Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Threadneedle Exhibition 2016 - my favourites

The Threadneedle Prize has a £10,000 Visitors' Choice Award which is voted for by people visiting the exhibition.

Every time the Threadneedle exhibition is held I always do a post devoted to the pictures I would have chosen as my shortlist for "The Columbia Threadneedle Prize: Figurative Art Today" a.k.a. (at least by me) as 'the Threadneedle Prize".  In effect they contain the picture I'm voting for as my personal favourite.

These are they.

Barry McGlashan with his painting
What Remains (After Hogarth)
Oil on panel, 76 x 102 cm, SOLD
I love this painting - as indeed I said when the selected artists were announced. I'm not in the least bit surprised that it sold fast.

It's not helped at all by the digital image online or in the catalogue - it's nowhere near as dark as the image suggests it is. I'm left wondering if that might not have helped when it came to the selection of the shortlist.

This is a painting of 'what happened next'.

Barry McGlashan  paints a lot of paintings about painters. Some times they feature in the paintings and sometimes they don't. However they will appeal to those who like to know about how artists worked - and definitely appeal to those who "collect" places artists have painted (like me!)

This one relates to an image called A Modern Midnight Conversation created by William Hogarth which has been reworked a number of times in terms of paintings by other artists "after Hogarth" (note the double entendre pun in the title) and by those engraving the image.

Below is the version in the Yale Center of British Art and is the one most like the painting produced by Barry. Here's another in the Royal Collection. Plus an erudite article by Andrew Graham Dixon on the topic of this painting.

A Midnight Modern Conversation by an Unknown artist after William Hogarth, 1697–1764, British
formerly William Hogarth, 1697–1764, British
Oil on canvas, 30 x 64 1/2 inches (76.2 x 163.8 cm)
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
You can see that in Barry's painting all the people have disappeared - but all the objects associated with their evening remain. From the clay pipes for smoking to the numerous lemons used for the gin punch. You look at the painting for a long time before noticing that a candle has just caught the tablecloth and the room is about the combust!

For me it does three things.
  • It's a neat connection with the past and one of the masters of British art. In the same way that Henriette Simson made the connection with Ambrogio Lorenzetti in her painting when she won the prize in 2011.
  • It's a pun on the history of the "the conversation piece" in British art...
  • Plus it's a narrative painting with subtext which makes it accessible both to those who take it at face value and those who enjoy their art history.  I have bemoaned the fact that we have far too many artists have lost sight of the value of the narrative painting.
All in all a clever piece of art!

Barry McGlashan describes his work as a commentary on the social history of painting and a homage to other artists. That's my kind of art! He will be having an exhibition of his work at the John Martin Gallery, Mayfair - during Autumn 2016. I'm hoping to get an invite to the PV!

Other works that I liked very much are below.

Only The Curious Have Something To Find by Gillian Ellis
Biro on paper, 209.5 x 139 cm, £2,500
I loved Gillian Ellis's drawing in biro. It was a complete surprise and has a major impact as soon as you see it. There's just so much to see and the creativity is wonderful. She also displays amazing control of a biro and what can be achieved in terms of drawing.

I didn't get to meet her but I'd love to know the story behind this very unique piece of art.

Gillian is currently taking a Masters in Fine Art/ Printmaking at Cambridge School of Art. She already has a First Class Honors Degree in Textile Design from Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London.

I predict good things for Gillian. If this is what she produces with a biro I'd love to see her fine art prints! However first she needs to get herself sorted with a proper independent website in her own name to display and market her artwork!

a closer look at Only The Curious Have Something To Find by Gillian Ellis
Next a more familiar face - but a less well known artist who belongs to the older generation.

Stuart and Ukelele by Penelope Smith
Oil, 60 x 50 cm, £3,000
I'm wondering how many people spotted this as being a painting of Stuart Pearson Wright who won the BP Portrait Prize 2000 and created the painting of JK Rowling which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.

I liked it as it's an exceptionally good portrait of him!

I had a feeling this must have been done by somebody close to him and had a chat with Stuart at the PV. It turns out I was right - the painting is by his mother!  For some reason she is listed as Penelope Smith in the catalogue although I understand her real name is Penelope Wright.

Penelope only started painting in 2008 - the same year as this competition started!
Without any formal training, Penelope began painting in 2008. She works principally in oils, but also loves drawing. Her subjects are the familiar places and objects of everyday life as well as friends and family.

Next another chap with a musical instrument.

‘Chère Capucine 1915-2015′
Oil on Masonite, 68cm x 75cm
Copyright Tom Clayton
Tom Clayton has two exceptionally good and extremely original paintings in the exhibition. I find them absolutely riveting - the sort of paintings that make you walk across the room to view them

This is the one I liked the best.

Honourable Mentions

These include a couple of works which in some ways are a lot simpler than others in the exhibition but which have merit nonetheless.

The first appears to be a sketchbook pulled apart - and an awful lot of small drawings of people. I liked the pun on art competitions suggested by the title.

The Yes & The No Pile by Rebecca Harper,
Graphite on paper, 240 x 140 cm, £5,000
 Rebecca Harper graduated from The Drawing Year at The Prince's Drawing School (now the Royal Drawing School) in 2013. She also has a first class Degree in Drawing and the Applied Arts from UWE, Bristol. Rebecca Harper can be found on Tumblr and Facebook.  Based on the work I can see my recommendation to Rebecca would be to get herself a proper website and a proper Facebook Page for her paintings and drawings. I predict we're going to be seeing more of Rebecca!

Study of her Hand by Helen Lloyd-Elliott
Oil on canvas, 26 x 30 cm, £1,200
This is the sort of painting which it would be very easy to live with. It's apparently a study done for one of her larger portraits. This is Helen Lloyd-Elliot's website. She completed a diploma in portraiture at The Heatherley Art School in Chelsea - which is interesting as I thought her work looked familiar.


The Columbia Threadneedle Prize Exhibition is at the Mall Galleries until until 1pm on Saturday 20th February.

The £10,000 Visitors' Choice Award is now being voted on by those visiting the exhibition.

Do let me know by leaving a comment below:
  • what you think about my choice
  • how you choose art that you like in an exhibition
  • which painting you have/are voting for in the Visitors' Choice Award

More about the Threadneedle Prize 2016

Threadneedle Prize Archive


Threadneedle Prize 2014

Threadneedle Prize 2013

Threadneedle Prize 2012

2011 Threadneedle Prize

2010 Threadneedle Prize

2009 Threadneedle Prize

2008 Threadneedle Prize

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