Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Review: NEAC Annual Exhibition 2024

This review is rather later and shorter than I would have hoped for. However the Private View for the Annual Exhibition 2024 of the New English Art Club (NEAC) last Wednesday evening was the evening before my annual RHS Botanical Art Show Marathon started - from which I've still not surfaced. But I am having a break!

I arrived at the Mall Galleries just before 6pm and managed to get in and race around to get photos of the exhibition before the hordes arrived. Twenty minutes later the place was full!! By the time we got to the opening speeches and the awards the West Gallery was packed and standing room only overflowed to the messanine level - from where I took this photo (below)

Gyles Brandreth delivering an excellent speech to open the exhibition

I've uploaded the photos to albums attached to my Making A Mark Facebook page and you can see them there:

You can also see it online on the Mall Galleries website - and even buy artwork online!

This is also an exhibition which is timed to coincide with the opening of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. If you're coming up to London to see the latter, then it's very easy to walk down to the Mall and visit the NEAC exhibition too. They make a very good pair of exhibitions to see in one day.

However this one finishes at 5pm on Saturday 22nd June.

The exhibition is open daily from 10am to 5pm until 22 Jun 2024.The Mall, London SW1. 
Admission £5, Free for Friends of Mall Galleries, Friends of the NEAC, and under 25s.
Concessions available. See the Mall Galleries website for full details.

East Gallery from the stairs

The clash with my Botanical Art Marathon with the RHS Gold Winners meant that I haven't had time to go back and see the exhibition again, which I often do when the exhibition is very crowded at the PV. Simply because there is no space to stand back and look at the artwork and no time to reflect on which pieces keep calling to you. So another look when it's much quieter is usually very helpful - but that hasn't happened this year.

Which makes this a difficult review to write.

I did however note one thing while at the PV - and that was how many people I was used to seeing were not there. The whole demographic of people attending the PV has changed quite radically from what it has been for many years. I learned later that the PV was clashing with the service/memorial for June Mendoza (who died recently) and that might well account for a lot of the faces which were missing.

However it did serve to remind me that I've been coming to these exhibitions on a regular basis for nearly 20 years since I took early retirement. I'm now a lot older than I was when I started and I've written more than a few memorial pieces for artists who have died in the last few years.

The PV felt to me as if there was a bit of a sea change was in the offing. The art looked a bit different and the people looked a bit different.
  • So far as the art was concerned, it's more because art I'm very used to seeing is simply not there any more (eg due to the passing of artists like Ken Howard, Tom Coates, Bob Brown) - and yet I was overjoyed to see 3 artworks by 104 year old Diane Armfield in the North Gallery. I love her drawings of sheep!
Three artworks by Diana Armfield RA HNEAC PS
  • So far as the people are concerned, I saw a lot of younger artists receiving awards - which is good and augurs well for the future
You can see the artwork which won the Prizes and Awards for 2024 on the NEAC website. They chose a number of the artworks which kept catching my eye as I walked around.

There are 409 artworks in the exhibition:
  • I saw some large imposing paintings - including one by the new President Patrick Cullen
  • I also saw a lot of much smaller paintings - and both members and non-members seem to have adjusted to the fact that we are not out of the woods yet in terms of the economy and making art more affordable is a good idea. At least those who gave their artwork more affordable artworks did - as these were the ones which were selling
If you go through the online view of the exhibition you can see the prices of artwork which has sold. 
  • There are still more than a few artists who have not yet adjusted to the new economic climate. 
  • If they're selling at those prices at their own galleries, then good luck to them. 
  • If they're not, then I recommend they study the sale prices.
I'll finish with a few artworks which caught my eye.

I'll start with a painting of a still life / interior which I've never ever seen before - and yet the inside of a tidy organised fridge makes an excellent subject for this really effective painting by Bernadette Timko. You never know it might become a meme! This absolutely bounced off the wall as I eyeballed it and submerged everything near it. That might because I'm a bit of a foodie and I do like a well organised fridge - but I think it might be to do with very good painting!

