22 Mar 2021

Inspire ’21 Youth Art Competition

Hello again and welcome to the sixth year of our fantastic Inspire art competition!

Every year, we invite young people from across the Midlands to enter our art competition, sharing their creativity around a theme, and we love seeing the poetry, paintings, films, photos and more that we receive!

Last year we saw the most amazing artworks created through lockdown, from so many different people, with so much creative talent, that we want to take it even further and bigger this year. For Inspire 21, we are looking forward to following our own roadmap out of lockdown, and encouraging you to experience the world around us with refreshed eyes and a positive spirit, and to share that with us and the world.

Our competition theme this year will be Nature and the Environment. The natural world is so important for our own wellbeing, and we know we need to think about the wellbeing of the planet around us too.

The world we live in is both full of beauty and challenge. It is our responsibility to care for, consider, and share our commitment to the environment with others, and this is a great way to do it. Art can help us share so many important ideas, feelings, and messages and that’s why we want to harness your creative talent and help others see how important our fragile and beautiful planet is.

So where will we start? With art there is no right or wrong, but we know it inspires us and makes us understand things differently. This could be making art as a climate activist, recording the nature you see around you, or even reflecting your personal idea of the present and future of our planet.

Whatever you choose, your art will be personal and important to you. Artforms of all kinds are welcomed – writing; poetry; video; animation; the traditional types of art making we all love such as drawing, painting, printing, photography, sculptures; or what about junk and recycled models to build some recycling in to your art!

Everyone’s entry will be added to our online gallery for everyone to see, and this year we will also be displaying the winning images at Thinktank where they will be seen by thousands of visitors.

The winning entry in each age group will receive a prize of £50 in art vouchers and a free family membership giving access to all Birmingham Museums’ sites for a year.

How taking part can help you

Being creative is really beneficial to your wellbeing. It provides a way to process thoughts and feelings, provides a distraction when you immerse yourself in an activity, and helps you revisit and rediscover under-used skills. Creative activity is great for all ages, and can help with independent working for children. Many of us look for things to do when we’re not at school and so competitions like this can really help too.

The competition

Remember, this year’s theme is Nature and the Environment. Use your creativity to show us some beautiful nature, tell us how you feel about the planet, come up with a fantastic idea to protect the environment – it’s up to you! You’re welcome to use any form of creativity, so why not think about:

  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Fashion
  • Photography
  • Creative writing
  • Mixed media artwork
  • Digital artwork (including film)
  • Sculpture

The competition is open to anyone up to 25 years old, and entries will be judged in five age groups:

  • 0-4 years
  • 5-9 years
  • 10-14 years
  • 15-19 years
  • 20-25 years

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.

We will also want a nice statement about what went into your work and what it means. This will help people get to know your artwork a little better and let our judges understand your ideas too.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, a great place to start might be Birmingham Museums’ Online Digital Image Resource, which makes thousands of images in our collections freely available to view and download at your leisure. You can also take a look at some previous years’ entries in the image gallery below.

How to enter

  • Please download and complete the Inspire 21 entry form (Word format). Please be aware you need parental consent to enter if you are under 18.
  • Attach a high-quality image of your artwork in PDF, JPEG, .mov or mpeg format. The file size should be between 1 and 5 MB. Remember to look at our handy guide (PDF) to find the best way to capture your art digitally. For sculpture, fashion or other 3D work, please submit a 20-50 second video in a .mov or M-peg format. Digital artwork, film and performance should be emailed to us via WeTransfer. 
  • Enter your artworks by email only to 
  • We will display all submissions online in our Inspire gallery on Flickr. Winning entries will also be displayed digitally at Thinktank in the autumn.
  • All entries must be received by Friday 16th July 2021.

Competition rules

  • The judges will select a winner from each age category.
  • Your artwork will appear online credited to you (by first name, age, town/city), the competition and the museum.
  • 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
  • The competition will close on Friday 16th July 2021. Entries received after this time will not be submitted to the competition.
  • The judges’ decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into over this.
  • Prizes will not be exchanged or refunded and there is no cash alternative.
  • Artworks may be used for marketing and promotion purposes.

Inspire 2020 competition winners and highly commended:

Inspire 20 - winners and highly commended entries