Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Camera update - the shortlist!

I've now been reading camera reviews for three days and feel like I've been reading them almost non-stop for the last 24 hours!

So here's where I'm up to!  Comments and suggestions continue to be very welcome. I'd have never looked at the one I think I might get if it hadn't been for comments on the last post I'm shopping for a new camera !

First the general conclusions which have emerged over the last three days - and then the shortlist. Finally I comment on which reviews I've found most helpful.

General conclusions

I've realised that I usually take two types of photography 
  • in art galleries, photographing artwork and people - frequently under artificial light and often in less than ideal lighting from the perspective of 'white balance'.
  • in gardens photographing scenery and flowers and plants in daylight - can be sunny, can be very dull.
I do need a camera which can take very good macros as this is a particular interest and translates through to my botanical artwork.

I don't need a camera which can take fast moving objects and I don't need to replicate the quality of image I can get with my iPhone 6Plus - which is very good. In fact it was only when I got the iPhone that I realised that I'd got a major problem with artificial/low light photography with my Canon.

I need to decide whether I need different cameras which each deliver better performance in relation to different types of photography - or whether one will do. 

I'm very much leaning towards a "prosumer" small camera (much easier to carry/much better pics) that's designed for the sort of person who normally uses a big digital SLR but really can't be bothered to carry it around everywhere given both the bulk and weight.

Then see how well that does across both types of photography. I'm pretty sure it will do better at the art gallery type photography and it certainly would mean that I no longer have to carry a heavy camera in town.

Critical Issues are now down to
  • Can I live without a decent zoom? Especially as I've begun to realise that I maybe use it less than I think.  I certainly don't need a mega zoom lens of the variety now associated with a bridge camera.
  • How important are excellent images in low light - so I don't have to faff around and waste time doing image adjustments using PS Elements (current feeling is 'extremely')
  • How important is HD video (current feeling is 'very')
  • How important is a viewfinder (I think 'very' given you can't see the screen in bright sunlight)
  • How important are sweep panorama shots. I only got to do these for the first time with my iPhone and I love them! (Not essential - but a valued bonus if present)

The Shortlist 

The shortlist is:
  1. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III Camera - recommended to me by two people
    • HD 1080p, 20.1MP, 2.9x Optical Zoom, Wi-Fi, NFC, OLED EVF, 3” Screen
    • available from a number of suppliers at the moment at £569 - plus a £50 reimbursement offered by Sony on purchase (net £519)
    • it uses a Zeiss lens
    • I'd also need to buy the grip which means it's easier to hold, a screen protector, a spare battery and (probably) a battery charger so I can go out with two fully charged batteries
    • review by Photography Blog - includes Image quality
  2. Canon PowerShot G5 X Digital Camera
  3. Canon PowerShot G9 X Digital Camera
    • 1080p, 20MP, 3x Optical Zoom, OIS, NFC, Wi-Fi, 3" Touch Screen
    • available for £399.95
    • review by Photography Blog  - includes Image Quality
    • I love the look of this one - in silver and tan mode!
and I'm leaning towards the Sony.

I've got them lined up in compare mode on the John Lewis website so I can review the features side by side and decide what's the deal breaker!

The line-up for the shortlist

I might also get a second bridge camera which has a long zoom lens and/or better scope for macro photography of plants and flowers - but I think I might be waiting a bit for a camera with a large-sensor AND a super zoom. (For the record here's the review of the camera that I lost the Canon Powershot SX40 HS which worked well outside)

Or I might possibly buy a Canon Powershot SX710 (characterised as a 'travel zoom' camera - currently available for just under £200) which has a 30x digital zoom but doesn't work so well in low light.  

My current thoughts are that there must be something of a shift in camera design and functionality soon to come up with something which differentiates cameras from smartphones - which can't do zoom very well.


I found the best in-depth reviews seemed to be by 
The major benefit of the photography blog reviews is that they always include the same sorts of pics in their review of image quality - which then allows you to do comparisons across different models in similar circumstances (within their capability). However the quality of these and the systematic approach does appear to have improved over time - or maybe varies due to individual reviewers?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Artemisia Gentileschi on BBC4 and iPlayer

Yesterday, BBC4 broadcast a film about the story of 17th-century Italian artist Artemisia Gentileschi called Michael Palin's Quest for Artemisia.