Fridge Still Life
Oil on board, 34x32cm (36x34cm framed)
£800 SOLD

On the subject of food, I was very pleased to see Felicity House had two more of her excellent compilation paintings associated with making a meal.

179 - Kitchen Composite an177 - Cashel Blue & Pears
Both: Pastel, 37x52cm (48x63cm framed) Both: £850

I was, as always, very taken with the egg tempera landscape paintings of Ruth Stage - particularly the one at the bottom which had the most persuasive clear warm water.

349 - Boating Central Park and 350 - Clear Waters
Both: Egg tempera, 45x60cm (49x64cm framed)
Both: £1,900

I really liked this next painting a lot. It reminded me very much of the project which Michael Landy undertook to draw all the weeds seen on the streets of London. His etchings are now preserved as the Nourishment (series), 2002-3 in the archive of Tate Britain. I've visited to see them in person and they are amazing. I very much think he's also got scope for a series here.

295 - Not Forgotten
Watercolour, 51x36cm (62x47cm framed)

James Crittendon had a standout work among some excellent monochrome drawings and fine art prints in the North Gallery. 

Etching and drypoint, 71x50cm (86x64cm framed)

I very much recommend that those who prefer drawings and prints to paintings make time to linger long in the North Gallery.

Prints in the North Gallery

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Lest we forget: Karin Jurick

There's just a few artists who are highlighted in my calendar - to remember the anniversary of their death. Karin Jurick is one such.

Karin Jurick died three years ago on the 16th June 2021 age 60.  It was a very big shock - we'd known each other for about 14 years and I still miss her.

While we were not close friends - she lived in Georgia in the US and I live in London - she was very much a blogging chum. She and I started blogging more or less at the same time. I followed her and she followed me and we built our followings together. We were both fans of each other's blogs and we conversed via email from time to time - when time allowed! Like very many people all over the world I used to follow all her blog posts and paintings - particularly those of artists with paintings in galleries - which you can still see on her blog.

She was also a regular featured artist in my annual Making A Mark Awards (see below) - as I adored her paintings of people with paintings.

I can do no better than refer you to the blog post I wrote back in June after I found out about her death About Karin Jurick (d. 2021)

These are links to Karin Jurick and her artwork

Monday, June 10, 2024

Contemporary British Portrait Painters - Biennial Exhibition 2024

Anybody who is 
  • EITHER aspiring to either become a contemporary portrait painter 
  • OR wanting to commission a contemporary portrait from one of the leading portrait painters in the UK 
would do well to visit the latest exhibition of the artist collective known as the Contemporary British Portrait Painters.

Most of the artists in the CBPP 2024 exhibition

Their biennial exhibition is currently being held - until 15th June 2024 - downstairs at The Department Store, 248 Ferndale Road, Brixton SW9 8FR.  

The 2024 Exhibition by Contemporary British Portrait Painters
is at The Department Store in Brixton

I highly recommend a visit as it's one of the best exhibitions about contemporary portraiture that I've seen of late.
  • it has a young fresh "contemporary" feel to it
  • none of the portraits resemble "a stuffed shirt"
  • the paintings are hung extremely well (curated by a team led by Lucy Stopford). I got to the point where I became very much focused on how easy it was to "read a wall" and started to admire the thought which had gone into the design and how they were hung on each wall
  • there's a LOT of excellent portrait paintings - in various styles and media and approaches - and in various sizes.
One of the walls

Another wall - with an underlying palette

You can see nearly 40 of the photos I took at the Private View on Friday night on my Making A Mark Facebook Page in this album Contemporary British Portrait Painters Exhibition 2024.

The Private View was also an excellent event. It was very relaxed and great fun!
  • I don't think I've ever seen quite so many artists talking to one another about being a portrait artist! 
  • It's very clear that this is a collective with a really strong sense of community - with a lot of people making active contributions to its wellbeing.
Altogether - a very energising event and exhibition both in terms of the portraiture and the people.

