Sunday, June 17, 2018

Lachlan Goudie on Charles Rennie Mackintosh - on iPlayer

On 5th June 2018, BBC Scotland broadcast a programme on Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928) - Mackintosh - Glasgow's Neglected Genius.

The three ages of Charles Rennie Mackintosh
This is because 2018 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of the celebrated Glasgow architect, designer and artist - who was born on 7 June 2018.

On 16th June 2018, his iconic 'work of art' - the Mackintosh Building at Glasgow School of Art  - which comprised both the architecture of the building and its internal fixtures and fittings and helped give him an international reputation - was completely gutted in a massive fire (see yesterday post ANOTHER Major Fire at Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art)

However, let's not forget that Charles Rennie Mackintosh made a lot of art in his lifetime and most of it is celebrated in this programme.

You can view the programme on BBC iPlayer for the next 18 days.  Below you can find my short summary and review  of what the programme covers.

BBC iPlayer

Lachlan Goudie does a great job of following the life of Charles Rennie Mackintosh from his studies and first job, via
  • his serious design commissions in Glasgow 
    • for the Art School - in two stages. Near the beginning of the film there is video of the 2014 fire and then of Lachlan visiting the rebuilding of the part of was destroyed in the 2014 fire. It's very poignant to realise that everything you see in the film is now gone. However it includes images of the Library as it was and the studios and the various design features on and within the building

I'd never realised before that the Mackintosh Building at the Glasgow School of Art
was built in two stages - this is a drawing after the first stage

Pics of Glasgow School of Art - now (pre June 2018) and then
    • other schools and churches, 
    • houses (e.g. Windy Hill and The Hill House) and 
    • tea rooms (eg Willow Tea Rooms) while working for the practice of John Honeyman & Keppie (from 1901 Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh) during the Mackintosh years 1889 to 1913
  • the unique interiors, murals and furniture he created for himself and others. I had not idea how far and wide these were. I was particularly intrigued by his influence on design and interiors on continental Europe
Lachlan Goudie in one of the recreations of a Mackintosh interior - complete with furniture
  • his withdrawal from Glasgow after a nervous breakdown - and an unsuccessful start of his own independent practice
  • his stay in Walberswick - and his drawing and paintings (with Margaret) of wild flowers - for a German Client (just before the first World War) - such a pity they didn't feature more of these in the programme. You can read more about this period in his life on my web page about 20th century botanical artists and the slim but beautiful volume by Pamela Robertson. See also my 2007 blog post Flowers in Art... and Charles Rennie Mackintosh which comments in detail on his practice when drawing and painting flowers
  • to living in the South of France in Collioure and Port-Vendres - you can see his wonderful watercolours of places he visited and painted in The CRM Trail and  Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Rousillon (one of the sign boards features in the BBC film). These are some of my favourite watercolours of all time. The compositions are amazing, while the draughtsmanship is masterful and the colour palettes are true to the place and yet well co-ordinated. However I learned from the programme that Mackintosh wasn't averse to moving some of the features in the landscape if they made for a better painting - and illustrated what had happened in the painting of the watercolour below. For more about these superb watercolours I recommend you read Charles Rennie Mackintosh in France: Landscape Watercolours by Pamela Robertson and Philip Long.

The Fort (1924) by CR Mackintosh
  • and finally to living in some poverty in London - where he continued to paint flowers -prior to his death
Part of one of Mackintosh's late paintings of flowers

For those interested in his drawings you can access all his sketchbooks as part of the Hunterian Collections at the University of Glasgow


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Previous blog posts about Charles Rennie Mackintosh

About the 2014 and 2018 Fires

Saturday, June 16, 2018

ANOTHER Major Fire at Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art

I could not believe my eyes this morning when I checked the news - and found yet more pictures of yet another fire at "The Mac" - the iconic and world-renowned Rennie Mackintosh building housing the Glasgow School of Art which was due to reopen in 2019 after the last fire in May 2014.

This post provides links to images and accounts of the fire and the extent of the damage.

