Monday, June 27, 2016

Brexit #1: What does it mean for UK and EU Art Students and Schools?

There is no certainty right now about Brexit means for art and artists. This is a first in a series of articles commenting (hopefully in an intelligent and factual way!) on what Brexit might mean for different aspects of Art and Artists.

This first article focuses on art students and those wishing to take fine art degrees, short courses, workshops, classes etc in terms of:
  • EU students wanting to study in the UK
  • UK students wanting to study in the EU.
Plus it also comments on some of the implications for art schools and other educational establishments.

I'm trying here to indicate a framework for how things might work going forward.  I'd be very happy to add into this post any information or comments from people with relevant experience or expertise. 

Darwin Building, Royal College of Art in London, spring 2013
Royal College of Art - for postgraduate study

What happens now?


In the short term, nothing changes immediately - apart from on the financial markets. 

When Article 50 is invoked and the negotiations begin it should become clearer what happens next. Two years are allowed to conclude them.  I'll update this post and/or write a new one as and when any changes are announced

However the major question is if and when Article 50 is invoked - and how the various parties behave towards one another as negotiations proceed.

Hopefully at some point everybody will stop running round like headless chickens and calm down and get on with whatever needs to be done for the best interests of all concerned.

You can be certain during negotiations there will lobbying for special exemptions and deals for specific circumstances. However what those will be and what happens will depend as much on the attitude and tone struck by EU Members and Politicians.

In terms of art students it's much easier to say what's likely to happen in future with respect to EU students coming to the UK than what the EU might decide with respect to UK students wanting to study at an approved educational institution in the EU. It's probably going to be similar - but there are no certainties.

What it means for Art Students


The University of Arts, London issued advice to their students the day before the referendum - What does a Brexit mean for UAL students?  (Its students actually come from over 140 countries from around the globe).

Study Visas to come to the UK


Glasgow School of Art 52
Glasgow School of Art
- the Mackintosh Building
At present you don't need a visa to come to the UK to study if you normally reside within the EU.
If you are a student from a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, and not already living in the UK, you need a visa to study in the UK.
University of the Arts, London
However if and when the UK leaves the EU this will very likely change for all students who are EU Nationals.
There will an end of unrestricted free movement. | Douglas Carswell - interviewed on the BBC 27 June 2016
However education might be an area where a special deal is done given the high education sector's dependence on fees from overseas students. This is an aspect to keep an eye on.

I make no predictions but I'd expect some heavy lobbying from the educational institutions on this one.
Every year, universities generate over £73 billion for the UK economy – £3.7bn of which is generated by students from EU countries | EU referendum: An open letter to UK voters from leaders of 103 British universities
After the Exit has been agreed, it's reasonable to expect that all EU nationals wanting to come to the UK to study art will be subject to the same terms and conditions as nationals from any other country.

If visas are required in future, the type of visa will depend on what sort of study is involved. Links below are to Visa Information from the Government.

There are currently two types of Student Visas for people who want to come to the UK for study purposes
  • Tier 4 (General) visa
  • Short-term Study visa
Somebody coming as an academic visitor needs a You need a Standard Visitor visa.

Tier 4 Visa


At present you can apply for a Tier 4 (General) Visa if you are a non-EU national.  There are various conditions.  They key conditions are that:
  • there is a limit on the amount of time you can spend in the UK on this type of visa.
  • it only relates to educational organisations which hold a Tier 4 licence - which means if they lose their licence you lose your visa unless you can find another sponsor
This is for students aged 16 years or over who are coming to UAL to study:
  • A full-time degree or degree-level course (e.g. BA, MA, PhD);
  • A further education course (e.g. Foundation Diploma);
  • A pre-sessional course;
  • An English language course (at level B2 in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).

Short-term Study Visa


Short term Study Visas are for people wanting to do a short course of study in the UK
What you can and can’t do
You can:
  • do a short course of study in the UK, such as an English language course or a training course
  • do a short period of research as part of a degree course if you are studying abroad
You can’t:
  • study at a state school
  • work (including on a work placement or work experience) or carry out any business
  • extend this visa
  • bring family members (‘dependants’) with you - they must apply separately
  • get public funds

Three year courses and a two year exit period


I expect higher education establishments will be in a quandary about offering places for the next academic year for three year courses as these will extend beyond the two years allocated for completely exit negotiations.

My guess - and I emphasise this is a guess - is that
  • they will lobby hard for some transitional arrangements for students who 
    • started their academic studies this year - but will not complete in the two years after Article 50 is invoked.
    • start to study after the vote and before the Exit.
  • they will provide lots of information and advice to students as to the requirements for visas if the UK exits the EU within the 2 year period or by the end of it.  
Bear in mind that it very much appears that in relation to being a student in the UK the worst it can be (on the basis of current arrangements) is exactly the same as it is for other non-EU nationals at present.


