jacobs, chief executive of Stockton women’s charity A Way Out.
The organisers hope artists of Mackenzie Thorpe’s stature will enter the competition but it is open to everyone and the rules couldn’t be simpler.
All you have to do is pick up an official competition postcard from Mima and turn it into a work of art, using whatever medium you choose – watercolours, felt-tipped pens, pencil, whatever. You could do a David Shrigley-style cartoon or a pastiche of an Old Master painting, a doodle or a brooding landscape.
All the entries – one per entrant – will be displayed at Mima from February 23 to April 28, which could pose a challenge to the exhibitions team.
How many entries do they expect? It could be 200 or it could be 20,000. Either way, a panel of judges – yet to be announced – will choose the winners.
The overall winner will get £10,000 while two runners-up will get £2,500 and £1,500 respectively. There are also prizes for charity entrants and schoolchildren, all adding up to £41,000.
The theme of the competition, Love Where You Live, is an invitation to express pride in the region.
Mima director Kate Brindley says: “People often speak of regional pride but through my time working with Mima I’ve seen it on another level.
“This competition allows Mima to contribute not only to the artistic and cultural make-up of the area but to help people, through their art, give back to the people and places that make Teesside the place it is.”
Andy Preston, chairman of the Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, says: “We want to make a difference to the people of Middlesbrough and Teesside. This art competition is a celebration of what makes the region great and we want people to shout about why they love where they live.”
Mackenzie Thorpe, who went on from Teesside to earn international fame as an artist, sees the competition as a chance to shout about the region’s proud heritage.
“We are people who care about each other and we are people who are creative and keep moving forward,” he says.
“This competition celebrates what is best about Teesside at the same time as giving something back to people in the region. I hope everyone gets a competition postcard and gets involved.
“There are countless people on Teesside who quietly go about their business, doing good deeds, looking out for their neighbours, enhancing other’s lives and putting other people first.
“This strength of community is one of the reasons I am proud of my home town.”
Jessie Jacobs adds: “I love Stockton because of its people. We are some of the most humorous, generous and real people I have ever met.
“A Way Out would not exist if it wasn’t for people’s generosity, warmth and kindness, getting behind us and supporting what we do.”
She hopes people will get behind the art competition in the same way.
Entrants can pick up a competition postcard from Mima from today and the deadline for entries is February 8.
For more information go to love-whereyoulive.co.uk or contact Mima during gallery opening times.