Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Derwent Art Prize 2013 - Selected Works & Artists

This is the Gallery of  Artwork selected for The Derwent Art Prize.

Below you can find the list of artists with the works selected for the Derwent Art Prize Exhibition.

This post follows on from my earlier posts:

Derwent Art Prize - a further selection of the images in the Website Gallery

For some reason it was announced in any old order - neither alphabetical by first name, surname or title of the work. Which is great if you believe that the alphabet plays a part in selection and not so good if you're looking for the name of a particular artist!

I've reordered them into an alphabetical order - see below.

The link in the artist's name is to their website - if they have one.  One of the reasons I've done this (this post has taken two days to write!) is because I think all those who are critical of the selection should maybe take a longer look at the artwork produced by the artists whose artwork has been selected.

There's always a question of taste when it comes to selection - but there's also a question of the extent to which people have dedicated their lives to being a contemporary artist and the extent to which this is recognised by people viewing the work.

The link in the title of the work is to the web page where you can see a large image of the pencil art selected by the judges.  I've then given the art medium used - although I understand there was no scope to state if more than one pencil medium had been used

I'm also including references I can find to any other prizes they've been selected for and/or won - in part to illustrate to those who are questioning the selection that more than one set of judges has rated an artist's work.

Derwent Art Prize - Selected Works & Artists

All the fish are unique, the closer you look, like peering into an old school photo, you'll see that every fish that the fishmonger sells is quite different.
[NOTE: If I've got anybody's website wrong please let me know.  Similarly please let me know if you have a website I couldn't find or have a better website link for your name than the one I've identified]

For those wondering about the lack of coloured pencil artwork, apparently the majority of the work selected were graphite.

To be honest, I'll hold off from conclusions until I see the exhibition, but I'd be very surprised if all the artwork was produced using just PENCILS. I know the difference in mark-making between pencils and sticks........
The work entered must be created in pencil (including water-soluble, pastel, graphite, charcoal or colouring pencils)Conditions of Entry

Prizes and People's Choice Award - Voting


Prizes

The prizes will be awarded at the Private View at Mall Galleries, London on 18 September 2013 and are as follows:
  • First prize - £5,000
  • Second Prize - £2,500
  • Third Prize - £500
  • People's Choice Award - £500
  • UKCPS Award for Excellence - £250 (The UKCPS Award for Excellence also includes a year's membership to the society)
The Peoples Choice Award (worth £500)  will be awarded to the artist whose artwork gets the most votes. First you need to view the works - as much as is possible -  in the Gallery on the website.  Then vote for your favourite by clicking the Vote label.

Exhibition


The exhibition is at the Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1 from 16 - 21 September 2013. Admission is free.

Conclusions and a shortlist


Over the last two days I've had the opportunity to take a good look at the works - in terms of the image available - and sometimes in terms of images also available on websites.  This has led me to:
  • some conclusions about the artists 
  • some observations about the selected artwork
  • a long shortlist for if I was awarding a prize
  • some suggestions for the next competition - and I very much hope there will be one!

Selected artists


Two things struck me about the artists.  I go through this process of identifying artists for a lot of competitions and exhibitions - and I haven't seen artwork by most of these artists before.  Some I know but most I don't. Which is good because it means new artists are getting some exposure at a national level and in a good gallery.

The other thing which struck me is that while some displayed fine art drawing on their websites a lot did not.  The difference was those who had a gallery just for their drawings. Just an observation.

My own conclusions about the selected artwork are as follows:


  • the monochrome bias - whether graphite, coloured pencils or charcoal - is OTT
    • Do artists produce monochrome work because that's what they think "serious art" is all about?  Or is it because graphite and charcoal are the only pencil media that most artists get to grips with?  Maybe it's a bit of both?
    • Do those working in colour not contemplate working in a more contemporary style - or just don't enter competitions?
  • It's very pleasing to see such a wide range of styles in the work selected.  There's nothing in the FAQs or Conditions of Entry to suggest what type of pencil art was appropriate for this competition - other than my friend Vivien Blackburn's mixed media image used to advertise the competition!  Both of us are well aware that pencils can be used for a very wide range of mark-making processes - as is Derwent.  I'm not sure that everybody who entered the competition was maybe aware of the scope of contemporary drawing using pencil media.  They are now!
  • It would be even better if all the pencil art was made in pencil and didn't infringe copyright. Pure speculation on my part but I'd be happy to identify to Derwent those artworks which I think might not wholly comply with the competition conditions.  
  • Coloured pencil artists need to stop duplicating photos.  CP artists in particular need to recognise that top competitions - where the emphasis is on art - very often don't select work which duplicates a photograph, often because it isn't perceived as being an interesting or as innovative as other artwork.  I'd very much recommend that CP artists visit the exhibition and also explore more contemporary mark-making processes in the next year. 
  • More pastel artists who regularly use pastel pencils need to submit work next year!(and yes I am looking at you Felicity House! :)  )
  • I don't think I've seen an exhibition where I've wholly agreed with the selection made by the judging panel. People like different things and hence choose different art. However it'll be interesting to see what proportion I feel merits selection at this level when I see it in person - and I very much look forward to the exhibition.

