The Auckland Project seeks UK illustrator for £25,000 public commission

The project will include the design of nine large shutter panels for Auckland Tower depicting the history of the town of Bishop Auckland, to be unveiled in Spring 2024.

Regeneration charity The Auckland Project is offering a £25,000 commission for a UK illustrator or artist to design nine large-scale shutter panels to be displayed on Auckland Tower.

The town of Bishop Auckland has a history spanning over 2,000 years. The purpose of The Auckland Project is to use its culture and heritage to change the lives of the people who visit, work and live there. Ultimately, the charity is trying to boost its offering as a visitor destination and breathe new life into its many attractions, from the Auckland Castle, walled garden and deer park to its Spanish Gallery, Mining Art Gallery and Auckland Tower visitor centre.

Auckland Tower is described as “the first point of interaction” for visitors and the building, which was designed by Níall McLaughlin Architects, opened to the public in October 2018. The project has been launched in collaboration with Arts&Heritage, which aims to connect contemporary artists with historic organisations.

Arts&Heritage chief executive Stephanie Allen describes the 29-metre-high tower as “extremely unique”, adding that it gives access to “unrivalled views across the rural parkland and area”.

“We look forward to receiving a range of creative responses that bring together Bishop Auckland’s rich history of faith, architecture, industry and the natural environment,” she says.

To be considered, prospective illustrators and artists must share their existing portfolio of work and an initial 250-word response. A key aim is that the designs will “bring the history of the site to life”, according to the brief.

While the story told through the designs on the nine shutter panels does not need to be linear, the brief says it should “capture a sense of the passing time”. Designs will be printed in long lasting enamel on the steel.

Shortlisted artists will then be invited to an interview with The Auckland Project’s key stakeholders in October, including guest external judge Northumbria School of Design assistant professor Ted Carden.

The Auckland Project’s head of exhibitions Clare Baron says that, while the designs will “celebrate our past and shared heritage”, they will also “represent the beginning of a new chapter in the town’s history”.  The charity is working with the local community to provide formal and informal learning for adults and young people, in a bid to create jobs and apprenticeships and support sustainable living.

The brief for the project, application form and background information can be found on the Arts&Heritage website. Applications will close on Monday 18th September 2023 at 5pm and all entries should be emailed to

The successful artist will spend the coming months designing their artwork, which is due to be unveiled in Spring 2024.

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