Saturday, September 29, 2012

Threadneedle Prize 2012: The Making a Mark Select Six

For the last two years, I've created my own personal shortlist after announcing the shortlisted artists (see Threadneedle Prize 2012 - Shortlisted Artists) and reviewing the Threadneedle Prize Exhibition (see Review: Threadneedle Prize Exhibition 2012).

This year I've also identified below who I think will win the £30,000 Threadneedle Prize 2012 - and the £10,000 Visitors' Choice Prize.

Let me know by leaving a comment below:
  • what you think about my choice 
  • how you choose art that you like in an exhibition 
  • Do leave a comment and let me know what you would have chosen. 
Now for the selection and the images....

The Making A Mark Select Six 2012

Here's my criteria for selecting work.  I like works which are:
  • visually pleasing to me and which stimulate my brain cells 
  • catch my eye and draw me towards them and then continue to interest me as I get up close (ie the design works and the technique is good) 
  • PLUS - make me write down the name of the artist so that I can review their website when I get home.
In effect I'm playing the role of an interested buyer!

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.

This year, I've ordered the work in my personal order of preference.

Ben Hendy - Self Portrait (section)
Linocut, 97x227cm,
1.  Lino Man by Ben Hendy

This is a shortlisted work and I think this is the winner.

For a man to develop a nude self-portrait is very unusual - to develop a full life-size self-portrait is ambitious and brave.

To also do it as a lino-cut fine art print is just simply audacious.  I've never seen one before and I doubt I will ever again.

To then find that the technique used is very fine is a complete pleasure.

There's just the small issue of where my face was every time I looked at it!  I think I'd have dropped it about a foot or so.

Lino Man by Ben Hendy in the Threadneedle Space
Interestingly - the fact that this is a lino-cut print prompts the question of whether or not the competition is limited to painting and sculpture - and the organisers might want to ponder on that description.

2.  Dreaming 2 by David Firmstone

This is a shortlisted work.  I also think it has a very good chance of winning the top prize.

You can't ignore this piece.  It absolutely dominates the whole of the West Gallery.  It's absolutely huge - but it doesn't shout.  It's just there - in the same way as landscape is there.

The reason I really like it is because the scope of the view and the patterning within it really appeal to me (my first degree is in geography!) .  It's the way I see landscape - and when somebody paints the way I see things there is an inevitable connection.  (I have a portfolio devoted to what I call "Views and Vistas" - which is essentially about finding the patterning in the land")"

I also really like the fact that the light is low and the shadows are long and the colour within the piece is very controlled and very nearly monochromatic.

This piece also makes me think of the peace and quiet of the countryside.

David Firmstone - Dreaming 2,
Oil on Canvas, 240x180cm
I explore high perspectives of fields, quarries, ravines and riverbeds. I'm keen to see the land from further and further away and to play with spatial relationships, which is why I enjoy working large scale, it offers an even bigger playground.
3.  String II by Tim Pomeroy

Tim Pomeroy - String II,
Carrara marble, 50x25cm,
I love this piece.  String II is the only piece I really wanted to take home with me - if for no other reason that the size presented less of a problem than most!  

I would however have a bit of a struggle on my hands in moving it as it's made of Carrara Marble plus it's also a tad on the pricey side and hence a bit beyond my budget.

Scottish artist and sculptor Tim Pomeroy made this piece and his website is full of equally simple/complex forms.

For me this pillar seemed to induce a contemplative mood every time I looked at it.  I could well imagine it in a place which was minimal and designed for meditation.

There's a rather better image on the website from a different angle.

4.  One of Every Species found in Hong Kong cage, by Fran Giffard

I got to see an of this work up close early on as Fran sent me an image of it after I published the list of selected artists

This work is in pencil and she works a lot in graphite.  However her technique is most unusual - short horizontal lines repeated over and over - and makes the work a lot more interesting as a result.

Hong Kong is just of her portfolios of drawings on her website.  She's drawn an absolutely huge number of birds which maybe accounts for her fine account of how they look.
Fran Giffard - One of Every Species found in Hong Kong cage
Graphite Pencil on Paper, 110x80cm
Fran also had artwork selected this year for both 
  • BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year for the piece below - which is another image from her Hong Kong series; and
  • David Shepherd's Wildlife Artist of the Year - for Four Birds came to London
Artwork by Fran Gifford selected for BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year.

