Thursday, June 30, 2016

Wildlife Artist of the Year - The Exhibition

Yesterday I wrote about the people who won the awards at the Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition - at the Mall Galleries until 4pm on Saturday.  (see Wildlife Artist of the Year 2016 - The Awards).

Today it's the turn of the people whose artwork caught my eye.

Plus I have a video of the exhibition - which you can see below and on my Making A Mark Channel on YouTube (

So whose work caught my eye - apart from the award winners?

The exhibition starts strong - these are the first pieces you see as you enter. (I'm going to add in credits - but am rushing off out to an exhibition this morning so will do it later today)

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2016 Exhibition - entrance to the Main Gallery
The exhibition for the competition is split in two - one side (the Main Gallery) has all the colour - and it is very colourful......

A really colourful wall below the bookshop
.....and the Threadneedle Space has the monochrome pieces. 

I thought that visually it worked extremely well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2016 - The Awards

The Wildlife Artist of the Year 2016 Exhibition opened today at the Mall Galleries. I was there last night for the preview and to see the awards being made. Below you can find out who became Artist of the year and also see the which artwork won in each category.

Artwork in the exhibition
It's an excellent exhibition with many outstanding works of art. For all lovers of wildlife art it's definitely an exhibition to visit. 

50% of the sales of all works of art also goes to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation's wildlife conservation projects across Africa and Asia. This is the ninth show and to date it has raised over £320,000 to help protect endangered wildlife.

I've got a video and would also like to highlight some of the other works in the show so I'll post again later this week.

The exhibition is open 10am to 5pm (and 4pm on the last day - which is Saturday 2nd July.

A view of the exhibition in the main gallery
If you can't get to the exhibition you can still view images of the artwork in the exhibition online.

Wildlife Artist of the Year

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2016  (£10,000)

Sponsored by Mr & Mrs Covey

Ribbon Eel by Umberto (Cher, France)
Wonderfully sensuous with the great weight of the bronze contrasting with the lightness of form – its beautifully smooth texture creates a very modern and original evocation of wildlife art.
Umberto is an award-winning sculptor. He started out as a model maker for commercial art. However once he started working using a foundry for his work, it became more figurative and about nature and wildlife. He now has a workshop where he has worked as a professional sculptor for the last 13 years.

Umberto with David Shepherd at the Awards Ceremony

Runner up 

£1,000 and an artist residency for a week at Nature in Art, Gloucestershire.
Sponsored by Simon Trapnell 

Runner Up: Fading Giant by Stefano Zagaglia (Milan, Italy)
It is the essence of everything that DSWF works to protect in painted form. No words are required as visually it says something grand is disintegrating in front of our eyes – the white space is all that we will be left with.
Stefano was also selected for the Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition in 2015.

Category winners:

The Category winners each receive £500 and a Certificate

Animal Behaviour 

- a real understanding of animal behaviour and a sense of character.

Category Winner: Game Face On by Warren Cary ( Hoedspruit , South Africa)
A beautiful, strong interpretation of an iconic and powerful species left in the wild today. It’s refreshing to see an individual style of precision, power and eloquence.
 The Threadneedle Space houses all the work which is monochrome and is where this work is situated.

Earth’s Beautiful Creatures 

– the judges were looking for not only beautifully executed original artworks but also imaginative interpretation, moving away from the purely photographic to compositions with great characterisation , showing imagination, originality and genuine creativity.
Sponsored by Gary Hodges

Category Winner: Maribou Portrait by Alan Woollett ( Maidstone , Kent)
(coloured pencil on Fabriano Artistico) 
Not one of nature’s beauties but this strong head depicts the warts and all and contrasts with the softness of the pelage (body feathers)
Not the prettiest bird in the room - but very striking and caught my eye from the other side of the room.

Alan at the Awards Ceremony - he had no idea he's won his category!

