Monday, September 26, 2011

Threadneedle Prize: The Making a Mark Select Seven

Last week I reviewed the Threadneedle Exhibition. This week, like the jurors for the Threadneedle Prize and as I did last year (see My Threadneedle Prize shortlist), I'm going to share with you the seven works that I've selected as worth highlighting in 2011.

There are no explanations of the works in the catalogue - except for those selected by the Panel.  While I understand this keeps the number of pages to a minimum it would be interesting to be able to read about the different works - particularly now that all works in the exhibition are eligible for the £10,000 Visitors Choice Award.

Let me know
  • what you think about my choice
  • how you choose art that you like in an exhibition
Now for the selection and the images....
    The Making A Mark Select Seven 2011

    Here - in the order they are listed on the website - are the works which caught my eye.
    • I like works which are visually pleasing and which stimulate my brain cells.  
    • Why do I select works? Because they catch my eye and draw me towards them and then continue to interest me as I get up close.  
    • Artwork is getting my attention when it makes me write down the name of the artist and afterwards look for the artist's website
    The links in the artists' names are to their websites, if they have one, where you can see more of their work.  I've included below some more information about both the artist and their art.

    1. Amy StephensBirch in Space

    Amy is currently artist in residence at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and is this piece was selected as  one of the shortlisted works eligible to win the Threadneedle Prize.  This piece is simple and elegant, it is true to nature and yet speaks of excellence in craftsmanship. Most of all it extracts and displays the beauty which can be found in part of a tree.  I'd like to own this work.  I hope it wins the main prize.

    Birch in Space (2010) - plus Amy Stephens
    Bronze, 168 x 3 x 3cms,
    £4,600 (Edition of 6 plus Artists Proof)
    Amy did a degree in Fine Art at Reading University, followed by a Postgraduate Diploma and an MA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design.

    2. Orlanda BroomScarlett Ibis Lagoon

    This piece didn't so much beckon as shout at me from across the gallery!  When I got there I found a fantastical landscape which embraces colour - and how!  The work has a super gloss resin finish which makes it super smooth and shiny without being over-reflective.  It's not for hanging in my house but I can imagine it would look superb hanging in the right environment.

    Scarlett Ibis Lagoon
    Acrylic, mixed media & resin on canvas, 120 x 120cms,
    My work is an exploration of painting based on the tradition of landscape painting.  I work in an intuitive and dynamic way influenced by abstract expressionism.  There is always a reference, however abstracted, to the landscape that creates a tension between surface and mark to depth and perspective. I use resin at the final stages of painting because of its reflective quality – it adds another layer to what is already an illusion and hopefully reinforces the unreal quality of what is a traditional and readable subject – the landscape.
    Orlanda completed an MA in European Fine Art at the Winchester School of Art.  She is represented by the Stephanie Hoppen Gallery which provides a pdf file providing more information about Orlanda's work and how she approaches it

    3. Hannah Brown - Time Hangs Heavy 1, Oil paint on plywood & oak, 23 x 27cms, £1,200

    Hannah Brown's painting Time Hangs Heavy 1 is very representative of her other landscape paintings which you can see on her website.  It's painted extremely well, is wonderfully subtle and has a fine finish.  It's also one of the few realistic works in the exhibition.
    My work centres on the English landscape and the way it is represented and reproduced through varying artistic media. I am interested in the paradoxical desire to seek beauty within the natural environment and then promptly alter it by creating one's own version; to hold a lasting possession of a place by imposing ones description, thoughts or ideals. Working within and against the omnipresent legacy of the English landscape tradition I search for quiet, potentially unsettling places with a peculiar type of beauty.
    Time Hangs Heavy 1 by Hannah Brown
    Oil paint on plywood & oak, 23 x 27cms
    I had no idea selecting this work that we would have a standard landscape text in common - namely WG Hoskins The Making of the English Landscape (1955).  

    4. Edward Chell, M6 Shap, Northbound Slip, Oil on shellac on linen, 90 x 70cms, £6,000

    As you know works are often selected for purely personal reasons.  This oil painting looks rather like a printed drawing created in oil - the technique is very unusual and I'd love to know how he creates this monochromatic painting.

    More to the point it's highlighting the incongruity of nature in all its rampant glory at the side of a motorway.  I used to have to drive around the UK a lot as part of my career and often enjoyed the way in which the wild flowers and 'weeds' reclaimed the embankments.

    In this case the motorway in question is the M6 and the top section portrays the slip road off at Shap in Cumbria.  As a small child I well remember the pre-M6 days when I sat in the back of the fully loaded family car en route to our holiday in Scotland.  It had to slog up a very steep incline as it passed through the Lake District and Shap was the highest road in the UK!

    So - bottom line - this piece pressed all sorts of buttons with me!

    M6 Shap, Northbound Slip
    Oil on shellac on linen, 90 x 70cms,
    Edward explains his intentions behind his paintings on his website
    my series of paintings, the Garden of England, draws on the 18th century English Landscape tradition to investigate the motorway verges of Kent. Tourism, with its roots in early tourist guides by William Gilpin and William Wordsworth, has led to the exploitation and even despoliation of places Wordsworth and others wanted to protect.