(NB The GSA website has been down - probably due to the extent of interest in this fire. It's now got a link to where people can read updates on the June 2018 Fire. It seems likely that the website will be down periodically while huge numbers try to access it)

Looking up the hill to the second fire at the Glasgow School of Art
(screendump from BBCNews)

What's really terrible is that accounts suggest that this fire is even worse than the previous one. It's certainly seems so from the images of the fire.
Damage to the Glasgow School of Art after a fire is "exceptionally significant", a senior firefighter has said.
The damage looks much worse than the first fire
(screendump from BBCNews)
More than 120 firefighters and 20 appliances were called to tackle the blaze, which began at about 11.15pm on Friday and spread to a neighbouring music venue, the O2 ABC.

By 6am on Saturday, fire crews were still tackling hotspots in the grade-A listed building, which appears to have been gutted by the fire and had its roof and upper floors destroyed. (The Guardian 
Heartbreaking': fire guts Glasgow School of Art for second time )

The fire appears to cover much more of the building
(screendump from BBCNews)

Nine hours ago came this tweet from the official GSoA Twitter account
and then this one

Thursday, June 14, 2018

BP Portrait Award 2018 - Artists with their paintings

This is about some of the artists whose paintings are included in the BP Portrait Award Exhibition which opened to the public today at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The purpose of this post is to provide
  • an insight into the age, education and experience of the artist and something of the story behind the painting. Not all artists are experienced and/or professional - a number are enthusiastic amateurs, others are starting out on their careers and some have been working as portrait painters for some time.
  • an idea of the size of portraits selected for the exhibition - by including the portrait painter next to their painting!
You can see all the paintings selected for the exhibition online on the webpage dedicated to the BP Portrait Award Exhibitors

You can see them all in person while they are being displayed at the following venues during 2018/19:
NEXT! My next blog post will include a video interview with the winner of the BP Portrait Award 2018

Artists with their Paintings

The artists whose photographs are included below are most of those present at the Press View yesterday morning - who had their label on view! (I tend to assume you are staff if you don't have a visible label.)

My photographs are some of the fastest portraits I create each year given the time available to meet, greet and take a photo and learn something of their painting!
The painters in this post are from Europe and the USA with the following countries being represented: England, Scotland, France, Germany, Poland and the USA although interestingly the artists include two artists born in Italy and one born in Australia!

I'm still trying to work out how come Brighton University got so many of its graduates into this year's exhibition - starting with the winner!

You can read more about the artists selected for the exhibition in Selected Artists and statistics - BP Portrait Award 2018

The photographs of the main prizewinners with their portraits are contained in Miriam Escofet wins BP Portrait Award 2018

UK and Europe

UK - England

Alastair Adams b.1969

Bruce Robinson, Writer and Director
oil on board
© Alastair Adam
Alastair Adams is a Past President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (the youngest in the history of the RP). He was previously selected for this exhibition in 1995.

He studied at Hugh Baird College, Bootle and Leicester Polytechnic and started painting portraits in the mid 90s and became a member of the RP in 2002. He now works as a full time professional portrait painter working to commission rather than exhibitions e.g. Commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to paint a portrait of Tony Blair. His work is held in numerous collections and has been seen in the exhibitions of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters(1996 - 2018).

His portrait is of Bruce Robinson, an English director and screenwriter. He wrote and directed the loosely autobiographical cult classic 'Withnail and I' and wrote the screenplay for The Killing Fields. Adams met Robinson at an event in 2017 to mark the 30th anniversary of the release of his film Withnail and I and asked if he would sit for a portrait. The sittings to make initial studies and reference photographs took place over two days at Robinson’s home.

Oliver Bedeman (b.1985)

Tom Bedeman
reverse oil on glass
© Oliver Bedeman
Oliver Bedeman is a figurative painter who is based in Oxfordshire.  He has previously been selected for The Threadneedle Prize in 2016 and 2018.

He graduated from Brighton University in 2007 with a degree in Fine Art Painting. He then did the Postgraduate Drawing Year at the Royal Drawing School (where he won the Lady Rothermere Award) and the following year (2007-8) he was then the Artist-in-Residence, Royal Drawing School.

The portrait is of the artist’s brother, Tom - and he works in REVERSE in oil on GLASS! Oliver says:
‘Tom is my older brother and I have sought to capture our relationship: ever evolving and complicated. The technique of reverse oil painting on glass means you have to work in reverse, beginning with the highlights and eyelashes. The oil dries quickly on glass, so the face has to be painted in one sitting and with only small adjustments later'
In October, he has a solo exhibition"Silhouettes" at The Fine Art Society, London.
[Note: The little known technique Oliver used for his painting is also called Reverse Glass Painting (also known as Verre Églomisé or 'Hinterglasmalerei'. The shadow is created by the paint on the glass and the gap between the glass and the backboard. The painting is also affected by the colour of the glass]

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Miriam Escofet wins BP Portrait Award 2018

Miriam Escofet has won the £35,000 BP Portrait Award 2018 for a portrait of her mother Alma. 

