Thursday, September 26, 2013

Threadneedle Prize 2013 Exhibition - Review

One thing about the Threadneedle Prize 2013 Exhibition prompts a question which won't be answered by this post - but does need to be addressed by others.

Joint Winner of the Threadneedle Prize 2013
Lisa Wright
Lisa sold both her works as well as winning half the prize.
If a major art competition, based on totally anonymous entries - all the way through to the end - can produce so many women artists as winners, what on earth is going on in some of the other major juried art competitions?

(Note: Up until this year 4 of the first 5 winners of the Threadneedle Prize were women and this year we again have two female winners)

It makes you think.  It also makes me think maybe I'll crunch some numbers and do some comparisons..........

Anyway back to my review of the Threadneedle Exhibition 2013. Here's my views about the exhibition interspersed by some images of parts of the exhibition. Finally I'm hazarding a guess at some of the entries which will be shortlisting themselves for the Public Choice Award - valued at £10,000.  The public get to vote for this - but only if they visit the exhibition!


Threadneedle Prize 2013:  Harriet White - one of the shortlisted artists
You may have seen more of her work in the BP portrait exhibition.
Her work is not a portrait per se; the model's mother didn't even recogniser her with wig and make-up.
Threadneedle Prize 2013: Some of the larger works
Threadneedle Prize 2013: Some of the smaller works

Observations on the exhibition - in no particular order

I think this is the best show so far. 

ORIGINALITY: It's got fewer "knock-out" pieces which you remember for years afterwards.  However, it's also got fewer "what were the judges thinking?" pieces - although there are some.

So overall quality has improved but more originality and genuine innovation around how to create figurative art still required.  There's still scope to have an impact next year!

Joint Winner of the Threadneedle Prize 2013
Dead Labour/ Dead Labourer
by Clare McCormack

Scaffolding Plank Woodblock 185cm x 100cm
Woodblock £2,500 (sold)
Woodcut Print £720 (Edition of 6)
I have absolutely no doubt in my own mind that besides being a fine piece of art Clare McCormack's screenprint and woodcut on scaffolding planks Dead Labour / Dead Labourer (185cm x 100cm) got pulled out of the melee of c. 3,700 entries early on because of its originality.  It's already been sold to an art collector.

AUDIENCE APPEAL: This is an exhibition which gets a lot of visitors and it's also an exhibition which artists make a point of visiting - to check out what everybody else is up to and/or to find out why their entry wasn't selected!  My photos and the images on the website give some sense of what the artwork selected for the final is like - but you can't beat actually visiting to gauge the impact "in the flesh" as it were.

One of the things I like to do when visiting an exhibition is watch to see which pieces people linger over.

There were an awful lot of people lingering over Clare's winning artwork yesterday.  I wouldn't be in the least surprised if she also wins the £10,000 Public Choice Award as well.  It's accessible, it has meaning, it's well executed and it's different.  (Plus the hanging team did a fine job in suspending the planks in mid air!).  Given that she only graduated this summer, that should get her career off to a fine start.

MEDIA FORMAT: I know it's an exhibition that says it's about painting and sculpture but it's actually an exhibition which also allows entries which include original prints, drawings and mixed media installations.

However there are precious few drawings and fine art prints in the exhibition.  It's possible that this set of judges don't rate drawing or printmaking that much.  However I think it's far more likely that not enough good quality fine art (handmade) prints and drawings were submitted as entries.  Those prints that were included were excellent.

Maybe worth placing more emphasis on the range of media formats allowed and less on the painting and sculpture next year?

Works in the North Gallery
ART MEDIA:  There's a very wide range of media and size of artwork - although almost all the paintings were painted in oil on canvas or board.

I have to remark upon the fact it's absolutely amazing what people make art with when not limited to traditional materials.

In this exhibition the following are examples of media in use in artworks in the exhibition: embroidery, scaffolding planks, stormy weather blankets and wood, training shoes, wild rose thorns; wine corks, and wool on canvas.

Other competition organisers might like to ponder on the wisdom of being overly prescriptive about media.

JUDGES CHOICE:  Each selector could also invite an artist of their choice to exhibit a work. Let's say they were "different"!  I liked the works by artists invited by Laura Gasgoigne and Barnaby Wright the best.