Exchange arrangements

There may also be issues in relation to any exchange arrangements with academic institutions in the EU - and vice versa.

I think this is very much a 'wait and see'. The chances are is it might require more paperwork.

After your study course finishes


The major difference will come after EU or UK students have finished your studies. 

If freedom of movement between EU and the UK becomes restricted then there will be:

  • no right to remain after your studies, 
  • no right to work and 
  • no right to live in the UK. 
All of these activities will require a visa.

Although nobody can be certain, it's very likely that a work visa will only be issued according to the points-based system which currently relates to non-EU nationals. Visas are only issued to specific classes of people.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa


International Art Competitions
may become more important
One class is "Exceptional Talent". This is the full guidance on UK Visas and Immigration's policy on visa applications under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) - Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) policy guidance PDF, 559KB, 49 pages.

Interestingly I was asked last year to provide an endorsement for an artist who wanted to apply under this class (after I had highlighted the individual on this blog). I referred him on to an organisation I thought might well provide an endorsement with more weight.

It does however highlight how important international art competitions and art prizes might become in indicating exceptional talent.

What it means for Art Schools 


If they haven't done so already, it's very likely that all art schools and other establishments (of whatever size) offering study courses will need to become accredited as an institution which is "recognised" as a "proper" educational organisation.

(There's been all sorts of shocking examples of establishments masquerading as study centres in the past - hence the rigour re becoming accredited and the removal of Tier 4 accreditation on occasion).

Specifically that means that
  • art schools in this country need to meet visa requirements for students (if they don't already)
  • art schools in the EU will need to do likewise re whatever visa arrangements they have in place for non-EU students. (Anybody know what those are?)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

BP Portrait Award 2016 - Artists with their paintings

The BP Portrait Award over the years has developed an increasingly international dimension.  On Wednesday I was delighted to meet and photograph a number of the artists - with the portraits they painted for the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Click the images to see a LARGER VERSION.

You can also view the websites of more of the artists selected for this year's exhibition plus a and a short summary of their CV via my earlier post BP Portrait Award 2016: Selected Artists.  The link to their website is embedded in their names. The names are organised by the country where they live at present (when available).

I'll also be doing more posts about the exhibition. Upcoming posts will include:
  • The Best of the Rest - my choice of my top 10 paintings (excluding the prizewinners)
  • A Video Interview with Clara Drummond
  • A Video Interview with Benjamin Sullivan
  • A review of the exhibition - including a video tour of the exhibition sone after the awards Ceremony last Tuesday.
  • The BP Travel Award

The Painters


The painters in this post are: Alexander Chamberlin;  Sopio Chkhikvadze; Thomas Dobre; Thomas Ehretsmann; Samantha Fellows; Jane Gardiner Fiona Graham-McKay; Eilis Otway; Teri Anne Scoble; Daisy Sims-Hilditch; David von Bassewitz ; Simon Richardson; Shany van den Berg

England


Alexander Chamberlin (b.1972)


James Rhodes by Alexander Chamberlin
Oil on Canvas, 500 x 400mm (January 2016)
Alexander Chamberlin is a London based figurative oil painter - painting landscapes, portraits, still life and flowers. He grew up near Earls Court and has a studio located on the western edge of Chelsea. He's always loved to paint,  has a BA (Hons) degree from Newcastle University and he's has had work in numerous exhibitions in London and in numerous group exhibitions including those of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Chelsea Art Society. (This is his Facebook Page)

He paints portraits from life on location or in his studio. His portrait is of his brother-in-law James Rhodes who is a British classical concert pianist who has made classical music much more accessible the informal presentation of his performances and campaigning for music tuition for school children. He's also well known for his international bestselling memoir, Instrumental (2014) - which he was originally prevented from publishing due to a gagging order but the Supreme Court ruled otherwise in what was seen as a major legal judgement relating to free speech and an endorsement of the right of survivors to tell their stories

Alexander pointed out to me that he painted it for his sister Hattie and James as a wedding present - but so far they haven't actually received it and now won't get it for nearly a year!
What's interesting about the painting is it looks unfinished (note the right hand side) and yet the bright splash of orange means it works better as a painting.

Note for those hoping to get their work into this exhibition. Alexander had previously produced large paintings and not had his work accepted. This year he decided to go much smaller - in a year in which the exhibition has lots more small paintings.

