Monday, April 12, 2021

Review: Episode 3 of Landscape Artist of the Year Canada (2020)

This is my VERY late review of of the final (third) heat of Landscape Artist of the Year 2020 (Canada). Not quite sure what happened last week. Suffice to say, my planned posts went out of whack! See also

Artists in Episode 3 waiting to hear who's going to the Final

Episode 3 of Landscape Artist of the Year Canada (2020) 

This originally aired in Canada on March 1 2020. 

Location of the pods: HEAT 3 - Midland Town Dock

This was an industrial landscape.
A grain elevator and silos at Midland Town Dock - albeit the silos were decorated with a mural.
Known to the Huron/Ouendat people as “Ouendaronk”, to the French as “La Mer Douce,” and to the British as Georgian Bay, the waters of the so -called “Sixth Great Lake” have had a profound effect upon those who inhabited its shores. Welcome to the Midland Town Docks
Georgian Bay on Lake Huron is significant within the context of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven - Thomson was brought up on its shore and a number of the Group of Seven painted its landscapes - and lakescapes. 

The pods at Midland Town Dock.

Interestingly the pods are set up differently to the UK. The roof is slanted and normally runs side to side, whereas in Canada it runs front to back - making getting in an out rather more difficult for some!

I'm afraid I can't look at grain silos now without remembering that utterly dreadful explosion in Beirut - which happened in August 2020 - before this was broadcast in October 2020.

Mural about the heritage of the location - with a Huron man and a Jesuit priest
This mural measures 80 ft high and 250 ft wide and is the largest outdoor historical mural in North America. It displays Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons as it would look like in the 1640's
However grain silos painted in a mural (painted by Fred Lenz) which explain the history of the location make them much more interesting. So much so that virtually all the artists avoided painting the silos and mural! Only one had a go.  

Tip for the programme makers - just because it makes the visuals very interesting doesn't mean artists will paint it - IF YOU ONLY GIVE THEN 4 HOURS!! It's quite difficult enough painting places without painting paintings of places done by somebody else!

The weather

Predictably enough - the weather changed during the course of the programme. Starting off dull with lots of cloud and then better weather came later - and generated skies which started changing a LOT!

The artists in Episode 3

There was a bit more variation in the places that the artists lived in Canada in this heat. Only two lived in Ontario (both in Toronto) - whereas there were four other artists from two from British Columbia, one from Alberta and one from Nova Scotia.

There's no question, in my opinion, that this episode had more competent artists participating than the previous two episodes.

Links to their websites are embedded in their names. Links to their social media come after the name.

Professional Artists

Five professional artists took part -
listed below
  • Kylee Turunen (Facebook | Instagram) - an emerging Canadian artist, born in London Ontario to a landscape painter father. Now lives in Port Alberni, British Columbia. She completed the Fine Art program at Toronto's Centennial College in 2009 and is currently represented by a number of galleries around Vancouver Island. This is an interview with her. She has one of those "difficult to read" websites because everything is in capitals - which means you give up reading pretty quickly - which is a shame as she creates nice paintings. I'm not entirely clear about what differentiates her landscapes from her abstract landscapes as some look pretty similar to me. She normally works just from photos which means painting to a time limit plein air was a very new experience for her.
  • Nadine Prada (Facebook | Instagram | Twitter) Lives in Toronto, ON after spending her childhood in the Caribbean. Educated at Ontario College of Art and Toronto School of Art. Used to have a career in advertising until she experienced a 8.8 earthquake. Now works as a professional contemporary artist and facilitator.
This is a story about “careful what you wish for”. I used to watch the original British show, Landscape Artist of the Year, and think to myself, “I’d really love to do that one day.” So when the call came out to audition for the Canadian premiere, I didn’t think too hard and just sent in my submission. (No time to talk myself out of it.) Cut to the day we actually had to show up and produce a painting in 4 hours (WAAAAAAAYYYYY outside my comfort zone since I work in lots of layers - and in front of an entire film crew, complete with judges, no less). It’s seriously one of the most exhilarating, rewarding experiences I’ve had in my art career and now I get to share it with all of you. I hope you get a chance to watch, and then tell me what you thought of the show. Nadina Prada | The Prada Gallery, Facebook 23 October 2020
  • Jeff Wilson (Facebook | Instagram | Twitter) - a very different background story. Grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland & trained as a structural geologist. He then worked in mineral exploration around the world before settling in Vancouver in 2004. He took took art classes at Emily Carr University, and his a hobby transitioned into a full-time art practice in 2013. His paintings have been exhibited widely in public galleries in BC, Alberta and WA State. He's represented by a number of galleries, has work in various public and private collections and has won awards for his art.
Kylee, Nadine and Jeff