To be honest I think I'd rather see another four works by people who have taken the trouble to enter - particularly since one of the judge's invited works occupied the whole of one of the small north galleries.

I think I'd rather see which were the maverick choices - the entry each judge continued to sponsor despite the others not being quite so persuaded.

Plot I / Anglo Persian (£13,000) by Ghazaleh Avarsamani

Just a tiny section of the work by
Ghazaleh Avarsamani

(the leaves are all embroidered)

The Public Choice Award

Here's what I think will be the contenders for the Public Choice award - assuming it's a mix of artists, contemporary art fans, trad. art fans and the general public!
  • Plot I / Anglo Persian (£13,000) by Ghazaleh Avarsamani - it's embroidery and patchwork on a quilt and it's huge and it's amazing!  See above and right.  There's an awful lot of work in this and you can keep looking for ages and still keep finding new images within it
  • Plague Season by Nicola Bealing (see my previous post) is another one where people stand and gaze.  For me it has one foot in the camp of contemporary art and one foot in more traditional art and could pick up votes from both.  Great to see there's more of that ilk in her portfolio and that it's not just a one off.
  • Aung Sang Suu Kyi by Conrad Englehardt - it's a face of a famous person made out of wine stained corks.  I'm not sure if it's art but it's certainly different and bound to appeal to some - but not me.  Judging by his website he obviously also works hard at his marketing.  I really dislike the rest of his artwork - it's just cork p*rn.  Which means I hope he doesn't win - despite the marketing.
  • Home thoughts from abroad by Hugo Grenville (Hugo Grenville) - see below - suggests to me John Ward does Bonnard and Vuillard!  (I don't know if anybody agrees?) Which actually means I like it a lot.  I like pattern and am particularly envious of people who can put lots of patterns and colours together and they just look right! Obviously when you're an artist you can put together anything you like! There's some great paintings and details of his workshops on his website - plus links to articles he's written (e.g. A Theory of Colour 2) - plus interesting photos of his studio on his blog 
Home thoughts from abroad (sold) by Hugo Grenville
oil and gold leaf on canvas, 107 x 152cm
  • X-Ray by Donna McLean.  I liked both her works which were selected but this very large painting of the head of a girl grabbed my eye as soon as I saw it.
The entrance to the Threadneedle Space
X-Ray by Donna McLean is on the left
I bet that dog - on the right - gets a lot of votes!
  • Sicilian Man by James Neubert. This is just so odd - it demands that you stop and stare at a head made of rose thorns. Very memorable.
Sicilian Man (6,000) by James Neubert 
Handpicked wild rose thorns on black mask, 23 x 17 x 10cm
  • Summer Trees by Bob Rudd is one for those who like their watercolour rather brushy and a little on the wild side! I'm a big fan of Bob Rudd paintings and I'd be surprised but very pleased if this one won the People's Choice Award.  I'd like to see more watercolours in the competition next year.  It is a serious art medium and deserves to be seen more - if the quality of the work warrants it.
Summer Trees (£4,000) by Bob Rudd
Watercolour, 79 x 115cm
it of course does not complete with reflections of people!

  • Malkovich by Stuart Wiggins - This is almost unsettling and absolutely riveting at one and the same time. Maybe being larger than life size does not help.  I have a feeling this might be a strong contender for the People's Choice Award.
Malkovich by Stuart Wiggins
Mixed media 52 x 40 x 27cm

The exhibition is at the Mall Galleries until 12 October and is well worth a visit.  The galleries are open 10am to 5pm every day - and entrance is free.

If you want to find out more about the Threadneedle Prize either consult the website http://www.threadneedleprize.com or review my posts at every stage of this year's exhibition which you can find below.

More about the Threadneedle Prize 2013

Previous Threadneedle Prizes




1 comment:

Colours and Textures said...


Albrecht Durer
Self-Portrait at 26
1498 (140 Kb);
Oil on panel, 52 x 41 cm; Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

Mr C took a first look and said old because of the crazing, on second look said Durer self portrait,the eyes in 'self portrait with a fur collared coat' which he he had seen before had made a deep impression on him and these eyes brought back that memory.
I did the googling, Durer self portrait and found the details at ibiblio.

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