Friday, March 01, 2024

Monica Popham wins Landscape Artist of the Year 2024

This review is about the Final of Series 9 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024 at Covent Garden in London - which was won by Monica Popham.

Landscape Artist of the Year 2024:
Commissions and Final Paintings by the three finalists

Below you can read about
  • Artists in the Final
  • Venue: Where/when the Final was held - which was a bit different
  • Observations about the subject
  • Themes and Tips
  • Decision Time:
    • The Commissions
    • The Final Paintings
    • The final decision
  • The Winner
As always the programme about the Final is always something of a bit of an odd show since
  • 5 other participants are missing 
  • there is the need to recap the journey to the Final
  • plus a more indepth profile of each artist AND
  • the story of the three artists doing a commission between the semi-finals and the Final 
I'll spend a little bit more time focusing on Monica since she won the series.

You can find all my reviews of previous programmes in this series at the end of this post. Plus how to apply for the next series which will be filmed this summer in six heats in three places around the UK.

The Final

The Artists in the Final

(Left to right) Kristina Chen, Denise Fisk and Monica Popham

The three artists in the Final were - in order of the heats they won:
  • HEAT 1: Kristina Chan (Instagram) is a Canadian mixed media artist and printmaker who has studied in London. She uses narrative and specific facts about a site to create a sense of place. She is very she is very used to doing commissions for prestigious clients and public art installations - but not a lot that resembles painting. Her work is in the collections of V&A Museum (2016, 2017), Ingram Collection of British and Modern Art (2020) and Royal Collection, Clarence House (2018), Royal College of Art (2018, 2016)
  • HEAT 5: Monica Popham (Facebook Instagram | tiktok) is a digital media manager and landscape artist and illustrator from Gibraltar. Currently based in Guildford. She studied Fine Art at Loughborough University and graduated in 2021. The main body of her work focuses on the tangible quality of sunlight, and how it interacts with the architecture in Gibraltar and other Mediterranean towns. She has worked on a variety of projects such as large scale murals, book covers and private commissions. 
I went into the semi-finals wanting to prove that I could do more than extremely cropped landscapes and paint a scene outside of my comfort zone. At this point in the competition, we have no idea the location of the commission but I knew if I wanted to progress to the finals I had to prove that I had more flexibility as an artist.
  • HEAT 6: Denise Fisk (Instagram) - a landscape oil painter from East Sussex. Denise has BA (Hons) Degree in textile design which led to a career as a colourist and designer in the furnishing industry. She now exhibits in art fairs in South East England. She particularly likes autumn colours.

Location and Timing

The rear of the Royal Opera House and the Covent Garden Piazza
The Terrace is the top floor on the left - with the open gaps

The venue for the Final of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024 was the Piazza Terrace of the Royal Opera House - where I've been and sketched myself. (It's actually a restaurant - and while not cheap it's also not expensive! Which you need to know if you want to try it out for yourself.)

So NOT in the Pods for the first time in LAOTY History! However still undercover - with protective covers also for the nice wood floor!

Monday, February 26, 2024

NEW Blavatnik Art, Film and Photography Galleries at the Imperial War Museum

Last Friday, I visited the Blavatnik Art, Film and Photography Galleries at the Imperial War Museum (IWM) for the first time. They are the galleries in the UK’s to explore how artists, photographers and filmmakers bear witness to and tell the story of war and conflict.

The Imperial War Museum is not typically a place I think of when wanting to see art - but recent developments suggest it should definitely be part of the education of any self-respecting artist of fan of art history who wants to understand better how war has been recorded from a visual perspective.

Not least because the Galleries include some iconic artwork as well as important films and photography.

The reason I was at the IWM last Friday was because I'd been invited by the Museum's Digital Producer/Director to some filming she was doing with Gareth Reid in relation to various of the outstanding paintings in the IWM's art collection.

Gareth Reid being filmed while sketching and making notes
about "Gassed" by John Singer Sargent

Some of you may remember Gareth Reid as the winner of the 2017 series of Portrait Artist of the Year and more recently Portrait Artist of the Decade (Review: Portrait Artist of the Decade as featured in Portrait Artist of the Decade Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery - last few days). For me he will always Gareth Reid who I first met at the National Portrait Gallery back in 2008 when he was responsible for what I still think of as one of the best BP Travel Award Exhibitions in the history of the award (see BP Travel Award: Gareth Reid and the Finnish winter bathers).

He and I were both very impressed with the Galleries and their content. Read on to find out more.

The Blavatnik Art, Film and Photography Galleries

The Blavatnik Art, Film and Photography Galleries are located at the Imperial War Museum in London. They opened last November on Remembrance Sunday. 

