A biennial exhibition, first held in 1957, named after its sponsor, John (later Sir John) Moores (1896–1993), founder of the Littlewoods Organisation (known originally for football pools and subsequently also for mail-order business and department stores). It is held in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. Foreign works have sometimes been included, but it is primarily an exhibition of British painting, aimed at encouraging British artists and at bringing good contemporary work to Merseyside. Several prizes are awarded at each exhibition and they carry great prestige as well as a substantial cash award (currently the winner is awarded £25,000). The selection of the exhibition and prize winners is made in ignorance of the artist's name to prevent favouritism or prejudice, although it is hard to believe that the jury do not usually recognize works of well-known painters by their style. Until 2004 the first prize was always a purchase prize but this practice was abandoned to increase the value to the winning artist, whose work is still normally acquired for the collection. Among prize winners have been David Hockney, Mary Martin, Jack Smith, Euan Uglow, John Hoyland, Peter Doig, and most memorably Roger Hilton, who in 1963 celebrated his winning by aiming a kick at his painting in front of a press photographer, saying that he was not surprised that his picture had won because the others were so bad.
http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/johnmoores/history.asp Part of the exhibition's official website, providing the history of the event.