Nationwide poetry and artwork competition launched
Nationwide poetry and artwork competition launched

Nationwide poetry and artwork competition launched

Enter your submission to be part of the Regeneration exhibition in January 2022

This is an Open Call for budding poets and artists of all ages across the country, to submit work to the prestigious Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, County Durham, on the theme of Regeneration.

Launched on National Poetry Day, with the backing of Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell; this Open Call is part of a landmark exhibition by the international award-winning British painter, Martin Kinnear whose major solo exhibition, Regeneration runs at The Bowes Museum from 22 January 2022 to 25 April 2022.

The Covid pandemic has had a huge impact on individuals in Britain and The Bowes Museum is keen to offer everyone in the country an opportunity to express creatively how it has affected their lives.

The artwork and poetry open calls will be divided into three age categories: 6-11, 12-17 and over 18 and the Museum is urging parents, teachers and head teachers the length and breadth of the UK to encourage young people to get involved alongside the adults.

The deadline for all entries is 11.59pm on Sunday 28 November.

The poet, and Associate Professor in English Literature and Creative Writing at Durham University, Dr Paul Batchelor will be joining Martin Kinnear and one of the Museum’s trustees in judging the poetry competition.

The winners in the poetry categories will have their works recorded and played out at set times of the day in the gallery for the duration of the exhibition.

Kinnear, TV and radio celebrity Jenny Éclair, herself an accomplished painter, will select artworks to be hung as part of the main Regeneration exhibition.

All artwork submissions will be exhibited online by the museum. Winners will be informed within 14 days of the closing date.

All artworks, must be submitted in the first instance as JPEG files, less than 20MB in size. The maximum physical size for any artwork, including any frame, is A1 (59.4cm x 84.1cm).

The poems can be no more than 45 lines, on one side of A4.

The competition entry forms, as well as the consent form from parents or guardians of those under 18, can be found on the Museum’s website:

Martin Kinnear said: “We have all been on a personal journey through this pandemic. The exhibition, Regeneration, is my response to this global catastrophe and I am very keen indeed to see how other people in Britain respond artistically to it.

“There is great therapeutic value in sharing a common experience so I hope this will provide children and adults alike a platform to express themselves. We look forward to receiving a great many entries.”

Jenny Éclair said: “Doing creative things during Lockdown has been a positive force for millions of us. Painting has certainly kept me going this last 18 months and I would urge everyone to take this opportunity to share their pandemic experiences.

“I would particularly urge parents, teachers and head teachers to encourage young people to get involved by submitting artworks. It’s free and will provide a fantastic national archive of this desperately trying time.”

Cressida Cowell, Children’s Laureate, continued: “ [The] Pandemic has been very hard on us all but particularly children.  The Bowes Museum national poetry competition is a fabulous way for children and young people to express their feelings about this defining moment in their lives and I whole heartedly encourage young people to take part… And good luck.”

Dr Paul Batchelor said: “Reading or writing a poem is the best way to regenerate your imagination, and I can’t wait to read the competition entries.”

Jane Whittaker, The Bowes Museum’s Collection’s Manager, added: “The Bowes Museum’s founders, John and Joséphine Bowes, would have been thrilled that the Museum they created is inspiring people to reset their imaginations through art, after a year or more which has had such an impact on everyone.  We really can’t wait to see the results of people’s creativity.”

Regeneration is Martin Kinnear’s response to the COVID pandemic.  It’s a powerful and moving take on the year the world came to a halt and about what happens when plans are cancelled, futures are placed in doubt and the life-affirming power of change.

It opens to the public on 22 January 2022 and runs until 25 April 2022.

The Bowes Museum is open every day (except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day) from 10 – 5.  Entry to the shop and Cafe Bowes is free.



Notes to editors:


  • The Bowes Museum was created over 100 years ago by an extraordinary couple, John and Joséphine Bowes.  Together they built up the greatest private collection of fine and decorative arts in the North of England and constructed a magnificent building to house them in.  The collection contains thousands of objects including furniture, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and many other items covering an extensive range of European styles and periods. 
  • The Bowes Museum receives a core funding grant from Durham County Council and as a Major Portfolio Museum receives support from Arts Council England. Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.
  • The Bowes Museum has undergone major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, One NorthEast through the County Durham Economic Partnership, English Heritage, Northern Rock Foundation, The Monument Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The European Regional Development Fund, DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund, Designation Challenge Fund, The Shears Foundation, The Richard and Suzanna Tonks Family Fund at County Durham Foundation, Durham County Council, The Friends of The Bowes Museum, The Headley Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Fenwick Ltd, Mercers Charitable Foundation, Welton Foundation.
  • The Bowes Museum is a member of the Discover Durham partnership of attractions. Our commitment is to promote Durham as an exciting and vibrant group travel destination and to provide the travel trade with a professional and knowledgeable service: hotline number 03000 262626,



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