Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Joy of Spring - an exhibition of works in the Shirley Sherwood Collection

The Joy of Spring is coming to an end at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. The last day of the exhibition is the 9th August after which the gallery closes for the installation of the next exhibition.  It's an exhibition which is well worth seeing...
The Joy of Spring features a sequence of glorious paintings of spring flowers, each selected from the contemporary Shirley Sherwood Collection. This exhibition displays an array of wonderful spring flowers, from snowdrops through to magnolias and camellias. Iconic spring blooms such as daffodils and bluebells will also be included in the exhibition.
For those who have not seen it you can find some highlights below.  

I made notes on my iPhone while going round of the artists whose work I found particularly attractive and/or interesting.  While looking up the best links online to each artist I discovered some more information about them - which you can also find below.

One of the interesting things I noted when matching paintings to artists' websites is that there appear to be absolutely no records of the paintings bought by Shirley Sherwood on their websites. Nor do they seem to be available as prints. Just a thought for those aspiring to join the collection one day.

I found it interesting comparing the styles of paintings of different artists. Some make them completely lifelike while some are rather over stylised so that they look 3D but somehow don't look too real - perhaps because they are too perfect. I wonder if this reflects the change in tastes and styles of botanical painting over time?

My favourite painting is Susan Christopher Coulson's 'The Winter Garden, scented twigs and feisty flowers' which captures perfectly all those flowers which are part of the transition from winter to spring. I'm also a huge fan of her compendium drawings which are always designed both thoughtfully and effectively. I always spend ages staring at her artwork.

'The Winter Garden, scented twigs and feisty flowers'

© Suan Christopher Coulson
Other paintings I very much liked included:
This exhibition featured selected artworks done by Marilena Pistoia of Modena, Italy, for three publications: F. Bianchini and F. Corbetta, I Fruitti della Terra (The complete book of fruits and vegetables) and Le Piante della Salute (Health plants of the world: Atlas of medicinal plants) and Laura Peroni, Il Linguaggio dei Fiori(The language of flowers), all published in Italy by Arnoldo Mondadori between 1973 and 1984 and subsequently in America by Crown and by Newsweek. The artist donated all the original paintings for these books to the Institute.
Some of the paintings in the exhibition
Far Left: Susan Christopher Coulson
Next: Snowdrops by Kate Nessler
  • A huge wonderful painting of dandelions and other flowers by Rosie Sanders called ferns bluebell wild garlic yellow archangel and dandelion 
  • There is a stunning pink rhododendron painted in gouache on black paper by Sally Kier (who died in 2007).  Her obituary in The Guardian notes...
She was commissioned by Shirley Sherwood, a renowned collector of botanical art, to paint a pink rhododendron, which featured in her worldwide exhibition of botanical art in 1997. Her paintings were also included in the gouache section of Margaret Stevens' book, The Art of Botanical Painting. She sold more than 450 works, and several of her paintings were used as greetings cards and sold commercially.

  • Mieko Ishikawa's painting of flowering cherries (Prunus pendula) is impressiveShe apparently paints within three themes only:  “Flowering Cherries of Japan”, “Tropical Rainforest Plants of Borneo” and “Conifers.” There's a nice article about her on the ASBA site - Mieko Ishikawa's Story Behind the Art which focuses on her painting of the mysterious Rafflesia, a parasite of vines in Borneo.
  • There's a delightful painting by Pandora Sellers of Snakeshead fritillaries and cowslips 
  • Jessica Tcherepnine's 'Crown Imperial' looks as if it's dancing! The leaves are wonderful. 

TIP  Do one painting really well and others will commission you to do more!

Jones’ major book, Flora Superba (1971), published in the same year that he was awarded an OBE for his services to art, carried a preface from Sir George Taylor, Director of London’s Kew Gardens: ‘They are technically astounding, scientifically exact and aesthetically so thoughtful and pleasing that, without risking hyperbole, I would rank them amongst the very finest achievements in the whole gallery of botanical art.
  • Olga Makrushenko (b. Russia 1956) has a painting of a deep pink magnolia, painted in mixed media on paper. This is a gorgeous deep pink colour and design and it's a very fine painting (which is second from right below)

Extreme left - In the background is the painting by Paul Jones
and second from right is the painting by Olga Makrushenko

Also included in the exhibition are the working drawings and the finished artwork produced by Julia Trickey for the Royal Mail for the Post and Go Collection - British Flora (Spring Blooms) Stamp Set. Julia has also produced a publication Plant Portraits by Post (Published by Two Rivers Press) about the process and pitfalls of producing the Royal Mail British Flora illustrations.  Plus a painting from her last exhibit at the RHS Botanical Art Show.

Julia Trickey's artwork for the Royal Mail's British Flora (Spring Blooms) Stamp Set

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Selected artists - Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2015

This post highlights the names - and the websites - of the 80 artists who have been selected for the 2015 Exhibition of the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition. Plus some of the images which have been selected for display.

