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Inaugural John Moores Critics Award announced at the Walker Art Gallery Liverpool


The first ever winners of the John Moores Critic Award were announced on 16 November, with the UK award going to Liverpool-based writer Linda Pittwood. The Award recognises emerging new talent in critical writing about contemporary art and provides an international platform for budding critics in the UK and China to connect with their audiences and arts communities.  UK entrants were asked to focus their critical eye on this year’s John Moores Painting Prize shortlist, producing some interesting results.

There was also a Chinese winner of the prize – Xu Zie – and the two victors have been awarded a 3 week exchange to China or the UK, along with £2,000.

There were honourable mentions for Grace Harrison in the UK and Wu Shen Zhi in China, both of whom bagged £1,000. The competition, organised jointly by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and Shanghai University, ran parallel to the John Moores Painting Prize as part of this year’s Liverpool Biennial at the Walker Art Gallery (National Museums Liverpool).

The judges were Yan Gong, Director, Art World Magazine, Shanghai; Hsiangling Lai, Board member and former Director, Rockbund Art Museum; Gao Minglu, Chair of the Department of Art History, Sichuan Fine Art Institute; Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton, UK President of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA); David Batchelor, artist and writer; Sam Thorne, Associate Editor, Frieze Magazine.

John Moores Critics Judges
John Moores Critics Award ceremony, left to right: Yan Gong, Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton, Henry Meyric Hughes, Hsiangling Lai

The Chair of the Award committee, Henry Meyric Hughes, said: “There was a good spread of ages and genders participating in this first award and the panel were unanimous in their decision to award one clear winner and runner up from each country.” Winning entries will also be published on a new dual language John Moores Critics Award website and published in a bilingual publication, alongside the winners of the John Moores Painting Prize. This will be jointly edited by LJMU’s School of Art and Design and the University of Shanghai.

Ling Min, Professor of Art history at Shanghai University, who was – with Lewis Biggs – one of the prime movers behind the John Moores Critics Award, is herself also a member of AICA Open Section.

The judges commented: “the entrant wrote a fresh and lively review of this year’s painting prize, which combined formal invention with insight.”

UK Winner Linda Pittwood is an exhibition coordinator and arts writer based in Liverpool.  After graduating from LJMU in 2006 with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art, Linda was an artist-curator based at Red Wire Studios before leaving to study for an MLitt in Museum Studies and take up a position in the Exhibitions department at National Museums Liverpool.  Linda writes for the Liverpool Daily Post Arts Blog and contributes to websites including and

The main sponsor of the 2012 Awards is the DSL Collection, Paris. Additional support is offered by The British Council China, within the framework of their ‘China-UK Now Festival’ celebrations. The Award is delivered in association with the UK Section of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA UK).