Hidden World 

- the judges wanted to see a celebration of remote and rarely observed or lesser known landscapes and species
presented in memory of Derek Francis 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Brexit #1: What does it mean for UK and EU Art Students and Schools?

There is no certainty right now about Brexit means for art and artists. This is a first in a series of articles commenting (hopefully in an intelligent and factual way!) on what Brexit might mean for different aspects of Art and Artists.

This first article focuses on art students and those wishing to take fine art degrees, short courses, workshops, classes etc in terms of:
  • EU students wanting to study in the UK
  • UK students wanting to study in the EU.
Plus it also comments on some of the implications for art schools and other educational establishments.

I'm trying here to indicate a framework for how things might work going forward.  I'd be very happy to add into this post any information or comments from people with relevant experience or expertise. 

Darwin Building, Royal College of Art in London, spring 2013
Royal College of Art - for postgraduate study

What happens now?

In the short term, nothing changes immediately - apart from on the financial markets. 

When Article 50 is invoked and the negotiations begin it should become clearer what happens next. Two years are allowed to conclude them.  I'll update this post and/or write a new one as and when any changes are announced

However the major question is if and when Article 50 is invoked - and how the various parties behave towards one another as negotiations proceed.

Hopefully at some point everybody will stop running round like headless chickens and calm down and get on with whatever needs to be done for the best interests of all concerned.

You can be certain during negotiations there will lobbying for special exemptions and deals for specific circumstances. However what those will be and what happens will depend as much on the attitude and tone struck by EU Members and Politicians.

In terms of art students it's much easier to say what's likely to happen in future with respect to EU students coming to the UK than what the EU might decide with respect to UK students wanting to study at an approved educational institution in the EU. It's probably going to be similar - but there are no certainties.

What it means for Art Students

The University of Arts, London issued advice to their students the day before the referendum - What does a Brexit mean for UAL students?  (Its students actually come from over 140 countries from around the globe).

Study Visas to come to the UK

Glasgow School of Art 52
Glasgow School of Art
- the Mackintosh Building
At present you don't need a visa to come to the UK to study if you normally reside within the EU.
If you are a student from a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, and not already living in the UK, you need a visa to study in the UK.
University of the Arts, London
However if and when the UK leaves the EU this will very likely change for all students who are EU Nationals.
There will an end of unrestricted free movement. | Douglas Carswell - interviewed on the BBC 27 June 2016
However education might be an area where a special deal is done given the high education sector's dependence on fees from overseas students. This is an aspect to keep an eye on.

I make no predictions but I'd expect some heavy lobbying from the educational institutions on this one.
Every year, universities generate over £73 billion for the UK economy – £3.7bn of which is generated by students from EU countries | EU referendum: An open letter to UK voters from leaders of 103 British universities
After the Exit has been agreed, it's reasonable to expect that all EU nationals wanting to come to the UK to study art will be subject to the same terms and conditions as nationals from any other country.

If visas are required in future, the type of visa will depend on what sort of study is involved. Links below are to Visa Information from the Government.

There are currently two types of Student Visas for people who want to come to the UK for study purposes
  • Tier 4 (General) visa
  • Short-term Study visa
Somebody coming as an academic visitor needs a You need a Standard Visitor visa.

Tier 4 Visa

At present you can apply for a Tier 4 (General) Visa if you are a non-EU national.  There are various conditions.  They key conditions are that:
  • there is a limit on the amount of time you can spend in the UK on this type of visa.
  • it only relates to educational organisations which hold a Tier 4 licence - which means if they lose their licence you lose your visa unless you can find another sponsor
This is for students aged 16 years or over who are coming to UAL to study:
  • A full-time degree or degree-level course (e.g. BA, MA, PhD);
  • A further education course (e.g. Foundation Diploma);
  • A pre-sessional course;
  • An English language course (at level B2 in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).

