The Jerwood Drawing Prize is the largest and longest running annual open exhibition for drawing in the UK, originally established in 1994. The exhibition aims to promote and reward excellence and talent in contemporary drawing practice through the support and recognition of the work of all artists in the field of drawing, including that of established artists and that of emerging artists engaged in the discipline of drawing. The exhibition is open to all artists resident or domiciled in the UK, and works are submitted through the regional collections centres in Cardiff, Cheltenham, Edinburgh, Falmouth, Manchester and London.
The context for the original development of the exhibition was the debate around the nature, value, status and representation of drawing as a contemporary practice and within art education in the early 1990s. The open drawing show has been developed as a forum to test, evaluate and disseminate current drawing practice and has encompassed and informed debates, both in current practice and in education.
As a project it has been firmly established within the heart of an art school since 1994, where the research and academic ethos provides an immediate forum for questioning the value of drawing today, and engendering dialogue and debate around the subject. The reach of the project is more tangible than could be imagined at the outset, where it set out to see who was drawing, what kinds of drawing were being made, and to provide a regular opportunity to show this work, selected by a distinguished and independent panel each year.
The number of artists submitting work, and the coaches of students arriving at the Jerwood Space and each venue every year testify to the interest and focus of many established and emerging artists on the role of drawing within their practice, be it exploratory, affirmative, generative, transformative, or summative. The visitor numbers on the tours also testify to the popularity of the exhibition with a wider audience.
The administrative centre for the exhibition is based at Wimbledon College of Art, one of London's outstanding specialist art schools. The project is delivered through the working partnership of Wimbledon College of Art and the Jerwood Charitable Foundation.