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Over the last few months, I’ve been—very speculatively—entering my paintings into a few prize exhibitions and competitions.

There are literally hundreds to choose from—just in the UK—and they cover just about any medium, style of work, and career stage you can think of, so I did my research and found a handful suitable for my style of painting and career point.

I’ve had absolutely no expectations, aside from working on the theory that if my work is in front of a judging panel, it’s getting fresh eyes on it and reaching an audience who’ve never seen it before.

Even if didn’t make any shortlists, I’ve learnt more about the process of applying, and I can always enter again next year if I want to.

A few days ago as I quickly scanned my inbox, my eyes landed on an email from the New Light Art Prize.

I knew the notifications were to be announced that week.

And after not reaching the shortlists for two other exhibitions recently, I’d no expectations of it going anywhere.

I quickly scanned the ‘standard response’ part of the email, expecting to find the …’unfortunately you were not successful on this occasion‘… part.

It wasn’t there.

So I re-read everything more slowly.

I was stunned to discover both the paintings I’d submitted have been shortlisted for the prize exhibition! It felt decidedly odd at the time, shock, I guess, but now the news has sunk in, I’m absolutely over the moon.

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