I'm assuming Michael's name figures first in the title as he's beginning to get a bit of a reputation for doing programmes about leading artists.
I'm highlighting this latest programme here as not everybody will have spotted it in the schedules plus I know that people seem to be able to watch the BBC from outside the UK - I don't ask how!) and/or get the BBC's art programmes at a later date.

Key points for me:

  • Her story is very unusual and my jaw kept dropping at the nature of justice for women in 17th century Italy.  The nature of her background - and the rape and the rape trial and the torture - seems to have influenced the nature of her paintings. During the trial, she was painting a woman cutting a man’s head off. I don't find it at all surprising that she kept reprising paintings of a woman cutting off a man's head! Judith Slaying Holofernes is the painting she was working on during the trial
  • one can well understand why she may have been taken up as a 'cause' by feminists promoting women artists - but it does make me wonder if one stereotype substitutes for another
  • I was fascinated by how many times she seems to have painted herself - both metaphorically and in reality - and sometimes more than once in the same painting. I kept wondering how she'd managed to get a perspective on certain angles of her face.
  • Her paintings have become very valuable - and hence there is an incentive to find works by her
  • There is no complete record of her work - and developing one is made more complicated by the fact her style of painting changed over time. New works are being discovered and at the same time other works are being accredited to her which probably should not.

Reviews of the programme

Artemisia Gentileschi - Self-Portrait as a Lute Player
These are the websites of some of the people who appeared in the film

More information about Artemisa Gentileschi





Monday, December 28, 2015

RIP - some of the artists who died in 2015

These are some of leading figures in the art world who died this year - plus some leading artists the in the UK art world and a couple I know personally.

I've started at the end of the year and have worked backwards.

Do please say if you think I've left anybody important out by mistake.

December 2015

News: Images of Ellsworth Kelly and his work remembered on Twitter
News: Images of Shigeru Mizuki and his work remembered on Twitter

My own personal loss in December was of my friend Robyn Sinclair who is known to many in the online art world.  You can read Robyn Sinclair: An Appreciation

November 2015

Saturday, December 26, 2015

I'm shopping for a new camera

I've not heard from Transport for London Lost Property Office so I'm assuming that it's unlikely I'm going to see my backpack again - which contained my camera (plus three sketchbooks and two pencil cases!)

So I've decided to make the most of the sales and have started shopping for a new camera

By which I mean I've started interrogating all the review sites about which cameras best meet my requirements - and then the websites of the places where I might buy one.

I was wondering if my readers would like to help with any reviews of recommendations they might have of the cameras they own.

Here's my criteria

I've ruled out Digital SLR cameras simply on the grounds of weight. I can't use them easily due to tenosynovitis (pain!) and grip problems (cramps if grip is not effective) and I need to avoid anything weighty as that tend to cause a problem with falls - and the last thing I was to do is fall while holding very expensive kit!

It must be capable of:
  • being carried and operated by one hand easily - this is absolutely essential. The grip needs to work for my hands - and is the reason most compact cameras get ruled out as they have no grip which makes it easy to hold. I use two hands if possible but sometimes this is not possible if I need to other hand to steady my balance
  • really good low light adjustment - this makes such a HUGE difference to the amount of post-exhibition processing I need to do. I couldn't believe it when I realised that my iPhone 6Plus was better than my Canon camera!
  • excellent image stabilisation - automated stabilisation makes a big difference to how sharp a photo is if you're not using a tripod.
  • taking excellent macro shots at almost zero distance - plus when using moderate zoom - for my plant and flower photographs
  • takes high capacity SD cards
  • not too heavy.... - ideally something similar to or lighter than my last one which weighed approx. 600 g (including battery/batteries and memory card)
It would be nice to have a camera which:

  • produces RAW files
  • works with wifi - with my iMac and/or iPhone
  • transfers images on the move (minus wifi) via bluetooth to my iPhone
  • HD movie recording - but not essential since my iPhone does this very well
  • viewfinder - I use the screen most of the time but sometimes you simply can't tell whether the focus is pin sharp unless you use the viewfinder. Electronic rather than optical would be nice.

My last camera was a Canon Powershot SX40 purchased in 2012 from Jessops.  It was my third Canon Powershot bridge camera.

Canon Powershot SX60 HS Bridge Camera

In the frame at the moment is a Canon PowerShot SX60 HS Bridge Camera, HD 1080p, 16.1MP, 65x Optical Zoom, 3” LCD Screen.