Ellis Nadler, Anemone Hats
It's great to see somebody using their imagination while painting!
The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition provides an opportunity for artists across the UK to redefine and celebrate the beauty and diversity of watercolour and water-based media, whether through abstract or figurative, contemporary or traditional painting.


The Winners of the First Prize of £10,000, Second Prize of £6,000, and the Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize of £1,500 will be announced in the Sunday Times during August, and awarded at a private ceremony during the exhibition at the Mall Galleries.

Some statistics

Over 1,200 works were entered and 90 works by 80 artists were selected. The ratio of selected to entered artwork is 7.5% which is considerably better than artists can expect in some other national art competitions.

The Selection Panel

This year's panel of selectors were
  • Sarah Dudman Artist - age 50, she was selected for the Sunday Times Watercolour Prize Exhibition in 2013 and 2014.
  • Desmond Shawe-Taylor LVO Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures
  • Josh Spero Editor, Spear’s Magazine (that's the one for people with high net worth individuals) and Art Critic, Tatler.
  • Lucy Willis Artist - a very popular watercolour painter. Uses traditional watercolours in a traditional way - and everybody loves them!
  • Louis Wise Critic & Writer, The Sunday Times
You can see photos of scenes from the Judging Day in Behind the Scenes
“The final exhibition aims to reflect the scope of what artists are doing with water-based media today, and each selected work has been chosen on individual merit as being an outstanding example in its field. In the most successful cases, the artists' mastery and understanding of the potential of the media and technique completely resonated with their intent or subject, creating works which truly are greater than the sum of their parts.

As we worked through the selection stages, the decision became increasingly difficult. Decisions were debated, works were fought for, and at all times, the final choices were agreed against shared criteria, which essentially came down to the strength of the work as a whole. Had the artist used the unique and essential characteristics of water-based media to effectively convey their intentions at a very high level? The answer for all the selected entries is a clear 'yes'.”

Sarah Dudman
This does not augur well. It sounds like it's going the route of RWS competition of "water-based media" as opposed to watercolour painting in the sense that everybody and everybody's art shop understand the term.

One of the things that I've always liked about the Sunday Times Watercolour competition is that it had excellent examples of "proper" watercolour paintings i.e. those that were created using media which says watercolour paint!

Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition 2015 - Selected Artists

Below you can find a list of the names of the selected artists

Those who have websites have their names in bold have links to their websites embedded in their names - where these could be found. Any errors please let me know (see side column for how to contact me).  I'd like to thank all those artists who have generated a decent website; got it onto the first page of Google - and provided easy to find details about the artist!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Georgia O'Keefe - major retrospective at Tate Modern in 2016

Yesterday the Tate announced its exhibition programme for 2016. It will include a major retrospective of the work of Georgia O'Keeffe as the Summer Exhibition at Tate Modern running between 6 July – 30 October 2016. Booking will open shortly and I predict this will be an extremely popular exhibition.

The above link goes to an article about what we can expect from the exhibition.
Tate Modern will present a major retrospective of the American modernist artist Georgia O’Keeffe, a century after her New York debut. The exhibition is the first important solo institutional exhibition of the artist’s work in the UK for a generation.
Below are links to my own research about O'Keeffe and her work in the last ten years.

Georgia O’Keeffe | Abstraction White Rose (1927)
Oil on canvas, 36 x 30 (91.4 x 76.2)
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.
Gift of The Burnett Foundation and Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation
© Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
She straddles the line between figuration and abstraction with her abstracted paintings of flowers and landscapes and the figurative features of her deliberately abstract paintings.
"One paints what is around" Georgia O'Keeffe
I'm a huge fan of her paintings of flowers and these have very much influenced my own approach to developing macro perspectives on cacti and succulents. I also love her landscapes and her ability to see a rich and colourful language within the landscape of Northern New Mexico
"Nothing is less real than realism...details are is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis that we get at the real meaning of things" Georgia O'Keeffe

My Georgia O'Keeffe Month

Back in 2007 I did a project on Georgia O'Keeffe which I recorded on this blog.  It was prompted by my July 2006 visit to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was a fan when I went and came away an even bigger one.

The Georgia O'Keeffe museum was stunning. I've felt an affinity with the work of Georgia O'Keeffe and her approach to art (her focus on landscapes, macro flowers and colour) for some time and have been keen to know how she achieves such deceptively simple images. I've been wanting to go to the museum for a very long time - on the basis that you can't beat seeing art 'up close and personal' as an aid to understanding art - and was not disappointed.
Subsequently I wanted to find out more about Georgia O'Keeffe and her art, her flowers and her landscapes.  Here's a record of the posts I published in 2007 and subsequently. These posts record the process of discovery and my conclusions as I studied her art. 