Short-term Study Visa

Short term Study Visas are for people wanting to do a short course of study in the UK
What you can and can’t do
You can:
  • do a short course of study in the UK, such as an English language course or a training course
  • do a short period of research as part of a degree course if you are studying abroad
You can’t:
  • study at a state school
  • work (including on a work placement or work experience) or carry out any business
  • extend this visa
  • bring family members (‘dependants’) with you - they must apply separately
  • get public funds

Three year courses and a two year exit period

I expect higher education establishments will be in a quandary about offering places for the next academic year for three year courses as these will extend beyond the two years allocated for completely exit negotiations.

My guess - and I emphasise this is a guess - is that
  • they will lobby hard for some transitional arrangements for students who 
    • started their academic studies this year - but will not complete in the two years after Article 50 is invoked.
    • start to study after the vote and before the Exit.
  • they will provide lots of information and advice to students as to the requirements for visas if the UK exits the EU within the 2 year period or by the end of it.  
Bear in mind that it very much appears that in relation to being a student in the UK the worst it can be (on the basis of current arrangements) is exactly the same as it is for other non-EU nationals at present.

Exchange arrangements

There may also be issues in relation to any exchange arrangements with academic institutions in the EU - and vice versa.

I think this is very much a 'wait and see'. The chances are is it might require more paperwork.

After your study course finishes

The major difference will come after EU or UK students have finished your studies. 

If freedom of movement between EU and the UK becomes restricted then there will be:

  • no right to remain after your studies, 
  • no right to work and 
  • no right to live in the UK. 
All of these activities will require a visa.

Although nobody can be certain, it's very likely that a work visa will only be issued according to the points-based system which currently relates to non-EU nationals. Visas are only issued to specific classes of people.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

International Art Competitions
may become more important
One class is "Exceptional Talent". This is the full guidance on UK Visas and Immigration's policy on visa applications under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) - Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) policy guidance PDF, 559KB, 49 pages.

Interestingly I was asked last year to provide an endorsement for an artist who wanted to apply under this class (after I had highlighted the individual on this blog). I referred him on to an organisation I thought might well provide an endorsement with more weight.

It does however highlight how important international art competitions and art prizes might become in indicating exceptional talent.

What it means for Art Schools 

If they haven't done so already, it's very likely that all art schools and other establishments (of whatever size) offering study courses will need to become accredited as an institution which is "recognised" as a "proper" educational organisation.

(There's been all sorts of shocking examples of establishments masquerading as study centres in the past - hence the rigour re becoming accredited and the removal of Tier 4 accreditation on occasion).

Specifically that means that
  • art schools in this country need to meet visa requirements for students (if they don't already)
  • art schools in the EU will need to do likewise re whatever visa arrangements they have in place for non-EU students. (Anybody know what those are?)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

BP Portrait Award 2016 - Artists with their paintings

The BP Portrait Award over the years has developed an increasingly international dimension.  On Wednesday I was delighted to meet and photograph a number of the artists - with the portraits they painted for the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Click the images to see a LARGER VERSION.

You can also view the websites of more of the artists selected for this year's exhibition plus a and a short summary of their CV via my earlier post BP Portrait Award 2016: Selected Artists.  The link to their website is embedded in their names. The names are organised by the country where they live at present (when available).

I'll also be doing more posts about the exhibition. Upcoming posts will include:
  • The Best of the Rest - my choice of my top 10 paintings (excluding the prizewinners)
  • A Video Interview with Clara Drummond
  • A Video Interview with Benjamin Sullivan
  • A review of the exhibition - including a video tour of the exhibition sone after the awards Ceremony last Tuesday.
  • The BP Travel Award

The Painters

The painters in this post are: Alexander Chamberlin;  Sopio Chkhikvadze; Thomas Dobre; Thomas Ehretsmann; Samantha Fellows; Jane Gardiner Fiona Graham-McKay; Eilis Otway; Teri Anne Scoble; Daisy Sims-Hilditch; David von Bassewitz ; Simon Richardson; Shany van den Berg