  • Ron Kuwahara (LinkedIn) Halifax, NS Had a 40 year professional career as a physicist - working for Defence Research and Development Canada Atlantic. Turned to painting in retirement. In 2011, he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art, with a Major in Painting after studying at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University. For me, he's doing better than a lot of younger paintings who've never done anything else. I like the fact he's not afraid of going big and abstracting his landscapes.
  • Elzbieta Krawecka (Facebook | Instagram | Twitter) - born and raised in Krakow, Poland. -Now lives in Toronto, ON (via Kuwait).  Moved to Canada to attend the Ontario College of Art and Design - and developed a love for the Canadian landscape. Her landscape paintings depict large areas of open spaces such as skies or water, defined by pattern formations. She's exhibited her art in numerous group and solo exhibitions. I appreciate a lot of artists who appear on television (not all by a long shot) but only rarely want to own one of their paintings. Take a look at the gallery on her website - and work your way back to 2001. You'll find you jaw dropping as I mine did at her amazing paintings of skies. I'd like one of her paintings.
Mackenzie, Ron and Elzbieta

Amateur Artist

There was just one amateur artist.
  • Mackenzie Brown (Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn ) A very interesting individual. She is First Nations Cree from the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, though she currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta. She has a degree in Child and Youth Care and creates contemporary Indigenous art, teaches Cree cultural lessons throughout Alberta, works as a Project Manager at Indigenous Tourism Alberta and facilitates discussions throughout all levels of government and academia.  She paints in acrylic and includes beadwork in her paintings and focuses on the land and uses materials from the natural world to honour her ancestry. 
My name is Kamamak, or Mackenzie in English. As a young girl I was taught about balance. The balance between traditional and contemporary. This is how I live my life – with a moccasin in both worlds.

Wildcard Artists

Yet again, a lot of the wildcards were impressive. I keep wondering if they are all people who create fabulous paintings but are unable to talk to camera....

The Wildcard Artists were painting from a jetty nearby 
(Pods are in the top left background)

The wildcards had a more interesting, less architectural view

What I liked about This Episode

It was good to see a member of one of the indigenous nations of Canada taking part - particularly as the relationship between artist and land is rather different to other artists of European heritage. I hope it wasn't only prompted by the mural on the grain silos.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Prince Philip (1921-2021) - the painter

Many will write today about the passing of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh and consort to HM The Queen who died peacefully at Windsor Castle this morning.

I wonder if any will mention his interest in painting. 
(They did - see 2021 articles referenced below)

Below I'm going to comment on what I know of his interest in art and design - and in painting.

Prince Philip painting on Britannia - by Edward Seago

I've seen many paintings by Prince Charles - which are regularly exhibited in art society exhibitions in London. I guess that this interest in painting was probably derived from the fact his father also had an interest in painting during time available for leisure.

The Duke of Edinburgh has had a life-long interest in art and design, both as a patron and collector, and as an artist himself. His atmospheric oil painting of Duart Castle from the Sound of Mull in the Western Isles is included in the exhibition. Prince Philip: Celebrating Ninety Years at the Drawings Gallery in Windsor Castle | artdaily

Paintings by Prince Philip have however been rarely seen - until relatively recently. 