I adore flowers and images of flowers and enjoy the process of developing artwork based on a flower or flowers as much as looking at the end result. In developing my own work I've become increasingly drawn to the notion of exploring the flower through focusing on the structure of a single bloom. I now want to see how I can develop further and this is what this month will be all about. Naturally, in wanting to learn more about how best to do this, I've become very interested in the work of Georgia O'Keeffe - hence Georgia O'Keeffe month!
As you know I've been hunting down useful books for my Georgia O'Keeffe month. On Friday, I bought "Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Collections (Volume 2)" by Barbara Buhler Lynes at Kew Gardens. Having now had a chance to look through this book - which is the right way to describe a book which is mainly full page plates of colour images of her work - I've come to a few conclusions.
I've included some quotations from Georgia O'Keeffe which I copied down when I visited the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe last year.
I'm trying to get to grips with Notan - using "Composition" the book by Arthur Wesley Dow, first published in 1899, which was Georgia O'Keeffe's bible when she went through the same process.
This post follows on from Learning about Notan #1. I thought I'd share something about what Dow has to say about Notan - the Japanese concept involving the placement of lights and darks next to the other to read as flat shapes on the two-dimensional surface - and harmony in two value designs and then how this can apply to compositions involving flowers.
I've been finding it very difficult to reduce to just two value Notan. Although I understand the principles, it would appear my brain does not want to play!
Also included are reviews of books about her art

"O'Keeffe" by Britta Benke (subtitle Georgia O'Keeffe, 1887-1986, Flowers of the Desert) is a splendid and very informative book. It's also a complete bargain, being available for an amazing price whichever country you live in.
I also published posts about her work on other blogs

Georgia O'Keeffe's favourite 'place to paint' landscapes was northern New Mexico. My personal view is that her landscapes although less well known are just as worthy of public attention and acclaim as her very famous paintings of flowers.
Summary review: HIGHLY RECOMMENDEDThe landscape of New Mexico is just a strong motif in Georgia O'Keeffe's work as her popular flowers. This book explores the locations she painted in and analyses her approach to her landscape work in New Mexico. It provides insight into both the character of the place, the painter and the person.

I love this video of her talking about her work on YouTube

I love this quotation of what Georgia had to say to those people who developed their own (often perverse) ideas about what her flower paintings were about.
Nobody sees a flower, really, it is so small. We haven't time - and to see takes time like to have a friend takes time.

If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small.

So I said to myself - I'll paint what I see - what the flower is to me but I'll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it - I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.

...Well, I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower - and I don't.

Georgia O'Keeffe

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Columbia Threadneedle Prize - Call for Entries

There are major changes for the next Threadneedle Prize for Figurative and Representational Art. 

These include:
  • a change in name and branding - it's now called The Columbia Threadneedle Prize
  • a change of year - there's no exhibition this year, the next one is in February 2016
  • an additional exhibition in Florence, Italy
  • plus a brand new website which is looking a bit too much like a corporate bank website for my taste (this is an art competition!) but I'm sure they'll be able to improve on this in time.
However it's still the UK’s leading open annual competition for figurative and representational painting and sculpture.

Below you can find out all the basics
  • who can enter
  • what you can enter
  • how to enter
  • the timeline of key dates
  • all about the prizes and the exhibitions
  • the selection panel
Plus access my archive of blog posts about all the Threadneedle Prize exhibitions to date.

About the Columbia Threadneedle Prize

The new website for The Columbia Threadneedle Prize
We would normally have an exhibition in September 2015 but the change in ownership of the company sponsoring the prize (now the Columbia Threadneedle Foundation) meant a change in timing was required as well as a change in name - hence the exhibition moves forward six months.

So the next exhibitions - there's now TWO - will be 2016:
  • Exhibition at Mall Galleries including Visitors’ Choice Award: 3rd - 20th February 2016
  • PLUS an  Exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi, Florence: 27th June to 24th July 2016


There are a number of prizes. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

How to complain about a copyright infringement on LinkedIn

This post is about what to do about copyright infringements on LinkedIn.

I've just made my first formal complaint of copyright infringement to LinkedIn re the reproduction of the Art Business Page on my blog as a PULSE article on LinkedIn. [Update: this link now generates a 'Sorry this article is no longer available']

The "author" decided to:
  • give it an absolutely crap headline (obviously produced by a scraper bot
  • delete any reference to the name of my blog or me - or the copyright statements which are very clear in the side column or bottom of my blog.

How to complain about a copyright infringement on LinkedIn

First - tell it like it is!
The first thing I did was leave a comment on the offending article (see above)

Information about Copyright

This is the page which tells us about the LinkedIn Copyright Policy. To my mind it fails to take demonstrate very clearly that the company understands in full the conditions of the 'safe harbor' provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Bottom line it MUST....
upon notification of claimed infringement as described in paragraph (3), responds expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity.