Alexander Chamberlin (b.1972)

James Rhodes by Alexander Chamberlin
Oil on Canvas, 500 x 400mm (January 2016)
Alexander Chamberlin is a London based figurative oil painter - painting landscapes, portraits, still life and flowers. He grew up near Earls Court and has a studio located on the western edge of Chelsea. He's always loved to paint,  has a BA (Hons) degree from Newcastle University and he's has had work in numerous exhibitions in London and in numerous group exhibitions including those of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Chelsea Art Society. (This is his Facebook Page)

He paints portraits from life on location or in his studio. His portrait is of his brother-in-law James Rhodes who is a British classical concert pianist who has made classical music much more accessible the informal presentation of his performances and campaigning for music tuition for school children. He's also well known for his international bestselling memoir, Instrumental (2014) - which he was originally prevented from publishing due to a gagging order but the Supreme Court ruled otherwise in what was seen as a major legal judgement relating to free speech and an endorsement of the right of survivors to tell their stories

Alexander pointed out to me that he painted it for his sister Hattie and James as a wedding present - but so far they haven't actually received it and now won't get it for nearly a year!
What's interesting about the painting is it looks unfinished (note the right hand side) and yet the bright splash of orange means it works better as a painting.

Note for those hoping to get their work into this exhibition. Alexander had previously produced large paintings and not had his work accepted. This year he decided to go much smaller - in a year in which the exhibition has lots more small paintings.

Sopio Chkhikvadze (b. 1972)

This one is a bit different as I came across her model at the show but not Sopio! The portrait is of the photographer, Martin Chaffer who is also a Past Chair of the Social of Fulham Artists and Potters. The map of London was added to provide an interesting visual context.

Born in Tbilisi, Georgia and lives in London. Sopio studied art at Tbilisi Nikoladze Art College  and Tbilisi State Academy of Art, Georgia. Her work has been seen in exhibitions in Tiblisi, Prague and Moscow and those of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Royal Society of British Artists. She won the Michael Harding Award at the RBA Annual Exhibition 2016. I saw one of her paintings at this show and found it interesting.

Portrait Of Martin Chaffer by Sopio Chkhikvadze (B.1972)
oil on canvas

Samantha Fellows (b.1971)

Samantha is a scenic artist who has worked as head artist for many UK leading set designers, painting scenery for numerous theatre and television productions. She paints portraits, mostly of children, in oil on birch plywood panels. Interestingly although British she studied art and gained a BA (Hons) degree in fine art at Oregon State University.

She had work in both the RBSA Portrait Prize Exhibition and the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Women Artists (both 2015).

Samantha Fellows with her daughter Pearl and her portrait
Pearl In The Morning, Ready For School 
oil on panel
‘I was struck by Pearl’s look of very slight apprehension. She also possesses a certain teenage bravado that I also hoped to capture.’
Pearl only got the morning off the Press Preview - she was back at school in the afternoon!

The painting of her daughter is part of a series of paintings of both daughters. Samantha is having a good year this year. If you visit her Facebook Page you can see her portrait of her other daughter Rose hanging in the Royal Academy of Art's Summer Exhibition. That one (Rose's School Picture) has sold!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The NEAC Annual Exhibition 2016 at the Mall Galleries

It was a lot easier to see the paintings at the NEAC Annual Exhibition 2016 yesterday than it was last week at the Private View.  I had meant to return sooner but my dodgy knee and ankle had other ideas!

There are 412 artworks in the exhibition hung across three galleries (compared to 397 artworks in 2015).  A further 9 works were shortlisted for The Haworth Prize for landscape painting and drawing and are hung in the Threadneedle Space (compared to 12 last year)

That means there's a lot of artwork to see. The artwork includes paintings - in every medium (oil, acrylic, watercolour, egg tempera, mixed media) plus drawings in a variety of media but notably pencil charcoal and pen and ink - and fine art prints which employ a range of approaches. It is however an exhibition which appears to be overwhelmingly about oil painting (or do oil painters invariably pick oil painters?)