Tuition by Edward Seago

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Making A Mark is a Top 10 art blog in 2021 - again!

Making A Mark has again been named one of the Top Ten Art Blogs in the UK in 2021.
Which means I get to put a new image in the side column of this blog to indicate this

The Top Ten Art Blogs

I record the blogs which get listed each year - mainly because the URL stays the same and hence the listing is lost

You can see from the art blogs that there are a lot which have stayed the same and ......
  • a number have been around for a very long time - and we've all been in this listing together for ages!
  • there is a distinct bias towards street art
  • there is a preponderance of team blogs - and I've indicated below which are solo efforts and which are team blogs
Vuelio uses a proprietary algorithm to create these rankings, based on topic-related content in blogs on its system – you can read more about the process here

 For the record, the top ten art blogs in 2021 are listed below:

  1. StreetArtNews (TEAM BLOG) - Urban art for "art geeks". This blog has been around since 2009.  I've always thought of this one as a team blog -  I think the giveaway is that Rom Levy is described as Founder & Editor-in-Chief 
  2. Jackson's Art Blog (TEAM BLOG) - I always highly recommend this blog for all those interested in art materials and techniques with art materials. This is a team blog and its most regular writers are Julie Caves, Clare McNamara and Lisa Takahashi - with contributions with other occasional writers
  3. We Make Money Not Art (SOLO BLOG) written (somewhat irregularly) by RĂ©gine Debatty - and which seems to have been around forever. 
  4. Art Plugged (moves up one place) - a contemporary online platform which features art news from across the globe and interviews with artists.  Basically you can't read the posts unless you register and join the Art Plugged Community. It's one way of driving up subscriptions. Unclear whether it's solo or a team, effort but it's definitely commercially driven.
  5. Hookedblog (SOLO BLOG moves up one place) - Created by Mark Rigney in 2005 and focused on the street art scene
  6. ArtWeb Blog (TEAM BLOG)  says it's "For Aspiring And Professional Artists On The Internets".  Basically a front end for selling artist websites. However it does have useful content for those trying to develop online marketing. 
  7. Making A Mark (i.e. me) at an exhibition
    (SOLO i.e. Just me! ;) Except I started it in 2006, and since then it has received over 5.4 million visitors and 16.8 million page views - from visitors from all over the world.  I'm always absolutely amazed at the number of people it reaches. 40% of visitors come from the UK, 25% from the USA and the remainder from the rest of the world. Mainly focused on the UK but lots of content is more generic and applicable to artists all over the world.  I've got used to people who recognise me and stop me in the street when I'm walking to and from an art exhibition in London - despite the fact I post very few full face pics of myself!! I'm very struck by how pedestrian my blog design is compared to others - but it works for me....
  8. Inspiring City (SOLO BLOG) - another covering the urban / street art scene set up by Stuart Holdsworth in 2012. He also does podcasts
  9. Scribblah (SOLO BLOG) - Selling artwork from a blog. Rose Davies describes herself as: ‘artist, printmaker, scribbler, ageing headbanger, feminist, activist, mad-cat-woman, cake-maker, accidental-archaeologist, mud-wrangler, wild, Welsh and opinionated’ - so more than just about art!
  10. The Primary Art Class (SOLO BLOG) - I think Emily Gopaul's blog is a wonderful idea and will doubtless be invaluable to all primary school art teachers - and parents!
A number of these have been in the top ten for a long time. I get that's the payoff for being persistent in our blogging!


Friday, April 02, 2021

The Natural Eye Bursary 2021 - Call for Entries

The Society of Wildlife Artists has published its Call for Entries for The Natural Eye Bursary 2021 
The deadline for entries is 1st June 2021 - so plenty of time to prepare an application.

What is The Natural Eye Bursary?

The Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) offers this Bursary each year to artists aged 16 and over who are interested in portraying wildlife in art.
the selectors are looking for proposals that demonstrate a sense of enquiry into the natural world through original and thoughtful creativity that will result in a genuine artistic and personal response to the wildlife subject.


What is on offer?

The award has two components:
  • Awards of up to £750 are available to artists submitting exceptional proposals that focus on wildlife as a main subject to:
    • carry out independent projects, 
    • develop research - involving artwork
    • or training in art practices .
  • Successful applicants also have the opportunity to 
    • exhibit an example (or examples) of their bursary work during The Natural Eye exhibition held annually at the prestigious Mall Galleries in London’s West End
    • have their report of their project published on the SWLA website.
In addition
  • several past bursary winners have gone on to become active members of the SWLA 
  • the bursary has helped with exhibition opportunities and professional relationships that continue into the future
  • most award winners have continued to diversify in the arts, often citing their bursary project as a pivotal moment in their practice. 
I was immersed in nature for a month, observing wildlife every day and for the first time learning to identify those methods of field drawing that work for me
CHRISTOPHER WALLBANK Bursary Winner 2008 - Read his report 
Urban Black Kites of Delhi by Chris Wallbank (won 2008)
- a subsequent project - as exhibited 10 years later in the SWLA Annual Exhibition in 2018

Essentially, it's an opportunity to demonstrate your interests, the scope of your enquiry and the knowledge, skills, talent and innovation that you bring to bear on creating a focused piece of research and artwork.
Christopher Wallbank (bursary winner 2008) discovered his fascination for combining art with ecology during his project drawing the wildlife of two extremes, depth and altitude, in the Bay of Biscay and Picos de Europa mountain range. He has since gone on to collaborate with several field-based conservation projects, including the long-term monitoring of guillemots, the preservation of urban black kites and as an SWLA member on the Wallasea and Wadensea projects. 
Green Bridge Loomery by Chris Wallbank

What are selectors looking for?

Successful proposals will reflect the SWLA’s main ethos to generate appreciation and delight in the natural world through fine art.
The current context changes the bursary slightly this year:
  • Both the Pandemic and the subsequent lockdown(s) has meant that many more artists have found inspiration in nature. 
  • However they also been limited in how far they can travel - and many in the UK are still limited by how far they can move away from their local area.
Many of the society’s members and associates working under lockdown restrictions have demonstrated how successfully artistic enquiry can capture the awe and wonder found in nature without the need to travel to exotic corners of the world.
Consequently in 2021, the SWLA have very sensibly suggested that they are particularly interested in proposals that 
  • either celebrate the wildlife found close to home
  • and/or projects by artists who have, perhaps for the first time, discovered a new focus for their work by engaging more with the natural world. 
That does not exclude other proposals - but the focus enables a much clearer focus on wildlife near people's own homes than hitherto.

Previous Bursary Awards

Previous bursary work has included a wide range of different media including; 
  • drawing, 
  • sculpture, 
  • painting, 
  • online journals, 
  • artist’s book-works and 
  • installation.  
Successful bursary projects have focused on one (or more) aspects - see below
  • many document their experience of wildlife first hand - by working from observation in the field. 
  • artistic development through education and building practical skills e.g. Gareth Williams’ bursary award enabled him to join a print studio for a year and develop his observations of wildlife through print making.
I was able to learn this entirely new way of working, which gave my work a new visual language and, complimented my style
  • research resulting in remarkable portfolios of work on display at The Natural Eye Exhibition. 
The resultant 2008 exhibition gave me the opportunity to invite peers and contemporaries to see my installation at the gallery — a great space — which led to an invitation to exhibit the work at "The Animal Gaze: Contemporary Art & Animal/​Human Studies" — Whitechapel
HELEN J. BULLARD, THE NATURAL EYE BURSARY WINNER 2006, 2007 - read about her 2007 project and her 2006 project


How to apply for a Natural Eye Bursary Award

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

What happens to art after the demise of BBC Four?