Another possibility is the Canon Powershot G3X

Places to shop

I tend to shop according to the "how easy is it to take it back if something is wrong / it dies?" criteria allied to "what's a good price". Lack of hassle wins out over a few £ different every time.

The John Lewis extended guarantee has a certain drawing power....

The Amazon price is always guaranteed to act as a benchmark - but I'm less clear about they are if you have to send anything back.

Shopping as the sales starts also has some appeal!

Your thoughts

Readers were really helpful when I was thinking about buying my first iMac and I've learned to ask you for your views!

If anybody would like to their add their thoughts to my currently internal debate feel free!  Do please add any "Have you thought of....."

Friday, December 25, 2015

Seasons Greetings 2015

Season's Greetings to all those who follow 'Making A Mark' 
on my blog and/or on Facebook. 

Your 'likes' and comments are always very much valued wherever you leave them

Wishing you and yours a happy day today and all the very best for the New Year.

This is my colour pencil drawing of the Ice Lake from a special winter day at Sheffield Park in Sussex. I look at this every single day because it hangs inbetween the windows of my sitting room.  Maybe I need to do a bigger version in pastels?

Ice Lake at Sheffield Park
coloured papers on Canson
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Art Exhibitions in London at Christmas 2015

As usual I have some suggestions as to art exhibitions to see in London over the Christmas/New Year period.
  • Plus the all important details of when the galleries are open and when they are closed.
  • Major exhibitions have their titles in bold
  • Links to the website for the exhibition is embedded in each title
  • Exhibition venues are ordered according to the number of visitors they generated in 2014 according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions
Note this is not a complete list of all exhibitions in London during the festive season - but this list should provide most people with something to do. It gave me a few ideas just writing this post!

British Museum

Closed 24, 25 and 26 December and 1 January

National Gallery

Closed 24, 25 and 26 December 2015 and 1 January 2016
  • Goya - The Portraits is on display in the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery until 10th January 2016. Open daily 10am-6pm - but closed 1 January and 24-26 December. This exhibition tells the story of his development as a portrait painter - for the first time in an exhibition.
  • Visions of Paradise: Botticini's Palmieri Altarpiece 4 November 2015 - 28 March 2016

Tate Modern

Closed 24, 25 and 26 December but open on New Year's Day

Triple Gong c.1948 by Alexander Calder (1898 - 1976)
Calder Foundation, New York, NY, USA
Photo credit: Calder Foundation, New York / Art Resource, NY
© ARS, NY and DACS, London 2015
  • Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture Until 3 April 2016 - The American artist Alexander Calder (1898-1976) was apparently responsible for inventing the mobile now used for soothing babies. This exhibition reveals how motion, performance and theatricality underpinned his practice
  • The EY Exhibition: The World Goes Pop - Until 24 January 2016 - demonstrates how pop art was not confined to the studios of its most well known exponents
Whaaam! Pop! Kapow! This is pop art, but not as you know it. 

Victoria & Albert Museum

Closed 24, 25 and 26 December

marketing the new galleries at the V&A

National Portrait Gallery

Closed Christmas Day.

Gallery view of the Giacometti exhibition
This limited show is at best a taster for Tate’s eagerly awaited 2017 retrospective.

British Library

Closed 24-28 December and 1 January
  • Alice in Wonderland - until 17th April 2016. This exhibition is celebrating 150th anniversary of the publication of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' was first published. 
see Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript with hand-drawn illustrations, alongside stunning editions by Mervyn Peake, Ralph Steadman, Leonard Weisgard, Arthur Rackham, Salvador Dali and others. British Library

Kew Gardens - Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art

closed on 24 and 25 December

Tom Putt apple by Rosie Sanders
  • Nature's Bounty - until 31 January 2016  - paintings from the Shirley Sherwood Collection focusing on fruit and vegetables from across the world

Tate Britain

Closed 24-26 December
  • Artist and Empire - until 10 April 2016 - a major exhibition of art associated with the British Empire from the 16th century to the present day.
  • Frank Auerbach - until 13 March 2016 
a British artist who has made some of the most vibrant, alive and inventive paintings of recent times.

Imperial War Museum 

Closed 24, 25, 26 December
  • Lee Miller: A Woman’s War Until 24 April 2016 - about the impact of the Second World War on women's lives. Lee Miller's role in documenting the Second World War was only discovered after her death. She was one of the most important female war photographers of the 20th century.

