|Sunday Times Watercolour 2012 at the Mall Galleries|
What I particularly liked about it was the range of subjects, approaches and techniques used by the different artists. It includes works where you just stand and stare and try and work out how on earth the work was created,
The exhibition opened on Monday and closes on Saturday so if you want to see it you need to get your skates on!
|This gives you an idea of the size of the paintings selected for exhibition|
First Prize Winner is on extreme left | Seascape to the right of the woman is by Kurt Jackson
|Awarded First Prize in the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2012|
The Potteries National Park by Mark Elsmore
Mark is a member of the Wirral Society of Arts (2004) and was elected a member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists in 2007. He was born in the Potteries area of North Staffordshire into a family which had worked in the Pottery Industry for five generations. He is self-taught and has been a professional artist for the last 18 years. He's been selected for the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition on twelve previous occasions.
His commentary on the painting is as follows
‘The Potteries National Park is painted in the tradition of Edwardian photographic postcards. Stoke-on-Trent used to be a city crammed with terraced houses and pottery factories. Bottle kilns blackened the streets and darkened the skyline. Postcards at the time sarcastically proclaimed: ‘Fresh air from the Potteries’; ‘Stoke soots me’; ‘A Whiff from Staffs’. My painting updates the sarcasm and turns it around. Today the Staffordshire Pottery Industry has declined. Bottle kilns are rare and many terraces have gone, areas of derelict land have been reclaimed by nature. The Potteries as a National Park requires a leap of the imagination, but the ‘buddleia city’ that is Stoke-on-Trent today is a changing city. I’m not sure if economics and wasteland can ever be paradise but the lungs of the city are finally getting their fresh air!’Other prizewinners were
- Indian-born Shanti Panchal won the £6,000 second prize for his work Cadence of the Heart. His paintings are amazing for the quality of the finish he gets i his work. I'd love to know how he does it.
- The Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize of £1,500 was won by Chris Myers RI RBA for Fragile - a view of the Olympic Park. I always think compositions when using a panorama format are a real challenge - but I think this one works really well. The painterly painting of small details in a way which makes them look like realism is also masterly
|Winner of the Smith and Williamson Cityscape Prize|
Fragile by Chris Myers
- The Vintage Classics Prize for Cover Art (£500 commission to create the cover art for a Vintage Classic) awarded to Helen Lindon.
The first time I saw work by Paul Emsley was when he won the BP Portrait Prize in 2007. I've kept an eye on his website ever since and noted that he was now focusing on flowers and working in a variety of media. (eg this is a monochrome drawing of flowers in chalk and pencil)
I very much admire his dry brush painting technique - this is like painting miniatures on a large scale! He's previously won this competition in 2002 and come 3rd on two occasions.
|The Kings by Paul Emsley|
|Close-up of The Kings - by Paul Emsley - and the painting of leaves|
|Vanishing Point from Calton Hill by Catherine Davison|
|Bishopsgate 1 by Christopher Green|
ink on paper £2,800
|Spring flowers by Sarah Armstong-Jones are included on the right|
I find the whole approach to the promotion of the exhibition this year to be very odd. The catalogue is very basic compared to the one produced two years ago. It covers the prizewinners and a list of exhibitors and that's it. I assume sponsorship via adverts must have dried up.
There are supposed to be events during the course of the week. However there is no mention of them on the Parker Harris website or the Mall Galleries website - and the lady at the front desk didn't have any information either.
Interestingly there were people in the gallery who didn't realise the exhibition was on.
In my opinion, the description "largest watercolour competition" needs to be changed. The RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition - for non-members held at the Bankside Gallery 24th February - 14th March 2012 had significantly more works in its exhibition. If the description is based on the number of entries then the number needs to be published
By way of contrast, The Sunday Times Competition does offer the most valuable prize - however one could argue that The Turner Watercolour Award which is split between the RWS and the RI is the more prestigious prize given its provenance.