Notification Forms

It also provides links to the relevant forms:

You can submit your form electronically Fill out our online submission form to contact the LinkedIn Copyright Agent


I have to say I'm very surprised and puzzled by:

  • LinkedIn's Copyright Policy - To my mind - and I've reviewed a lot of these statements in the past - their policy seems to ignore the fact that websites which publish material which infringes copyright do NOT enjoy 'safe harbor' protection and protection from liability UNLESS they take action to remove it ASAP.  This needs to be made clear to members. They can send the notice I've sent them to the author if they choose - but action by LinkedIn should definitely not be dependent on his response. They have enough information (i.e. two pdf files which reproduce in full the page on my blog and the article on Pulse) to act on their own account without any reference to the author at all.
  • LinkedIn's Quality Assurance Policy for Pulse articles - Frankly if you are running a network for professionals I expect a professional and high quality approach to the quality assurance of articles published by Pulse. It clearly isn't hitting the standards it needs to if it can publish an article with a nonsensical title which appears to be the product of some sort of scraper bot.


I have indicated to LinkedIn that I shall also be reporting the Pulse article to Google - and I'll be doing that today as frankly their statement re. copyright does not lead me to think they are going to act promptly.

I've certainly found on previous occasions that the fastest way to get material removed from being indexed by Google is to make the copyright infringement report to Google rather than the plagiariser. (I've now reported the infringement using this copyright infringement form which relates to Blogger)

Today I'm going to introduce a footer to all my blog posts which will indicate that all text and images are copyright to me or the artists or photographers.


It worked! The content has been removed by LinkedIn!  By the time Google got round to looking for it to remove from their index it had disappeared - as confirmed by the second nice email from Google confirming it's no longer available or in their index.....
"Hello,Thanks for reaching out to us.Upon recent review of the following URL(s), we were unable to locate the content in question: you believe this is in error and are still able to see the content at the URL(s) in question, please reply with additional information so we are able to investigate. If there was a mistake and the content is available at a different URL, please file a new report at
Regards,The Google Team"

Copyright for Artists

For more about copyright for artists - and information I've accumulated over the years - please see my section about Copyright for Artists on Art Business Info. for Artists.  It contains links to:

Friday, July 24, 2015

National Open Art Competition 2015 - Final Call for Entries

Don't panic! 2 days to go - says the NOA website!

You have until Sunday 26th July to submit artwork to the National Open Art Competition

What is the National Open Art Competition?

Normally at this point I include a short pithy sentence or two from the website which states succinctly what the aim of the competition is and how it is unique/different from every other competition

I'm a little bit at a loss as to exactly what the competition is as the "about" page on the website - which uses 'mission statement' as part of the URL - is very focused on telling me about WHO runs it and what their priorities are.

Safe to say it's an open art competition and it's been running for a number of years.

I actually don't have a clue from the website as to what makes it different from any other competition. The major difference so far as I can see is it is not based in London - however it does have a major exhibition at a prestigious London venue.

I wrote and asked about the competition and got a response from a lady who writes a nice letter who tells me
The NOA is run primarily by a small dedicated team always striving to find new opportunities for artists and provide them with a platform by offering the chance to exhibit at the annual Winter Exhibition in addition to a range of bursaries, residencies and commissions.
She then went on to say
NOA is one of the few Art Competitions that guarantee their artists work will be genuinely, anonymously judged. Work is chosen on talent alone and information such as names, age and career is withheld throughout both rounds.
All I can say is that the organisers must not be aware that this is a common standard amongst most of the competitions I know well.

I asked for statistics about the competition and I got some excellent data by return.  You can find a summary of data for the last three years in the Selection section below - and what it means in terms of the chances of being selected

NOA - How to enter

Who can enter

In order to enter you MUST:
  • live, or be professionally based, in 
    • the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) or 
    • the Republic of Ireland (√Čire).
  • be aged 15 years of age by 1 September 2015 to enter the Main Competition
  • be 14 years of age or younger by 1 September 2015 to enter for the Children’s competition, must 

What sort of artwork can you enter?

You can only enter original work
Undertakes that the work is of his/her own origination, and that he or she holds all moral and intellectual property rights in that work.
You can submit up to four artworks from a wide variety of media 
  • Paintings
  • Drawings
  • Original Prints (I think this means 'proper' fine art prints as opposed to reproductions)
  • Photography
  • Wall Hung Installations
  • Computer Generated Art, e.g. iPad
  • Moving Image
So - there we have it! This is the only competition I know if which has two distinct and unique categories for 'wall hung installations' and 'digital art'

The artwork is limited by size and duration and edition.  The website states
  • Max size of Artwork: Width : 183cm x Height : 183cm x Depth : 30cm including the frame.
  • Max duration of Moving Image: 3 minutes (180 seconds) including any credits.
  • ONLY Prints, Photographs or Wall Hung Installations may be "editions".
Artwork MUST be for sale at a sensible price.

The catalogue for the 2014 Exhibition is available online. It contains the titles, images, media and prices of the work submitted. This demonstrates that the standard of artwork is commensurate with other national art exhibitions although the prices perhaps demonstrate a much wider span.

You can see what sold from last year's exhibition on this page of the website.

