Our 2021 Art Competition

View the entries and winners of our 2021 Historic Houses Summer Art Competition

Birdsall Hall door and paintings

The Historic Houses Summer Art Competition 2021 was held between June and September 2021 and proved a huge success, with people from across the UK and around the world making artworks that depicted or responded to our member houses. After convening a panel of experts from Historic Houses member houses, as well as an independent professional artist, the winning artwork was Clare Charnley’s artwork, ‘Fingernails’, an artwork that considered all the people who’ve lived and worked at Temple Newsam House in Leeds through intricate paintings on false nails.

The 2021 winner

Fingernails, by Clare Charnley

Temple Newsam House, Leeds | False fingernails, paint, earth, grease, black lead, saddle soap, plaster etc Size including frame: 12.5 x 17 x 2 cm. The frame is glazed (though the work was photographed without glass).

I have been thinking about work – about jobs historically carried out in Temple Newsam. Some of these overlap with contemporary maintenance jobs there. Washing, cleaning, polishing, blacksmithing, painting, cooking, chimney sweeping, hewing etc..

Through making (i.e through use of my own hands) I imagine others’ hands engaged with soil, flour, soap, carcasses, stone, ink, clay, animals, fabric, dung, gunpowder etc..

Arranged like a servants’ bell box, each nail is a tiny painting of how it might have been. They include nails that are bruised and damaged and the nails of children.

The People’s Choice Award

With the winner announced, it was time to vote for the artwork you thought should win the People’s Choice award. Narrowed down from several hundred entries, we and the judging panel selected seventy nine artworks to be considered for the award, representing a diversity of making styles and houses featured. Take a look at the entries below and cast your vote for your favourite, telling us why you think they should win.


See the selected deck of 2021 art competition entries

And the People’s Choice winner is…

3 Combermere under the Starry Skies by Sallie Humphreys

Combermere under the Stars, by Sallie Humphreys

Combermere Abbey, Shropshire | Watercolours, Posca pens

“I just adore Combermere Abbey! It was actually due to be the venue for my big sister’s wedding – Olivia and Jason had planned to fly over from Connecticut, USA to get married at Combermere and we were all so excited. Unfortunately, the wedding has been postponed due to Covid, but we’re all so optimistic that it can take place one day.

Combermere Abbey is just so magical and whimsical – I loved depicting it as a magical venue full of hopes, dreams and love.”

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