5.  The Observatory - David Piddick

It's entirely possible that I like this work because I've recently been drawing from a spot about 30 feet to the left of this painting (see Greenwich Park Panorama).

There again, this is another artist who I feel a connection with - because he chooses to look at and paint the same things I like to draw.  I find it very odd that when I visit his website I immediately recognise all the places in London that he's painted.  This has never happened before. Maybe this artist "sees" places that I draw in the same way I do - albeit his fantastical / 'magical realism' way of painting is his own?

The work itself is a lot bigger and you can see a much better version of The Observatory on his website.

David Piddock - The Observatory (section)
Oil on gesso board, 59x240cm, 

What I liked about it was the fact that it's a figurative painting - with figures(!) - and yet is distinctly odd and slightly edgy.  To all intents and purposes the scene is one which is common during the day - and yet it seems to be in moonlight.  The perspective is handled masterfully - I suspect there may have been some help from a fish-eye lens at some point.

I also like it when artists paint in panoramic formats so that one gets a much better sense of place.  Not an easy painting to hang - but one which will reward the person who does.

6.  The final work:  There were several close contenders for the final spot.  I've decided to list those in the running rather than to make a final decision
  • Planar Resonance - Ilse Black, Graphite powder, pencil, charcoal on paper, 100cm x 78cm, £2500
  • Nudia 2 Elichi Fukuda, Sumi-ink,Acrylic,paper on Canvas, 76×51cm, £900
  • Winter Sunlight, Adelburgh - Peter Kelly, Oil on Canvas, 44x34 cms, £3000
  • Painting from LightLuis Kerch, Acrylic on Linen, 100x180cm, £4000
  • Mello Yello No.1- Yuichiro Kikuma, Acrylic on MDF, 15x17cm, £390

Visitor's Choice Award

There was one piece which attracted a lot of comment on the Preview night - and prior to the announcement was suggested by some to be a certainty as a shortlisted piece

Robert Truscott - Defeat, 
Mixed Media, Plaster, Epoxy Putty, Material on Armature, 367x167x49cm, 
To my mind it would almost certainly have been shortlisted had it not been for the nature of the support.  I liked the work a lot and I hated the support. 

The diagonal brackets compete for attention and the work itself does not appear to be fixed in any way to the support. The contrast between the level of effort which had gone into the work itself and the support it sat on was far too great for my liking.   I go back to the commentary in the introduction to the Exhibition in the catalogue which I referenced yesterday in Review: Threadneedle Prize Exhibition 2012 - the quality of finish is important.

That said, Robert Truscott's achievement is significant.  The figures are amazing.  It reminds me somewhat of John Singer Sargent's painting 'Gassed' - of first world war soldiers who have been blinded when gassed.  By way of contrast these are prisoners of war leaving Stalingrad en route to the Soviet gulag
Robert Truscott graduated from Winchester School of Art in 1995 and from the Russian Academy of Arts in St Petersburg in 2000. He has exhibited in Winchester Cathedral with works representing the exodus of prisoners from the VI Army at Stalingrad.Beaulieu Fine Arts
You can see more of Robert's work when constructing this piece on his blog - and you can see a video of this piece on YouTube

More about the Threadneedle Prize

For more about the Threadneedle Prize 2012 - and the Prize in earlier years - see my earlier posts (and images) below

2012 Threadneedle Prize
2011 Threadneedle Prize
Other information about art competitions in the UKArt Competitions in the UK - this includes links to earlier years of the Threadneedle Prize



  1. ok, here is my choice: David Firmstone - I can't live without color and this work has at least some! Also, the criteria here - the closest to what kind of work I do and understand.

  2. Without doubt, for me, it has to be, Fran Giffard.

    I'm a simple soul rooted in pen and ink; no surprises then that I should select Fran. Inspiring!

    Great blog btw. I've become a follower, I hope you don't mind

  3. I Love David Firmstone's peice its wonderful.. But I also loved Helen Booth's smaller work.. But I think David will definately win it.

  4. I was looking forward to seeing the linocut but hugely disappointed with the reality. The quality of finish was a big let down for me, the paper quality wasn't very good and it was just stuck to the wall with the edges curling away. It reminded me of early photocopies where the paper was thin and the black not really black. The tonal work was very good and I was impressed with his mark making to create the different tones although I felt the pose and composition didn't really work either. of the shortlisted artists I would choose David Piddick.


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