20 Apr 2020

Inspire 20 Now Open!

This is the fifth year of our popular Inspire art competition. With the current lockdown we wanted to put some positivity back in our lives and, working online, we can still welcome your submissions and share all that creativity out there with the world. We can’t wait to see what you come up with at this time, including all the different artforms that are possible even while most of us are staying at home.

This year the competition is called What I Can See, designed to help us all think about things in our homes, gardens, skies, views, and even in our imaginations and thoughts. So what might this mean to you?

Your art submission could be a poem, still life response, a painting in the garden, portrait, photo, digital drawing or video, a mud sculpture, a pen drawing … there is no right or wrong. What I Can See is a way of sharing and communicating your ideas and energies to others at a time when it is needed the most.

How taking part can support you

Making art can be really beneficial to our wellbeing, by providing a way to process thoughts and feelings, immerse yourself in an activity, or even revisit under-used skills. For families, it can provide a creative group activity for all ages, as well as independent working for children. As many of us continue to seek learning opportunities away from formal educational settings, Inspire can support learning for primary and secondary learners through the exploration of topics and materials, as well as research, documentation and critical thinking around artists and techniques in sketchbooks and journals. We will also want a nice statement about what went into your work and what it means, which can also support literacy skills and storytelling.

A great place to start your research might be Birmingham Museums’ Online Image Library, which makes thousands of images in our collections freely available to view and download at your leisure.

The Competition

We would love to be able to display work from the finalists across our museums when we reopen, and winners will receive £50 worth of art vouchers and goodies from the museum.

Before then, we’ll be displaying submissions on-line via our Inspire gallery on Flickr and we’ll be looking to hear more about the materials and processes you’re finding and enjoying via our social media channels.

Entries will be judged in 6 categories:

  • 0-4 years
  • 5-9 years
  • 10-14 years
  • 15-19 years
  • 20 years +
  • Group entry i.e. family, friends, colleagues
Again, we’re keen to show a broad range of materials and techniques, and welcome entries that use:
  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Fashion
  • Photography
  • Creative writing
  • Mixed media artwork
  • Digital artwork (including film)
  • Sculpture

How to enter

To enter, we will need you to digitise your artwork to send it to us by email, by photographing, filming, or scanning it. We’ve produced a handy guide (PDF) to help you with all of the technical bits.

Entry Form

  1. Download and complete the Inspire 20 entry form (Word format). Please be aware you need parental consent to enter if you are under 18.
  2. Attach a high-quality image of your artwork in PDF or JPEG format. The file size should be between 1 and 5 MB.
  3. Enter your artworks by email only to

All entries must be received by 5pm on Sunday 5 July 2020.

Sending your work to us

Before you get started, please download and read our handy guide (PDF) of how to get your work into digital form and over to us.

Send us your artwork as a good quality photograph or scan. This must be JPEG or PDF file. If you do not have a digital copy of your art we can’t see or access it, so remember to use our handy guide to find the best way to capture your art digitally – it might be helpful to consider this when coming up with the idea for your artwork.

Sculpture and fashion – please submit a 20-50 second video in a .mov or M-peg format.
Digital artworks, film and performance – these should be emailed to us via WeTransfer

Competition Rules

  1. The judges will select a winner from each age category.
  2. Your artwork will appear online credited to you (by first name, age, town/city), the competition and the museum.
  3. While we’re happy to see artwork from everyone for our online gallery, the competition element will be limited to those living in the West Midlands region. The West Midlands includes -
    • Birmingham
    • Solihull
    • Coventry
    • Wolverhampton
    • Walsall
    • West Bromwich
    • Dudley

    And the counties of -

    • Herefordshire
    • Shropshire
    • Staffordshire
    • Worcestershire
    • Warwickshire.
  4. As the current situation develops, we aim to close the competition on Sunday 5 July at 5pm - entries received after this time will not be submitted to the competition.
  5. The judges’ decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into over this.
  6. Prizes will not be exchanged or refunded and there is no cash alternative.
  7. Artworks may be used for marketing and promotion purposes.

Need inspiration? Take a look at some previous years’ entries in the image gallery below.