Hunting Art Prizes Archive

Scope and Content

The archive comprises minutes; correspondence; advertising flyers; posters; black & white and colour photographs of entries, exhibitions and exhibitors; sample invitations and prize certificates which all relate to the Hunting Art Prizes, 1980-2005; original and photocopied press-cuttings relating to the Prizes and entrants;

Administrative / Biographical History

The Hunting Art Prizes (HAP) were set up following a conversation the Chairman of the Group, Clive Hunting, had with William Narraway who was painting his portrait during the late 1970s. Narraway was a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (RP), part of the Federation of British Artists (RBA) who were based at the Mall Galleries. When Hunting mentioned that the Group was considering sponsorship of some description, Narraway suggested beginning a competition and so began the HAP. This was initially open to members of the FBA, as well as the Royal Societies and Institutes of: British Artists; Oil Painters; Painters in Watercolours; Marine Artists; the Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Engravers; and the New English Art Club (NEAC). Each exhibiting society nominated a group of works previously shown at their own annual exhibition and Hunting provided a total prize fund of £11,000. There was a first prize for oil painting and a first prize for watercolour, with each attracting a prize of £5,000. During the first year of the competition which was held in 1980, forty-nine works of art were chosen and exhibited at the Mall Galleries in January 1981. In 1983 four additional prizes were added (£250 each) for runners up.

This format for the exhibition continued until 1986 when it was decided to open the competition to all comers, as there had been criticism that the original terms of entry were too restricted. Artists from all backgrounds were permitted to enter up to six items each, entries were required to be in two dimensions (but no more than 6 x 4 feet in size) and a single first prize of £5,000 was offered from a total fund of £15,000. These conditions changed little over subsequent years, although entries were limited to three items from 1993 and the total prize fund eventually increased to £30,000, with the single first prize at £12,000 in 2005.

Initially, judging was undertaken over two and a half days and consisted of the entries being considered in two or three rounds, until approximately one hundred entries remained. On the morning of the third day, votes were cast by the judges until the overall winner, runner-up and minor prizes were decided. The judging process became quicker through the years. Over a twenty five year period, the HAP was assessed by sixty-three judges, who included Tom Coates, William Packer, Brian Sewell and Angela Flowers. The entries were then hung later for the award ceremonies, initially at the Mall Galleries and then from 1994 at the Royal College of Arts. One of the critcisms levelled at the HAP was that it had been centred upon London (although it had always been possible to submit works of art at various collection points around the country), so from 1987 until 1999, an edited version of the exhibition was dispatched to galleries elsewhere. Locations included Arbroath, Swansea, Birmingham, Trebah near Falmouth and even Paris in 1991.

The HAP was also used in latter years to publicise the cause of various charities and at the award ceremony in 2003, promoted the One-O-One charity. Similarly in 2004, the ceremony was used to highlight the British Forces Foundation Patron's Appeal and in 2005 at the final show, the Chelsea Pensioner's Appeal.

In 2006, the HAP transferred to Houston, Texas, and so ended its British era. However, the HAPcontinues to be a show case for figurative and abstract art and the annual exhibition is now held on the eve of the Offshore Technology Conference.

Access Information

This collection is open for research. Readers must fill in an 'Reader Agreement Form' which outlines the reading room rules and conditions concerning privacy and Data Protection

Custodial History

The papers remained with Hunting Plc until Anna Blundell-Williams, who was co-ordinator of the project, retired in 2011. William Packer approached the Centre regarding the possibility of providing the material with a permanent home in 2011 and after meeting Anna Blundell-Williams, Richard Hunting and Charlotte Brunskill, the HAP archive was donated to the Centre in July 2011.