Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Exhibition review: The Pastel Society's 110th Annual Exhibition

Yesterday I went to the Private View of Pastels Today. This is the 110th Annual exhibition of The Pastel Society which opens today (10th June) and continues until Sunday 21 June 2009. All works are for sale.

This post highlights
  • the work of artists who caught my eye
  • who won which award - and links to more information about them where available
  • changes in arrangements and/or presentation this year
At the end you can find links to previous reviews of Pastel Society exhibitions.

View of the exhibition in the Main Gallery
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The aim of the exhibition is to present paintings and drawings produced by contemporary artists which reflect the extremely diverse nature of dry media - which is classified as covering pastels, including oil pastels, charcoal, pencil, conté, sanguine or any dry media.

Each exhibition also has a number of events which offer the opportunity for people to learn more about pastel painting, including a demonstration evening, workshops and critiques.

Work by Moira Huntly PPS RWA RI RSMA
copyright the artist

Special mention must be made of some of the members of the Society. This is the last exhibition at which Moira Huntley presides as President of the Society. John Ivor Stewart is the President Elect and will be taking over as President after the exhibition.

works by Mark Leach PS
copyright the artist's Estate / photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The exhibition includes a wall of work by the man who was to have been the next President. President Elect Mark Leach PS died in July last year (see Mark Leach PS, President Elect of The Pastel Society - an obituary.) Sadly Lionel Aggett PS has also died since the last exhibition.
Their memories will be in their paintings and the books they produced
Moira Huntley speaking the eopening of the exhibition
Artists and the work I liked

Artists whose work I particularly enjoyed this year included Felicity House, Sheila Goodman, Norma Stephenson, Keith Roper and Jenny Halstead. Much of this is either work which sits very firmly at the drawing end of the spectrum or relates to the abstraction of landscape.

Works by (Left) Felicity House and (right) Sheila Goodman
copyright the artists / photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

What I like most about Felicity House's work is the quality of 'found' in her compositions. Her calligraphic drawings of interiors always make me feel I was there. It's always struck me that she draws what she likes and finds interesting. We talked yesterday about the her drawing of the inside of hairdressers "The blow dry" and what caught her eye. I also like the fact that she's very happy to make a drawing and doesn't attempt to fill all the spaces on her support with pastel - most effective. Her still life drawings always make me think I've just walked into her kitchen as opposed to an artist who has "set up" an aesthetic arrangement. It's as if she was part way through "Making Lime Pickle" when it suddenly struck her what a good subject it would be a for a drawing. You can see more of her work on her website and I do commend to take a look - I love it!

I'm also very happy to say I've been squeezed into her pastel workshop on Friday and there will be another post about Felicity in a tutor role in the near future!

I really liked Sheila Goodman's work which seemed to make some good use of notan patterns to create somewhat abstracted landscapes which seemed to me to achieve that difficult position of sitting comfortably between realism and abstractiont. Do take a look at her website to see more of Sheila Goodman's pastel paintings.

Both Keith Roper's and Norma Stephenson's work continues to appeal.

Works by Norma Stephenson PS
copyright the artists / photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Norma describes how she works on her new page on the Mall Galleries site - but it lacks images and you really need to go to her website to see Norma's work and what a stunning artist she is. I wish there were images on there and news of any website by Keith Roper would be good news!

Of other artists
  • Roy Wright's work continues to intrigue - not least how he manages to produce works this big which are full of marks without any of it smudging at all!
  • Darren Baker's work manages to look uncannily like a photograph. I'd have liked to have a magnifying glass to hand. He's a candidate for membership and is producing work which isn't typical of other members.
  • I always like looking at Diana Armfield's interior pastel drawings - done from her table. She's been the inspiration behind many a sketch of mine! (See also my blog post on my sketchbook blog about Sketching the Pastel Society's Private View)
Works by Roy Wright PS (monochrome) and Elizabeth Comerford (colour)
copyright the artists / photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Artists winning awards were as follows:
  • Arts Club Award Brian Plummer Aldeburgh Marshes
  • Linda Blackstone Gallery (Debra Manifold Memorial) Cath Read Treeline
  • Cross Gate Gallery Award Elizabeth Comerford Acrobat
  • Daler Rowney Art Materials Award Darren Baker Shaft of Light - works in the classical realism genre. This work had a novel concept and in my view it was a great pity this work wasn't in a better position. It's very difficult to view a piece which is right in a corner.
  • Frank Herring easels award
    • Felicity House Flowers in the Russell Charles jug -
    • Michael Norman Outgoing tide, Exe Estuary - a pastel on a whole sheet of colourfix
    • James Longueville Above Tower Bridge, Spring
  • Anthony J Lester Art Critic Award Roy Wright PS Charmaine - He produces large drawings of complex subjects in charcoal. This one is a very large portrait drawing of a lady with a lot of hair (see above)
  • Annie Longley Award Paulene Tunnicliffe Venice Fish market
Boathouse by Jenny Halstead
copyright the artist
  • Bill Patterson memorial Award Jenny Halstead The Boathouse - this is a super piece and again I recommedn people have a look at her website and at more of her.
  • Purcell papers award Christine E. Ellis Friars Lane Richmond
  • The Ranelagh Press award Billy Grant Morning
  • Brian Sinfield Fine Arts Award Fran Richardson Untitled, bed VIII (You can see this in the drawings part of her website - it's an immaculate study in realism in charcoal with an impressive range of values and massive contrast)
  • Unison Pastels Prize Sheila Goodman Bruges Canal
Changes I noticed

: Much of what I had to say last year still applies - see The Pastel Society UK - 109th Annual Exhibition. As usual I very much appreciated the way the Pastel Society hangs work by the same artist together.

This year the exhibition is only in the Main and North gallery which means less wall space and fewer works have been hung. On the other hand the East Gallery is being used as a workshop area and the space and lighting looks liks a big improvement on previous years. I'll be writing more about Pastel Society events tomorrow and will be attending a workshop there on Friday!

I asked Moira Huntly whether they'd changed anything for this year and she told me that she'd asked PS members to submit five works but to make them mixed sizes. As a result, this is probably one of the few exhibitions this year that I've been to (other than the 'specialist genre exhibitions which are carrying pretty much as before) that looks 'normal'. There's a good mix of sizes which means it's not full of either rather small works or absolutely enormous ones which is what i've seen in a few exhibitions in the last nine months as the credit crunch has taken hold. Overall it made for a well balanced exhibition which is pleasing to the eye.

What distinguishes the work in this exhibition from that of pastel artists over the pond is that this exhibition has a great deal more art which is painterly and contemporary in feel and which does not try to create the sort of realism seen in photographs. I very much prefer to see the range in both approaches to work in dry media, the styles employed and the quality of the mark-making which results in this particular exhibition.

International artists: There are an increasing number of entries being accepted from international artists. This year the exhibition includes work by Dutch artist Corry Kooy, Irish artist Elizabeth Comerford and American artist Angela A'Court.

Websites: I think that it's a very great pity that neither The Pastel Society website nor the Mall Galleries site have a web page devoted to images from the exhibition. On the Mall galleries site there are links to the artist members of the Society but the images on display are not those in the exhibition.

Tomorrow - more about Pastel Society events; Friday's post is about some tips for working with pastels - including comments about framing and trends in this year's exhibition - and I'll be attending a workshop with Felicity House at the Mall Galleries - which will then be the topic of Saturday's post. Did I mention that already? :)

Making a Mark reviews......

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