Royal Academy of Arts

Closed 24, 25, and 26 December 2015. Open on 1 January from 12pm - 6pm.

Hampton Court Palace - The Cumberland Art Gallery

Closed 24, 25 and 26 December. Open on 1 January.
  • The Cumberland Art Gallery houses a changing display of artworks, principally from the Royal Collection. It includes some stunning paintings.

Courtauld Gallery

Closed 25 and 26 December. Last admission at 3.30pm on 24 December.
Exhilarating, uplifting, startling in their high originality – Peter Lanyon’s gliding paintings at the Courtauld Gallery are the revelation of the year.
“An exhibition of pure genius”★★★★★ The Guardian

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Closed 24, 25 and 26 December. Closed 1 January and every Monday. It is also running extended Christmas opening times.

  • The Amazing World of M.C. Escher - until 17 January 2016 - Due to the popularity of this exhibition, the gallery are operating a timed entry ticket system. To avoid disappointment please pre-book tickets online.

Saatchi Gallery

Closed 25 and 26 December. Closes 4.30pm on 24th and 1 St January.

The Queens Gallery (The Royal Collection)

Closed 25-26 December 2015
  • Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer - until 14th February 2016 - 27 masterpieces from the Royal Collection, the exhibition includes works by Gerrit Dou, Gabriel Metsu, Jan Steen and Pieter de Hooch, and Johannes Vermeer's A Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman, 'The Music Lesson'.

Wallace Collection

Closed 24 - 26 December
  • a national museum which displays the wonderful works of art collected in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It also has an excellent restaurant/tea room!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas e-cards for artists and by art galleries and museums in 2015

Did you know that the world's very first Christmas card was sent by the director of an art museum? Henry Cole, the Founding Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum sent the first Christmas card in 1843

This post covers two topics
  • the Christmas e-card sent as part of your marketing communications plan for your business as an artist
  • the Christmas e-card you might need to send to friends and family - because you've not got round to posting them all in time!

The Christmas e-card - for your art business

Did you create a Christmas e-card for your art business this year?

This year Corporate Christmas e-cards seem to have hit the big time - I've been absolutely inundated with them in the past few days.

There are absolutely masses of ecard companies targeting businesses and their prices are not cheap. The major thing to be concerned about with ecards is whether any company you use is safe - or whether it might create problems for the people you are sending it to.

You also have to decide whether you want:

  • static or animated cards
  • facility to customise the message 
  • mobile compatibility
  • use of your business logo
  • a link to your website or social media site embedded in the image
  • to test and track your business ecards (eg do they actually get opened?)

The safest and cheapest way to send a business ecard is to:
  • create your own STATIC image (do people have the time for animation?)
  • create an email to send to all those you wish to send an ecard to as an artist
  • include the image embedded in the email. That way nobody needs to open a link.
  • send via your normal email distribution list - that way nobody receives a strange link or gets an email from an address they don't recognise.  Plus it includes all the normal required recognition stuff at the bottom of the email for people to check out - and then feel more comfortable.

Museums and Galleries - Christmas e-cards

I've written about Christmas e-cards by art museums in previous years - usually round about the point where it starts to be too late to post an ordinary card and ensure it gets there on time!

Here's my round up for 2015.  I'm always amazed more museums and art galleries don't do this as it must generate a lot of extra traffic for the website!

Don't forget - when it comes to e-cards it really does not matter where you live because anybody can send them to anybody living anywhere in the world!

The Geffrye Christmas e-card selection
Below the museums are listed alphabetically by country. Those which provide a good selection have their names in bold.


Geffrye Museum of the Home (London)

The Geffrey Museum of the Home in Shoreditch continues - as it does every year - to provide a nice (and different) range of Christmas ecards of the British Home at Christmas in the past and traditional Christmas cards from the past.

National Museums Liverpool

This is the best collection I know online

Two collections are available and each has a wide selection to choose from as well as a range of styles.
The ecard allows you to add your own message and to send the same card to up to 10 people if you don't want to personalise by name. Once sent the next screen gives you the option to send another ecard. The email arrives as a "you have been sent an ecard" and inviting you to click a link - and they, of course, manage to insert a nice display advert for finding out their activities at Christmas! When clicked you get a nice large image plus the message underneath.

Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove

Monday, December 21, 2015

Robyn Sinclair: An Appreciation

I first got to know Robyn Sinclair as somebody who had an enormous talent for leaving encouraging comments and remarks on this blog and my sketch blog.