Sopio Chkhikvadze (b. 1972)


This one is a bit different as I came across her model at the show but not Sopio! The portrait is of the photographer, Martin Chaffer who is also a Past Chair of the Social of Fulham Artists and Potters. The map of London was added to provide an interesting visual context.

Born in Tbilisi, Georgia and lives in London. Sopio studied art at Tbilisi Nikoladze Art College  and Tbilisi State Academy of Art, Georgia. Her work has been seen in exhibitions in Tiblisi, Prague and Moscow and those of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Royal Society of British Artists. She won the Michael Harding Award at the RBA Annual Exhibition 2016. I saw one of her paintings at this show and found it interesting.

Portrait Of Martin Chaffer by Sopio Chkhikvadze (B.1972)
oil on canvas


Samantha Fellows (b.1971)


Samantha is a scenic artist who has worked as head artist for many UK leading set designers, painting scenery for numerous theatre and television productions. She paints portraits, mostly of children, in oil on birch plywood panels. Interestingly although British she studied art and gained a BA (Hons) degree in fine art at Oregon State University.

She had work in both the RBSA Portrait Prize Exhibition and the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Women Artists (both 2015).

Samantha Fellows with her daughter Pearl and her portrait
Pearl In The Morning, Ready For School 
oil on panel
‘I was struck by Pearl’s look of very slight apprehension. She also possesses a certain teenage bravado that I also hoped to capture.’
Pearl only got the morning off the Press Preview - she was back at school in the afternoon!

The painting of her daughter is part of a series of paintings of both daughters. Samantha is having a good year this year. If you visit her Facebook Page you can see her portrait of her other daughter Rose hanging in the Royal Academy of Art's Summer Exhibition. That one (Rose's School Picture) has sold!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The NEAC Annual Exhibition 2016 at the Mall Galleries

It was a lot easier to see the paintings at the NEAC Annual Exhibition 2016 yesterday than it was last week at the Private View.  I had meant to return sooner but my dodgy knee and ankle had other ideas!

There are 412 artworks in the exhibition hung across three galleries (compared to 397 artworks in 2015).  A further 9 works were shortlisted for The Haworth Prize for landscape painting and drawing and are hung in the Threadneedle Space (compared to 12 last year)

That means there's a lot of artwork to see. The artwork includes paintings - in every medium (oil, acrylic, watercolour, egg tempera, mixed media) plus drawings in a variety of media but notably pencil charcoal and pen and ink - and fine art prints which employ a range of approaches. It is however an exhibition which appears to be overwhelmingly about oil painting (or do oil painters invariably pick oil painters?)

The exhibition continues until 1pm on Saturday 25th June - so there's not a lot of time left to see it. Read about the prizewinners, new website and exhibition catalogue in my previous post Prizewinners at the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2016

[VIDEO NOTE: I've got three small videos of the exhibition which I need to edit together which give you a better impression of what the exhibition looked like and the artwork hung. I'll add in a link here as soon as I've got it uploaded to YouTube

I'm also crunching some numbers to check out the average price of a work by media and size - and I'll update this post when I have that information "crunched"!]

The new website seems to have lost the old text which sets out what the exhibition is supposed to be about.  You'll see below that I also comment on a notion that the exhibition has lost some of its focus. I'd recommend NEAC address this in future and think about whether and if so how "form follows function" in terms of the purpose of the exhibition and the nature of the way it is organised.

By and large the artwork is figurative and representational and often grounded in realism. However it also has a leaning towards those that relate more to the impressionism end of the spectrum rather than those who like everything precise and hyperreal.

The monochrome wall in the North Gallery
- prints and works on paper in pencil, charcoal and pen and ink

The good news


The monochrome wall (see above) is a resounding success. It mixes works by members with those from the open entry. It demonstrates draughtsmanship alongside more lyrical drawing. The artwork is made using pen and ink, pencil and charcoal as well as etchings and aquatints. To me it really works well and includes some excellent work. Etchings and aquatints by Austin Cole impressed as they always do (I also spotted Austin's work in the Summer Exhibition - but then I am looking for it!).

I particularly liked Coastal Path by Dominic Keshavarz. The skill and technique employed in creating the tonal and spatial depth in what is a very complex drawing is very impressive. To do this using pen and ink is even more reason to stop and look and linger and look again.  I've seen a lot of very fine pen and ink drawings and this artist is up there with some of the best when it comes to an interpretation of realism.

Coastal Path by Dominic Keshavarz
pen and ink, 17" cx 11"
(priced at a £1,000 and SOLD)
You can see a much better version of the drawing in this tweet.

