The democratic nature of our competition is what we are most proud of. Why? Because it’s fair. And that’s what we believe in here at NOA.


So, what do we mean by judged anonymously? When we greet our judges at the venue for round one, we will invite them to sit together in front of a big screen on which each submission is projected. The only information they are given is the high resolution submission image (which can be magnified), the title of the piece, the dimension, the type of work, the scale (demonstrated using a small stick figurine to the bottom right hand side of the screen), the medium, and the artist's statement for context (in case they wish to learn more about the context of the piece). In the second round, they see only the work in the flesh – no title or statement, unless they specifically ask for them.


They do not know who the artists are, whether you are male or female, how old you are, where in the UK or Ireland you come from or live, your background, your education or your training, if any. We do not brief the judges and we do not dictate any percentage or quota for each category (e.g. painting, photography, drawing or young artists’ work). The only condition we ask of our judges is that if they recognise an artist they know or are familiar with, that they make their position known and withdraw from the selection process of that piece, leaving the decision to the remaining panel.


It is a totally organic process harnessed strictly by our judging panel alone. The NOA team are strictly prohibited from commenting on any of the decision process in both rounds and during the prize selection. It is only at the absolute end of the process when the judges are assessing their final selection (which are displayed in the exhibition) that the name of the artist is revealed and thus their gender – always a very exciting moment!



Why does NOA need so much information up front if it claims to be judged anonymously?


When you register with NOA, it seems like there is an awful lot of information needed. But we want you to know that this is only for the team so we can administer the competition efficiently. For example, when we partnered with the British Journal of Photography, they wanted to see the selected and winning photographers from the past three years, along with their CVs, websites and social media handles, in case they wanted to feature anyone on their website. We also need comprehensive information so if you are shortlisted and/or selected, we can create your NOA profile on our website instantly, as well as the exhibition catalogue and programmes. We also provide a booklet of artists’ CVs at the exhibition and have them to hand if one of our NOA Private Collectors requests more information for example.