I feel absolutely certain this was an experience that I share with many other artists and sketchers.

I'm very sorry to have to share with those of you who knew her that Robyn passed away on Saturday evening after a long illness.

Robyn Sinclair waiting for dinner in Provence - in June 2011
Photograph by Ronelle van Wyck
This post is being written as my appreciation of her - and so that others may also leave a comment as to their memories of her.

It's also sprinkled with comments from Robyn....
I can do 'extrovert' when necessary but am introvert by nature..... It's a great advantage in life to be a good listener.
Robyn was somebody who registered with me very early on after we found each other online.

The title of her blog helped.  Have Dogs, Will Travel is not a title you forget easily! The story of how she came to be living in Italy was also rather good!

As the months and years passed I got to know Robyn very much better and she became one of a very small group of art blogger/artist friends with whom I corresponded on a regular basis 'behind the scenes'.

Robyn also became an active member of a small group of friends who did projects online.

  • First we had 'Sketchercise' which I started as a project to lose weight. The idea was to incorporate walking and sketching and lose weight and fill our sketchbooks! Our group is still going and to say we are all devastated by the news is an understatement.
  • Out of that grew A Postcard from my Walk which was a blog project that records a monthly postal exchange of sketches on postcards between 14 members of Sketchercise over the course of one year. The idea was that by the end of it we all ended up with a postcard from every member of the group.
  • Finally, we did the next best thing - and went on holiday together - in the Postcard from Provence house in the south of France. This generated another blog - Four Go Painting in Provence covering the activities of Sarah Wimperis, Ronelle van Wyck, Robyn and myself. We had a really marvellous time.

My sketch of Sarah and Robyn - after the order was placed and before dinner arrived
sat on the terrace of the Restaurant Vieux Four in Crillon Le Brave, Provence 16th June 2011
See Dinner at Restaurant du Vieux Four, Crillon Le Brave

I've got many happy memories of Robyn

My sketch the cheese course
from our lunch at
Fortnum & Masons
.....of a wonderful day in the summer day in 2008 when Robyn was in London - see A day out in PiccadillyWhat was so wonderful was Robyn loved doing all the things I love doing. We often corresponded round about the time of the Summer Exhibition and reminisced about that almost perfect day.  Every time I visit the kitchen gadgets floor in Fortnum & Mason I remember walking around with her trying to find the perfect present for her husband the chef extraordinaire!
When I started making my 'Must See' list, I began with my blogging friend, Katherine Tyrrell of Making a Mark. Until now Katherine and I had never met face to face, so we exchanged a couple of candid photographs and arranged to meet outside the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly. Katherine had offered me an incredible choice of itineraries for our day and we settled on visiting the Summer Exhibition, preceded by coffee and conversation in the Friend's Room at the Royal Academy and followed by lunch at Fortnum & Mason's across the road. We were chatting like very old friends from the moment we met. London Sketches by Robyn Sinclair
I remember learning that day about her less well known 'past' as a writer and producer of very many television shows for Australian television - she has an IMDb entry and these are her credits on Screen Australia. She was extraordinarily helpful when I started making videos of exhibitions - advising on which skills to work on and which shots worked well. I have Robyn's voice in my brain every time I sit down to try and edit a video. [Update: This is a Vale: Robin Sinclair on the Australian TV blog TV Tonight and based on the Vale for Robyn from the Australian Writers Guild]

I also remember how much she enjoyed writing and reading good writing. Robyn arrived in Italy with a husband (a writer) and two dogs - the wonderful Dermott (who had his own blog) and his little accomplice Snowy.  As we got to know one another better our pets decided they'd like to join in and over time a  lengthy and intermittent correspondence ensued via blog comment and email between the wonderful Dermott (I loved that dog!) and my cat Cosmo - engineered with help from their respective 'parents'.  I was never very sure whether it was Robyn or her husband writing - I suspect it was a bit of a joint enterprise as I know how much they both enjoyed good writing.  I do know I was really upset when Dermott died and just how big a hole he left in both their lives - especially after the earlier loss of Snowy.  

She was also a good critical friend when it came to 'important stuff' with respect to writing. She was one of the few I trusted to read my first drafts of my book.

When it came to the art side of things, I loved the fact she Robyn was always keen to try all sorts of different approaches to art. She kept trying new art materials and new ways of doing things. She hit her stride when she found her own particular approach to painting a still life (which always reminded me of Mary Fedden) and printmaking.  I used to love seeing every new print she made.