The Galleries are free to enter, making more of IWM’s world-class collection available and accessible to all.

Entrance to the Blavatnik Art, Film and Photography Galleries
This is the first time in IWM’s history that a permanent gallery space has been created to display the three collections together - visual art, film and photography.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Review: Semi Finals of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024

This is a review of the Semi Finals of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024 which took place at the historic shipbuilding village and maritime museum of Buckler's Hard in Hampshire.

Judging the seven paintings produced in the LAOTY semifinals

Below you can read about:
  • The Artists - but also see yesterday's post The Semi-Finalists in Landscape Artist of the Year 2024
  • The Wildcard Winner
  • The Location and Weather 
  • Themes, Learning Points and Tips
  • Decision Time: The Finalists
  • My take on the Semi Final Paintings - covering them in order of the Heats

The Artists

The Semi Finalists - after they had finished

The Artists were:
  • all the Heat Winners - We already know who all the artists are - and I did a recap of them yesterday in my post The Semi-Finalists in Landscape Artist of the Year 2024 - so no section devoted to artists in this post!
  • plus the chosen wildcard from the Wildcard Winners in each heat.  The Wildcard Winner who got a place in a pod and who was selected from the six Heat Wildcard was Rebecca Patterson from Aberdeen.
Rebecca Patterson with her Heat 1 painting of a nocturnal Dunnottar Castle

Rebecca Patterson took part in who took part in Heat 1 at Dunnottar Castle. She is a professional artist and a creative practitioner. She graduated from Gray’s School of Art in 2009 with a BA(Hons) in Painting and again in 2010 with a Master of Fine Art. She works with Grampian Hospitals Art Trust on their Art Room projects and the charity Life With Art which hosts creative workshops with vulnerable groups in Aberdeen.

During the course of the day, Rebecca drew her very own following as those watching were very interested in her very different techniques for creating art.

The very interested spectators around Rebecca's pod
- as the time came to remove the cling film!

The Hordes

The LAOTY Pods at the top of the
maritime heritage village at Buckler's Hard in Hampshire
plus just some of the visitors who stopped to watch

LOTS of people came to watch the semi-finals.  Rather too many to make it conducive to good artwork in my opinion. 

It was difficult to tell whether these were normal visitors who stopped to watch a bit or people who had specifically come to watch. I decided those with collapsible chairs were probably part of the latter group! However inspection of "bucklers hard" on Instagram suggests virtually all were there to get seen on the television...... i.e. very few mentions on social media. I think many of those who sat on the grass in front of the artists maybe thought they were going to get memorialised in a painting as well as getting their "face on the telly".

There's a point at which onlookers get in the way of artists performing well.

I think those who produce this programme might do well to consider long and hard whether and when they announce the locations at which they are filming. However, I'm sure they've already learned some lessons from this experience.

PS If you get selected as a pod artist this year, ask them what they are doing about keeping audience numbers to more sensible levels.

Location & Weather

The location was unusual. Buckler's Hard is a historic shipbuilding village and a Maritime Museum on the west bank of the Bealieu River in Hampshire.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Semi-Finalists in Landscape Artist of the Year 2024

You, like me, have probably already forgotten the names and backgrounds of the artists who are going to be in the semi-final of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024 on Sky Arts.

Here's a round-up and refresher for all those who will be watching TONIGHT at 8pm.

For me, the critical question is WHO is going to make a serious pitch for the final and then the commission in this semifinal round. Read on to find out WHY....

ALL the artists are painters - except for Kristina who is really a printmaker.

At the end I discuss the reasons behind who I predict will be in the Final and where you can discuss my choice!

Heat 1: Kristina Chen

Kristina Chen
(Instagram) is a Canadian printmaker who has studied in London. Her submission was a large monochrome work on very thin Japanese paper. Very little presence online when I looked for her after the first heat. However, I looked again and have now found her website which I couldn't find at the time of the first heat. She describes herself as 
a London based artist working between printmaking, photography and public installation.
It's also very clear from her 'about' page that she is very used to doing commissions for prestigious clients and public art installations. Nothing that vaguely resembles painting though...

Having seen her past achievements, I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if she's in the Final - because I don't believe that the Judges never ever look at their CVs and websites!
However, her Instagram account is now private! Which seems odd for an artist who is trying to raise their profile via the media

Submission and Heat Painting by Kristina Chen

What I said

Kristina Chen rescued an impossible situation and benefited from the fact that both Kathleen and Tai liked the strange quality of her artwork. They do love seeing artwork they've not seen before!

