Friday, October 12, 2012

Review - UKCPS 11th Annual Open International Exhibition 2012

David Sandall has won the top award for pure coloured pencil artwork at the UK Coloured Pencil Society's 11th Open International Exhibition 2012.  This opened last Saturday at the Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery.  The exhibition continues until 25th November 2012.

UKCPS 11th Annual Open International Exhibition 2012 - Award Winners

You can find the Award Winners on the UKCPS website.  I've also got them listed below along with links to their websites and artwork.

What's noticeable this year is that many of the top award winners have not won a prize with the Society before.  Indeed I don't know a number of the names which suggests they've not exhibited with UKCPS before.

I found it interesting - and very exciting - that the top prize went to a coloured pencil drawing of people.  All David Sandall's work on coloured paper are self-evidently drawings.  He chooses to refrain from filling all the background.  His work in no way attempts to masquerade as a painting.

I note that the Awards have also moved on again and that there is now an award for still life which memorialises Peter Woof who died on September 27 2011, aged 55, just before the last annual exhibition.  Still life was an aspect of coloured pencil art which Peter made his own!

David Sandell
Derwent Award: Best in Show - Pure Coloured Pencil
David PritchardFox and CubDerwent Award: Best in Show - Mixed Media
Deborah Holman Black Vase (Self- Portrait)
UKCPS Runner up, Best in Show - Coloured Pencil
Chris Francis
Rondavel KrugerUKCPS Runner Up Best in Show -
Mixed Media
Cathy Holtom
(Down a Dusty Lane)
Endymion and Aglaia
Third Best in Show
Morryce J MaddamsRed LionUKCPS President’s Award
David SandellRevisingAnn James Massey Award for
Excellence in Drawing
Janie Pirie SBA GM UKCPSLife is just......Peter Woof Award for
Best Still Life
Jean Canter UKCPSSurrey Autumn - Ranmore Common from Polesden Lacey
Peter Weatherill Award for Best Landscape/Building
Beverley Courtney UKCPS
Indoor CatFaber Castell Award for
Best Animal / Bird
Portrait of my Grandfather
in Words and Colour
Caran d'Ache Award
Best Abstract/Fantasy
Suzy Herbert UKCPS ASGFAFreedom
SAA Award for Best Botanical
Janie Pirie SBA GM UKCPSClare
Kate Clarke Award for
Best Human Portrait
Jackie CoxThe Pool Jackson's Award for
Creative Use of Colour
Irina Garmashova-Cawton UKCPS StrawberryHighly Commended
Chris Francis
Profile Karin
Highly Commended
Denise Howard
Better Days Behind
Highly Commended
Deborah Holman
Ink Pots
Highly Commended

Artwork I liked

Here's the artwork I liked - based on the Picasa slideshow which gives you an excellent view of all the artwork in the show.  I've included links to artists who have not been mentioned above.
  • Nicolson Brooks ~ Portrait of My Grandfather 30x25cm (mixed media) Good to see somebody telling a story; using text within a drawing and drawing a subject with emotional content
  • Chris Francis's two works - Profile Karin and Rondavel Kruger - At last some scribble makes its way into the UKCPS exhibition. Pencils are made for scribbling and some of the very best artists have used looser mark-making to create great drawings
  • Suzy Herbert ~ Freedom 22x20cm I'm always intrigued to see what visual joke Suzy will come up with this year. Humour most emphatically has a place in art.
  • Suzy Herbert ~ Mellow Fruitfulness 19x23cm I personally would have placed this work by Suzy higher in the running for the Best Botanical Art in the Show
  • Denise Howard ~ Better Days Behind 40x30cm I thought this piece was stunning. 
  • Karen Musgrave Hill ~ Dancing Chillies 34x25cm I really like the simplicity of different views of the same simple subject on a completely plain background. This artist has really looked at that chilli.
  • Kris Owen ~ Best Mates 37x29cmIt took a while a little while to work this one out. I like artists who don't spell it all out to those viewing - a conundrum draws you in and gets you involved with the work.  I also like the fact the foreground and background complemented rather than competed with the real subject of this drawing.  Plus there's character in there even though they both have their eyes closed!
  • Janie Pirie ~ Lilac Blossom 50x45cm Janie does stunning botanical works - simple as!  That lilac colour is the most difficult colour to get right.  Janie has captured all the nuances which exist in real life.
  • Pamela Preller ~ For Once There Was 37x46cm Different!
  • David Pritchard ~ all his animals are excellent!  I don't ever recall seeing his work before and wonder where he's been hiding!
  • David Sandell - again all his drawings are excellent - simplified and unified they must pack some punch
  • Ranjini Venkatachari ~ Epiphany 45x61cm (mixed media) - I liked the visual pun in this one.  It's certainly not a subject I've seen before.
Observations about the exhibition - an alternative perspective

I've not been to Nuneaton so these observations are done from the perspective of the online exhibition of all the work selected for the Exhibition.

I have to say I found the works selected for the exhibition both pleased and disappointed me.  It's good to see some new and more professional artists getting involved with the society.  It's good to see some new styles and some excellent quality.

At the same time it's disappointing to observe that the Society still has some way to go before there's a greater congruence between the artwork selected for this exhibition and the type of artwork I see at the exhibitions of other national art societies.  For example, as always there is a huge emphasis in the UKCPS exhibition on highly realistic artwork and very little painterly or impressionistic work.  Elsewhere I see a much greater range of styles - even by those relying on photos for references. Maybe some coloured pencils artists don't submit such work on the basis of what they see in the exhibition online?

It's good to see some evidence this year of the beginnings of new styles and approaches to making art with coloured pencils.  However I see very little change in the subject matter.  At no other national society do I see more than 30% of the artwork in the exhibition portraying animals.  (Can I emphasise at this juncture that I like good wildlife art - however I also enjoy landscapes, botanical and still life). Elsewhere it's typical to very usual to see landscapes accounting for a significant proportion of an exhibition - however at UKCPS for some reason this year landscapes make up less than 10% of the works selected.

Also while the standard at the top end is going up I personally feel that some of the work selected falls far short of the quality I've seen in previous exhibitions.

My view for some time has been that UKCPS will only 'come of age' when it embraces more styles, more subjects and more different approaches to making art with coloured pencils.  Recent changes are encouraging but to my mind there's still quite a considerable way to go.  (Please bear in mind I see the annual exhibitions of virtually all the major art societies in the country - and have done for some years)

A lot of people won't agree with what I've said.  Others may observe that it needed saying.  Now I've got my head above the parapet, I'd just observe there are lots of different ways of making art - as artists from other art societies have already shown us.  I'd just really like to see coloured pencil artists exploring their medium more.