Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Review: Episode 1 of Portrait Artist of the Year Series 7 (Autumn 2020)

Series 7 of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year (Autumn 2020) started two weeks ago - but for various reasons - not least that these are not fast posts to review, construct and write - I've not had time until now to write my review. 

I apologise for not saying anything. I did eventually realize that there were lots of people who were pulling up my reviews of the first two episodes of the last series because it had 2020 tacked on the end of the title.

Of course in 2020 we're having Portrait Artist of the Year x 2! 
  • One filmed in 2019 which was broadcast between January and March 2020.
  • One filmed at some point in the spring/summer of 2020 which is being broadcast now. This one is called SERIES 7.
  • today is my review of Episode 1 OF Series 7.
  • tomorrow is Episode 2 - EXCEPT I've got to go and have scan at the hospital and 
  • Thursday will be Episode 3 - and then I'll be all caught up - EXCEPT that I've FINALLY got an outpatient appointment on Thursday to see a doctor at the hospital about my very dodgy ankle with the floating broken bone shards.
So that's the plan and I'm hoping to keep to it!

Series 7

I did wonder for a very long time whether they'd go ahead with Series 7 - because filming was due to happen during lockdown and I couldn't work out 
  • how artists would get to the Battersea Arts Centre or 
  • how they would manage given the extremely large number of people in the crew - never mind anybody else who is participating.
I'd love to hear from the artists whether they stuck to the original planned dates for filming - and what the experience was like.

(I found the answer while doing the artists's bios - they filmed in July - so NOT in lockdown!)

The interior of Battersea Arts Centre

What's very different this year is that obviously:
  • there was no audience
  • there was no Dame Joan Bakewell - who switched to hosting Portrait Artist of the Week instead!
  • everything happened at a suitable social distance
  • come the broadcast, everybody in the UK could view the programme because it had transferred to Freeview and hence was available to anybody with a digital TV.
I did wonder whether they had to change their plans for any of the sitters - in terms of whether people could be available or not. 

I also wonder what it would have been like if they'd filmed it now - with either people unable to travel and everybody else required to wear a mask in an indoor location with people outside your social bubble.

About Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year - Series 7 (Autumn 2020)

The Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year competition ranks alongside the other prestigious UK Art Competitions covered by this blog.

It has been running for some years and this is the seventh series

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Royal Ulster Academy sets new standard for Online Annual Exhibitions

The Royal Ulster Academy's website has set a NEW standard for the online annual exhibition.

Virtual Arts Media are providing the virtual exhibition - as they did last year when they created a digital twin of the actual exhibition - with digital images of artwork positioned in precisely the same space of the virtual copy of the gallery. They explain what they do in What is a Virtual Exhibition and show the actual exhibition and digital twin side by side

For me it's 
  • a much more convincing replica of an art exhibition and 
  • seems to be much easier to navigate than some of the others I have seen. 
  • if you click on an artwork while navigating around, it provides a new window with
    • details about the artwork, 
    • who created it
    • the sale price
    • how to buy it
For example, it also provides a:
  • list of artists by surname - you click the name and it takes you straight to the artwork (very speedily!). I'd be consulting this in the real exhibition if I knew the artists!!
  • an exhibition map - click on the room and it takes you straight to the room so that you can start viewing the work
It takes a little getting used to but if you're patient and work how it works it's a very rewarding experience

139th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Ulster Academy

Founded in 1879, the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts (RUA) is the largest and longest established body of practising visual artists in Northern Ireland. One of its founding principles is to organise, promote or join in organising and promoting in any fashion an Annual Exhibition of work by both members and non–members.
For information: This was the Call for Entries for this exhibition and submissions of work completed in the last two years were invited from visual artists aged 18+ working in any medium. 

For those who find navigating technology rather difficult here are some shortcuts to seeing the art.
Click the view/Buy menu option. This takes you to the categories of artwork

There are 263 artworks in total of which there are:
  • 159 Paintings
  • 29 Sculptures
  • 20 Fine Art Prints
  • 17 Drawings
  • 7 ceramic and glass pieces
  • 5 digital artworks
  • 4 textiles
I have to say my overall impression is I am impressed by the quality of the artwork in the exhibition.