This is a photo of Robyn sketching - I think she's trying out my Art Pen with the extra fine nib!Photograph by Ronelle van Wyck
Robyn with her innovation - a replacement for a lost water jar
- in the grounds of the Abbay de Senanque
see Abbaye de Senanque and the Lavender Fields
There are very many happy memories of our trip to Provence.

I vividly remember an epic walk back to the house from a visit to the market in Bedoin and the boulangerie with the bread - when we'd set off too late (my fault) and lingered too long in the market (my fault) on what turned out to be a very hot morning. We both wilted in the heat!

Robyn loved watching me sketch. She never made me feel self-conscious and never asked too many questions (which is usually what stops me sketching when people start watching). She watched as carefully as she listened.
    Robyn watching me sketch - sat outside on the terrace waiting for dinner
    Photograph by Ronelle van Wyck
    This was my sketch - including Robyn's head

    My sketch of the House and fields - and the back of Robyn's head
    and this was her sketch - which is much better than mine!

    The House by Robyn Sinclair
    She wrote when she posted this
    So much to paint, so little time. What a joy it is to live with three other painters!

    and finally...

    Robyn wasn't the sort of person who ever wanted to talk about her illness - we got short updates from time to time. I guess the fact that she has been seriously ill for quite some time will come as a big surprise to many people - even those she was corresponded with. Indeed this time last year, it seemed as if things were looking up and possible that things might be getting better. I know I'd been very hopeful for her.

    She was also hugely supportive of all the various ailments and illnesses that crop up as one gets older - or suddenly arrive out of the blue with no notice whatever your age. Nobody was a better support than Robyn when things looked grim!

    I am only sorry now that I hadn't corresponded more with her of late but I really dislike intruding on people when they're dealing with serious illness and 'go quiet'. I guess like many others it's always difficult to find the right things to say.  More fool us for not making the effort....

    Instead I thought it worked better to respond to comments made on blog posts she liked or Facebook Group threads she participated in - as and when she was able to do this.

    My condolences go out to her husband Graeme, her daughter Helen and her grandson Hugo - who she was determined to be around to be able to see - and so she was!  I was so pleased for her that she made that milestone and knew the pleasure of being a grandmother and making books for and hugging her grandson

    I'm really happy for Robyn that she's no longer challenged by her condition or in pain.

    I'm happy for all of us who knew her - for the fact we knew her and for the way she dripped joy into one's life - a little bit at a time - and always knew the right thing to say......


    Robyn's Facebook Page has been deactivated. So I'd like to take the opportunity to share this post with anybody who would like to make a record of their memories of Robyn and what she meant to them. Please leave a comment below and I'll send the link to this page to her husband.

    Sunday, December 20, 2015

    Call for Entries: Society of Botanical Artists' Annual Exhibition 2016

    The process, fees and timescales have changed for the call for entries for the 2016 Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists

    These are explained below. However the key changes to note are:

    • non-members can submit digital entries this year
    • the fees charged have changed and are now much simpler
    • the timescale has changed - non-members wanting to use the new digital entry process need to note that digital submission closes on 15th January.
    • physical entry via the normal Receiving Day on 22nd February is still available to non-members if digital entry is not possible
    The Annual Exhibition will be in the Aldersgate Room of Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, London SW1H 9NH between 15th and 23rd April 2016. There are a number of prizes (I got an Hon.Mention last year on one of them!) plus eligible works can be considered for a Certificate of Botanical Merit which is usually assessed by a botanist.

    The theme of the exhibition is 'Shape, Pattern, Structure' all important aspects of the diversity of growth habit and the range of shapes and colours in plants and flowers

    The lovely artwork for the exhibition flyer is A Passion for Peonies by Billy Showell
    What follows is my overview and digest of the terms and conditions of entry for the 2016 exhibition. You can the digital entry form and more information on this page on the website.

    Please note that any errors of interpretation are mine and that all those submitting to the exhibition should rely on the formal SBA paperwork not line!

    Eligible artwork

    Who can enter?

    There are no constraints on age or where you live with respect to who can enter. Every year, the exhibition includes artwork from international artists.

    Application for membership via exhibition: There are special conditions for those wanting to apply for membership or associate membership and details of these conditions can be found on the second page of the Terms and Conditions leaflet.
    To become an Associate member, an artist must establish a record of accepted work showing a consistent standard: the minimum period required to establish this record is two years which means that the artist must have submitted five works and had ALL five works accepted for two consecutive years: that is ten out of ten works accepted in total over two successive years. 