She won the First Prize in this prestigious and truly international portrait competition from an entry which included portraits from artists living in 88 countries. Each artist was allowed to submit just one portrait - making 2,667 entries in total....

There was a big cheer when the winner was announced at the Awards Ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery last night - and it's very evident from my Facebook Page that she is a very popular winner

Miriam Escofet with her BP Portrait Award 2018 trophy and her portrait of her mother 

Below you can see a list of the Awards and who won what - but it's not a short post not least because of the number of photos from last night's Awards Ceremony which I attended. You can read more about each of the artists in the profiles contained in BP Portrait Award 2018 - The Shortlist

Over the next few days I'll continue to post about the BP Portrait Exhibition 2018 and the prizewinners. There will be:
  • a video of the exhibition and a review of the exhibition 
  • plus photos of artists with their paintings 
  • and hopefully interviews with one or more of the prizewinners.

Judges: While the initial entry was online, the long list was judged from original paintings by this year’s panel:
  • Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery (Chair)
  • Dr Caroline Bressey, Cultural and Historical Geographer, University College, London
  • Rosie Broadley, Head of Collection Displays (Victorian to Contemporary) and Senior Curator, 20th-Century Collections, National Portrait Gallery
  • Glenn Brown, Artist
  • Rosie Millard, Journalist and Broadcaster
  • Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts & Culture, BP
Personally, I'd like to see a return to the more detailed Judges comments on the finalists which we have seen in recent years. If you can distinguish between prizewinners then you must be able to articulate why!

The Awards were presented by guest speaker Lily Cole, with Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery and Bob Dudley, CEO of BP - in some extremely peculiar green lighting!

BP Portrait Award - First Prize: Miriam Escofet 

Miriam Escofet has won the BP Portrait Award First prize of £35,000. In addition, she also has the prospect of being offered a £7,000 portrait commission by the National Portrait Gallery. 

I was pretty confident this painting was going to win first prize and said as much at the shortlisting stage

Monday, June 11, 2018

What's different about the 250th Summer Exhibition curated by Grayson Perry?

What makes the 250th Summer Exhibition different?

I try every year to find a way of bringing some coherence to the sprawling mammoth which is the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts.  This year I've split my comments between
  • those relating to the exhibition and 
  • those relating to the redevelopment of the building.
The exhibition opens tomorrow (12th June) and then runs until 19th August.  
I'll be going back for another visit and will probably do a "10 favourite artworks" blog post after I do. I've got a shortlist - but could do with a few more!

RA 250th Summer Exhibition - the front of Burlington House
Let's start with what's the same
  • it's a huge exhibition - the biggest in the world - and is expected to get more than 200,000 visitors
  • it's always going to be crowded - unless you visit at the very start or end of the day.
  • it's advisable to allow enough time if you want to see it properly and to pace yourself with (I had lunch in the restaurant in the middle) in order to cope with both the visual overload and virtually total absence of seats in the main galleries!
  • you may be well advised to book if you want to go on a particular day as only Friends of the RA enjoy all day access irrespective of the crowds. You'll find ticket details on the website.
The way in to the Summer Exhibition

About the Exhibition

#1 - The Biggest Ever - 1,351 artworks, 24% more than 2017 

The exhibition contains 24% more artwork than 2017 - in what I think is only slightly more space (this is a mental calculation on my part re the loss of Galleries I and II and the Large and Small Weston Room vs. the new and additional locations for the Summer Exhibition.)

I gather they committed to looking at 15,000 artworks but that Grayson Perry has indicated he probably looked at c.20,000 artworks in total.

Bottom line - the hang is crowded - but there are many more smaller works and many fewer enormous works.  Those given to HUGE works have typically toned down or not submitted work.

Only one really big artwork by David Hockney

#2 - All the Summer Exhibition posters say "curated by Grayson Perry" 

This seems very odd as I've never seen one Summer Exhibition poster ever mention who curated it before. That's because although every Summer Exhibition has its appointed Co-ordinator (i.e. this is not an exhibition literally by Committee), most of them have names which are not well known to the British public - even if they're Friends of the RA!