Ones which stood out for me included the following (and yes I can spot a plant painting at 50 feet!)
  • Mater Natura by Jennifer Trouton - which superimposed plants on the body part they help. The series of nine watercolours were made whilst on an artist residency at Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University , Suzhou, China and awarded the Watercolour prize at this Year’s Royal Ulster Academy exhibition at the Ulster museum. 
  • but where are you REALLY from? by Lynn Kennedy - tackling an issue which maybe passes people by in a land where your origins are so often rooted in religion. Her social commentary includes an impressive painting in the National Gallery of Ireland
  • Pulveli by Anushiya Sundaralingam - an interesting monochome paintings of a tangle of plants. The artist is originally from Sri Lamka but now lives and works in Belfast. 
  • September Dundrum Bay by Hamish Moyle - a large landscape painting of rural Northern Ireland. A bit of a "feel good" painting for many I suspect.  He seems to have a pretty solid track record of selling paintings of wild flowers in their habitat despite his anti-social website with no proper navigation menu!
  • Tea in the time of Coronavirus by Amanda Croft (although a tad overpriced) - which featured in the Belfast Telegraph!
  • Fishing Nets by Helen Kerr - which is a batik and stitch textile artwork
Interestingly one of the paintings in the exhibition seems to have been generated by the Sky Portrait Artist of the Week session with Akram Khan - see Akram Khan, dancer and choreographer. by Laura Cronin and see what you think!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

ING Discerning Eye 2020: Selected Artists

The list of artists selected for the online ING Discerning Eye 2020 Exhibition have been produced in the most anti-analytical form possible!

Hence many hours and much effort was employed in producing this listing of artists who have had artwork selected for the exhibition in order of 
  • number of artworks selected
  • alphabetically by surname
There is no indication of which selector chose what - which is a pity.

I'm listing the names below in the order of the number of works selected - but am not including the titles of work selected. If you want to view the full listing see ING Discerning Eye 2020 - Selected Artists
If you'd like an image of your selected artwork included in this post   please get in touch (that's a pic not a live link under my mugshot) or message me via my Making A Mark Facebook Page

You can see what people had to enter in my Call for Entries: Virtual ING Discerning Eye 2020 post

The Virtual Exhibition will be online 24/7 from 19 November until 31 December 2020.

I haven't yet counted but I just know from sorting and typing the names that there are WAY MORE artists and artworks selected this year. Must have the fact that being online means there's no limits to how many you can have. (I wager somebody may think differently after they have all been uploaded to the exhibition site!!)

I've picked out some of the people I know below - and linked to their websites - and invited some of those whose artwork I spotted on Twitter and Facebook to send me images for this post.  If I missed your name do let me know in the usual way.

Six artworks selected

  • Rae Birch Carter - I'm bemused by this one. Her theme for the six works selected is "Performing in a Pandemic" - which all appear to be images on Zoom.  No website and one mention on Instagram which goes as follows. 
Maker Rae Birch-Carter worked as a costume designer for film and period dramas before starting Agnes Hart, her Etsy shop. Now her bridal accessories take center stage.

Five artworks selected

Four artworks selected

It appears that those who have four artworks selected have a very clear theme to their works including using art as social commentary
  • Brian Adams 
  • Victoria Atkinson - trained as a sculptor at the City and Guilds of London Art SchooHer group exhibitions have included: Royal Academy Summer Exhibition; Society of Portrait Sculptors FACE; Affordable Art Fair, Battersea; Royal Society of British Artists, Mall Galleries; The Towner, Eastbourne; Royal West of England Academy, Bristol. I've seen her work before in exhibitions - and you always notice it.

Four sculptures by Vicki Atkinson

Three artworks selected

  • Roger Adams
  • Sarah Adams
  • Ruth Addinall
  • Jonathan Alibone
  • Louise Anscomb
  • Margaret Ashman
  • Roger Aslin
  • David Aston
  • Lilias August RI
  • Sarah Bale
  • Christine Bangert
  • Deborah Batt
  • Harry Bell
  • John Bell
  • Sean Bennett
  • Jemima Brown
  • Lorraine Brown
  • Chris Bruce 
  • Clive Bryant
  • Trevor Burgess
  • Clare Burnett
  • Corinna Button
  • G Calvert
  • Kathryn Campbell
  • Simon Chalmers
  • Felix Chesher
  • Wayne Clements
  • Julie Cross - a multi-award winning artist living in Yorkshire. She is a figurative, expressionist painter who mostly uses female figures and faces. Her work is usually highly textured, often incorporating layers of cold wax and oil paint.
Oil and Cold Wax on Wood Panel 30cm x 30cm

