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Louisa Waterford Prize EXHIBITION 2024


Submissions are now open for the second Louisa Waterford Prize Exhibition.

This is a multi-disciplinary art prize to celebrate the history and legacy of Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford, who was an artist and philanthropist, described by many as a woman ahead of her time.

The exhibition takes place at Louisa's beloved home and final resting place at Ford and Etal Estates in Northumberland.

The prize was inaugurated in 2022 by The Tin Shed at Lady Waterford Hall, the schoolhouse she built at Ford Village, where she spent 20 years creating some of the most important artworks of her life. The life-size watercolour murals depicting biblical scenes are now visited by thousands every year.
Part of Louisa's philanthropic work included encouraging artists, designers and makers to use their skills to make a living. She employed many of them, from architects to stonemasons and ceramicists in her vision for the transformation of Ford Village.

Prior to her arrival following her husband's death, it was described as a "squalid and miserable place in a stunning landscape", but her eye for beauty and detail led her to create what became known as "a perfect paradise".

The Louisa Waterford Prize aims to celebrate the strengths of artists, makers and designers today.

The 2024 Prize - A Perfect Paradise, takes its theme from a remark made by one of the early visitors to Ford Village in 1886 as detailed by author H M Neville in Under a Border Tower.

Of course it's not just about the village, but its location on a hill overlooking the landscape of Glendale with the Cheviots on the horizon. We're looking for a multi-disciplinary response to this, a personal take on this perfect paradise.

Our 2024 event takes place at venues across Ford and Etal, including Etal and Crookham Village halls.

There will also be a special evening talk at Lady Waterford Hall as part of the event by leading historian and writer Caroline Inges-Chambers, the author of "For You have not Falsely Praised", based on letters between Louisa and her long-time friend, artist and author John Ruskin. 

Caroline is also part our panel of eminent judges, which includes Helen Hastings, artist/curator and marketing manager of Hastings First Gallery in Coldstream; Harriet Joicey, Chair of the Lady Waterford Hall Trust along with Lesley McNish, journalist and Creative Director of The Tin Shed.

John Ruskin went on to set up The Guild of St George, a charity that still supports the arts and artists today. Last year we were very lucky to be given support by the Guild with a donation to our prize and also joining our judging panel. We are pleased to report that we have their ongoing support for our 2024 event, continuing the bond between Ruskin and Louisa.

The 2024 winner will receive a Prize worth over £500. It includes a small cash sum; the opportunity to show the winning piece in the mixed Summer Exhibition at Hastings First Gallery in Coldstream which runs from May 15 till the end of July. (This is the Gallery's first summer event and features a number of invited professional Borderlands' artists and makers); an opportunity to exhibit the winning work at Lady Waterford Hall; an invitation to join The Tin Shed's growing online community of artists with a free curated studio for a year, as well as an online exhibition of work at The Tin Shed's Gallery. The winner will also have an opportunity to join one of The Tin Shed's pop-up live events to show and/or sell their work and be featured on The Tin Shed website and across our social media sites.

Around 40 artists will be shortlisted for the exhibition. The closing date is Friday, 1 March.

The three-day exhibition will be curated across at least two venues on or part of Ford and Etal Parish.

The venues will form an informal art trail, to include other art attractions, art demos and workshops and talks, at venues including Lady Waterford Hall and artists' studios on the estates.

Ford and Etal has many historic art and craft sites of interest which will be highlighted for visitors.

Please click HERE to find out more about the Louisa Waterford Prize Exhibition and how to submit.


Born Louisa Stuart, she became Marchioness of Waterford after her marrying Henry Beresford, Lord Waterford. She moved from his family seat in Ireland to Ford Castle in Northumberland following his death in the mid-1800's.

She was already an accomplished amateur artist who was well-known in London's elite artistic circles. She'd been tutored by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and was good friends with art critic and author John Ruskin for about 40 years until her death.

Louisa is also known for her philanthropic work. She and her husband built hundreds of new houses and a school for the estate workers in Ireland, as well as setting up sustainable craft industries to provide employment. 

Although still grieving when she arrived at Ford village, in Northumberland, she set about improving the lives of the estate's tenants by re-designing and improving the houses and building a new school. That building is now Lady Waterford Hall. 

Louisa spent the last 37 years of her life at Ford and transformed the village, showcasing the very best of Victorian arts, crafts and architecture. 

Today the well-preserved buildings stand as her legacy as do the life-size murals she painted for the walls of the village school.

She spent over 20 years creating the Biblical scenes called "Lives of Good Children" using the villagers as her models.These huge artworks reflected a revival of monumental painting and fresco in Britain at the time.

Though Louisa and her work isn't as well known as her male counterparts, the murals remain unparalleled by any other woman artist of Louisa Waterford’s generation across Europe.

Ford and Etal Estates were bought by the Joicey family in early 1900's. They still own and run the estates. 

The inaugural Prize exhibition in 2022 featured 24 finalists and was staged at Lady Waterford Hall, surrounded by her famous murals.

In 2024 the Hall will be open to visitors during the three-day event so they can see her work which also  includes many recently donated pieces from previously private collections.

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Saturday May 4 - Monday May 6

10.30am - 4pm

The 2024 event will take place across three days early Spring Bank Holiday, with work being exhibited at Etal and Crookham Village halls.

There'll also be various art and craft workshops and demonstrations, with additional exhibitions by local artists and makers.

Submissions for the Louisa Waterford Prize Exhibition are now open. Closing date for applications is Friday March 1. Find our more about the event and how to submit work here.

Louisa Waterford Winner 2022

Furniture maker Rob Elliot was the first-ever winner of the Louisa Waterford Prize.  His stunning Flow Desk and Chair installation, was unanimously selected for the 2022 Prize by the judging panel which included Dr Peter Burnam from The Guild of St George, Kate Mason Director of The Big Draw and Lady Harriet Joicey.

Rob, from Selkirk in the Scottish Borders, takes his inspiration from the flowing grain and forms of the local elm. He only uses trees that have died naturally, preserving their beauty through his hand-crafted furniture, giving them a new beginning, where they will go on to be admired and appreciated for many more years without loss to the environment where they came from.

Last year's storms, which destroyed so many trees in the area, makes his work all the more poignant. 

 Rob has been around timber his whole life.  As a boy he spent hours making things from wood in the carpenter’s shop of his father’s sawmill. 

Rob was awarded the prize worth £500, which included £350 cash, supported by The Guild of St George, Ford and Etal Estates and The Tin Shed.

See more of Rob's work at


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2022 Winner - Rob Elliot (Furniture Designer/Maker)

Louisa Waterford Prize finalists 2022

Here's a glimpse at the 2022 finalists.

The theme was New Beginnings - A Dialogue with Nature, after was a difficult two years for many.

The work was exhibited in a special three-day exhibition at Lady Waterford Hall at Ford Village in Northumberland.

We'd just like to say a huge thank you to all the wonderful artists, makers and designers and to the judges Dr Peter Burman from The Guild of St George, Harriet Joicey, chair of the Lady Waterford Hall Trust; Kate Mason, CEO of The Big Draw and Vicky Lacey Smith former curator of Lady Waterford Hall. We woulld also like to say a special thank you to Ford and Etal Estates and The Guild of St George who sponsored the Prize. 

Call for submissions for 2024 event is now open. Please click here to find out how to submit.

See our 2022 finalists below who responded to the theme New Beginnings - A Dialogue with Nature

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