I thought Kristina's submission was very impressive - and I identified her at the beginning, when we only had the submissions to go on, as being one of the shortlisted artists.

I also think it is infinitely superior to her heat artwork. However I have sympathy for the fact that what she had planned to do in the heat i.e. printmaking turned out to be impossible given the location. She was working on very light paper and it became obvious to her that working into the initial drawing / print using other media was the only way she could finish.

She captured the huge clefts in the cliff on which the castle sat and got a very real sense of the massive nature of the cliffs and the relatively small size of the castle. Plus she got the weather in the latter part of the day.

She wasn't my favourite, although I loved her submission. I said....

I'm not disappointed however I think her submission probably got her through. It will be really interesting to see:
  • whether she works out how to do printmaking outside
  • what she produces in the semi-finals
REFERENCE: Review: Episode 1 of Landscape Artist of the Year Series 9 (2024) 

Heat 2: Wesley Smith

I didn't like Wesley's heat painting, however I loved his submission

Wesley Smith (Instagram) is a chef and a painter based in Brighton’s North Laines where he paints landscapes and still lives. He spent 10 years living abroad in Taiwan and his paintings are influenced by Asia. His Instagram account is definitely worth a review - I'm more impressed by the paintings on there which demonstrates very clearly that he can paint a range of landscapes.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Review: Episode 6 of Landscape Artist of the Year Series 9 (2024) - Hever Castle

 ...and so we come to the last heat of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024. 

....and it's another big building. Although this time it's rather older than the ones in last week's heat - plus it comes with two moats - an outer one and an inner one!!

Episode 6: Hever Castle

This is my review of the sixth episode of the 9th series of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024.  As regular readers will know by now, it considers:
  • the location and weather
  • the artists' profiles
  • themes arising during the episode
  • judges decision-making
  • who was shortlisted and who won.

Location and Weather

The Heat took place at Hever Castle in Kent - which was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn (1501-1536)  who was the second wife of King Henry VIII and a Queen from 1533 to 1536. You can see the outer and inner moat in the pic below. Plus the topiary lawn which is a feature of the approach to the Castle.

On the day of the heat, the weather was fine - sunny with some cloud cover. So none of the artists in this heat had to compete with any of the challenges that participating artists in other heats have encountered this year.

Hever Castle, topiary and inner and outer moats

Very sensibly, they located the pods at some distance from the castle which made the latter small and opened up the need to create an artwork which included part of the estate and garden.

If you want to "play at being a pod artist" and try and paint the scene, you need to go to the green area (top left in the above image) over the bridge and between the outer moat and the cafe - with the view over the top of the topiary.  This is near to where you enter the Castle Grounds from the car park (speaks this past visitor!)

Cafe in the background and Outer Moat on the right

The artists' view from the Pods
of (foreground) the lily covered moat
(Middle ground) the topiary
(background) Hever Castle - on the right

The perspective from the pods provided three clear zones:
  • (foreground) the lily covered moat
  • (Middle ground) the topiary
  • (background) Hever Castle - on the right
Lots of green vegetation and lots of stone. The colour of the main features of course varied during the day depending on whether it was in in the sun or covered by the cloud which featured - on a variable basis - on the day and hence the object was in the shade.

TIP  Decide of the pattern of sun and shade before you begin to paint. 
  • Consider the pattern of darks and lights before you start
  • Take photos when you start and fix on a the parameters of your design. (what's in and what's out)
  • Delay fixing on how sun and/or shadow are going to cover your subject matter by making a decision only after you have drawn in
  • work out how the darks and lights will change as the sun moves during the day
  • make a record sketch of what the tonal shapes are (darks, lights and inbetween tones)
  • don't forget to include and record the shadows of objects in your design
see also my blog post Plein air art - 10 tips for working with sunshine and shade (3rd June 2009)

Looks to me as if the Wildcard artists were a little way further round from the pod artists - in amongst the trees with a side-on view of the Castle - with a choice of being under the shade of the big trees or being out in the sunshine!

The wildcard artists beyond the Outer Moat at Hever Castle

Artists' Profiles

I've now decided that the cameras which record the artists work MUST have stopped working - because the listing of the artists has not been updated past Heat 4. So we have lost:
  • the correct spelling of every artist's name
  • links to their social media sites
  • a video of how they created their landscape artwork
Below I provide links to their websites (if they have one) embedded in their names and a link to their Instagram account if they have one.

The POD Artists of Heat 6, LAOTY 2024 in the garden at Hever Castle

The artists in Heat 6 at Hever Castle are: