Shortlisted Artists Announced


Rewarding excellence and originality in contemporary watercolour painting
18 – 23 September 2018, Mall Galleries, London

Paul Regan, ‘Edge of London: Dancers Lane VII’ (2018)

Now in its 31st year, The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition is the largest and most prestigious prize for contemporary watercolour painting in the UK. Whether it be through abstract or figurative, contemporary or traditional, the competition aims to celebrate and redefine the beauty and diversity of watercolour and water-based media.

Eighty works have been selected from a total of 1,304 submissions by a panel of leading figures from the art world. The 2018 judging panel includes Ishbel Myerscough, artist; Paul Newland, artist; Jennifer Scott, Sackler Director at Dulwich Picture Gallery; James Stewart, Director of Zimmer Stewart Gallery, and Louis Wise, critic and writer for The Sunday Times. The Winners will be announced in the Culture section of The Sunday Times in August.

The seventy-five shortlisted artists are as follows:

Jacqueline Abel John Abell Roger Allen
Ashley Amery Bob Armstrong Sue Atkinson
Julie Barnes Greg Becker Varsha Bhatia
Akash Bhatt Day Bowman Victoria Braithwaite
Julian Bray David Brayne Claire Brewster
Susan Brown Michael Chance Sophie Charalambous
Lottie Cole Adrian Coleman Julie D Cooper
Janet Darley Catharine Davison Adam De Ville
Richard Elliott Mark Entwisle Suzy Fasht
James Faure Walker Bobbye Fermie Laura Footes
Richard Fowler Michael Gage Lavinia Gallie
Nikki Gardham George Gilbert Alexander Gilmour
Jenny Graham Jelly Green Imogen Guy
Henry Hagger David Hamilton Esther Jeanes
Eliza John Henry Jones Suman Kaur
Caroline Kent Zoe Laughlin Frank Laws
Debbie Lee Clio Lloyd-Jacob Peter Lloyd-Jones
Tom Mabon Russell Macaulay Anne Magill
Michael Middleton David Nealon J. A. Nicholls
David A Parfitt RI Brian Parker Robin Pearce
Paul Regan Jon Rogers Zoe Savory
Sarah Seymour Jayne Stokes Jan Symes
Eleanor Taylor Rebecca Truscott-Elves Philip Tyler
Jenny Wheatley Nigel Whittaker Michael Williams
Roy Willingham Gertie Young Martha Zmpounou

The shortlisted works will be shown at:
Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1: 18 – 23 September 2018
Guildford House Gallery, Surrey: 10 November – 20 December 2018
The Sainsbury Gallery, Willis Museum, Basingstoke: 12 Jan – 27 March 2019

Join the conversation…

Twitter: @STWatercolour; @ParkerHarrisCo
Facebook: @SundayTimesWatercolour; @ParkerHarrisCo
Hashtag: #STWC18

Jackson’s interview 2017 exhibitor Claire Sparkes

According to Jackson’s writer Lisa Takahashi, The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition ‘celebrates the very best in watercolour painting today: from abstract to figurative, contemporary to traditional; there is no house style of the exhibition and every year brings its own surprises.’

Ahead of this year’s deadline (5pm, Monday 25 June), Lisa interviewed 2017 exhibitor Claire Sparkes.  A snippet of their conversation is published below; head to the Jackson’s Blog to read the interview in full.

What is the most memorable exhibition of watercolour works that you have ever been to see? What was it that made it stick in your memory?

Graham Dean, ‘Prayer 2’

In the late 1980’s, on a school trip, I saw an exhibition of Graham Dean’s work in a venue just outside Canterbury in Kent. It made such an impact on me and consequently I still have the catalogue. The scale of the pieces struck me, and the way he illustrated with human condition through his depictions of people. I admired how he employed loose wet into wet techniques, but retained a level of control over the figurative imagery. The layering within the paintings allowed him to combine dreamlike suggestions of the past with the everyday. I rediscovered Dean’s work in the mid-90’s in an exhibition in Brighton. I decided to return to watercolour after seeing this exhibition, having painted with acrylics for some years. He inspired me to begin experimenting with a looser style.

Define watercolour or describe what it means to you in one word.

Flow. Most notably, the way the water carries the paint and flows in its own way carries so much meaning. Essentially, I think it’s magical that although I can guide the medium, I cannot entirely control it. Additionally, I like how colour can be layered and lifted from the surface. It gives me the chance to respond to the behaviour of the paint.

Claire Sparkes, ‘Hyakinthos’

The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2018 is now calling for entries. Open to all UK-based artists, the competition offers a generous range of prizes including a First Prize of £6000, Second Prize of £3000 and Third Prize of £1000. Apply online by 5pm on Monday 25 June:

Top Tips from a former Selector and First Prize Winner

Kathryn Maple, 2017 selector and 2016 First Prize winner, shares her top tips for entering art competitions in the July issue of Artists & Illustrators.

‘No tip will guarantee you a place in a competition because there are many things beyond your control. After many failed attempts, I’ve learned you should never see being unsuccessful as a rejection of the quality of your work.’

Kathryn Maple, ‘Sandy Shoes’, First Prize 2016


Keep trying to reinvent or push your ideas and mediums so the work feels fresh.


Working alone in the studio can feel isolating at times but your self-belief will allow you to recognise if a work has the potential to be shortlisted.


I find it refreshing to have chats about my work with friends who aren’t artists because they can see something obvious that doesn’t work. Fresh eyes with no bias can be useful.


Creating opportunities for work to be seen and working to deadlines keeps your work energised. This translates into your voice and forms the heart of your practice.

Kathryn Maple, ‘Hiding in the Woods’

The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2018 is now calling for entries. Open to all UK-based artists, the competition offers a generous range of prizes including a First Prize of £6000, Second Prize of £3000 and Third Prize of £1000. Apply online by 5pm on Monday 25 June:

Spotlight on Ishbel Myerscough, 2018 Selector

Ishbel Myerscough studied at both Glasgow school of Art and Slade School of Fine Art, graduating from the latter in 1993. Just two years later, she won the National Portrait Gallery BP Portrait Award and has since completed two commissions for the Collection. A London-based artist who has moved her studio back into her childhood home, Ishbel teaches at the Royal Drawing School once a week. Of her teaching style, she comments ‘I can’t teach them how to be an artist; I can show them how to look but not how I do it.’

But what of Ishbel’s painting style? Sarah Howgate, curator of Friendship Portraits (National Portrait Gallery, 2015) comments that ‘Ishbel paints painstakingly slowly on a relatively small, sometimes miniature scale, and with a clear, unflinching vision.’ She ‘…is interested in pimples, not only pimples also wrinkles, puckers, tattoos, moles, freckles, bulges, veins, hair, skin colour, stretchmarks – all the things, in fact, that we edit out of our body images. Her work, very often, constitutes a sort of journey to the surface of the human being and everything she finds there she records.’ (Flowers Gallery)

Ishbel Myerscough, ‘Self Portrait in a Flower Dress’ (2016)

For Ishbel, then, character exists in physical flaws: her portraits ‘journey to the surface of the human being’ in order to access the deeper relationships that are too often lost within processed images of a beautified reality.

The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2018 is now calling for entries. Open to all UK-based artists, the competition offers a generous range of prizes including a First Prize of £6000, Second Prize of £3000 and Third Prize of £1000. Apply online by 5pm on Monday 25 June:

Ishbel Myerscough, ‘Mothers and Daughters’ (2014)