by Cass Art

This competition has now ended. To find out about our current events please refer to our competitions page

The annual National Open Art Competition is open to all artists across the UK and Ireland. Hundreds of selected artworks will be exhibited in the Winter Exhibition, taking place at The Mercers Hall, London in October. A wide range of media is accepted including paintings, drawings, original print, photography, wall hung installations, computer generated art and moving image, and artists can enter up to 4 works digitally before 24 July 2016. There are £60,000 of prizes and awards up for grabs.  
Each year, Cass Art awards a number of prizes to artists selected by a panel of judges. These include a £500 materials bursary for a mature artist, a £500 materials bursary for a young artist, a solo exhibition award and an artists’ mentor experience. We caught up with the winner of the NOA 2015 Artists’ Mentor Experience Louis Appleby to find out how entering NOA2015 and winning the Award has helped his practice.
Beasts of England by Louis Appleby
Louis, your work Beasts of England won you the Artists’ Mentor Experience Award at NOA15. How would you describe your work and what would you like people to take from it? 
My paintings suggest human presence in a banal, post-apocalyptic way. Their subject matter is a mix of teenage detritus and adolescent paraphernalia: video games, televisions, laptops, toy guns, Coke cans and McDonald’s wrappers, which sit uneasily alongside lone pot plants, solitary angle-poise lamps or school science project relics. The titles are the first clue that there’s more going on than appears on the surface, creating a tension between science and entertainment that results in a passive apathy. Beasts of England, for example, is a nod to George Orwell’s Animal Farm. In it, a TV depicts jets dropping bombs on foreign soil, while the oil that is coveted from the lands being attacked powers the lamp on the speaker and the car waiting outside in the drive. Age of Empires, meanwhile, proposes a space filled with a range of information sources. There is a video game on the television, and various different pictures on the wall. They each convey the same message: we consume, we participate, we observe.
Age of Empires and Chaos Theory by Louis Appleby
What are the staple materials in your studio? 
I use Golden acrylic paints and I paint on wooden panels and canvas. I find that cheaper or lesser quality paints are harder to paint with.
Louis Appleby’s studio
What was your experience of entering the National Open Art Competition? 
I think it’s great to enter competitions like NOA. It gets your work out there and exposes it to an audience who might not usually see it. I've met a few artists through them such as Jamie Holman and Tom Down - who is now showing in my new gallery space in Lancaster in our Painting Show. And of course I also got to meet Hughie O’Donoghue and spend the day in his studio which was an experience that will stay with me forever.
Louis Appleby with Hughie O’Donoghue RA at his Studio
The award enabled you to meet an artist whose work you admire, you chose to meet with Hughie O’Donoghue RA for a mentoring session in his studio. What was it like meeting him and what advice did he give you? 
Meeting Hughie was great, he didn't give me any solid black and white advice, just to work as much as possible and to make work that I want to make, rather than trying to please a crowd. But spending the day with him in his environment and hearing how hard he works was great - so he's set a good example for me in that sense. I thought it was great to see how far someone could get. I got the feeling he'd had the time and space to think it all through. I hope one day I can have a studio like his.
Tyranny and Anomie and Homage to Michael Simpson by Louis Appleby
How has your painting progressed since NOA15? 
Since the NOA my painting has got a bit more precise. I've been thinking about colour a lot more since seeing Hughie's paintings. Some of the colours he achieves literally glow into your eyes off the canvas. I've introduced some text elements into the work which is new to me, and I've been experimenting with a 3D Printer escaping 2D for the first time. 
Do you have any shows coming up and what other projects are you working on? 
Yes I have a few shows coming up. I’ll be exhibiting at Shortlisted North at Bellwood and Wright Fine Art in Lancaster with Jamie Holman, Mandy Payne, and Sarah Jane Bellwood. At The Contemporary British Painting Prize London in September I'll be showing with Mandy Payne (also in Bellwood & Wright Show) and with Dan Coombs who is a painting tutor at Wimbledon where I studied my BA, so it'll be good to be in the same show as my old tutor. And I've just opened a small Gallery Space in Lancaster called 'Sound and Vision' with my older brother. We're showing a new exhibition every month curated by me. 
See more of Louis’ work at or visit his Instagram page.
Hughie O’Donoghue RA at his Studio
See more work by Hughie O’Donoghue RA at the exhibition Seven Halts on the Somme at Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Road, W14 8LZ which is open to the public 30 June - 2 October. He also has an exhibition opening in Galway, Ireland as part of Galway International Art Festival on Sunday 10 July One Hundred Years and Four Quarters.
Want to enter NOA16?
Entries close at midnight on 24 July 2016. Registration for the adult competition costs £20, which includes your first submission. You may enter up to three more submissions at a cost of £20 each. Young Artists aged 15-23 can register from 15-24 July for just £12. Registration for the Children’s Competition costs £5, which entitles you to enter one submission. Children may enter up to two more submissions at a cost of £5 each. Visit the website for terms and conditions. Registered artists also receive a £5 off voucher to spend online at
Image credits: 
Louis Appleby with Hughie O’Donoghue RA at his Studio, works by Hughie O’Donoghue RA © 
Beasts of England by Louis Appleby ©
Age of Empires and Chaos Theory by Louis Appleby ©
Louis Appleby’s studio, works by Louis Appleby ©
Louis Appleby with Hughie O’Donoghue RA at his Studio, works by Hughie O’Donoghue RA © 
Tyranny and Anomie and Homage to Michael Simpson by Louis Appleby ©
Hughie O’Donoghue RA at his Studio, works by Hughie O’Donoghue RA © 
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