New Forest St Barbe Art Gallery Open Exhibition 2020

Open Sesame! Calling all artists and would be artists too...

The St Barbe Art Gallery Open Exhibition is open for entries - and welcomes all ages, levels of ability, and subjects!

Open sesame squared smallerSt Barbe invites you to stay at home and let your imagination run riot! The Coronavirus may have forced the museum and art gallery temporarily to close its doors and postpone its exhibitions, but will not let that discourage it.

And right now, it is re-launching submissions for its popular annual Open exhibition, which it is now hoped will be bigger and better this year than ever… Open Sesame!

Time is for once on our side, for more budding artists to have a go!

One of the few benefits of enforced isolation is that we suddenly have time. All those unfinished projects and ideas that we set aside when we were too busy can now come to fruition. If you always wanted to try your hand at watercolours, imagined a textile creation or planned a collage, St Barbe invites you to go for it!

Artists have been in contact thinking that, as the exhibition was postponed, so were the submissions. For anyone who missed the original deadline, Open Sesame!

New, online submissions

Online submissions are open

Paintings, drawings, prints, textiles and sculpture are all eligible for entry as jpg images (do not be deterred, all is explained in the detail) at https://stbarbe-museum.org.uk/whats-on/open-exhibition.php

Get inspired to paint: meet New Forest Artist Pete Gilbert

This year's prizes

Highly regarded, indeed revered and coveted, prizes are to be won! (Although it's the cuedos that counts the money will undoubtedly be welcome too.)  Prizes include:

  • People’s Choice Award £200
  • The Blake Morgan Award for best painting (£250)
  • The Mary and John Symons Memorial Award for best print (£250)
  • The Coastal Gallery Award for best contemporary abstract work (£100)
  • The Ted Marsh Memorial Award for best work by an artist aged 18-21 (£100)
  • The Beaulieu Fine Arts Award for best work by a non-professional artist (£100 of framing)

st barbe open exhibition Sarah Clarke Summer Party 1080This year's judges

This year’s esteemed judging panel comprises:

  • Stephen Powell - artist
  • Phil Smith – arts professional and curator
  • Caron Penney – textile artist

This year's details

Each artist may submit a maximum of two works, which must not previously have been exhibited at St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery.  Works will be available for sale unless the artist requests otherwise. 

It is also recognised that artists who have already submitted may wish to swap their work, so when the new dates have been agreed, the team from St Barbe will be in contact with everyone concerned to give them that opportunity.

Full details including exactly how to submit entries with jpg images (contact the museum if you do not have access to a computer!) together with all the T’s and C’s can be found on the St Barbe website by clicking this link to the details about the Open exhibition:


The picture featured in its full glory here (with our apologies cropped for our introductory image for this article which has to be a precise shape!) is by Sarah Clarke and entitled "Summer Party" - which we thought strikes an appropriately optimistic tone for a positive future. 

Young Artist’s Open Exhibition

Budding artists under 18 are included in the exhibition

The St Barbe Young Artist’s Open was launched in 2018 and now coincides annually with the St Barbe Open Exhibition.  

There is no set theme, artists can choose their own subject.  The only stipulation is that by entering the artist agrees that their artwork can be used for the promotion of the Young Artist’s Open. The exhibition is selected by museum staff. Successful entries will be exhibited in Gallery 3 for the whole of this year’s Open Exhibition.

There are three age groups:

  • Under 7s
  • 7 – 11
  • 12-17

How to enter the Young Artist's Open - a variation for this year

The usual method of entering for young people is by collecting an art board from St Barbe which obviously isn’t currently possible.

Open Sesame! Young people up to and including age 17 are invited to submit an artwork 20 x 25cm in any medium they like… a collage, painting or textile.

Your masterpieces can be brought into the museum when it reopens, along with £1 and the entry form from the website. All Young Artists will have the chance to win a Ted Marsh Memorial Award.

As above, see website forall the details and the T's and C's: https://stbarbe-museum.org.uk/whats-on/open-exhibition.php

An exhibition of which the New Forest will be proud!

The organisers will be thrilled if the coronavirus crisis and current lockdown results in entries from many more artists than in other years – and would love it if the St Barbe gallery walls are smothered with artworks on a scale to compare with the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London!

Maria Ragan, Director at St Barbe adds “Whilst we cannot release the dates for the postponed Open exhibition it will go ahead as soon as we can make it happen. Open Sesame! is an opportunity for us to look forward to when these challenging times are over. Our doors may be closed but we are still working behind the scenes to bring you exciting exhibitions in the, hopefully not too distant, future”

If you have any questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To quote Albert Einstein “Imagination is everything, it is the preview of life’s coming attractions”

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