Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Exhibition review: Toby Wiggins wins Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2009

all photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Exhibition: Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize Exhibition
12 November - 30 November 2009
Painters' Hall, 9 Little Trinity Lane, London EC4V 2AD 10 am–4 pm Monday to Saturday (except Saturday 14 November 12pm–4pm only). Admission free.
The purpose of the Prize is to encourage creative representational painting and promote the skill of draughtsmanship.
Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2009
Suspended Animation by Toby Wiggins
oil on canvas, 84 x 84 cm
copyright the artist / photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Last night at the Private View at Painters Hall, Toby Wiggins was announced as the winner of the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2009 for his painting Suspended Animation (pictured right).

The award was presented to him by one of this year’s selectors, Angela Flowers. Toby received £15,000 and an engraved gold medal

It's a very curious painting in terms of subject matter and composition (what is the piece of wood all about?) executed with complete mastery of an extremely subtle tonal range. Photography does not do it justice.

Toby Wiggins trained at Falmouth and the Royal Academy Schools and has been consistently winning prizes since graduation. In 2006 he was elected a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. He has a very distinctive style and I very much recommend you spend a long time looking at the quality of portrait paintings, portrait drawings, landscapes and still life - on Toby's website. I'm a huge fan of his work ever since I first encountered his portraits of people who worked the land in Wessex at the 2007 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery arising out of his winning the BP Travel Award 2006. If you want to follow the work of Toby Wiggins I suggest you follow his blog Toby Wiggins which is where he posts announcements about exhibitions and art competitions. A second painting by Toby - of Decayed Sycamore Leaves - is also included in this exhibition.

Over 800 artists submitted this year, and 82 paintings were selected from 72 artists (see 82 works selected for Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize). The Shortlist for Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2009 (includes images) was announced at the beginning of this month.

The Young Artist Award of £2,500 was awarded to Michael de Bono for Natural Philosophy
Natural philosophy by Michael de Bono
oil on board, 91 x 71 cm
copyright the artist / photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Michael is a Welsh artist who has exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 2008 and at Mall Galleries with the RBA and ROI and at the RWA in Bristol. I felt this piece was one by an artist who was on a journey to a good place - of an artist who could be very good in time. The issue here is one of expectations. It apparently aspires to be Vermeer like and I was certainly expecting Vermeer like qualities and yet it was a bit too flat for my liking when seen in the gallery. It has a sense of each object being painted separately. The modelling of the flesh on the face lacked the sophistication I had anticipated. I was also a little puzzled as to why it was glazed (oil not dry?). That said it's an interesting composition which invites the viewer to work out the story behind the painting and it's good to see work of this sort.

Runner up Prizes of £1000 each were also given out to Lorna Vahey for The ending of the day, Emma Haworth for Bluebell wood twilight, Lisa Wright for The secret place, and to Anna Gardiner for Top knots.

There's lots of good work to see in this year's exhibition - I really like the ethos of this prize and the range of work, media and styles that it covers. It's good good to see drawings Iin various media) and egg tempera but it would be nice to see more watercolour. Shortlists are always very personal to the people doing the selection. My own personal short list would have been very different. I managed to whittle mine down to the following:

(left) Tartan by Bella Easton
(right) Bryanston Square by Eileen Hogan

copyright the artists
  • MaryAnne Aytoun Ellis - The great beeches at Warningpore Bothy - egg tempera, acrylic and graphite on a very large panel (you can see more of her work here). I liked this a lot. It's the sort of painting I could hang on a wall and get lost in - in a very pleasant sort of way.
  • Bella Easton - Tartan. (above left) I've seen her cityscape works recently in both the Sunday Times/RWS watercolour Competition and the Threadneedle prize - but I think this is the best one I've seen to date. I really liked the way the palette of red, oranges and smoky blue greys which knitted together across the roofscapes.
  • Eileen Hogan - Bryanston Square. This is an incredibly silent oil painting on paper of a garden under snow. (I'd love to know what paper she works on). She's currently working as a Research Professor at Wimbledon College of Art having previously been the Dean of Camberwell. I'm familiar with - and have liked - her work in other exhibitions and think I need to start watching out for it more. Her website is well worth a review.
  • Alan Salisbury - Edible fruit with reference to work by Peter Soreau (the latter I have discovered is a 17th century painter of still life) His style of painting appears to transcribe or appropriate from historical sources that have interested him within the canon of European figurative painting. I liked this - a pile of plums with lips! It was amusing and well painted at the same time. You can see more of his still life work here and other paintings here.

