Observations: Lucky seven are in the frame for Threadneedle Prize

The £25,000 Threadneedle Prize – a rival to the Turner Prize and now in its second year – is the most valuable art prize awarded by the public in the UK for contemporary figurative painting and sculpture.

Today, the seven shortlisted artists are announced and members of the public can vote online for one work to win. "This prize is deliberately about restoring the primacy of the creative process based on observation. It's not about what the mind thinks but about what the eye sees. This is what the Turner Prize is not doing. This is representational art at its best," says Lewis McNaught, director of the Mall Galleries, who came up with the idea for the prize.

Who could win? Rose Wylie, 75, is one of the oldest competitors, whose diptych The Manufacturers is provoked by a photograph on the front page of The New York Times of an American diplomat apologising to the Chinese people over the issue of toxic paint on children's toys.

The artist Tim Shaw has been selected again for the second year running. This time it is for a gothic like installation Middle World made out of cement, bronze and steel.

Other selected paintings include Self-Portrait by Sheila Wallis, St Peter on the Cross by Louis Smith in the style of Caravaggio, as well as a Green Hydrangea painting by Melanie Miller.

The winner will be announced on 14 September at the London's Mall Galleries, where the artwork is also exhibited (2-19 September) along with 80 other entries.

Vote online at www.threadneedleprize.com

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