    Work from this series explores landscapes that have been made accessible and also transformed by car culture. While urban in nature, paradoxically, these motorscapes are fragile, yet extremely self-sustaining and hard environments, changing landscapes that embody both beauty and survival.
    Edward Chell obtained his BA Fine Art from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (1877-81) and did his MA Painting at The Royal College of Art, London (1987–89). He currently works as a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, University of the Creative Arts, Canterbury.

    5. Jeremy HutchisonUntitled (Ladder)

    This was the only piece which made me smile - broadly.

    I liked both concept and execution.  It struck me as a slightly tongue in cheek sideswipe at the way in which artwork - particularly installations - is sometimes not actually made by the artist who had the idea.  I also very much liked the notion that it highlights how an individual worker (not the artist) can actually have huge influence over the end result.

    In this instance the idea borrows from Charlie Chaplin and Modern Times and the notion of what happens when not everything turns out perfectly when you ask somebody to do something.  Jeremy commissioned the work in China and asked that the manufacturers make a product with an error which makes it impossible to use the product for its ordinary purpose.  The factory worker gets to choose what the error should be.  The rest of the documentation flows from that one request.

    The artwork in this instance is the ladder and the documentation of the process of creating the artwork - which is fascinating.  Of course the irony is that the factory and the worker followed Jeremy's instructions to a "t" and he'd got himself a ladder which is incapable of being used as a ladder.

    Untitled (Ladder) by Jeremy Hutchison
    Defective fiberglass ladder & associated correspondence, 300 x 30 x 10cms,
    Jeremy does what it says on his website
    Jeremy Hutchison was trained in linguistics, wrote advertising for Coca Cola, and recently made work in the West Bank. The ability to co-exist in multiple fields is essential to his work - he slips in unnoticed, and politely moves the goalposts.
    On his website you read about what Jeremy has been getting up to recently.  Jeremy seems to be an expert at the art of the lampoon!  I loved the Facebook on the South Bank idea.

    He also seems to get commissioned to do work by his targets.  His work with fascist iconography and Heals is very amusing - read about it in Heals and Jeremy Hutchison.
    Earlier this year, Slade School of Art student Jeremy Hutchison cheekily took Ambrose Heal’s 1915 logo: ‘NOTHING NEED BE UGLY‘ and turned it into ‘the iconography of a totalitarian state’ for an Artist-in-Residence window display at Heal’s. “I wanted to critique the way that modernist design makes us behave: like polite robots,” he explained. “Curiously, my critique was licensed by the brand itself. An institutional critique – assimilated by the institution itself. I’m still getting my head around it!” Heal’s has now commissioned Jeremy to create a whole range of products and has plastered his designs across mass-produced tableware, doormats, framed prints, postcards, bags, mints and cushions. Oh, the irony!Ideal Home - HomeShoppingSpy - Heal’s & Jeremy Hutchison (December 2010)
    Jeremy graduated from the Slade School of Art in the summer of 2011 and was one the artists selected for the Saatchi New Sensations show this October at B1, Victoria House, Bloomsbury, London WC.  

    I predict a great future for this artist - definitely a "watch this space" artist!

    He's certainly a lot more interesting than a lot of contemporary art these days and brigs both a deft and light touch to the arena of art and social comment

    6. Peter Marsh - Untitled

    I always get in a mess when working with charcoal so I'm in total awe and admiration of anybody who can wield the stuff so as to create this sort of drawing without making a mess.  The drawing includes lots of very fine lines at right angles and very subtle tonal changes

    Untitled by Peter Marsh
    Charcoal on Bristol board, 59.5 x 84cms
    I can't find a website for Peter.

    7. Gro Thorsen - Galleries, Oil on aluminium, 102 x 222cms, £22,000

    Gro Thorsen's work is an infinitely variable and amorphous piece.  It's lots of very small paintings of people looking at art in art galleries. I guess the advantage of the piece is you can "grow your own" as it were.

    It's a piece which will appeal to all those producing small works of art.  I seem to recall the format and display of the paintings is not dissimilar to how Duane Keiser started his Painting a Day - and, I guess a few more like him.  I do very much like the fact they are on aluminium - they're very thin and look good unmounted on the wall.

    Oil on aluminium, 102 x 222cms (whole work)
    a small section of Galleries
    oil painting on aluminium
    Gro Thorsen is Norwegian and studied at Bergen School of Art 1995 - 1996 and Wimbledon School of Art 1996 - 1999. She has been exhibiting this piece in various guises since 2006.

    Votes and Events

    Critics' View: 28 September 2011, 6-7pm. Last year's very popular Critics' View is being repeated as an event for The Threadneedle Prize 2011. Critics/TV personalities select one work from exhibition and explain their choice to the audience. This year's critics include: Gyles Brandreth, Author, Actor & Broadcaster; Rachel Campbell-Johnston, Chief Art Critic, The Times and Ossian Ward, Visual Arts Editor, Time Out London. Admission to this event is FREE! No booking necessary.

    Voting for Visitors' Choice Award closes: 3 October 2011, 12pm

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