Hanging a multitude of small works in the area around the tables and chairs where people tend to linger is a great idea. It means that while having a cup of tea and a conversation and/or snack, visitors to the exhibition can survey the smaller and more affordable works.

This is a far better way of encouraging people to buy than putting them all together in the far end of the North Gallery.

Small works on the wall next to the steps - 11 have sold.
Small works on the adjacent feature wall - 3 have sold
There are narratives about the art on the wall. In principle I think these are a really good idea - it's a very large exhibition. They were interesting to read and suggested ways in which people could look at the art.  However they felt like a very mini version of the introduction panels for each Room in the Summer Exhibition. I was left thinking that they didn't address a big enough theme or space. Plus I didn't understand why they were only in some places and not others.  (see below for further comments on organization of the exhibition)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Clara Drummond wins £30,000 BP Portrait Award 2016

The winners of the prizes at the BP Portrait Awards Ceremony last night are as follows....

BP Portrait Award 2016 - £30,000 First Prize


Clara Drummond won the first prize in the BP Portrait award - a cash award of £30,000, plus a commission worth £5,000, to be agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist.

(Note: Links embedded in the name of the artist goes to their website)

Clara Drummond - BP Portrait Award First Prize
with her painting Girl in a Liberty Dress
(260 x 370 mm, oil on board)

Her painting Girl in a Liberty Dress is a portrait of her friend and a fellow artist Kirsty Buchanan who featured in the portraits by Drummond which were selected for the 2013 and 2014 exhibitions. The reference to the paisley dress is that Kirsty sat for Clara for this portrait while wearing a vintage Liberty dress inspired by the fact that both artists were working on an exhibition at the time with the William Morris Society Archive (which was held in May).

Clara Drummond and her model and fellow artist Kirsty Buchanan
She was presented with the prize by Jessica Ennis-Hill, the current Olympic and world heptathlon champion and a BP Ambassador for Sport. She beat allcomers for the shortest preamble to the Awards Ceremony while commenting that she normally thinks of the first, second and third prize as the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals! She was accompanied by Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery and Bob Dudley, Group Chief Executive for BP.

Jessica Ennis-Hill, Clara Drummond, Nicholas Cullinan and Bob Dudley, the group chief executive of BP

In total 38-year-old Cambridgeshire-based artist Drummond has been selected for the exhibition five times (2006, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2016) but this is the first time she has been shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award.

Clara read Modern Languages at Cambridge. She is also a graduate of The Drawing MA programme at the Prince’s Drawing School (now known as The Royal Drawing School). The intensive year of drawing developed both her draftsmanship and her approach to painting. In 2011 she joined the teaching faculty at the The Royal Drawing School and also teaches at The Saatchi Gallery and at the London Zoo.  Prior to this she was an assistant to portrait painter Jonathan Yeo and then later for a short period in Maria Theresa Meloni’s studio in New York. She has also been awarded the Bulldog Award by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Young Artist of the Year Prize by the Society of Woman Artists.

I'm guessing that the choice of the painting for first prize may surprise some people. I can only recommend that they go take a look for themselves. Portraiture is not only about hyperrealist paintings which take hundreds of hours.

Judges’ comments – Girl in a Liberty Dress

‘This year’s overall winner was noted by all of the judges for its subtle, enigmatic nature, and for the indelible impression the artist’s skill makes on the viewer.’
I know from having spoken to her, that renowned artist and Judge Jenny Saville was very impressed with the winning painting - she thought it stood out from the others.

Clara Drummond with BP Portrait Judge and artist Jenny Saville

TIP for future BP entries:
  • Your painting does not have to be big - this year's exhibition has a lot of smaller paintings 
  • A painting which captures the inner self as well as an outer likeness can do very well.

This is the prizewinners wall.

The BP Portrait Award Prizewinners
from left to right - First Prize, Second Prize and Third Prize
I've already got a video of the exhibition which will demonstrate the change in the size and nature of the paintings in this BP Portrait Award exhibition.

Second Prize: £10,000

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

John Moores Painting Prize 2016 - shortlist announced

Over 2,500 artists entered the £25,000 John Moores Painting Prize 2016. This is an an open competition for artists working with paint held every two years. It is regarded as one of the premier art prizes in the UK and is open to artists who live or are professionally based (e.g. have a studio) in the UK.

Past winners have included Patrick Heron (1959) Roger Hilton (1963) David Hockney (1967), Richard Hamilton and Mary Martin (1969), Euan Uglow (1972) Peter Doig (1993), and Rose Wylie (2014)
I always think of it as being a prize where those selected and shortlisted have typically been to an art school and very often have pursued postgraduate studies as well. (see the brief bios below to see what I mean).

