Tuesday, February 24, 2015

116th Annual Exhibition of The Pastel Society

The 2015 Annual Exhibition of The Pastel Society opens to the public today at the Mall Galleries where it continues - with demonstrations, events and workshops - on a daily basis (10am -5pm) until 7 March (closes 3pm on the final day)

President Cheryl Culver and a strong wall of pastels 
by Sarah Bee, Norma Stephenson. Cheryl Culver and Roger Dellar
You can view an online catalogue - which includes work by members of the society.

Below you will find:
  • a record of the prizewinners
  • my commentary on the exhibition - and the hang
  • a note of the various events - demonstrations, workshops and an art event evening - taking place in the Galleries during the exhibition.


The Pastel Society are to be congratulated on having so many sponsors of their exhibition and their prizes.

You can see a list of the prizewinners on the website. However that will disappear in time and I'm reproducing the names of prizewinners - with links to their websites (in their names) - below together with photos of the artwork and the artists taken at yesterday's Private View.

I was particularly struck by how many of the prizes went to people coming through the Open Entry rather than by senior members of the Society. I don't think it was a reflection on the differences in the work between those who are established members and those who are aspiring artists. However if it was a strategic decision by the PA Council then I welcome it. Prizes are so much more important for those starting out and trying to become more established as an artist.

Alfred Teddy Smith and Zsuzsi Roboz Award for a Young Artist

Oh to be under 35 again!

The £5,000 Zsuzsi Roboz Prize - for artists aged 35 and under - is new for 2015. The award is a bequest in memory of Zsuzsi Roboz, who was a distinguished member of the Pastel Society and is in the name of her and husband.

The size of the Prize attracted a number of entries which were selected for the exhibition. In general these entries were much more diverse than work submitted by members - which is a point which members might want to ponder on....

The inaugural prize of £5,000 was won by a portrait - unsurprising given the practice of Zsuzsi Roboz. Mike Clapton specialises in charcoal photo-realistic large scale portraiture (see his winning portrait below). This was his very first exhibition!  (His day job involves working in marketing). You can see from studying his other charcoal drawings on his website that this charcoal drawing is far from being a 'one-off'.  I'm not a huge fan of "big heads" drawings but this is a very good one - I noticed it straight away when entering the North Gallery.

Winner of the Inaugural £5,000 Alfred Teddy Smith and Zsuzsi Roboz Award for Young Artists
Mike Clapton with his compressed charcoal drawing 'Take Care'

Another "Young Artist" who did well was Jenny Smith who won the £1,000 Arts Club Charitable Trust Award  with her charcoal drawing of Sequoia

Winner of the £1,000 Arts Club Charitable Trust Award
Sequioa by Jenny Smith charcoal £890

The Caran d'Ache Award

Caran d'Ache are sponsors of the exhibition and this year celebrate their 100th Anniversary.
Michael Norman won their award for Dusk at Turf Locks. My personal preference was for the artwork top left which captures the greens associated with heathland and conifers very well.

Winner of the Caran d'Ache Award - Michael Norman 
Dusk at Turf Locks  Soft Pastel £1,600
The Daler Rowney Award - This went to Felicity House PS for her pastel drawing of Oxfords the Bakers. I'm a HUGE fan of Felicity's draughtsmanship and use of pastels which is why you can find rather a lot of her drawings in my book Sketching 365.

Pastel Drawings by Felicity House - Winner of the Daler Rowney Award
Oxfords the Baker (top left) Pastel £850

Two artists both won two awards.

Jan Munro won the Unison Colour Award and The Artist Magazine Award (a feature article in the magazine) for her very striking set of still life pastels which I liked a lot and had marked these down as a group to feature in this post before I knew they'd won a prize.  It just goes to show that having a great series of artworks around a theme which are also presented well will always stand you in good stead when it comes to winning prizes!

I enjoyed chatting with Jan and Dan Hersey (Manager at Unison Colour) last night. Jan and I both enthused about our Unison Pastels!  Jan gets her students to use them when teaching her classes.

Jan Munro - Winner of The Unison Colour Award and The Artist Magazine Award
for her group of still life pastels
top left - Red Chair and Mushrooms £750
top right - Red Chair and Apples £750
bottom right - Red Chair with salt and pepper pots £750
Joanne Last - Winner of The Derwent Award (top) and the Buzzacott Award (bottom)
Joanne Last  had two of her abstracted landscapes selected via the open entry and they both won two awards.
Caroline Bays PS charcoal drawing called Rock Star won the Conté á Paris Award. She was elected a member of the The Pastel Society in 2010.

Charcoal Drawings by Caroline Bays - Winner of the Conté á Paris Award
Top left - Rock Star, Charcoal £850
Winner of The Artists & Illustrators Award

Campanille, Venice won The Artists & Illustrators Magazine Award (a feature article in the magazine) for Tony Allain.