  • James Dearlove
  • Sally Doyle
  • Jill Eisele
  • Nicholas Gentilli
  • Imogen Hawgood
  • Beverley Healy
  • Michelle Heron - an urban landscape painter from Norfolk whose artwork has been praised by Kathleen Soriano
by Michele Heron

  • Anna Mazzotta  
  • Elizabeth Meek MBEPast President of the Society of Women Artists and the Royal Society of Miniature Painters
  • Andrew McNeile Jones - graduated from Oxford University’s Ruskin School of Art, with a first in Fine Art, in the 1980’s and worked in the film industry for many years where he won a number of awards. He now lives and works in Oxfordshire and focuses on his art and exhibitions. His website is very interesting because he hs grouped his paintings into years which allow you to follow the path of his thinking behind how he approaches painting.
Neon by Andrew McNeile Jones

  • Liz Middleton
  • Elizabeth Nast
  • Clare Palmer
  • Sumi Perera
  • Philippa Robbins
  • Karin Schösser (I think the listing is spelt incorrectly i.e. Karin Sch√∂sser)
  • Latifa A Stranack
  • Tracy Ann Williams

    Two artworks selected

    Friday, October 23, 2020

    The Continuing Saga of Sackler Embarrassment for Art Galleries and Museums

    Remember the protests against the Sackler Family relating to the Opioid Crisis around about a year ago? Many were led by Nan Goldin -- and included a die-in at the V&A and a threat to NOT exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery if they accepted a £1million gift from the Sackler Family

    There are news reports that Purdue Pharma is to close and be reinvented as a new "public benefit company" controlled by a trust or similar entity.
    Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has agreed to plead guilty to three federal criminal charges for its role in creating the nation's opioid crisis and will pay more than $8 billion and close down the company.
    Pat on the back for Nan Goldin and other protestors I think....

    References on my Facebook Page to the Opioid / Sackler scandal went as follows:
    More protests at sponsors of the arts with a shady past (and present?) . This time Nan Goldin has arrived to protest the Sackler Courtyard at the V&A (re. Opioid scandal and deaths in the US + associated court cases against Sackler)
    Extremely odd interview of Nan Goldin on Channel 4
    Channel 4 Interviewer "but where are they going to get the funds from?"
    Nan Goldin "they don't need more architecture"
    Channel 4 Interviewer "but where are they going to get the funds from?"
    Nan Goldin "they don't need more architecture"
    + about 2-3 times more at which point I despaired of the Channel 4 ever employing people who listen to the answer.
    Artist Nan Goldin leads die-in at V&A over use of Sackler name
    I predicted earlier this week that Nan Goldin would "hit" the art sponsorship connections in London - and guess what....

    "The National Portrait Gallery will be forced to turn down a gift of £1m from members of the multibillionaire Sackler family if it goes ahead with a prestigious new exhibition of the work of US artist Nan Goldin."
    Nan Goldin threatens London gallery boycott over £1m gift from Sackler fund

    Some of you may recall that there was a lot of removal of the Sackler name from very many buildings, art galleries

    The Sackler Name

    My understanding is that some Sackler names are associated with the potential for criminal charges and others are not - or less so. 

    For example, the Elizabeth A. Sackler - whose name is on the Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museumhas distanced her branch of the family from her uncles and cousins and called their OxyContin wealth ‘morally abhorrent’.

    It's quite difficult to find an analysis of this.....  It's also not helpful by lazy journalists referring to funders as "The Sackler Family" - without identifying which of the five trusts is responsible
    The deal does not release any of the company’s executives or owners – members of the wealthy Sackler family – from criminal liability. A criminal investigation is ongoing. OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma to plead guilty to three criminal charges
    accuses Sackler family members of knowingly breaking laws in order to enrich themselves to the tune of billions of dollars, while hundreds of thousands of Americans died.
    While the guilty plea was welcomed, there was also anger over the US justice department’s failure to prosecute executives
    AND SO....
    • which are the Sackler names now in the frame for potential criminal liability? (see above)
    • when is the Sackler name to be removed from all endowed gifts funded by Oxycontin abuse?
    • Or are the organisations going to wait until actual criminal liability is established? (as opposed to the company accepting responsibility and closing down?)