The exhibition continues until 1pm on Saturday 25th June - so there's not a lot of time left to see it. Read about the prizewinners, new website and exhibition catalogue in my previous post Prizewinners at the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2016

[VIDEO NOTE: I've got three small videos of the exhibition which I need to edit together which give you a better impression of what the exhibition looked like and the artwork hung. I'll add in a link here as soon as I've got it uploaded to YouTube

I'm also crunching some numbers to check out the average price of a work by media and size - and I'll update this post when I have that information "crunched"!]

The new website seems to have lost the old text which sets out what the exhibition is supposed to be about.  You'll see below that I also comment on a notion that the exhibition has lost some of its focus. I'd recommend NEAC address this in future and think about whether and if so how "form follows function" in terms of the purpose of the exhibition and the nature of the way it is organised.

By and large the artwork is figurative and representational and often grounded in realism. However it also has a leaning towards those that relate more to the impressionism end of the spectrum rather than those who like everything precise and hyperreal.

The monochrome wall in the North Gallery
- prints and works on paper in pencil, charcoal and pen and ink

The good news

The monochrome wall (see above) is a resounding success. It mixes works by members with those from the open entry. It demonstrates draughtsmanship alongside more lyrical drawing. The artwork is made using pen and ink, pencil and charcoal as well as etchings and aquatints. To me it really works well and includes some excellent work. Etchings and aquatints by Austin Cole impressed as they always do (I also spotted Austin's work in the Summer Exhibition - but then I am looking for it!).

I particularly liked Coastal Path by Dominic Keshavarz. The skill and technique employed in creating the tonal and spatial depth in what is a very complex drawing is very impressive. To do this using pen and ink is even more reason to stop and look and linger and look again.  I've seen a lot of very fine pen and ink drawings and this artist is up there with some of the best when it comes to an interpretation of realism.

Coastal Path by Dominic Keshavarz
pen and ink, 17" cx 11"
(priced at a £1,000 and SOLD)
You can see a much better version of the drawing in this tweet.

Hanging a multitude of small works in the area around the tables and chairs where people tend to linger is a great idea. It means that while having a cup of tea and a conversation and/or snack, visitors to the exhibition can survey the smaller and more affordable works.

This is a far better way of encouraging people to buy than putting them all together in the far end of the North Gallery.

Small works on the wall next to the steps - 11 have sold.
Small works on the adjacent feature wall - 3 have sold
There are narratives about the art on the wall. In principle I think these are a really good idea - it's a very large exhibition. They were interesting to read and suggested ways in which people could look at the art.  However they felt like a very mini version of the introduction panels for each Room in the Summer Exhibition. I was left thinking that they didn't address a big enough theme or space. Plus I didn't understand why they were only in some places and not others.  (see below for further comments on organization of the exhibition)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Clara Drummond wins £30,000 BP Portrait Award 2016

The winners of the prizes at the BP Portrait Awards Ceremony last night are as follows....

BP Portrait Award 2016 - £30,000 First Prize

Clara Drummond won the first prize in the BP Portrait award - a cash award of £30,000, plus a commission worth £5,000, to be agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist.

(Note: Links embedded in the name of the artist goes to their website)

Clara Drummond - BP Portrait Award First Prize
with her painting Girl in a Liberty Dress
(260 x 370 mm, oil on board)

Her painting Girl in a Liberty Dress is a portrait of her friend and a fellow artist Kirsty Buchanan who featured in the portraits by Drummond which were selected for the 2013 and 2014 exhibitions. The reference to the paisley dress is that Kirsty sat for Clara for this portrait while wearing a vintage Liberty dress inspired by the fact that both artists were working on an exhibition at the time with the William Morris Society Archive (which was held in May).