Matthew Draper PS (elected 2011) won the Henri Roché Award with his sizable and atmospheric landscape titled Sublime Adventure. 

Winner of the Henri Roché Award

Sublime Adventure Pastel £10,500

Barry Freeman PS won the Frank Herring and Sons Award with Dusk – Spa Hill. I'm a fan of people who have a go at drawing snow when it's not a weather phenomenon that we get a lot of practice at!

Winner of the Frank Herring and Sons Award

Melodie Cook's large drawing titled Nancy Trotter Landry and Bobby - of a woman wearing a very large chicken as a hat - was very definitely different. Being different tends to attract attention and sometimes a prize which in this instance was the Faber Castell Award. There's a much better image on her website (link in her name)

Melodie Cook - Winner of the Faber Castell Prize
Nancy Trotter Landry and Bobby, Pastel and Conte a Paris £2,000

A few of my photographs did not reproduce well (really bad reflection problems) so the other prizes were won by people are listed below.

Review of the exhibition

I think the Judges did a very good job this year. A lot of the people whose work I admired won prizes. I'd like to give special mention to Mike Clapton, Michael Norman, Felicity House and Jan Munro in this respect.

I found to my surprise that I really liked Jeanette Hayes VPPS work this year. I'm not a huge fan of very abstracted contemporary art - but I loved her use of pink!

Jeanette Hayes likes pink and very neutral colours - the combination is very effective
Her works starts from sketches of the landscape.
Roger Deller with his suite of work of views in Surrey Woods
I was also very impressed by Roger Deller's new work - and my only surprise with the Awards was that he didn't get one.

He told me that he's working his way through a process of challenging the way he normally works. He's doing it in stages with each of the mediums he works in. He anticipates most of 2015 will be given over to finding a new way to work

One of the interesting features of this year was the inclusion of a number of oil pastels. I've been trying to remember whether I've seen oil pastels before.

The Hang 

I think this was the first year I've ever seen a work with a very bad case of pastel drop onto the bottom of the mat and inside the glazing. I'd normally expect a work which was so poorly presented to have been pulled from the exhibition and was rather surprised this had not happened. I'm assuming this was by an artist who is not familiar with the "workarounds" to ensure that pastel works remain in pristine condition on  the wall in an exhibition such as this

I absolutely loved the way the long wall at the bottom of the stairs in the West Gallery was hung (see first image). This was a brilliant hang by Jeanette Hayes who produced a very impressive middle section including work by Sarah Bee, Norma Stephenson, Cheryl Culver and Roger Deller

Pastel Society - Members works were hung in the West Gallery
Roy White's drawings in charcoal - I particularly loved his White Pine (top right)Good use too of the grey wall as a background to charcoal drawings
However I must confess I was more than a bit distracted in the exhibition this year by some walls within the hang which seemed to me to be uneven and patchy.

For example, the hang in the North Gallery spaced out the large colourful pieces in such a way that they absolutely overwhelmed some of the quieter pieces nearby.  I really felt for some of the artists whose work was swamped in the process.

In the furthest room I found it difficult to look around as my eyes were being pulled by competing pieces right around the room. In the end I tried to ignore the louder works and studied the quieter ones by getting right in front of them and looking very closely so that my field of vision was limited.

The odd thing is I think if some of the more colourful pieces had all been placed in the same room, we'd have had a very exciting room - and then some rooms with a quieter vibe elsewhere. I was reminded of the Summer Exhibition where one member of the Hanging Committee had no colour at all - everything was monochrome - and it was a really lovely room. Maybe a thought to ponder on for next year?

I liked this wall and corner in the North Gallery
- the colour travelled and flowed across the wall from a monochrome through pastels
to much more colourful pieces. The eye travelled easily along the wall.
I hated this wall.
It's nothing to do with the pieces and everything to do with the juxtaposition of three loud powerful works
with much more subtle pieces which have been relegated to the edges
I wish the artists well with their sales - I certainly noticed a few red dots going up during the PV!

Events during the Exhibition

There are a number of workshops, demonstrations and other events during the course of the exhibition. Well done to the PS for having arranged such a full programme!

Workshops (fee paying)

Artist Demonstrations (FREE)

The following artists will be painting in the Gallery on the dates indicated

Book signing

  • Book Signing: Books on Sketching 5 March 2015 - Katherine Tyrrell, author of ' Sketching 365 ' and James Hobbs, author of ' Sketch your World ' will signing copies of their books (My book contains a section on pastels and a number of wonderful images by Pastel Society member Felicity House and charcoal drawings by previous )

Art Event Evening (ticketed)

This is a chance to work alongside members of the Pastel Society and possibly win a prize. Models and still life are available to draw. It's a ticketed event.

You can follow The Pastel Society on Twitter https://twitter.com/PastelSociety and Facebook www.facebook.com/thepastelsociety

You can also review previous posts about Pastel Society exhibitions - from my archives.

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