    International Artists

    One of the members of the SBA offers a service such that unframed pictures may be sent which can be framed in the UK (see terms and conditions page 4 for further details)

    The Society will not take responsibility for payment of any importation charges or duties.

    Artists who are not normally resident and taxable in the UK can submit work but will need to register for VAT if the work sells at the exhibition.

    For those unfamiliar with the process this is my blog post about VAT for non-UK artists and UK exhibition organisers

    What can you enter

    All work entered must be for sale - so don't enter anything which you want to hang on to for another exhibition!  You won't get any physical work back until 25 April irrespective of whether or not it is selected for the exhibition.

    All work must be completely original and produced by the person who signs the submission form.  Any copies of any work of any other artist, either living or dead, could result in prosecution.

    Eligible artwork is as follows
    • 2D Works: paintings, drawings or miniature work. Acceptable media includes: watercolour, pencil, coloured pencil, pastel, oil, gouache, mixed media, 
    • 3d Works: sculpture, , glass engraving, ceramics, jewellery, carving, metal-work, etc etc. 
    • Media excluded: No photography or digital work will be considered for the time being. 
    • Style: works can reflect habitat and environment as well as adopting the more conventional style of traditional botanical illustration and plant portraiture, 
    • Size: The size of the subject matter may be life-size, reduced or enlarged. However the maximum size of work is 48" on the longest length of the exterior frame size
    • Maximum number of works: You can enter up to five works but only four works by non-members will be hung
    The expectation is that all work will be presented in a professional manner. The detailed requirements can be found in the terms and conditions in the section on Presentation and labelling of work.

    How to enter

    To enter you need to submit the work, the entry schedule and a fee.  


    The SBA had have had - until this year - a very complex system of fees - for entry and hanging with variations in what was charged depending on the size of the entry and what was accepted for exhibition. It must have been a nightmare to administer!

    This year the fee is uniform for all entries and covers both submission and hanging fee

    Minimum Price and what it applies to

    Last year the SBA introduced a minimum price for artwork above a certain size.  This continues this year. I assume the objective is to eliminate medium/large works with low prices - which are inappropriate in a London exhibition.

    • If a hanging work measures more than 15" on its longest framed dimension the minimum price must be at least £350
    • The minimum price of £350 does not apply to hanging work measuring less than 15" on the longest length of the frame, or to miniatures, 3D-work or etchings. 

    Price including VAT
    • If an artist is personally registered for VAT, then the VAT due on the selling price of the works should be included in the catalogue price.


    Fees are based on the size of the longest length of exterior dimensions
    • A non-refundable digital pre-submission fee is £15 per work, payable on line on submission. 
    • No other fees will be charged


    Commission is charged as follows:
    • 42 per cent on ALL work related to the exhibition i.e. 
      • on the catalogue price on sales at the exhibition 
      • OR resulting in any way from the exhibition ie. copyright, commissions for work, licenses, prints and reproductions of any kind
    • 10 per cent on work resulting at any time from enquiries to, or recommendations by, the Society, or commissioned through the Society. (i.e. unrelated to the exhibition)
    • all works sold are subject to 42% commission
    • any work commissioned as a result of the exhibition is subject to a 42% commission

    Payments for sold work

    • payments for sold work will be made within two months of the end of the exhibition

    Digital submission

    This year, the SBA are inviting non-members to use a digital submission process. I understand that the process will be mandatory from 2016 for both members and non-members so it's an excellent idea to give it a go this year - and to note the difference the process makes to the dates and timeline for entries

    The other main advantages for those using this process are that: IF your artwork is NOT accepted then you save money due to no need to frame and no need to spend money on transport or a courier to submit work on the Receiving Day

    There are major benefits for international artists if they can get the work to the UK and framed for the Receiving Day after the results of the digital pre-selection are announced on 31 January.

    The process is:
    What type and size of image?

    Actual image - the form requires
    • Actual image size: size requested in the entry is the ACTUAL size of the real image (i.e. height x width in cms)
    • Actual media: this must be stated eg watercolour
    Digital image to be submitted:
    • Digital format: supplied in jpeg format (NOT tif, gif or psd)
    • Digital image size: longest length - 1000 pixels wide (NOTE: Smaller images will be rejected)
    • Digital file size: no limit stated
    • Digital resolution: no more than 150 dpi 
    • Digital file name: must identify artist and artwork

    Receiving day

    SBA 2016 Receiving Day is 22 February 2016. Entries will be booked in at the Aldersgate Room at Westminster Central Hall. The SBA provides a list of couriers you can use.