Clara Drummond and her model and fellow artist Kirsty Buchanan
She was presented with the prize by Jessica Ennis-Hill, the current Olympic and world heptathlon champion and a BP Ambassador for Sport. She beat allcomers for the shortest preamble to the Awards Ceremony while commenting that she normally thinks of the first, second and third prize as the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals! She was accompanied by Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery and Bob Dudley, Group Chief Executive for BP.

Jessica Ennis-Hill, Clara Drummond, Nicholas Cullinan and Bob Dudley, the group chief executive of BP

In total 38-year-old Cambridgeshire-based artist Drummond has been selected for the exhibition five times (2006, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2016) but this is the first time she has been shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award.

Clara read Modern Languages at Cambridge. She is also a graduate of The Drawing MA programme at the Prince’s Drawing School (now known as The Royal Drawing School). The intensive year of drawing developed both her draftsmanship and her approach to painting. In 2011 she joined the teaching faculty at the The Royal Drawing School and also teaches at The Saatchi Gallery and at the London Zoo.  Prior to this she was an assistant to portrait painter Jonathan Yeo and then later for a short period in Maria Theresa Meloni’s studio in New York. She has also been awarded the Bulldog Award by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Young Artist of the Year Prize by the Society of Woman Artists.

I'm guessing that the choice of the painting for first prize may surprise some people. I can only recommend that they go take a look for themselves. Portraiture is not only about hyperrealist paintings which take hundreds of hours.

Judges’ comments – Girl in a Liberty Dress

‘This year’s overall winner was noted by all of the judges for its subtle, enigmatic nature, and for the indelible impression the artist’s skill makes on the viewer.’
I know from having spoken to her, that renowned artist and Judge Jenny Saville was very impressed with the winning painting - she thought it stood out from the others.

Clara Drummond with BP Portrait Judge and artist Jenny Saville

TIP for future BP entries:
  • Your painting does not have to be big - this year's exhibition has a lot of smaller paintings 
  • A painting which captures the inner self as well as an outer likeness can do very well.

This is the prizewinners wall.

The BP Portrait Award Prizewinners
from left to right - First Prize, Second Prize and Third Prize
I've already got a video of the exhibition which will demonstrate the change in the size and nature of the paintings in this BP Portrait Award exhibition.

Second Prize: £10,000

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

John Moores Painting Prize 2016 - shortlist announced

Over 2,500 artists entered the £25,000 John Moores Painting Prize 2016. This is an an open competition for artists working with paint held every two years. It is regarded as one of the premier art prizes in the UK and is open to artists who live or are professionally based (e.g. have a studio) in the UK.

Past winners have included Patrick Heron (1959) Roger Hilton (1963) David Hockney (1967), Richard Hamilton and Mary Martin (1969), Euan Uglow (1972) Peter Doig (1993), and Rose Wylie (2014)
I always think of it as being a prize where those selected and shortlisted have typically been to an art school and very often have pursued postgraduate studies as well. (see the brief bios below to see what I mean).

The exhibition is always held at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. This year the exhibition will be part of the Liverpool Biennial’s 8th international festival which launches on 9 July 2016.

The shortlisted prizewinners were announced yesterday.

Details of the jury which selected the artists and drew up the shortlist are given at the end.

John Moores Painting Prize 2016 - Shortlist

Each of the artists named on the shortlist will win at least £2,500 - however one of them will win £25,000.
  • Talar Aghbashian 
  • Gabriella Boyd
  • Bejamin Jamie
  • Selma Parlour
  • Michael Simpson
You'll find details about them below - each of the artist's names is prefaced by SHORTLISTED.