The exhibition is always held at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. This year the exhibition will be part of the Liverpool Biennial’s 8th international festival which launches on 9 July 2016.

The shortlisted prizewinners were announced yesterday.

Details of the jury which selected the artists and drew up the shortlist are given at the end.

John Moores Painting Prize 2016 - Shortlist



Each of the artists named on the shortlist will win at least £2,500 - however one of them will win £25,000.
  • Talar Aghbashian 
  • Gabriella Boyd
  • Bejamin Jamie
  • Selma Parlour
  • Michael Simpson
You'll find details about them below - each of the artist's names is prefaced by SHORTLISTED.

John Moores Painting Prize 2016 - Selected artists


Selected paintings and their artists were announced earlier in June.
Director of Art Galleries at National Museums Liverpool, Sandra Penketh, said there is an "especially vibrant use of colour" in this year's selection. "We also see many artists addressing the topical issues facing our world today, touching on subjects such as migration."
BBC News | Artists selected for John Moore Painting Prize
All paintings by the selected artists are eligible for the Visitors’ Choice prize of £2,016. This is voted for by visitors to the exhibition at the Walker and awarded towards the end of the exhibition period. All works featured in the exhibition will also be available to purchase.

Links in the artists name is to their website Aspiring artists might want to note that

  • virtually every artist has an informative website - and that they're very interesting in terms of different approaches to presenting their work. 
  • I found more than a few artists who were being somewhat "creative" with their bios. It's really not worth it when simple facts can be easily checked online eg there's a world of difference between being selected, being shortlisted and actually winning a prize. 
  • Quite a few artists need to update their websites on a more regular basis and particularly after they've been selected for an art prize exhibition!

Links in the titles are to an image of the painting - either to the John Moores website or wherever the painting can be found online.  (Artists might want to note that if an image doesn't have a URL nobody can link to it! It's a matter of individual choice - however it's always very difficult to reference paintings without an online ID)

As always if I've got any of the links wrong please do contact me via the comments or by emailing me (see side column)

The selected artists are
  • SHORTLISTED Talar Aghbashian - 'Untitled' A Lebanese Armenian painter who did his Master of Fine Art (MFA), Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and lives and works in London. More details about painting and artist in Shortlisted page - click link in title
Untitled (2015) by Talar Aghbashian
Oil on canvas, 75 x 60 cm
  • Tristan Barlow - 'Truck Stop Swamp' - born in Jackson Mississippi. Lives and works in London. In 2015 he graduated with a 2015 MFA in Painting (Distinction), Slade School of Fine Art; London
  • Karl Bielik - 'Sunday' - lives and works in London and works exclusively in oil work exclusively in oil paint on thirty or so paintings and drawings at once
  • SHORTLISTED Gabriella Boyd - 'Birthyard' -  A young London-based artist who graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2011 and is currently a student at the Royal Academy Schools (2014-17). More details about painting and artist in Shortlisted page - click link in title
I’m really interested in how we distinguish between a painting of an intimate scene and a painting that’s voyeuristic. Interview - Gabriella Boyd: Inside the Studio
Birthyard (2015) by Gabriella Boyd
Oil on canvas, 167.8 x 152.4 cm
  • Julian Brown - 'A Fairytale of Gdansk' - Born in 1974 from Dorset now works and lives in London. Trained at The Royal Academy Schools, Liverpool John Moores University & Bournemouth & Poole college of Art & Design
  • Nici Bungey - 'The Expiring Frog' - Born in Germany, Lives and works in the UK
  • Bernard Charnley - 'When the stars threw down their spears' - info about exhibitions on website
  • Julie Cockburn - 'The Playground' - a one page website; no information about the artist on website or Facebook Page; 
  • James Collins - 'Floyd' - a one image website
  • Gemma Cossey - 'Halves II (Continuum)' - Active exhibitor. Studied at De Montfort University (BA and MA) and PGCE from Plymouth University
  • Ben Cove - 'Freeloader' - (Ben Cove died on 16 March after a short illness.) Active exhibitor. Graduated from Goldsmiths College, University of London with an MFA in 2008; Previously graduated in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University in 2001 and Architecture at The University of Nottingham in 1995. Informative well constructed website! 
  • Graham Crowley - 'Blue Drift 4'  - Lives in Wickham Market in Suffolk. Born in Romford in 1950. Studied at St. Martin’s School of Art London (1968-72) and the Royal College of Art London (1972-75). A teacher who used to be Professor of Painting at the RCA. Selected for seven previous John Moores exhibitions and won joint second prize in 1987. He has an interesting website.
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