The prize was created in Alfred Wainwright’s name to showcase the growing genre of nature-writing in publishing and to celebrate and encourage exploration of the outdoors to all readers. It was initially conceived in 2013 by Frances Lincoln, publishers of Alfred Wainwright’s guides. It has been administered ever since by the independent Literary Marketing Agency; Agile.
The Prize Director is Founder and Creative Director of Agile; Alastair Giles.
The Wainwright Prize was named in honour of; Alfred Wainwright, the author of the famous fell walking series; the Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. Published by Frances Lincoln, an imprint of Quarto publishing Group, the fell guides were published between 1955 & 1966 and became the standard reference work to 214 of the fells of the English Lake District.
AW (as he liked to be known) died in 1991 but all of the guides remain in print and extremely popular to this day.
Over previous years it has been largely funded by sponsors: Thwaites, Marston Brewery (who produced the ‘Wainwright Golden Beer’ brand), the Alfred Wainwright Estate and the Quarto Group. The publicity and promotional campaign for the prize is self-financed by promotional levies from publishers with shortlisted titles.
As of 2021, the prize is now sponsored by James Cropper PLC
The prize is project managed by Agile with partners including the National Trust, Kendal Mountain, The Outdoor Guide, The Wainwright Society and many others.
The Prize Categories
There are now three categories of the prize and they are awarded to the work which best reflects Wainwright’s core values and include a celebration of nature and our natural environment, or a warning of the dangers to it across the globe.
For Nature Writing
For Writing On Conservation
For Children's Writing on Nature and Conservation
We are delighted to introduce the extraordinary Olga Prinku as this year’s artist-in-residence for the James Cropper Wainwright Prize as it enters its tenth year. As an originator of the craft of flowers-on-tulle embroidery, Prinku’s work embodies the artistry we find in the natural world every day, as well as nature’s creative potential to enrich and make up our own creative practices. Most importantly, we share a muse with Olga: nature.
“I take inspiration for my work from long walks in the countryside – observing how nature changes through the seasons, and how there’s beauty in plants that are often overlooked, and in every stage of a plant’s life cycle. I’m honoured to be a part of a prize that’s named after a man whose name is synonymous with long country walks, and that aims to inspire more people to develop their love and appreciation of the natural world around us”.
Combining dried and preserved flowers and plant-based materials with tulle fabric, Olga’s rich portfolio of artwork draws the eye to the unique structures of plant life we find around us, from the skeletal branches of woodland trees to delicate, intricate petals and tender berries. Detailed, fragile, and richly textured, Prinku’s art is an act of preservation of the natural world around us as well as a transformative act. She creates something new and imaginative from her materials, often inspired by motifs drawn from nature and traditional folkloric embroidery patterns or tapestries.
Explore and enjoy a few samples from her brilliant portfolio below.
We are honoured and delighted to introduce this years’ featured artist: Helen Musselwhite. Helen works with paper to create magical illustrated models and sets. Cutting by hand, she uses coloured and painted paper to build stunning, detailed multi-layered scenes inspired by the natural world and its inhabitants.
An affinity with paper
“I’m very inspired by the natural world and often listen to audiobooks about it whilst working and walking in the countryside around my studio”
Helen works from a home studio on the edge of Manchester, with one foot in suburbia and the other in the Cheshire countryside. A love of art sustained her through school, making it the most natural thing in the world to study graphic design and illustration.
Since then, her creative ventures have embraced decorative furniture, jewellery and painting – all of which she deeply enjoyed but which have since been eclipsed by her affinity with paper; the medium that was patiently waiting for her all along.
Her clients have included Morton Brown, Burton Snowboards, The Washington Post, Hoegaarden, Royal Mail and the Radio Times.
Explore and enjoy a few samples from Helen’s brilliant portfolio below.
We are honoured to introduce this years’ featured artist and illustrator: Dorien Brouwers. Her fresh and fluid illustrations are composed to inject life into the prizes’ aesthetic through an evocative combination of colour, texture and rich palette of the world’s flora and fauna.
Keep your eyes and mind open
“Mother nature is the best designer and should be an inspiration to us all. It is wonderful to be using my creativity for a prize that encourages more people to love and protect our home”
Dorien grew up in the Netherlands, and moved to the UK when she was 21, where she trained as a graphic designer. She now lives in the countryside with her family, working as an illustrator and picture book author. Her extensive and ever-growing portfolio includes clients such as Hachette Book Group, Tate Modern, Pearson Education and the Prado Museum.
Explore a few samples from Dorien’s fantastic portfolio below.