Interestingly, with a nod in the direction of history given the 250th anniversary, there is a display of past Summer Exhibition posters just outside the shop!

Old Summer Exhibition posters outside the shop
I'm assuming therefore that this is a marketing ploy on the part of RA because other than that massive crowd-puller a.k.a David Hockney, there is no bigger "name" in the RA with country-wide recognition. That's because both of them have been on the television at regular intervals.

Speaking of which.....

#3 - I got to see the Summer Exhibition before it's shown by the BBC!

I get slightly narked each year that despite paying to be a Friend, the BBC seem get to go round and deliver a programme about the Summer Exhibition before I get inside the door. This year, Kirsty Wark does her bit on BBC2 on Saturday 16 June (9.00pm-10.00pm) - which is AFTER the exhibition opens to the public.

#4 - It's in 3 different places - and all over the walls

For those of us used to starting at one end and wending our way through the different galleries to the end, we now have to take a different approach.  That's because:
  • the Main Galleries have been "cropped"
    • You can't turn left out of the end of Gallery III (the huge gallery this year hung by Grayson Perry)
    • you can only turn right - into the Humprey Ocean room....
  • that's because there's ANOTHER major exhibition about the The Great Spectacle - tracing 250 years of the RA's Summer Exhibition (which I've not yet seen so a review in future)  This occupies the Weston Rooms - meaning these are not available for Summer Exhibition displays. (Here's a preview of some of the works from past exhibitions on display in the exhibition plus my blog post about MUST VIEW online: 250 years of the Summer Exhibition Chronicle)
  • The Print Room and photographic art have also moved to the Sackler Galleries at the top of the building. This is a HUGE IMPROVEMENT. Both the overhead light and the flow make for a much better exhibition.
Panoramic view of the Sackler Galleries - the Print Rooms
click the pic to see a much larger version
  • The third part is in The McAulay Gallery (not to be confused with The McAulay Gallery at Tate Modern) - a very odd inconsequential gallery as you enter the building beyond the bridge. It stars David Shrigley - see below.

#5 - "Art Made Now" is NOT "more of the same"

Perry made a major change by announcing the theme "Art Made Now" in advance
Grayson Perry wants to ‘show the diversity of work being made in this moment’ - and is encouraging artists to submit only work made in 2017/18.

I'm guessing that his agenda was about NOT showing "more of the same" - and it's interesting to see how Royal Academicians have responded to the challenge.

It certainly looks different!

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Call for Entries for Society of Women Artists Annual Exhibition 2018

The Deadline for the Call for Entries for the 2018 Annual Open Exhibition of the Society of Women Artists is 22nd June 2018. So just under two weeks left to get an entry ready.

Below you can find:
  • who is eligible to enter
  • what types of artwork are eligible
  • how to enter - with key dates
  • details of the exhibition
Last year I commented that the SWA has made huge progress with its exhibition in recent years. Do read my review of last year's exhibition for a summary of the ways in which it has changed.
I remarked yesterday evening that they've moved further faster than any other national art society I know.
This year, to date, apart from a change in President, there's just one difference so far - I've been invited to judge one of the prizes!

If you're wondering what the exhibition is like below you can see the video I made of last year's exhibition

Who can enter

  • There is no stated restriction on who can enter. However this is an exhibition of work by women artists!
  • Women artists under the age of 35 are judged to be young artists and can submit work at a reduced fee of  £8 per work.

A corner of last year's exhibition

What you can enter

Categories of work which are acceptable:
  • paintings, pastels, drawings;
  • mixed media
  • sculpture, in all media; 
  • Original unique printing is acceptable e.g. engraving, lithography. Etchings must show their plate indentations. Commercially printed line work or photographically/digitally reproduced work printed with commercial machines (such as giclée work) is NOT admissible. 
  • ceramics, glass and metal not of a utilitarian nature. 
Prints Wall at last year's exhibition

How to enter

Closing date: 12 noon on 22nd June 2018 (the Call for Entries has been open since 16 February 2018)