John Moores Painting Prize 2016 - Selected artists

Selected paintings and their artists were announced earlier in June.
Director of Art Galleries at National Museums Liverpool, Sandra Penketh, said there is an "especially vibrant use of colour" in this year's selection. "We also see many artists addressing the topical issues facing our world today, touching on subjects such as migration."
BBC News | Artists selected for John Moore Painting Prize
All paintings by the selected artists are eligible for the Visitors’ Choice prize of £2,016. This is voted for by visitors to the exhibition at the Walker and awarded towards the end of the exhibition period. All works featured in the exhibition will also be available to purchase.

Links in the artists name is to their website Aspiring artists might want to note that

  • virtually every artist has an informative website - and that they're very interesting in terms of different approaches to presenting their work. 
  • I found more than a few artists who were being somewhat "creative" with their bios. It's really not worth it when simple facts can be easily checked online eg there's a world of difference between being selected, being shortlisted and actually winning a prize. 
  • Quite a few artists need to update their websites on a more regular basis and particularly after they've been selected for an art prize exhibition!

Links in the titles are to an image of the painting - either to the John Moores website or wherever the painting can be found online.  (Artists might want to note that if an image doesn't have a URL nobody can link to it! It's a matter of individual choice - however it's always very difficult to reference paintings without an online ID)

As always if I've got any of the links wrong please do contact me via the comments or by emailing me (see side column)

The selected artists are
  • SHORTLISTED Talar Aghbashian - 'Untitled' A Lebanese Armenian painter who did his Master of Fine Art (MFA), Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and lives and works in London. More details about painting and artist in Shortlisted page - click link in title
Untitled (2015) by Talar Aghbashian
Oil on canvas, 75 x 60 cm
  • Tristan Barlow - 'Truck Stop Swamp' - born in Jackson Mississippi. Lives and works in London. In 2015 he graduated with a 2015 MFA in Painting (Distinction), Slade School of Fine Art; London
  • Karl Bielik - 'Sunday' - lives and works in London and works exclusively in oil work exclusively in oil paint on thirty or so paintings and drawings at once
  • SHORTLISTED Gabriella Boyd - 'Birthyard' -  A young London-based artist who graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2011 and is currently a student at the Royal Academy Schools (2014-17). More details about painting and artist in Shortlisted page - click link in title
I’m really interested in how we distinguish between a painting of an intimate scene and a painting that’s voyeuristic. Interview - Gabriella Boyd: Inside the Studio
Birthyard (2015) by Gabriella Boyd
Oil on canvas, 167.8 x 152.4 cm
  • Julian Brown - 'A Fairytale of Gdansk' - Born in 1974 from Dorset now works and lives in London. Trained at The Royal Academy Schools, Liverpool John Moores University & Bournemouth & Poole college of Art & Design
  • Nici Bungey - 'The Expiring Frog' - Born in Germany, Lives and works in the UK
  • Bernard Charnley - 'When the stars threw down their spears' - info about exhibitions on website
  • Julie Cockburn - 'The Playground' - a one page website; no information about the artist on website or Facebook Page; 
  • James Collins - 'Floyd' - a one image website
  • Gemma Cossey - 'Halves II (Continuum)' - Active exhibitor. Studied at De Montfort University (BA and MA) and PGCE from Plymouth University
  • Ben Cove - 'Freeloader' - (Ben Cove died on 16 March after a short illness.) Active exhibitor. Graduated from Goldsmiths College, University of London with an MFA in 2008; Previously graduated in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University in 2001 and Architecture at The University of Nottingham in 1995. Informative well constructed website! 
  • Graham Crowley - 'Blue Drift 4'  - Lives in Wickham Market in Suffolk. Born in Romford in 1950. Studied at St. Martin’s School of Art London (1968-72) and the Royal College of Art London (1972-75). A teacher who used to be Professor of Painting at the RCA. Selected for seven previous John Moores exhibitions and won joint second prize in 1987. He has an interesting website.

