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


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.


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!


  1. Hi just made a long reply then Google messed it up lol. So here is a quick message. I have a website www.johnsims.yolasite.com since 2012 when I first started entering a few of these open exhibitions I have done rather well with various societies at The Mall Galleries. I hope you can take the time to look at my website.
    Thanks John

  2. I've updated the post with a link to your website

  3. I studied art therapy with Gillian Adair McFarland and admired her work then. Its only got better!

  4. I'm very dissappointed with the selected artists. I actually thought I was missing the coloured work category somewhere. Some of the works also look a bit childlike and some more serious - memories of 80's art came flooding back. I follow as many coloured pencil artists as I can and read a lot of art magazines and magazines around coloured pencil so I'm a bit shocked at this selection. It seems like this exhibition has just completely forgotten about the target audience. I would have loved to see the people who were not selected, if they could atleast have had a mention.

  5. This selection left me feeling cold. Where are all the colour works? Why does it feel so 80s? Following a trend perhaps? Why is it so different from other competition selections? And where are the pictures of all the other lovely artworks that were left out? Surely they atleast deserve to be included? Feeling totally dissappointed especially since I love coloured pencil. Was so looking forward to seeing more.

  6. Other competitions run by Derwent to my mind have been very much targeted at people who are, for the most part, hobby artists and/or semi-professionals. Which is fine - but these are not the only artists who use pencils in their art.

    This competition is very different. Derwent has also never to my knowledge ever offered a prize this big before.

    A Prize of £5,000 means it attracts entries by professional artists and very serious and very experienced artists working in pencil from all over the country AND overseas. It's a completely different pool of people who are submitting entries.

    The thing is pencil media is also much used in the professional art world. There are a lot of pencil artists who aspire to be professional artists and finally they have a competition in which they can demonstrate their pencil art. To my mind that can only be a good thing.

    I applaud Derwent for this initiative - I think it will help pencil art develop on a broad front.

  7. Thank you for this article, Katherine. I red it few times and I also have few things to say about the website and the selection itself. Yes, I'm shortlisted and I'm happy with this fact. Still, things could be improved though. About the website: as a graphic designer I would say: there MUST be displayed the image and the title, and artist's name in the main gallery. I find it weird the fact that information was split on two parts - first image (in the main gallery), then all info in the profile pages. Have no idea why it's like that and we all know this basic info for title, name and image we can find in any album with artworks. Because its the main info. How do you see alphabetical order in case there is nothing like text on the gallery page?! I can't... The other thing is that there MUST be displayed information about the size of each artwork. I participate with a drawing which is 1.80 m. width. This is quite huge and no photography can display the actual impression over this drawing. As an art teacher I always ask students to make descriptions of artworks they can see by themselves (if it's possible of course).. The reason is that photography just can't display the real impression of something which has specific structure. That's one of the main reasons I just can't make my "top 10" list. There are so many things about the atmosphere each artwork creates around it in specific space, that it's not possible to me to say "like" a scan (or photography) of an artwork. I need to see it, for sure. So, the first thing I am a bit disagree with you is your "top 10" list, which is actually based on photography copies. I had many times "shocking" and "disappointing" meetings with artworks in real after I knew them only as photography copies, that I'm sure the impression after the exhibition in real will be way more different than the impression we have on computer screen. The other thing is about "like". This verb is the first thing I request my students to forget about when they talk or make description of an artwork. Simply replace it with "find" and it works very well. Instead of "I like", I say "I find"... Because that gives me the real chance to discover different arts and artists, and to find in each of them the meaning which make an artwork the "Artwork". That also helps me to avoid judging based on my current understanding of art. I think I developed quite broad understanding and I find many artworks really important in their message even though I honestly don't accept their style, because it doesn't touch me (anyhow). Yet, that doesn't make them objectively "bad", because it just could mean I'm not in "mood", or I'm just not well informed about their background... Yet, someone else may find them subjectively important and to prove them as objectively reasonable, as art concerns many people. This contest of Derwent is something to appreciate, really. It's amazing to see drawings from all over the world and not only British-school drawings. To me the jury proves with this selection something really important: they sell materials all over the world and all kind of people use their materials. They prove that this fact is really important to them and variety of styles and techniques, and artists fome different schools is nothing else but just to applause.
    Best regards,
    (Sorry if my so called "English" doesn't make sense to you :) I just have "English" as fifth language...)

  8. Borislav - you and I both understand how disappointing some artwork is after seeing a photographic image - and I guess you've also had the experience of artwork where the photo totally underplays the impact of the artwork when seen in person

    unfortunately the people voting for the People's Choice Award can only do so online and therefore have to depend on the images they can see - even if they don't understand that there is a bigger image available.

    Don't worry about my top ten long shortlist - I'll be revising this and commenting again once I've seen artwork in the exhibition!

    I also very much like your last point! :)

  9. Hello I'm Shaun Michael Jones. Thank you for going to the trouble of tracking down my blog. I updated it in a panic when I saw it was listed. I still can't believe my drawing was shortlisted and it has given me such a confidence boost. I enjoyed reading your blog and the comments made within. I think the competition has had a wonderful response and the entries represent a broad cross section of what can be achieved with pencils. I Also have a website here http://shaunmichaeljones.artworkfolio.com/

  10. hanks for the comment Shaun - I already had both your website and blog listed. The website link is in your name.

  11. Hi there. Just for your information my website is http://justincreations.com/. The Justin Harris on Satchi online isn't me.



  12. Thanks for the information Justin - I've changed the link.


COMMENTS HAVE BEEN CLOSED AGAIN because of too much spam.
My blog posts are always posted to my Making A Mark Facebook Page and you can comment there if you wish.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.