Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: UKCPS Annual Exhibition 2011

I went to see the Annual Exhibition of the United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society (UKCPS) last week.  It felt a bit odd as I normally
  • submit work - and this year I didn't 
  • have to travel a long way to see it - and this year just hopped on the tube and travelled to Central Hall Westminster to the same room that the Society of Botanical Artists used in April for their annual exhibition

In the 10th Anniversary year, there was a natural imperative to try and make this Exhibition the biggest and best yet.  The exhibition continues until 1st October at Central Hall Westminster

Apart from the fact that this was the very first time the exhibition has been in London, the changes I noticed this year were as follows.

  • There's a lot more artwork on display compared to previous years.  It was certainly the case that a number of artists had three and four pieces in the show.  That said, I'd have liked to have seen more space around each work so that they were easier to see without competition from the other images and glare from the lights.  It's a trade-off between the numbers of works in the show and what the display looks like and in this instance my preference would have been for "less is more".
  • More prizes than ever before - somebody has been hard at it cajoling prizes out of sponsors!
  • The new category of mixed media had some good work - but not as many works selected and rather less experimentation than I'd been expecting.  Maybe it needs a bit more publicity after so many years of the emphasis being on coloured pencils only?  
  • more works involving human interest - with several excellent works of portraiture creating a tough category in which to do well
  • more botanical art - and a higher standard than ever before.  I think this is the first year that two people who have won Gold Medals from the RHS - Ann Swan and Janie Pirie - have had work in the exhibition.  Unsurprisingly their very high standards were reflected in the prizes - see below.  Although I was somewhat surprised to see Ann Swan's large Botanical work did not win a prize in the Mixed Media section - it carried off one of the major prizes in the SBA show in April.  However it was very difficult to see properly because of the glare.
  • visitors doubtless enjoyed an excellent catalogue which was nicely printed and had colour images of every single work.  It also included a nice review of the top prizewinner in each of the previous years.  
  • The works also had interesting and informative labels - although the accumulation of labels meant that this year I actually found it quite difficult to spot the prizewinning works in amongst everything else.  In fact I left the exhibition having still not found a couple of them.  There seemed to be a consensus amongst helpers and visitors that a printed list of prizewinners would have been very helpful.
  • some excellent new promotional posters around the exhibition extolling the joys of coloured pencils and generally seeking to get more people interested in coloured pencils.
  • a good programme of workshops throughout the exhibition
  • two separate online galleries of all the artwork in the exhibition are being hosted on Google Picasa for the first time.  This provides a great opportunity for people who are unable to get to the show to see the artwork in full - and also allows us a good look at the work - click an image to see what I mean.  All the works are listed in alphabetical order, reading images from left to right in their rows
Faber Castell also have a very impressive exhibition of their product range in the lobby area.  They are also celebrating an anniversary - however they have been going for 250 years!  I admired the Jubilee Cabinet!  They're also offering a good discount on all the art materials in their excellent display.  I bought an eraser and wished I had my list with me of new Polychromos pencils I need to stock up on!
Faber Castell display 
Now for the prizewinners and the artists whose work I liked.

UKCPS 10th Annual Open International Exhibition 2011 - Prizewinners

Below you can find the names of all the prizewinners.   There were also a number of artists whose art was highly commended.  Some works won multiple prizes.

Alexandra Bastien won the top prize with her very curious drawing of a woman apparently cradling a skull.  Incidentally, she has also submitted an impeccable photograph of the artwork
'Maternal Instinct' by Alexandra Bastien UKCPS
Excuse the reflections!

Alexandra Bastien UKCPS
Maternal Instinct
Faber-Castell Best in Show Pure Coloured Pencil

Ann James Massey Award for Excellence in Drawing

Derwent Award for Best Human Interest
Janie Pirie SBA GM UKCPS
The Majestic Savoy – Savoy Cabbage: Brassica oleracea var. sabauda  
UKCPS Award - Runner up to Best in Show

