Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Owen Bullet wins £5,000 ING Discerning Eye Prize

A rather impressive sandstone and oak sculpture Divided Self IV by Owen Bullet won the £5,000 ING Prize by ING Commercial Banking at the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition 2012.

In this post I highlight the prizewinners and comment on the selectors choices.

Divided Self IV - Owen Bullet - Winner ING Prize (£5,000)
ING Discerning Eye 2012

The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition continues at the Mall Galleries until Sunday 25th November. Entrance is free and the exhibition is open every day 10-5.
The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition is a show of small works independently selected by six prominent figures from different areas of the art world: two artists, two collectors and two critics. Work is selected from open submission and from artists invited by the individual selectors. Each selector's section is hung separately giving the impression of six small exhibitions within the whole.
I've been trying to get to see the exhibition since it opened but am still suffering from my dreadful bug so thought I better get on with writing up what I know about the prizewinners!

ING Prize

This would appear to be the first major prize won by Owen Bullet.  You can also Bullet's other work chosen for the exhibition - Bullet's Divided Self I, II, III, V and VI.  He was invited to exhibit by one of the Selectors Skye Sherwin writer and art critic, The Guardian.

Interestingly his work really stands out on the ING website as "a class act".

His website indicates a man who has been producing some very striking pieces of sculpture and exhibiting widely - particularly in the last three years.  You can also see more of his work on the website.  He makes some extraordinarily intelligent and elegant pieces - I absolutely love "About Turn" and Tail Spin and this from a woman who likes to buy original art in wood!
Owen's primary materials are wood, metal and stone which he crafts as individual elements, collectively developing their own sense of character. Through this process the works become animators of space or performers creating events in particular places.

Owen graduated from Camberwell College of Arts in 2003, and from the Royal College of Art in 2005. He has since undertaken residencies in the UK, France, Malta and Belize, and his work is included in both public and private collections in the UK and abroad. He lives and works in London.About - Owen Bullet

Other Prizes

The £1,000 ING Staff Purchase Prize was won by Betty Fraser Myerscough for her work The Barbican, a machine embroidered print.  Her work made the most of the dimensions allowed for the small pieces in this show and I'm very intrigues as to the connection between what appear to be racehorses and the Barbican.

The Barbican - Betty Fraser Myerscough - Winner ING Staff Prize (£1,000)
ING Discerning Eye 2012
It's interesting that the staff have chosen a textile as ING have the most amazing textile of leaping salmon by Polly Hope - which hangs down through several floors of the central atrium, of their offices at London Wall and it's something seen by all the staff every day.

Betty Fraser Myerscough DA ( Post Dip) is Scottish, studied at Glasgow School of Art and has been a lecturer at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen, Canterbury College of Art and Chelsea School of Art and Design. She has also worked as a freelance textile artist producing wall hangings and pictures for exhibitions, both solo and group since graduation and worked commissions for both public buildings and private collectors and has been sold to collectors in the UK, Europe and USA.

She was invited to exhibit by figurative artist Chantal Joffe, one of the Selectors

The Discerning Eye Founder’s Prize of £2,500, awarded by the Discerning Eye, an educational charity which encourages a wider understanding and appreciation of the visual arts, was presented to Ray Richardson for two oil paintings, Buttercup and Ferg Kelly.

Ray Richardson was invited to exhibit by Albert Irvin RA.  He was born in Woolwich and is a graduate of St. Matin's School of Art and Goldsmith's.  Most of his paintings and prints of a male world are quite unlike most other artwork you've ever seen.

Comments on the works chosen or invited by Selectors

It's possible to get a sense of all the work chosen by a specific Selector as the ING Discerning Eye website allows you to see a sort of slideshow of the works which relate to each Selector

So - having not yet got to the Exhibition due to the bug - here's my comments on the Selections

In overall terms, I'd got half way through reviewing the choices of selectors and I began to wonder whether a painter who chooses Realism should submit work this show.  If this year's selection is anything to go by I suspect that an awful lot of realist painters probably wasted their money entering the exhibition.  Even the more realistic paintings had a distinct painterly impressionist feel to them.

On the whole having viewed all the paintings online, I'm now in two minds as to whether to go and see the show.  It leans very heavily towards a type of contemporary art which holds little appeal for me.


Albert Irvin RA English Abstract Expressionist painter celebrating his 90th birthday this year. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1998 and continues to exhibit regularly.

A man who picks paintings and prints  in a variety of media which are mostly abstract or abstracted. Whether or not it's intended to be expressionist I have not a clue - however it is for the most part very colourful.  It's interesting and somewhat ironic therefore that

  • the work which has sold the most is Anita Klein's linoprint of a Flying Baby
  • the work which wins the Discerning Eye Founder’s Prize is a figurative painting of a bull terrier
Chantal Joffe ~ London based figurative artist who has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions internationally, most recently at the Victoria Miro Gallery, London in 2011. In 2006 she was awarded the prestigious Charles Wollaston Award from the Royal Academy.

This collection had a fair number of impressionistic/realistic paintings (take a look to see what I mean).  There's a stunning set of paintings by Paul Newland.


Doris Lockhart ~ influential collector. Created the original Saatchi Collection with former husband Charles Saatchi. 

The most obvious comment to make about this selection is how few artworks it contains and how many of the images played with our perception of space. However I think I may have spotted a contender for the Derwent Art Prize!

Gerald Walker ~ CEO, ING Commercial Banking UK, Ireland and Middle East.

Interestingly by far the most sales have occurred in relation to this selection.  I can think of an explanation for that which may be unrelated to the art! ;)  There seemed to be a distinct Scottish flavour to some of the choices - including the wind, rain and the sea!


Charles Darwent writer and art critic, The Independent on Sunday. His book entitled 'Mondrian in London: How British Art Nearly Went Modern' was published earlier this year

This is obviously a man who likes contemporary art and prints - and for the most part I liked quite a few of the prints he's chosen

Skye Sherwin ~ writer and art critic, The Guardian.

More figurative works than most of the other selectors - and artist who won the top prize of all!

About the ING Discerning Eye - over time

Below you can find my LINKS to previous posts on this blog about the ING Discerning Eye exhibition



  1. Re: Skye Sherwin .... and no prizewinners among the selection - apart from the top prize of all! ...... and me, Paul Regan (London Region Prize)....(love the blog!)

  2. Thanks Paul - I thought I'd clicked all the images but obviously not! I shall now promote you into the body of the post.

  3. Aha - I remember seeing that work and its title - the prize information must have dropped off the bottom of the screen


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