Two artist apparently punning on traditional approaches to painting
Edible fruit with reference to work by Peter Soreau by Alan Salisbury
(Right) Banquet [broken lunch] by Thomas Doran

copyright the artists
  • Thomas Doran - Banquet [broken lunch]. Like the last one this is both funny and an excellent painting, this time in a very small format (note the size of the screws). This is an artist in need of a website!
  • Graham Flack - Retrospect. This is a brilliant work halfway between drawing and painting and executed in charcoal and pigment on canvas. In retrospect (I saw the ING Discerning Eye immediately after this), it has a lot in common with Alison Lambert's work.
The judges this year were artists Mick Rooney RA, Daphne Todd OBE and Susan Wilson; Director of the Flowers Gallery, Angela Flowers and Andrew Wilton, visiting research fellow at Tate Britain.

The above include:
(LEFT: bottom) The great beeches at Warningpore Bothy by MaryAnne Aytoun Ellis
(RIGHT: middle left) Retrospect by
Graham Flack
copyright the artists

I was very surprised to see that some artists who have been prizewinners in previous year had either not submitted or not been selected this year. It's good to see new names though - or at least names which are new to me!

Note about the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize: Created in 2005 with the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers and the Lynn Foundation. This annual exhibition is open to all UK artists with prize money totalling £22,500 and an engraved gold medal for the winner. The competition is spomnsored by The Painter-Stainers Company (formed in 1502), the Lynn Foundation and Linklaters.



  1. Nice piece by De Bono but it looks like it was made in a different century, technique wise and setting wise, there's nothing unique about it.

  2. I like that deBono piece. A traditional subject delivered in a contemporary manner. That's pretty hard to do, so well done!

    Tyrell's opinion of this particular piece is somewhat askew. Her power of discernment is suspect since she judges cats drawn with colouring pencils (her own work) to be art. It is not.

    I hope tyrell permits the free expression of opinion on this blog and does not censor comments that posit an alternative viewpoint.

  3. Dear James - I did think about deleting your comment but didn't and I'll explain why.

    First off, I didn't know that the quality of art we are capable of producing or type of art we choose to make dictates our ability to comment on art generally. If that's the case, it'll will come as a very big surprise to a lot of art critics!

    I base any comments I make on looking in person at an awful lot of art by many different artists, in very many exhibitions, art galleries and museums in different countries. For example, at the end of September I spent some hours studying Dutch still life paintings in the Louvre. I also own and have studied very many books about art history and the development of art.

    I don't ever expect everybody to agree with me - or that I should be correct about everything. I do however expect people to read what I write before they comment on it.

    I said de Bono's work was an interesting painting, that it invites the viewer to work out the story behind the painting and that it's good to see work of this sort.

    However I was disappointed by it too. It struck me as a good painting which could have been an even better painting. I'd have been saying very nice things about it if a bit more attention had been paid to the modelling and colouration of the flesh tones and edges of objects in the foreground.

    Note that I don't normally allow comments by people who remain anonymous (as you are - despite having "a name"), incorrectly describe the type of art I produce (you didn't look at my portfolio website did you?); totally ignore my policy on blog comments (clearly signposted in the comments screen) AND spell my name wrong. You might get away with one or two of these but not all four!

    I also ALWAYS censor comments from anybody who uses the word "posit" on the grounds that Plain English should be spoken on this blog if at all possible! ;)

    However I'll make an exception for you - since you seem to be in need of a prompt about how best to comment.

    For the avoidance of doubt, this blog accepts comments from people who identify themselves, make civil comments (ie ones which they would make to my face in my own home) and generally otherwise comply with my comments policy.

    No debate about my comments policy is entertained on this blog.


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