Woolgather are Leeds-based artists John Slemensek, Annie Nelson and Chris Woodward. They founded the Woolgather Art Prize in 2011 “from a need to explore the artist’s role in society and to celebrate the creative lifestyle”. With its tagline You choose the winner, the prize is aimed at and for the public – winners are decided entirely by votes from the viewing audience and engagement is sought from as broad a demographic as possible. Woolgather aim to remove barriers and preconceptions about contemporary art while supporting the creativity and ambition of emerging artists around them.

Woolgather’s untiring make-it-happen approach embraces transparency, honesty and peer-to-peer support. In its inaugural year the prize was entirely self-funded and relied on the generosity of Leeds’ community of artists and designers to bring the event together. Rather than paying submission fees, shortlisted artists were asked to give their works away to the public at the end of the show. This spirit of generosity and inclusivity paid off – over 1,000 visitors came to the transformed high-street shop to see the exhibition and cast their votes, many of whom had never been to an art gallery before. “We wanted every single member of the public to know they were welcome” says Slemensek.

This week the Woolgather Prize returns to Leeds for its second edition. Bigger, bolder and with funding generated through a Sponsume campaign as well as from Arts Council England, this year’s prize attracted over 300 applications, and has resulted in an ambitious survey show of work by twenty-six UK artists taking place over a three-storey former events venue near the city’s bus station. All exhibited artists stand a chance of winning one of three cash prizes of £1000, £500 and £250. Accompanying the exhibition is a website and publication featuring works by the shortlisted artists.


Woolgather Prize 2012 shortlist, selected by John Slemensek, Annie Nelson and Chris Woodward: Alfie Strong, Andy Nizinskyi, Augustinas Naslenas, Chloe Plumb & Ned Patten, Claire Holyoake, Dominic Heffer, Edwin Li, Eleanor Leonne Bennett, Emily Towler, Gin Durham, Holly English, Hondartza Fraga, Howard Gardener, Jin Eui Kim, Karen Logan, Lex Thomas, Mike Ballard, Nathan Evans, Rob Youngson, Sarah Gillham, Sean Williams, Sooim Jeong, Steve Nice, Suok Won Yoon, Topical Jungle and Victoria Youngson. You choose the winner!

Event Opening
11 May, 18:00-22:00

Open Everyday
12 May – 8 June, 12:00-18:00

Awards Night
9 June, 18:00-late