The Annual Open Exhibition of the New English Art Club opened at the Mall Galleries on 27th November, when I attended the Private View and continues until 8th December 2009.
Overall, the main differences this year are that there are many more smaller works (I can't remember the last time I've seen Ken Howard exhibiting four small works!) - which I think is very much a nod in the direction of affordability and there are fewer works by non-members.
Tom Coates, the President (right) has stood down after his five year stint and the new President is to be Jason Bowyer.
As usual I agreed with some of the prizes awarded and thought others were overlooked - but that's the nature of jury selection. Work is selected for the exhibition by the NEAC Committee plus invited guests (usually new NEAC members) and the process works on the basis that support from two thirds advances a painting towards selection and unanimous choice means a painting gets straight in. This year a conscious decision was made to take more work by members - presumably (I'm guessing) because of the economic climate.
Artists whose work I liked included Michael Whittlesea, Paul Newland, Felicity House (who I was very disappointed to see was hidden in an out of the way spot).
Two artists whose work I was very impressed by were Michael Fairclough's skyscapes - very impressive (check out his website) and Ruth Stage who is entirely new to me but whose contemporary landscapes in egg tempera were absolutely stunning. The large one "Fishing Huts" isn't actually listed on the price list or in the virtual exhibition which is a very great pity. However I have a photograph - and it's the one top right above.
The Alresford Gallery Prize for an 18" x 18" painting
Cricket ground III by Michael Whittlesea RWS, NEAC. His set of four paintings of a cricket ground in winter are quite sublime and I'm very surprised that somebody hasn't bought them as a set!
A&K Wilson Gallery Award
Cricket ground II by Michael Whittlesea RWS, NEAC. (see above). This one had a delicious hint of orange sunset behind the trees which is not so apparent in the gallery image.
The Arts Club Award and the Woodhay Gallery Prize
Still Life with Lemons by Alex Fowler (his website)- which is actually a lot more subtle and less brash than the website image. I very much liked his still life paintings and I can see them appealing a lot to people who like figurative art but have contemporary homes. I actually preferred his Still Life with a glass of milk which is a bit of an exercise in painting white! I also like the paintings of trees in the landscape section of his website
Cecil Jospe Prize
Out West by non-member Anna Gardiner. (I think I'd be a teeny bit miffed if I'd won a prize and the art society website was showing last year's winner on its home page!)
St Cuthberts Mill Award for a Work on Paper
Ginger jar by Karn Holly
The Horan Prize
From the Southern Suburbs by Paul Newland RWS, NEAC. This one is in gouache. I got to talk to Paul Newland after the NEAC Drawing School Discussion yesterday lunchtime and did my 'fan' piece and I'm hoping to be able to arrange a post about his work at some point in the future. He also does wonderful paintings of the Thames.
The Manya Igel Prize
I've not made a note of the title of the painting but the artist who won this prize was non-member Richard Price.
Oakham Gallery Prize
Giro II by non-member Toby Ward, son of the late John Ward CBE RA NEAC. Check out the pencil and watercolour drawings and sketches on his website.
The Bill Patterson Memorial Award
Blue Chair by Charlotte Sorapure NEAC. She produces striking work but I think I tended to prefer her elevated perspectives on urban views.
The Worshipful Company of Painter Stainers Prize
Near the Road to Courcheval by Andrew Macara. It was interesting to see Andrew Macara having paintings in a show which don't include children. Personally I preferred his other work in this exhibition Reflected oak and Shallow pond, Naxos
NEAC have adopted an interesting approach to marketing the art produced by their members.
The catalogue provides images of a selection of the art by members and work could be purchased direct from the Mall Galleries by phone from the date the catalogue was despatched to their mailing list. (I certainly appreciated getting the catalogue early and went to see the exhibition earlier than normal!)
They've also created a virtual exhibition of most works in the exhibition by both members and non-members on the NEAC Trading Company part of the website. The information about each image includes dimensions, media and price. The site has a shopping cart which deals with all sales and most works have been available for sale online as from the date of the Private View.
I've been at a loss to understand why more Art Societies don't adopt this approach. People are used to buying online. It's perfectly feasible to buy original art online, as many readers will know ;), so why not develop a virtual exhibition at the same time as the original gallery exhibition? It also has the advantage of going on for longer.......... :)
However I would note that it's a pity that the society website was not updated with all the details about the 2008 prizes in time for the exhibition.
The show is definitely worth a visit, especially if you have any aspirations to showing there in future.