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Established in 2006, Exeter Contemporary Open has come to be recognised as one of the UK’s most prominent regional contemporary art competitions, culminating in an annual exhibition at Exeter Phoenix. It provides an important national platform for contemporary visual art, with an emphasis on supporting both emerging talent and more established artists many of whom have gone on to receive significant national and international acclaim.

The exhibition is currently run as a fee-paying competition* so artists should carefully study the guidelines, and are recommended to look at previous examples of selected work on this website or on the Phoenix Gallery Flickr page here, before choosing whether to enter.

Each year, finalists are selected by a panel of artists, curators and other industry specialists, and has previously included figures such as David Shrigley, Ceri Hand, Alex Hartley, Hannah Firth, Sean Edwards, Lucy Day & Eliza Gluckman.

This year’s panel will include critic and curator Sacha Craddock and artist and 2006 Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner as well as Phoenix Gallery Curator Matt Burrows.

The exhibition will run from 20 September – 10 November 2019 with a preview on Thursday 19 September, at which the Overall Award winner (£1000) and an Additional Award winner (£500) will be announced. Over the course of the exhibition visitors will be invited to vote for their favourite work, with the £200 Audience Choice Award winner announced in its final week.

“For me, the best part of these things is when I arrive at a preview and am really able to connect with the other exhibitors, and the people behind making the show happen. It’s all about having conversations and making connections which go on to influence my work and might lead to future collaborations.” Past winner Paul Merrick

2019 will see the exhibition return to Exeter Phoenix having taken break in 2018 while the gallery spaces were significantly refurbished with the support of Arts Council England and the Foyle Foundation.

*Although Exeter Phoenix receives some core funding from the Arts Council of England and Exeter City Council the organisation must generate over 80% of its own running costs through ticket sales, hospitality income, sponsorship, fundraising and individual giving.