This is the General Terms and Condition Sheet for Non-Members (PDF)
  • ENTRY: Entry is digital and online by the deadline for entry.  Artists may upload images of their work online at
  • SELECTION: Pre-selection is online. 
    • Online pre-selection enables artists to submit works for initial consideration without transport and framing costs.
    • Works that are pre-selected are not automatically accepted for the exhibition.
    • The selectors will choose works to be delivered on Receiving Day, to be judged at final selection. 
  • HANDING IN: Saturday 28 July, 10am - 5pm at the FBA Offices 17 Carlton House Terrace.
    • The Society of Women Artists entry schedule (pdf) must accompany all works on receiving day. 
    • all work must be labelled at the back using the approved labels for the exhibition 
    • You need to print the pdf form and labels and complete by hand. You can actually type straight in to the form and the labels by inserting the cursor - but it's not obvious. Just keep clicking until a box comes up with two blue dots either side
Mall Galleries Receiving Day at 17 Carlton House Terrace - down the stairs
  • SELECTION: The works selected for exhibition will be published on 1 August
  • PRICES: All work must be for sale (unless commissioned). 
    • Prices should allow for commission charged at 40% for members and 45% for non-members. 
    • There are specific minimum prices for different types of work
      • £350 for all hanging works
      • £350 for 3D works.  
      • £150 for framed etchings or lithography or drawings.
  • PRESENTATION:  All pictures must be securely framed, although well presented box canvases are acceptable.  All frames must be wide enough and stout enough to accept the mirror plates (which are supplied and attached by the Mall Galleries) which are screwed in at the back of the frame for hanging purposes. Terms and conditions prohibit specific types of frames.
  • STORAGE: Note in particular arrangements re. storage and storage charges for entries and exhibits not collected at the correct time.

157th Exhibition of the SWA

Private View - SWA Exhibition 2017
The 157th Exhibition opens to the public at 4pm on 25th September.

It will be officially opened by Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent at the Private View on Wednesday, 26th September at 11am.
  • Venue: the Main and North Galleries of the Mall Galleries in the Mall, London
  • Dates: Tuesday 25 September to Sunday 30 September 10am to 5pm daily - EXCEPT it opens at 4pm on the 25th and closes at 3pm on the 30th September
  • Admission
    • £4 or £6 with an exhibition catalogue, 
    • 50% off for National Art Pass holder, 
    • Free for Friends of Mall Galleries and under 18s
See the blog posts below for more about past exhibitions

More about Women and Art

Friday, June 08, 2018

The Singh Twins at The Queen's Gallery

This week I saw an art work by The Singh Twins. I'm not entirely why they hadn't registered on my art radar before now - but I'm now very interested to find out more.

Part of the triptych with The Singh Twins bottom right in the boat
Below is the artwork I saw - which was specially commissioned to accompany - Splendours of the Sub-Continent which opened this week at the Queen's Gallery (Buckingam Palace)  -  and which has also been touring the UK prior to coming to London.

This comprises three exhibitions in one:
Their artwork
"explores the interconnected themes of maritime trade and exploration, cultural exchange, British Empire, colonialism, as well as its legacies."
The Singh Twins Triptych
The image really doesn't give the impression of absolutely glowing colour created by this digital artwork.

The artwork is a triptych and includes two side panels relating to the years 1600-1857 (headed up by Queen Elizabeth 1) and the period 1857-1947 (headed up by Queen Victoria)

I came home and looked up the reason why the dates for the first panel are 1600-1857 - and, as I suspected 1857 was the year of the Indian Rebellion. I already knew that 1947 was the year of the Partition of India and very many massacres.....

The middle panel includes various references to aspects of England including the Great Exhibition - when a great interest was generated in Indian culture and artifacts.  This one is packed full of symbols and metaphor and I need a handbook to sort it all out!

The UK as a home to Indian Culture. Don't miss the reference to "Britain's got talent"!
This artwork needs a small booklet to explain the huge number of symbolic references - I think I probably got about a third of them!

1858-1947: This panel needs to come with a 'Reader'!
I'm interested to find out more about the The Singh Twins. Below are a couple of videos about:
  • (from 2010) about how they came to become artists
  • a Tate video from 2016 about their artwork which comments on the appropriation of British and Indian culture within the UK
I recommend viewing them - they're absolutely fascinating and very articulate about the motivations behind their artwork - and make some exceptionally good points!

The best way I can describe them in shorthand is  that they are the female Sikh version of Grayson Perry commenting on culture, society and the variation in how people from different backgrounds behave - except they work in the style of Indian miniature artworks.