STUDENT art exploring themes of diversity in society and nature has gone on show online, following a Durham University competition.

The university launched its inaugural Student Art Prize in October 2019, to celebrate the artistic talent of its students and offer them further opportunities to have their work displayed publicly.

The university had planned to exhibit some of the entries in its Palatine Centre but, with the building currently closed due to Covid-19, decided instead to launch a virtual gallery online as part of the Summer in the City arts festival, which is run by the university and Durham County Council.

More than 75 artists entered the contest, before a judging panel selected 21 to be shortlisted and exhibited online.

Finally, at a virtual ceremony held on Tuesday, July 14, the winner was announced as ‘Hands Of Acceptance’ by Alice Stubbings, a Law undergraduate at St Mary’s College.

Alice, who is originally from Malton, North Yorkshire, said: “I am so grateful and shocked to have won. The subject of diversity is something I feel strongly about, and I am so appreciative to have been able to show this in my artwork.”

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Winner Alice Stubbings

As well as being exhibited online, Miss Stubbings’ piece will now be added to the university’s art collections.

Second place went to James Bailey for his photography work ‘Ascension’ and third place was awarded to Anna Horwich for her painting ‘Wisdom of Age’.

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Ascension by James Bailey

Prizes of £1,500 for first place, £1,000 for second and £500 for third were donated by solicitor Richard Roberts, a Durham University graduate.

He said: “Creating an artwork is a very good way of taking stress out of the hectic and pressured student life. Student mental health is another real concern of mine. Finding space to be calm, be creative, to let our imagination wander, is part of keeping a better mental health balance.”

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Wisdom Of Age by Anna Horwich

Additionally, members of the public attending the awards ceremony via Zoom could vote for their favourite entry. The winner of the People’s Poll was Lizzie English, for her painting ‘Papa Gus’.

Liz Waller, Durham University’s Director of Library and Collections, said: “We are working to build a diverse and inclusive community, where everyone can feel comfortable to be themselves and to flourish. We chose ‘diversity’ as the theme of our first Student Art Prize to encourage this.

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Papa Gus by student Lizzie English

“Although we don’t teach art at Durham, almost all of our colleges have their own art groups or societies, where students take part in workshops, meet artists and develop their skills through collaborative creativity. There are many very talented artists among our students and we’re very pleased to showcase their inspiring work through the Student Art Prize. We hope many people will take the time to browse the gallery of entries online.

“We are thrilled to begin to add student art to the University Art Collection – which will over time become a showcase for student talent.”

To view the gallery, please visit