What to submit

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jerwood Drawing Prize 2015: Selected Artists

The names of the 58 selected artists for the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2015 have been announced.  Each has had one work selected apart from one artist who has had three selected.
The Jerwood Drawing Prize is the largest and longest running annual open exhibition for drawing in the UK
You can read more about the competition in my earlier blog post Jerwood Drawing Prize: Call for Entries (18 May 2015).

Jerwood Drawing Prize 2015: Selected Artists

The names of the selected artists - and links to their websites are detailed below.

The website link is my best guess from what I can find in a relatively short space of time. If I've got it wrong please let me know - comment on this post or send me an email (see side column) and I'll revise it.

As always I am completely amazed at how the 'art' gene seems to have bypassed vast swathes of people whose surnames start with letters in the second half of the alphabet!
  • 40 selected artists (69%) have surnames which start with letters in the A-M range and 
  • 18 selected artists (31%) have surnames which start with letters in the N-Z range
I make this point every time I see a range of names which vary very significantly from a 'normal' distribution. Maybe artists with names in the second half of the alphabet have given up applying for art competitions?

I've included below images from artists who have announced which drawings have been selected for the exhibition.

If anybody else would like their selected image included in this post please send me a jpeg (see contact details) and reference where I can see this on your website.

The selected artists for the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2015 Exhibition are listed below. If you've ever needed some stimulation for revamping your website you should try looking at some of their websites  - links are embedded in their names.

After Joseph Beuys' Wirtschaftswerte (Economic Values) by Bryan Eccleshall
16 panels = 100 cm x 100 cmif you click the above link you can read about the process used to construct this drawing of a painting

  • Mark Farhall previously exhibited in Jerwood Drawing Prize 2010
  • Craig Fisher
  • Nina Fowler - shortlisted for Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2008. These are some of her past exhibitions - so much more interesting that a list. Why don't more artists list their exhibitions like this?
  • Thomas Gosebruch - he has his own particular interpretation of the word 'drawing'
Drawing by Roland Hicks
selected for the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2015 Exhibition

An example of Lois Landmead's work from her studies at Glasgow School of Art 
This is 'Anatomical Glove' - Glass beads of the dorsal venous network sewn onto a lady's evening glove.

This is a video of Gary Lawrence talking about how he produces his drawings
It includes a second version of his drawing which won in 2011

'Cutcomb Poleroid' by Grace McMurray
coloured pencil on graph paper


Announcement of Prizewinners

Prizes will be announced and awarded to the winning artists at the preview on 15 September 2015.

Jerwood Drawing Prize 2015 Exhibition

Dates: 16 September–25 October 2015
Address: Jerwood Space, 171 Union Street, London SE1 0LN
Opening Times: Mon–Fri from 10am–5pm, Sat & Sun from 10am–3pm
Admission: Free
Nearest Tube: Southwark, London Bridge or Borough
Twitter: #JDP15 @JerwoodJVA

The exhibition will start in London and then tour across the UK. You can see it at:
  • Jerwood Space, London from 16 September – 25 October 2015
  • Cheltenham Art Gallery (21 November 2015 - 31 January 2016), 
  • Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury (11 February - 9 April 2016), and 
  • Falmouth Art Gallery (23 April - 25 June 2016).

Jerwood Drawing Prize Events

Jerwood Visual Arts will host a series of evening events to accompany the exhibition. Events are free but must be booked in advance, for more information please check the Jerwood Visual Arts website.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review: Kew's Heritage Trees - paintings by Masumi Yamanaka

I've been trying to get to see Kew's Heritage Trees - paintings by Masumi Yamanaka for quite some time! Yesterday I announced to my other half that visiting the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art was the first place I wanted to go on our visit yesterday to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

View of the main gallery and some of Masumi Yamanaka's paintings
Display boxes contained other drawings, paintings and books about trees in the Kew Collection

Armand's  White Pine (Chinese White Pine) and Masumi Yamanaka
- this excellent botanical painting is now in the private collection of
Martyn Rix, Editor of Curtis's Botanical Magazine who contributed the tree descriptions to the book about the exhibition
The Gallery currently has three exhibitions on display - although this is not obvious from the "what's on" on the Kew website.  The final day of the exhibitions is 9th August.

They are:
  • Kew's Heritage Trees (Galleries 1 and 5) - paintings by Masumi Yamanaka
  • Flowering Bulbs and Tubers (Galleries 2, 3 and 4) - an exhibition of paintings for sale by the Dutch Society of Botanical Artists
  • The Joy of Spring (Gallery 6 Paintings from the Shirley Sherwood Collection)
I have no idea why the other two exhibitions are not identified as exhibitions to visit on the Kew Gardens website. However the Kew Gardens website is not easy to navigate and frequently omits information for visitors. I can't work out why this is but it's extremely unhelpful to the fans of botanical art and this is a gallery that gets a lot of visitors!

Below you'll find
  • a review of Kew's Heritage Trees and there will be another post later in the week about the other two exhibitions
  • 10 facts about Masumi Yamanaka
  • a big innovation associated with this exhibition!