Jacksons Award for Best Botanical picture
Oriental Poppy
Staedtler Award Third Best in Show
Diana Connor
Boomer of Marwell Zoo
Lyra Award Fourth Best in Show
Judith Heilbronn-Crown UKCPS(S)
Nant Gwernol Waterfall and Path
Peter Weatherill Award for Best Landscape/Building
Janie Pirie SBA GM UKCPS
BLUEBERRY ‘Chandler’ - Vaccinium
Jacksons Award for Runner Up
Best Botanical
Catherine Ward

The PolicymakerDerwent Award for Runner Up
Best Human Interest
Suzy Herbert UKCPS(S) ASGFA
LemonsSAA Award for Best Still Life
Deborah Holman
Tribal Spirit
Caran d'Ache Award
Best Abstract/Fantasy
Sue Clinker UKCPSPlease
Hobbycraft Award
Best Domestic Animal
King of the Reef
Creativity International Award
for Best Birds/Insects/Fish
Jonathan Newey UKCPS(S)
In His Eyes
Cass Art Award
Best Wild Animal

Mixed Media

Irina Garmashova-Cawton UKCPSMy Darling
Faber- Castell Award
Best in Show Mixed Media
Gale DickinsonDavid
UKCPS Award for Runner Up
to Best in Show

I had quite a lot of problems seeing the artwork - particularly if it was hung high on the wall - as there was a problem with glare and reflections.  However you can see good images of all the prizewinner's work on the UKCPS website.

The panel who selected the works for admission this year were:
  • Siefgried Hochstein Director of the Faber Castell Creative Acadeny
  • Bob Ebdon Founder of UKCPS
  • Alyona Nickelsen - award winning still life coloured pencil artist and author 
All of the prizes were awarded by either Bernard Poulin when he visited the preview of the exhibition, or in the case of prizes donated by individuals such as AJ Massey, by the awardee themselves.  Which means all prizes were awarded by someone actually standing in front of the works.

The artwork I liked

Inevitably you see a number of works you like, however the artists whose work stood out for me - and made me stop and have a good look at their work were as follows:

Meeting Herbert by Sarah Hope
coloured pencils, 53 x 53cm
  • Sarah Hope's Meeting Herbert is an absolutely stunning work.  It wouldn't have looked out of place amongst the realistic portraits one sees at the BP Portrait Award.  (One day they will see the sense of allowing dry media into that competition!) The nuances and subtleties of colour on the face are very difficult to do and she's done wonderfully well to keep the unity of tones consistent across the head.  I very much liked the fact that she also varied the degree of definition throughout the work. Too often we see definition everywhere whereas of course that is not how we actually see in reality.  It was my personal "best in show" in relation to human interest.  It got a Highly Commended prize from the Judges.  Sarah has a blog addition to her website.  Sarah was also the featured artist in Artists and Illustrators Magazine in February 2011.
  • Kate Clarke's "Bad Hair Day" (After Rockwell) - I'm a huge fan of Kate's work.  While it leans towards the illustration end of fine art, she still has massive talent and originality in terms of concept, design and execution.   do love seeing Kate's "head studies" particularly those that involve the sort of faces and perspectives which are not the ones associated with us looking at our best!  I also like the allusion to Rockwell and it's nice to see a nod in the direction of a famous artist in this show. It's certainly a feature of many other exhibitions of this sort.
"Bad Hair Day" (After Rockwell) by Kate Clarke
Lightfast Prismacolour on Illustration Board, 102cm x 72cm
  • I loved Susan Poole's Portrait of a Giraffe - he sprang off the wall and I felt he was about to open his mouth and start a conversation!
  • I liked all of Ann Swan's and Janie Pirie's work as per usual.  Janie Pirie's Savoy Cabbage was particularly impressive - even more so as it exactly matched its digital image! However I also very much liked two different takes on hydrangeas - one by Gale Dickonson and the other by Bev Lewis
"The Majestic Savoy– Savoy Cabbage – Brassica oleracea var. sabauda" by Janie Pirie UKCPS 
and finally......

I can't finish this review without a special word for Bob Ebdon - who started the UKCPS ten years ago and without whom none of what has been achieved since that date would have happened.  Many have contributed along the way - but it takes a special talent to be a pioneer!

Bob now has osteoarthritis and consequently is no longer able to grasp a pencil and create art - however you can see his art on his website here - and also read his advice and view his hints and tips!

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