Monday, July 26, 2010

Shortlist for £25,000 Threadneedle Prize 2010 announced

The seven works of art shortlisted for the £25,000 Threadneedle Prize in 2010 have been selected.

This major open UK art competition aims to find outstanding contemporary figurative paintings and sculptures.  46 works have been chosen from more than 2,100 works of art entered for The Threadneedle Prize 2010 exhibition in September at the Mall Galleries.

One of the very interesting aspects of this competition is that it acts as a means of refining contemporary definitions of "figurative art". 

The definition of what work is eligible was refined again this year specifically to highlight the fact that artwork should not be based on a conceptual or abstract world. I'm guessing this has influenced the choices made but may well disappoint some commentators who'd like to stretch the boundaries.  Personally I think there are quite enough other opportunities for that and it's good to see a selection which is sticks a bit closer to a more conventional view of figurative art.
Scope: Works should be based on observation and experience, not on a conceptual or abstract world.  Artists are encouraged to engage, excite and challenge the public on subjects of contemporary and topical significance. Submissions based on the human figure and other major themes are also welcome. Works can be submitted in a variety of media: paintings, original prints and drawings, sculptures, mixed media constructions, reliefs and other figurative installations. Photography and video is only acceptable within other mixed media installations.  Sculpture is an important component of this exhibition and in 2010 we are committed to attracting the highest quality of sculpture entries.
The winner of the £25,000 Threadneedle Prize has already been chosen by the selectors, and will be announced by Victoria Coren at a special Awards event on 15 September 2010. Each of the six runners-up will receive £1,000.

The seven shortlisted works and their artists are:

Clee Hill 2009 
(oil on canvas) by Boyd and Evans
Clee Hill near Ludlow is a popular stopping point for travellers... We make a detour whenever we’re near... It seems to have something different to offer every time we go.
Building the Riverside Museum (pastel) by Patricia Cain
My role was to capture the “experience of the moment” of building work in progress. The focus is not the finished building but an investigation of the beauty of construction.’
Road Side 
 (acrylic on canvas) by Paul Cummings
‘An anecdotal conscious anthropology where the get away journey offers a fleeting moment of a failed utopia.
Car Boot Closing
(Oil on wood) by Thomas Doran
‘Never mind urban foxes – I give you car park elves. On a flat January day, I glimpsed this sub-Narnian scene through a wire fence and felt obliged to commemorate it.’
The Horrors of Tek 33 
(oil and acrylic on canvas) by James Jessop
‘I have always wanted to paint a real New York train in 1980s style... Instead I started a series of paintings featuring trains with my own fantasy graffiti tales, in fictional 1980s scenarios.’
(mixed media) by Stuart McCaffer
‘Most of my work is based on personal experiences, in the case of this piece the starting point is the transient time in life between child and adulthood.’
Frame, figure, frame, figure 
 (oil on canvas) by Caroline Walker
‘Located between reality and fiction, this work plays with temporalities and constructed narrative. Developed through collaboration with life models at different locations or “sets”, it explores the relationship of women to the domestic.’
My first reaction when viewing the works is that the panel have come up with a very different selection from last year. But then the judges this year comprise fewer artists, nobody who's "well known on the circuit" and no gallery owners.  I'm hoping that means we have less 'backscratching' this year - see Threadneedle Prize: selected artists for the names of the selected artists and links to their websites.

My track record to date is I've correctly identified which painting will win the Prize ahead of the announcement two years on the run. Which I guess may mean I'm in touch with what appeals to the general public!

However this year, the Prize is being awarded by the Panel so I'm not sure I'm up for a hat trick.

To be frank, none of the pieces made me go "Wow"!  I'm still waiting to see which order I remember them in tomorrow morning which is a good test of which is the most memorable.  I've got much bigger images to work with and there's nothing remarkable about the painting of any of them which I have to say was rather disappointing.  It's not that any of it is less than good, it's just none of them make me want to be that painter.  I'm very much in favour of an emphasis on figurative - but it would be nice to have an emphasis on good painting too.  There are lots of excellent painters around - and they need to submit their work to this exhibition!

All seven works are paintings which means no sculpture has been judged to merit the shortlist - which is a very great shame as I see a number of truly stunning sculptures at various exhibitions. However it's jolly nice to see a pastel being shortlisted for an award for a change!

I'm personally struggling at the moment to understand why some of the paintings were shortlisted given the definition stating that this was not about conceptual or abstract art but I guess I'll get to find out more about that later! 

Do feel free to comment on the selection below! 

Competition and Exhibition details

Prizes:  The following prizes will be awarded
  • The Threadneedle Prize: £25,000
  • The Visitors’ Choice: £10,000
  • Finalists (6 awarded): each £1,000
If the public vote coincides with the selectors’ vote, one artist wins a total of £35,000, making The Threadneedle Prize potentially the most valuable art competition for a single work of art in the UK.

Exhibition:  This year’s shortlist and the 39 other selected works will be on display at the Mall Galleries in Central London from Thursday 2 to Saturday 18 September 2010.  From 1st September the entire exhibition will be available online at

Panel of Judges: The three people who will select and award the Threadneedle Prize this year are:
  • Dr Xavier Bray, has been Assistant Curator of 17th and 18th Century European paintings at the National Gallery, London, since 2002. He recently curated his first solo National gallery exhibition The Sacred Made Real
  • David Rayson, Professor of Painting and Head of Fine Art at the Royal College of Art, and
  • Michael Sandle RA who resigned from the RA in 1997 – staying out seven years - in protest over what he construed as the Academy’s ‘ducking and weaving’ over the inclusion of the Myra Hindley portrait – against the wishes of the mother of one of the ‘Moors Murders’ victims.
  • Who gets the money: arts funding in crisis? Monday 13 September, 6-8pm With major cuts in public services looming, are the visual arts facing a crisis? Evening Standard art critic Brian Sewell joins an outstanding panel of speakers, including Ekow Eshun, Director of the ICA, Clare O’Brien, Director of Development & Marketing at the Wallace Collection and Godfrey Worsdale, Director of the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, to debate where money for the visual arts should be targeted. Book online at or call 020 7930 6844 for tickets. Admission £5 (concessions £2.50, including FBA Friends, students and over 60s). 
  • Critics’ view Wednesday 8 September, 1-2pm  A new and unique event: art critic Matthew Collings, historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes, journalist and BBC presenter Jeremy Paxman and journalist and Channel 4 presenter Jon Snow each choose one work of art from the exhibition and explain why they like it. Admission free with entry to the exhibition.
Exhibition Location
  • The Threadneedle Prize for Painting and Sculpture Mall Galleries The Mall (near Trafalgar Square) London SW1
  • Tel: 020 7930 6844 | |
  • Nearest Tube: Charing Cross
  • Open 2-18 September 2010, 10am-5pm daily. Admission £2.50, Concessions £1.50 (Free to Friends of the FBA, Art Fund Members, Westminster Res-card holders and Under 16s).

1 comment:

  1. I see why you put "figurative art" in quotes!


COMMENTS HAVE BEEN CLOSED AGAIN because of too much spam.
My blog posts are always posted to my Making A Mark Facebook Page and you can comment there if you wish.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.