Review of 'Kew's Heritage Trees'

This exhibition focuses on what are known as the Heritage Trees and include paintings of the trees known as the "Old Lions" which have been living at Kew for over 250 years.

Any regular visiter to Kew will know that the gardens include some really  wonderful trees - some of which are very large, some of which are very old and some of which are both!

I know I spend time when visiting Kew enjoying seeing the old and big trees at different stages of their annual life cycle.  I've taken more than a few photographs of most of them over the years in part because Kew is somewhere where trees can grow to their full potential and they are simply stunning!

Below is a map of the trees that have been painted and are included in the exhibition.

Location of the Heritage Trees
The majority are related to the location of the Old Arboretum between the Orangery and the Palm House
There is no guide to the Arboretum - and how trees are grouped across the site - or a map of the old trees on the website.
There have been some drawings of the trees done in the past but no one artist has ever attempted to do all the trees as a collection.

Masumi Yamanaka works on a freelance basis at Kew - an "Artist in Residence" - and had felt for some time that the old and treasured trees at Kew needed to be drawn and painted as well as photographed.

Masumi's interest in the trees started when she painted the Indian Bean tree for a portfolio of nine works exhibited at the RHS Botanical Art Show in 2010 - for which she won a gold medal.  I particularly enjoyed this series - it's one which certainly ought to be studied by all those aspiring to a gold medal!

A series of paintings of Indian Horse Chestnut Aesculus Indica 
She started to paint more of the heritage trees after this project and it's taken her five years to develop the portfolio she has created and which is now on display.  Fortunately she managed to capture some of the trees before the big storm in 2013 which damaged a lot of the trees at Kew - including the heritage trees.

It's important to note this was not a commission - this was an initiative by Masumi.
MY TIP for botanical artists:  When thinking about what to do for a project why not try something nobody has done before - which also has links to the historical or iconic or both?
Not all the paintings are of the full tree although there are some significant paintings of the shapes of some of them. Other paintings focus on the shapes of leaves and seeds and/or cones - which are beautifully painted.  In total they make a very worthwhile collection.

I found the paintings of some of the pines to be quite breathtaking. I also love the fact that as a result of the exhibition I now understand much more about the trees and know more about what I'm looking at on my regular visits to Kew. Plus where to find all the heritage trees - I do hope they put that map on the website!

Initially Masumi asked whether she could do an exhibition of her paintings in one of the side galleries. However after Kew saw what she had produced - she's now done 40 paintings - they decided that she could have the main gallery for the exhibition!

View of the exhibition in the main gallery of the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art
This is a video about the exhibition

Find out more about the trees and the paintings

The book of the exhibition
I was very fortunate yesterday as

Masumi walked into the exhibition while I was there

However you can:
  • find out more about the trees on the website:
    • Kew's Heritage Trees is a blog post which describes the development of the collection and shows some of  the paintings next to photographs of the originals.
    • This blog post - Celebrating the tree - tells us more about some of the artwork from the archives in the existing Kew Art Collection.
  • Masumi will also be doing a guide to the exhibition tomorrow on Thursday 23rd July between 2pm and 3pm.
  • The exhibition is rounded off with a publication called 'Treasured Trees' published by Kew.  It includes colour plates of the 40 paintings in the exhibition plus a detailed description of each tree and how it came to be included in the Arboretum at Kew. The tree descriptions are written by Martin Rix, Editor of Curtis's Botanical Magazine and the Introduction was written by Christina Harrison, Editor of the Kew Magazine. Read more about it.

10 Facts about Masumi Yamanaka

Masumi Yamanaka with her painting of the Stone Pine - planted in 1846
Since she painted it it has lost three major branches in a big storm in 2013 - proving the worth of painting the tree.

  1. Masumi Yamanaka was born in Japan in 1957 but has lived in London for the last 26 years
  2. The earlier part of her career involved working as a designer for ceramic manufacturers and retailers 
  3. She studied botanical art with Pandora Sellars who is a professional botanical painter and illustrator contributing to Curtis’s Botanical Magazine
  4. Her illustration of a Hippeastrum won the SBA's Margaret Grainger Memorial Silver Bowl, is included in the SBA Book 'The Botanical Palette' and now forms part of the Kew Art Collection.
  5. Masumi's botanical artwork has been exhibited in four previous exhibitions Kew’s Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art:
    1. Trees’ (Winter 2009)
    2. Bulbmania’ (Summer 2010) 
    3. Kew Artists’ (Spring 2011) 
    4. Inspiring Kew’ (2014).
  6. Masumi won an RHS Gold Medal in 2010 for her illustrations of Aesculus indica ‘Sydney Pearce’, illustrated from the specimen at Kew. (Note: The exhibition includes the nine paintings exhibited at the RHS)
  7. Her drawings and paintings are held in the collections of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and private collections throughout the world. 
  8. She is the Japanese Exhibition Coordinator for the forthcoming exhibition ‘Flora Japonica’ which will be held at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art in 2016. 
  9. Masumi has been a freelance artist based in the Herbarium since 2007.
  10. The paintings of the Heritage Trees were done on her initiative. She feels it's important that they should become part of the Kew Collection - especially as some

Sponsor one of the paintings

One of the innovations with this exhibition is definitely worth talking about.

