Josie Jenkins, a painter based in Liverpool, has won a £10,000 prize designed to draw attention to artists working outside the London arts scene.
The New Lights Art Prize, first awarded in 2011, attracted entries from across the North.
The artists' disciplines ranged from wood engraving, etching, painting and illustration to mixed media.
Jenkins was judged to be the most exceptional artist with the most potential to succeed.
Annette Petchey, chief executive of New Lights, said: "The cuts in spending have hit the North per capita two or three times as hard as the South, and cuts in arts funding feel like a message that we'd prefer to have London and the South East as UK Ltd's art quarter.
"The North doesn't have the density of population of the South, so the few excellent galleries we have are spaced wide apart.
"There just isn't the same opportunity to spend a day cruising a number of galleries as one might in London, and this translates into fewer people thinking that seeking out new artists in the area is a fruitful use of time."
She hopes the prize will help establish the popularity of young northern artists so they can go on to sell their works online.
She said: "The internet is a great leveller. Once an artist has a decent reputation and following it doesn’t matter where they live. The prices of works by established northern artists are comparable to their southern contemporaries."
The Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate is hosting an exhibition of all shortlisted works until 17 Nov 2013