    Tuesday, October 20, 2020

    "Hold Still" moves offline and onto billboards around the UK

    Back in September I wrote about the "Hold Still" digital exhibition on NPG website. Since then the digital exhibition has had over 4.8 million page views to date.

    Hold Still is an ambitious community project, launched in May 2020, to create a unique collective portrait of the UK during lockdown.

    Today the National Portrait Gallery announced that a Community Exhibition can now be seen on billboards around the country. 

    From today, the final selection of portraits, unveiled in a digital exhibition in September, will be:

    • exhibited for a period of four weeks on billboard and poster sites across the country, including at bus stops, in high streets and outside train stations. 
    • Groups of works will be shown on posters in cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and London. 

    • Many of the portraits will also be displayed individually in the entrant’s hometown with locations ranging from Belfast, Liverpool and Southampton to more rural areas such as Blaenau Ffestiniog (Gwynedd), Delabole (Cornwall), Marston Moretaine (Bedfordshire), Knypersle (Staffordshire Moorlands) Oban (Argyll) and Thorpe Audlin (West Yorkshire). 
    • Some of the portraits will also feature on community screens in over 1,500 Co-op stores across the UK.
    • One of the portraits ‘Melanie, March 2020’, taken by Johannah Churchill, has been recreated as a hand-painted mural in Manchester city centre.
    All one hundred works will also be on display at Hold Still Exhibition at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire from 23 October until the 6 December 2020.

    The exhibition has been led by the Duchess of Cambridge as Patron of the National Portrait Gallery. Today The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Waterloo in south London to mark the launch of the UK-wide Hold Still community exhibition and viewed the final one hundred Hold Still portraits displayed on billboards outside Waterloo station, one of 112 community exhibition sites in 80 towns, cities and areas across the UK. 

    The Hold Still community exhibition sites are in the following towns, cities and areas across the UK. Some locations have more than one community exhibition site.
    • A - Aberystwyth, Arundel, Alrewas (National Memorial Arboretum), Ashford (Kent), 
    • B - Baldock, Balham, Belfast, Bethnal Green, Bingley, Birmingham, Bishop's Stortford, Bootle, Borehamwood, Bournemouth, Bradford, Bredbury Romiley, Brighton, Bristol,  Brockley, Burgess Hill, Burnt Oak
    • C - Cambridge, Cardiff, Carshalton, Cheltenham, Cockenzie And Port Seton, Croydon, Cumnock
    • D - Dulwich
    • E - Eaglescliffe, East Ham, Eastbourne, Edgware, Edinburgh
    • F - Fareham, Finsbury Park, Folkestone, Forest Hill
    • G - Gidea Park, Glasgow South, Gosport, Gravesend
    • H - Harringay, Hemel Hempstead, Hitchin, Hyde
    • K - Kensington
    • L - Lancing, Lewes, Litherland, Liverpool
    • M - Manchester, Marylebone, 
    • N - Norwood, Notting Hill
    • O - Oxford
    • P - Peterborough Rural, Poole, Preston, Purley, Putney
    • R - Ramsgate, Reading, Roehampton, Rotherham
    • S - Sale, Southampton, Southfields, St Ives, Stenhousemuir, Stoke On Trent, Sutton
    • T - Teddington, Tottenham, 
    • W - Walthamstow, Wanstead, Waterloo, Westminster (National Portrait Gallery), Wimbledon, Wokingham

    About the Exhibition

    Hold Still invited people of all ages from across the UK to submit a photographic portrait, which they had taken during lockdown, in a six-week period during May and June. A panel of judges, including the Duchess of Cambridge and National Portrait Gallery Director, Nicholas Cullinan, selected the final 100 portraits from 31,598 submissions.

    Focussed on three core themes – Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal and Acts of Kindness – the images selected present a unique record of our shared and individual experiences during this extraordinary period of history, conveying humour and grief, creativity and kindness, tragedy and hope.

    The exhibition is supported by the Co-op, which launched ‘Co-operate’ in April to help connect vulnerable people to local and national support initiatives and has recently provided emergency relief funding to 4,500 community causes.