This is the new notion that people can be invited to sponsor a botanical illustration.
Each piece depicts one of Kew’s most significant trees and epitomises the living collections here at Kew. We would like to add as many of these pictures to Kew’s art collection as we can. Unfortunately, our current funding will not allow us to purchase more than two of these pieces. So there is a real danger most will be lost to Kew forever. These paintings are a living record of the history of Kew’s Heritage Trees and with this in mind, we have launched a fund to help us to purchase these important pieces, and keep them at Kew.
Masumi can sell these paintings - she wasn't commissioned to do them. On the one hand her income has been limited by the time given over to undertaking this project so it would be great if she could sell some.  On the other hand, she feels strongly that the paintings should form part of the Kew Art Collection given the iconic nature of the trees which they portray.  However Kew's funding has been cut and can only afford to buy two........

The idea of sponsorship is that a third party - a supporter of Kew and its art collection - pays the not unreasonable prices asked - and the piece is then added to the Art Collection at Kew.

What you get as a sponsor is a certificate, a high resolution print of the painting and an invitation to an event to meet the artist. Plus your name goes on the exhibition label for the painting every time it is exhibited anywhere in the world.....

I've uploaded the Sponsorship Leaflet to the UK Exhibitions Page of my Botanical Art and Artists website - and you can read more about it there.

I know I want my Executors to secure a bench at Kew in my memory when I go - but maybe it's time to think about sponsoring a painting instead?
Why not sponsor one as a gift to celebrate a special birthday, anniversary or event or to commemorate the life of a loved one?
I think both Kew and Masumi are also hoping that in due course international sponsors might want to try and get the exhibition overseas. It's certainly well worth it - I've never seen another exhibition quite like it.

PS. The next new exhibition at the Gallery will open on 29 August 2015.  I've put in my diary!

Monday, July 20, 2015

ING Discerning Eye 2015 - Call for Entries

This is about the Call for Entries for the ING Discerning Eye Competition 2015.

Part of the Call for Entries Leaflet for the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition 2015
This exhibition has increased the number of works exhibited by artists submitting via the open entry. It now deserves to be called a proper art competition!

Below you can find:
  • information about the exhibition - and the percentage of works which come from the open entry
  • a note about the judges - with links to websites
  • a summary of information about prizes
    • a summary of the information for artists e.g. who can enter what etc.
    • information about the deadlines and dates and where to find information about regional collection points
  • links to websites and my blog posts showing images of the art selected and hung in past exhibitions for those unfamiliar with this art competition.
The competition is sponsored by ING Commercial Banking.

ING Discerning Eye 2015 - exhibition, prizes and selection

A view of the exhibition by one of the selectors in 2014 (Mall Galleries)
The Discerning Eye annual 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.

Exhibition - Mall Galleries, 12-22 November 2015

An exhibition of the work of selected and invited artists will be held at the Mall Galleries in London from Thursday 12th until Sunday 22rd November 2015.

It will include around 600 works across all three galleries in the Mall Galleries. This is a large exhibition and it gets a lot of visitors.

All selected artists will be invited to a Private View on Thursday 12 November 2015.

The exhibition is unusual due to the nature of the competition.
  • The focus is very much on small works - drawings, paintings, fine art prints and sculpture
  • There are six selectors, each of whom curates a small exhibition of a collection of work they like. 
  • This then creates a large exhibition made up of six smaller exhibitions which reflect the interests and tastes of the individual selectors.
You can read my review of the 2014 exhibition in this post Video of the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition 2014 - and also access my video of the exhibition!
You can see images from and read my review of the exhibition in earlier years in my blog posts listed at the end of this post.


Artists often think of the ING Discerning Eye as an art competition.  In the past, I began to query this notion as the number of works from the open entry reduced to a quite silly level.  For me an art competition can only be described as such if AT LEAST 50% of the works exhibited arrive via the open entry. I've been campaigning for some time for the percentage of works which come from the open exhibition to be made much more explicit.

In 2014, the message finally got through because everything changed - or maybe more people were saying the same thing! Anyway the numbers became transparent and the ration of open to invited improved enormously!

First the exhibition website makes it very clear that they are committed to taking at least 25% from the open submission.  That's less than the 50% that I'd like to see as the commitment for this exhibition and I'd like to see this benchmark increased in future years to "at least 50%".
The only restrictions are limitation of size (only small works are permitted) and to select at least 25% of their section from the open submission.
Second we now have precise figures for the works and the exhibitors in last year's exhibition which rather surprisingly were not available at the time of the exhibition (hence my comments in my review!):
  • EXHIBITION: 657 works by 317 artists in the 2014 exhibition
  • OPEN ENTRY: 431 works (65%) were by 265 artists (83%) came via from the open submission. (This represents a significant an increase on the 40% from the open entry in the 2013 exhibition)
  • INVITED ARTISTS: 226 works came from artists invited to exhibit by the curators.
That means
  • the open entry is going to be dominated by artists who will have just one work accepted (the average 1.6 works per artist) 
  • the 'artists by invitation' group are much more likely to have multiple works in the exhibition.
I'd suggest that's got implications for the number of works artists submit as part of their entry.  You can submit up to 6 but it's unlikely that you will get more than 2 accepted. I suggest those wanting to submit 6 think very hard about how they look if hung as a group.