About the British Contemporary Portrait Painters

Small contemporary portrait paintings - includes paintings by
(top left) Ian Goldsmith (Founder)
(top right) Lucy Stopford (Curator)

This independent artist collective was founded in 2018 by Ian Goldsmith. It 

  • aims to represent the best in contemporary British portraiture and 
  • encourage its practitioners to find their voice and tell their portrait story.
I think it is also aiming to redefine what portraiture is about and what it looks like - in today's society.

Membership is by invitation only

Current members include:
  • past winners of the BP Portrait Award eg Miriam Escofet, Susanne du Toit - and lots selected for past exhibitions of (what I'm now calling) The Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery
  • past winners of the Portrait Artist of the Year competition eg Duncan Shoosmith, Curtis Holder, Wendy Barratt - and others who did well in the competition
Past Winners of Portrait Artist of the Year
(left to right) 2017: Samira Addo; 2018: Duncan Shoosmith; 2020: 
Curtis Holder; 2023: Morag Caister; 2024: Wendy Barratt
  • leading members - as in past Presidents and current Officers etc - of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters eg Alastair Adams, Simon Davis 
  • people who led the portrait painting 'charge' during the Pandemic eg Tom Croft
  • plus other artists recognised as leading exponents of contemporary portrait painting
For me, the people below include a lot of artists whose names I know well and/or artists I've met before at various exhibitions.

Artists in the 2024 Exhibition by the Contemporary British Portrait Painters

There's a few people I'd suggest also need to be invited, but other than that the only gap in what they are promoting and displaying are those who draw rather than paint - except they have got Curtis Holder! 

Maybe time for a rethink of the emphasis on painting as opposed to portrait artists?

If you'd like to subscribe to this blog, there's a link to how to do in the side column on the right.

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

How to subscribe to "Making A Mark" - and get an email in your inbox

Would you like to get an email to your inbox every time a post is published on Making A Mark?

Earlier this year, I wrote about how the changes in the rules by Google regarding bulk emails sent by gmail were going to have a major impact on my blogging. I speculated at the time about giving up blogging altogether - as I originally built my audience entirely via the RSS feed.

See ALERT ALL SUBSCRIBERS: Blogging Service may be interrupted OR subscription mailing service changed

To cut a long story short since I only use gmail and have done for the last two decades, I wasn't about to give up on my very reliable, very efficient gmail service.

  • I gave up on Mailerlite which said I could no longer use a gmail address for my RSS Feed to Email sent to subscriber inboxes.
  • I also continued to post regularly to my Making A Mark Facebook Page when a post was published - and all the conversations which used to take place in comments now take place there.
  • ...and looked around for alternative arrangements - and was absolutely horrified at the prices being charged for people with as many subscribers as I have!
In the end I've settled on using Follow.it - which is not perfect. Mainly because it's got adverts which I dislike intensely but I have no choice about these for a free service. I may well upgrade - but this in part depends on how many subscribers I get. Believe me offering a subscription service does not come cheap for the more sophisticated versions!

However Follow.It works - and that's the main thing.
  • I'm using it for my botanical art and artists website news blog - and have had no reports of any problems.
  • it's been set up in the side column of this blog for a few days - and it seems as if people are starting to subscribing without any prompting and without any problems
So if you want to subscribe - or even resubscribe - to Making A Mark can I suggest you complete the form below (or the one in the side column to the right). 

What you have to do to subscribe follows....

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Shortlist for The Portrait Award 2024

The Portrait Award 2024 at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG)in London received 1,647 entries from 62 countries.  

This is the latest 'edition' of this very prestigious art competition's history at the NPG which dates back to 1980. During that time it has had over 40,000 entries from more than 100 countries and the exhibition has been seen by over 6 million people.

That said, having looked back at some of my previous posts (a number of which have focused on the numbers) there have been fewer entries this year. However, I think that's hardly surprising for an art competition attempting a relaunch with a new name after a three year break (due to the three year refurbishment of the NPG)!

Given the length of time since the last Portrait Award, this post covers:
  • What is The Portrait Award? - a brief history plus a reference to past sponsors, past and past winners and their commissions
  • The Portrait Awards 2024 - for the latest version of this very popular and prestigious portrait competition
  • The Shortlisted Artists - who they are and what the shortlisted portraits look like
  • The Judges - and how these have changed over the years....
  • The Exhibition - dates and access and future blog posts!
The Portrait Award 2024: Shortlisted Portraits
- see more below

What is "The Portrait Award"?

If you're wondering exactly which competition this is it's important to know that the sponsorship has changed.

It is now called, as from 2023/24 "The Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award" i.e. the sponsorship changed to being an international law firm. (see my post NEW! Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award 2024 REPLACES BP Portrait Award (November 21, 2023)

Previous Sponsors

The award has had three sponsors to date:
  • Imperial Tobacco (1980-82) - this was a competition which was set up with the specific aim of encouraging more young painters to take up portraiture. 
  • John Player & Sons (1983-89) - all entrants had to be under 40 and the entries had to be painted in oils or acrylic from life. 
  • BP (1990-2020) - the under 40 age group requirement was dropped in 2007. Winners included: James Lloyd, Stuart Pearson Wright, Benjamin Sullivan and Miriam Escofet
  • after which the NPG was closed for three years for substantial refurbishment - reopening last summer.
which I covered in Winners of the National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Award + Commissions (January 17th 2023) which LISTS:
  • ALL the artists who have ever won the Portrait Award organised by the National Portrait Gallery in London
  • PLUS a link to ALL the commissions offered as part of their First Prize.
Each of these might be regarded as seeking to improve both brand recognition and reputation by sponsoring prestigious art institutions and awards. It's a fact of life everywhere you go. However, the nature of the sponsorship triggered lots of protests in latter years - including the refusal of prizes.
From my practical perspective, "short and snappy" is a requirement for the title of a competition which is referenced a lot.  (eg Australia has "The Archibald"). I cannot even remember all the names of the new sponsor (I kid you not!), let alone which order they come in so, as previously indicated, I am just going to call it "The Portrait Award" or "The Herbert". 

The Portrait Awards 2024

The new Portraits Awards are reduced by one - there is now no third prize
  • First Prize: £35,000 The prizewinning portrait will need to be retained by the Gallery for up to six months after the tour of the exhibition so that it can be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery (please note this is at the Gallery’s discretion). 
  • Second Prize: £12,000 Third Prize: £10,000 
  • Young Artist Award: £9,000 All selected artists aged between 18 and 30 will automatically be considered for both the Young Artist Award and the Portrait Award, but an individual cannot win both.  
  • To be eligible for the Young Artist Award, artists must be 30 years of age or under as of 1 January 2023.

The Shortlisted Artists

The major change this year - with the new Portrait Award - is that only three artists have been shortlisted

Hitherto it has always been four - for the First, Second and Third places and the Young Artist Award - but it appears that the Third Prize has been ditched. Also no sign of a Travel Award...

Three artists have been shortlisted for the prestigious Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award 2024.
  • Zizi (2023) by Isabella Watling
  • Jacqueline with Still Life (2020) by Antony Williams
  • Lying (2020) by Catherine Chambers
So we have:
  • two women and one man
  • two are in their early 30s and one is in his 50s (my guess - since their ages have unusually not been listed)
  • one very large painting and two paintings of a very similar size
  • two portraits painted in 2020 - possibly for the last exhibition - which never happened?
  • one Portrait Award stalwart, one by an artist who has been selected before and one by an artist selected for the first time.
I'm going to use my standard profile analysis for the information below - which I think other artists find helpful in seeing who gets selected