One of the UK's oldest seafaring charities is launching a national maritime art competition in celebration of life at sea open to all budding artists.

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, which provides financial support to retired seafarers in need, is launching its maritime art competition on 20th May in celebration of European Maritime Day.

Being run across social media platforms and via the charity’s website are being encouraged to create an original piece of artwork with a maritime theme, for example celebrating the men and women who dedicate their lives to working at sea, a seascape or shipping.

This could be a watercolour, oil, pastel, acrylic painting or a sketch. The winner will be announced ahead of World Art Day on 10th August. The competition will be judged by marine artist Geoff Hunt whose work features on the covers of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin books.

Geoff Hunt was President of Britain’s prestigious Royal Society of Marine Artists (RSMA) between 2003 and 2008. The RSMA is a charitable organisation which promotes marine painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking of the highest standard.

Fishing remains the most dangerous occupation while over 50 per cent of our international trade, by value, is moved by sea.

Between 2011 and 2012 the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society made regular and one-off grants in over 2,500 cases to retired sailors and their families, amounting to over £1.4 million nationally. The number of requests it receives for support are anticipated to increase further in 2012.

Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society Chief Executive Malcolm Williams said: “We are delighted to be launching this new competition which is a creative way to celebrate the contribution of those who have, or are working at sea, whether fishing its depths or transporting the products we take for granted in our daily lives. Every year we see many cases of people who having dedicated their lives to working at sea now find themselves in financial difficulty.”

European Maritime Day is designed to highlight the importance of the seas and oceans and the challenges facing maritime regions and sectors.

To enter the competition and for more information visit or the Society’s Facebook page at

Entrants are encouraged to create their artwork and then photograph them and upload the image to the Facebook page. Three finalists will be selected by public vote based on the number of ‘likes’ their image receives in a public Facebook gallery. The deadline to upload images to the page is 5pm on 18th July. The public will have until 26th July to select their finalists and a winner will be selected and announced before 10th August.