The 2015 Panel of Selectors

The 2015 selectors are:
  • ARTISTS (I think this year "designers" might be a more accurate term as both are commercial artists best known as designer/owners of their respective pottery and clothing businesses - although Nicole Farhi stepped down from her business a while back.)
    • Steve Pill - Editor, Artists & Illustrators Magazine
    • Stephen Doherty - Director of Visitor Communications for Somerset House
I wonder who thought it a good idea to have 2 x 'Stephen' and a 'Steve'? ;)


The Prizes on offer this year include
  • the ING Purchase Prize (£5000), 
  • the Discerning Eye Founder’s Purchase Prize in honour of Michael Reynolds (£2500), 
  • Discerning Eye Chairman’s Purchase Prize (£1000), 
  • Meynell Fenton Prize (£1000), 
  • Benton Purchase Prize (£1000); 
  • Discerning Eye Sculpture and 3D Work Prize (£250). 
  • Plus Regional Prizes of £250 awarded to an outstanding entry from each of  the national regions.
In addition, the winning artist is also often asked to have a solo exhibition of their work at the ING offices in the City of London. (This is a blog post about one that I went to - Susan Angharad Williams exhibits at ING)

How to enter the ING Discerning Eye 2015

Deadline for Entries

  • Deadline for entries is in London on 4 and 5 September 2015

Who can enter?

  • artists who were born or are currently resident in the UK

What kind of artwork is eligible?

  • all artwork must be an original creation by the artist. This usually means the artist must be able to assert copyright (i.e. the work is not derivative) and the work has not been copied from another artwork or photograph.
  • Painting, prints, drawing, photography and sculpture are all accepted.
  • Maximum size limit: 20" / 50 cms INCLUDING THE FRAME. Works exceeding these dimension in any direction will be rejected.
Maximum size of work: 2D – 20” x 20” (50 x 50 cm) including frame. 3D – 20” x 20” x 20” (50 x 50 x 50 cm) including base/stand
  • Up to six works can be submitted for competition.
  • All works must be for sale. This is essential / not optional. 

What does it cost?

  • Entry fees are £10 per work. 
  • Commission is charged at 40% + VAT. Price entered on the entry form is the catalogue selling price from which commission and VAT payable is deducted.
  • Delivery of work through a regional collection point involves an additional fee of £8 (inclusive of VAT) per work. All fees are due at the point of submission - paid by cash or by cheque. (I'm assuming this substitutes for the courier fee)

How to enter:

  • Paperwork: Download the documentation for entries that you need directly using these links:
  • complete and sign the entry schedule
  • Provide a digital image of each work. This is NOT for selection purposes - rather it's for inclusion in the online catalogue.
We will need a digital image of your work if it is selected so please provide one for all works being submitted. It will be used for the online gallery on this web site
  • Label each work LEGIBLY in block capitals and attach to work
  • All 2D works should be delivered unwrapped, although corner and edge protection on paintings is permissible.
  • Take your labelled artwork and entry schedule to a regional collection point or 17 Carlton House Terrace by the deadline for that location.
Entry forms and further details are available from:
For any queries please contact Parker Harris
  • on 01372 462190
  • or
  • or Parker Harris, 15 Church Street, Esher, Surrey KT10 8QS. t. 01372 462190

Collection Points and Deadline for entries - London and Regions

This exhibition is one of the best for a good range of collection points for an additional fee of £8 per work. (I think this must be one way only - do check what the return trip costs!)
  • The final hand in days in London are 4 & 5 September 2015
  • Deadline dates and times for the  regional collection points are detailed in the leaflet and on the website
  • Collection points starts on 29 August outside London and includes: 
    • England: A1 Service Areas; Berwick-Upon-Tweed; Birmingham; Bristol; Doncaster; Exeter; Kendal; M74 & M6 Service Areas; Manchester; Newcastle; Norwich; Penzance; Plymouth; Southampton
    • Scotland: Edinburgh, Errol, near Perth/Dundee, Glasgow Stirling Service Area
    • Wales: Cardiff; 

Archive of information about the ING Discerning Eye exhibitions and artists

You can see images of works selected in past exhibitions in the archive.

  • All past exhibitions are archived here. 
  • Since 2008, the archive has included images of all works. 
  • The archive is indexed by both artist and selector and there is a full site index available too.

You can also find out about selected artists - and see their websites - and see what the artwork actually looked like hung on the wall in previous exhibitions in my blog posts below.