Yesterday we had the very sad news that BBC4 is to become an "archive only" channel.

BBC4 will no longer commission new documentary series as the arts and culture channel is downgraded to a repeats-led network.... 
Executives have decided that its relatively small audience, older than the national average at 62, does not justify continued investment in commissions." (The Times | Repeats rule roost after BBC4 funding cut)

It's interesting that the BBCMedia Centre's page of news highlights makes not one mention of the demise of BBC4. 

These are the relevant BBC documents

Below I discuss what they mean and what might be an alternative. 

Let's bear in mind that this is a BBC which is well aware that it is within the targets of the current government because of its perceived antagonism towards Brexit - and various other issues over the years.

Ageism alive and well at the BBC

Apart from what appears to be an extremely ageist approach to audiences - this also suggests we have seen the end of proper / serious / educated programmes about art.

Instead, the BBC is resurrecting BBC3 for an audience which does not watch television anyway. Plus an interrogation of the current programmes highlighted on the BBC Arts platform indicates art has become very low in the hierarchy of what gets counted as culture.  Instead Books, Film, Theatre and "BBC New Creatives" (Film / Dance / Animation) get the bulk of the platform.

It looks to me as if the BBC has abandoned 

  • Art History 
  • All those that have enjoyed watching programmes about art on BBC4
  • The audience in general aged 64+ (BIG mistake!  These are the people who vote!)
My other half refers to BBC4 has what BBC2 used to be before the BBC decided it wanted to become "popular". It's the only BBC channel he watches.

The alternative to mothballing BBC4

Here are a few suggestions for the BBC in relation to its recent budget decision
  • remember that the BBC mission is to "Inform, Educate and Entertain" - which is demonstrated more clearly by BBC Four than any other BBC channel. 
  • stop paying presenters absolutely ridiculous salaries
    • start setting an example - rather than continuously inflating costs
    • stop employing people to present who will not take the equivalent of a pro-rata fee to the salary of a BBC employee
    • if you want to cut costs there is no better way to start
    • stop paying ANYBODY more than the Prime Minister - period.
  • create a better balance of arts programmes - recognising that each appeals to different age groups in different ways
  • stop being ageist i.e. 
    • reintroduction of priced television licences for the 75+ audience
    • elimination of a channel which caters to the interests of those who are:
      • not part of the "yoof" culture
      • more likely to be unable to travel for events and visits to cultural centres
  • create better equality between the age groups
  • create a channel specifically for the 22% of the population aged 60 and over 
    • in the same way as it has a channel for kids
    • recognising that more older people spend more time at home 
    • recognising that more older people spend more of their time watching television or listening to the radio

I rather suspect that the 60+ population will not take this lying down and I look forward to signing the petitions which will doubtless emerge and get the necessary number of signatures which means they must be debated in Parliament.

Indeed I've just signed LAST YEAR'S petition Save BBC Four from closuree started last May after the rumour that the BBC wanted to chop BBC Four.

If you appreciate BBC Four and its arts programming I recommend you sign it - and share it with likeminded others!

Other articles about the demise of BBC4 and the BBC's ageist approach to programming

Below are articles which focused on the decision to "archive" BBC4

Increasing repeats requires an amendment to the BBC’s operating licence, which is overseen by Ofcom.

There is likely, however, to be a clamour from older BBC4 loyalists who feel that the corporation is prioritising younger audiences. Earlier this month it was announced that the youth-focused BBC3 was being revived six years after it was scrapped, at a cost of tens of millions of pounds.

and this one - 
The BBC has headed off mounting criticism by announcing that BBC Four—the specialist arts and science channel known for programmes such as Life Drawing Live!—will not be closed. Instead it “will continue to have originations [commissions], with a focus on the arts”, says a BBC spokesperson.
Why this announcement merits celebration is completely beyond me! 

THEN I REALISED - this was from May 2020!!!