    This applies to
    • all work by members 
    • plus all work digitally pre-selected plus any work from non-members 
    All works must be presented - unwrapped - with the printed out digital entry form or the paper entry schedule (and £15 fee for those unable to submit digitally)

    Couriers bringing multiple works will be allowed to unpack in the Gallery. 


    Submission and selection

    • 15 December 2015 Digital pre-selection starts 
    • 15 January 2016 Deadline for digital submission (nearly 4 weeks from today)
    • 31 January 2016 Notification of results of digital pre-selection. You then have three weeks to get your work framed and transport or a courier organised
    • 22 February 2016 Receiving Day for pre-selected works from 11am to 4pm 
    • 23 February 2016 Selection of work (at Central Hall Westminster)


    • 14 April 2016 Private View from 11am to 7.00pm 
    • 15 to 23 April 2016 Exhibition open 11am to 5pm including Sundays 
    • 25 April 2016 Collection of unaccepted and unsold work from Aldersgate Room, 10am to 3pm. Artists must bring their own packing.
    Note there is only one collection date for both unsold and unaccepted work. Hence the advantage of using the digital selection process if there are other places you'd like to show your work.


    Note that the General conditions of entry provide the name and contact details for Mrs Pamela Henderson, Executive Secretary SBA who looks after a lot of the entry process. Any queries should be addressed to her.

    Saturday, December 19, 2015

    The John Ruskin Prize 2015: Shortlist

    Thirty artists have been shortlisted for The John Ruskin Prize 2015. The Prize winners will be announced at the private view on 25 February 2016.

    This is an annual art competition about drawing - with a theme. The Prize was established in 2012 to support emerging British artists. It aims to uphold Ruskin’s belief that drawing helps us see the world and its fragility more clearly.

    The theme this year is Recording Britain Now: Society to re-assess their practice and focus on the prevalent social issues of 2015/16. 
    In the same way that Recording Britain sought to map familiar townscapes and countryside under threat, this will be an invitation to engage with a society in rapid transition.
    I published my post about The John Ruskin Prize 2015: Call for Entries back in June - and this set out some of the background to the Recording Britain now initiative associated with the Second World War.
    “It is enlightening to compare the observations of our 30 finalists with those of the 63 artists commissioned by Sir Kenneth Clark (with funds from the Pilgrim Trust) to document Britain under threat during the Second World War. Creating an accessible online gallery from the V&A's historic Recording Britain collection and the contemporary imagery shortlisted for this Prize will make many more people aware of art's power to comment, provoke and urge action”.
    Sue Grayson Ford, President, The Big Draw 

    The John Ruskin Prize 2015: Short-listed Artists

    Links below are to the 'about' pages on the websites of the shortlisted artists. These are:
    • Timothy Betjeman -  graduated with a BA in Visual Art from the University of Chicago plus post-graduate diploma in Drawing from The Royal Drawing School
    • David Borrington - His website says This website publishes latest artwork exploring strange unique analysis, of social political and current affairs.
    • Julian Bovis - an Urban Landscape Artist who predominantly works in pen and ink on paper, producing large-format illustrations and limited-edition Giclee Prints. 
    • Jessie Brennan - a London-based British artist whose practice explores the inter-relation between people and place, through drawing and dialogue. Last month she did a presentation of her project Regeneration - which describes the politics that led to the rise and fall of Robin Hood Gardens - from socialist-inspired post-war public housing to its eventual privation under neoliberalism
    What’s highlighted are the dramatically different perceptions of the estate by academic/architectural institutions and the people who actually live there.
    • Sally Cutler - a printmaker whose preferred medium is linocut. She's been developing a series of a series of heads of people living in different locations in the UK. Each head is a real person who lives in, works in or visits the region in the title.
    Richmond, North Yorkshire Heads by Sally Cutler

    Party Wall (2015)
    copright Nathan Ford
    • Nathan Ford -the blurb on his website makes for an interesting read. I've long been familiar with the amount of draughtsmanship and drawing that underpins his paintings - I always love looking at them. His work is above this bullet point - and is very different.