My shortlist


This is my long shortlist of top ten drawings I'd be selecting from if I was awarding a prize
  1. Gillian Adair McFarland - Impact (pencil Pressure) - a deceptively simple drawing of a shape with perennial "impact" but constructed using an unusual approach
  2. Chrys Allen Life Drawing Continued - I just love the continuous life drawing on both sides of a roll of paper.  I'm left wondering whether they were actually done from life as I'd expect the roll to be rather more battered if it had gone to and from life studios to build up the quantity!
  3. Hazel Bowman - Blessed Is The Gift Of Laughter graphite I like artists who demonstrate how valuable a pencil is in observing what you see around you - particularly in relation to people. To my mind, this artist's website clearly persuades that this is an artist who knows how to observe and work from life - and even if it wasn't and referenced a photo I'd then like the fact that it doesn't look as if it did!
  4. Patricia Cain - Arena Drawing - I like Patricia's drawings and I've seen a lot of them.  I'll have to wait to the exhibition to appreciate this one though..........
  5. Stephen Kavanagh You Must Answer My Questions Without Wasting Time to Reflect A drawing which makes you look and then look again and then reflect.
  6. Lawrence Nash RWA Ref 1209 Coloured Pencils 
  7. Janie Pirie The Majestic Savoy Coloured Pencils Despite my suggestion below about all new work, this deserves to be in a shortlist - but then I have seen it twice before and it's an excellent botanical drawing using coloured pencils.  
  8. Alan Woollett Five Coots - I've photographed and drawn a lot of naughty coots and this drawing absolutely captures all the coot behaviour that doesn't involve pecking their neighbours or other birds!
  9. Roy Wright Regeneration 6 Charcoal More because I really rate his drawings than because this one moves me - but his tree drawings are always wonderfully sensitive. I suspect this one would grown on me.
  10. Ryotaro Yamanaka Noon - I just keep coming back to this one.  It arouses my curiosity

What would you include in your long shortlist?  Leave a comment below.

Some suggestions


Some suggestions for the future.  I'm not writing in code - I tried and it didn't work so what follows is pretty direct!
  • Be nice to artists! Limit selection by the judges to one artwork per artist.  In an art competition which aims to promote pencil art I want to see as much diversity as possible - not just more of the same - particularly when 'more of the same' is simply NOT "outstanding".  I'm sure I'm not the only person who'd support this proposition. Hence although artists can submit up to six the limit on the number exhibited should be limited to one.  This also helps more artists to become gain exposure with art collectors and become better known by the public.
  • Make it clearer to artists that all styles of contemporary artwork are eligible and the only constraint is it must be produced using pencils.  This clarifies matters for those who duplicate photographs as well as those who lean towards very innovative forms of mark-making.
  • Introduce mandatory conditions such that:
    • all entries have NEVER been exhibited before.  If you're going to have a major cash prize, a basic principle should be that are seeing NEW work never seen before in public. While I can think of some very good reasons why that might not be a good condition for the first year, I think this should be a requirement for all future years.
    • no piece of art should have the same name as another piece of art(!)  I know this sounds obvious but somehow the selectors managed to pick two artists where this was the case and IMO there have been quality control issues as a result. ALL file names should clearly identify the artwork. It's essential if quality control problems are to be avoided with respect to pieces with identical names.
  • Make it easy for people to find an artist. I love the idea that the works were not presented to selectors in alphabetical order - so that the second half of the alphabet did not suffer from selection fatigue.  However subsequent presentation of a record of selected artists needs to be alphabetical by title - and the list of selected artists should be on the website.  
  • Always include size when detailing a work on a website.  That's because it matters! People need to know whether the image is of a very small or a very large work.  A digital image of a large work reduced down often looks very much better than one of a smaller work.
  • Increase the size of the artwork on screen - At the moment it's rather like trying to judge a drawing by standing on the other side of the Gallery.  It's simply impossible to appreciate some of the drawings online - which is a very great pity and also does nothing to underpin the argument that these are 'outstanding'.  
  • the website needs better images - too many are substandard in terms of quality and definition which, coupled with the size issues, makes appreciating them that much more difficult
  • Change the requirement to provide a telephone number in order to vote.  This is neither explained nor an obvious requirement and deters people from registering to vote - like me!