Monday, June 20, 2016

10 artworks of merit at the RA Summer Exhibition 2016

This post is about the ten artworks which remain most clearly in my mind at the end of my visit to the 248th Summer Exhibition at the RA 10 days ago. Plus:
  • images of the same 
  • my general commentary on the exhibition, and, 
  • at the end, links to other reviews of the exhibition
The exhibition is open every day and continues until 21 August. Admission is £13.50 - but is this a good deal?

RA Summer Exhibition 2016 - Interior of the large Gallery III 
I try to make sense of the huge nature of the exhibition by trying to think of 10 reasons to see it. This post follows on from ones in previous years such as 10 reasons why the RA Summer Exhibition 2015 might surprise you and 10 reasons to visit the RA Summer Exhibition 2013

To this end I got the end of my visit on Friday and sat and thought about whether there were 10 artworks that I'd want to highlight, Interestingly this was after I'd been scribbling in my Moleskine and catalogue and had been asked by various visitors what I thought of the exhibition!  I find it very difficult to formulate views about the exhibition while in the middle of it because the sheer amount of artwork on display is almost mind-numbing.

I tend to go for a walk through the rooms to get a general sense of it - and then come back and start again. Viewing this year was interrupted by the necessity of making time to sit down periodically because of my decrepit knee - and I departed in the middle of my viewing for lunch at Fortnum & Masons for a break, a think and a scribble!

Here's a summary of collected thoughts about the exhibition:
  • an emphasis on figurative rather than realistic - there are very few realistic paintings in the show
  • the paintings were OK - but nothing of particular merit - I found the drawings and prints much more interesting and I do think this is an exhibition which printmakers and people who can draw should take very seriously. Oddly the "small works" room which Bill Jacklin created had paintings by him either end which had both sold. They certainly stood out in comparison with most of the paintings on display in that room. 
Landscapes and abstracts on one wall in Gallery II
Still life and people on the facing wall in Gallery II
  • not as exciting as last year's show - it's missing that certain something which elevates Summer Exhibition - and I don't just mean last year's pink wall. It also felt muddled.
  • lots and lots of sales - this really was one of the very first things I noticed. Red dots everywhere. Consequently although it might not be a critical success I'm pretty sure it will do better financially than some recent shows

Friday, June 17, 2016

Prizewinners at the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2016

It's really interesting having the annual exhibition of the New English Art Club on at the same time as the Summer Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts. That's because some are members of both institutions but mostly because NEAC was founded by a group of artists dissatisfied with the entrenched attitudes of the Royal Academy!

This year, if you had to make a choice between the Summer Exhibition and the NEAC Annual Exhibition, I suspect most of my readers would enjoy the art they see in the NEAC exhibition more!

Catching the Light by Charlotte Sorapure
oil, 40 x 64 inches (£16,850)
Below I've got news about the prizewinners - and the three major prizes are very definitely worth winning!

I'm actually going to go back to the exhibition before I do a detailed review as PVs are never good times to actually see the art from a distance and I do like to see art at more than arm's length and I'm very aware of the fact I've not yet seen all of it properly.

The other major news is NEAC now has a brand new website (based on Drupal 7) which launched on Wednsday - the day of the Private View. It's responsive to screen size (now an absolute essential for all art websites) and looks equally good on my very big iMac screen and my iPhone 6+.  Click the link embedded in the NEAC name in the first line above to access it.

NEAC 2016 Prizewinners

The NEAC Exhibition has some major cash prizes of a value which might generate an entire competition just for that prize!  Hence the focus in this post on the winners of the prizes.

The major cash prizes in 2016 

All the winners of the main cash prizes have been hung in the Threadneedle Space.

The Zsuzsi Roboz Prize (£5,000)

Awarded to an artist who demonstrates a particular excellence in draughtsmanship in painting or drawing - by The Alfred Teddy Smith and Zsuzsi Roboz Trust. The winner is chosen by one of the Trustees and one of the members.

Charlotte Sorapure (b. 1968) won the The Zsuzsi Roboz Prize with her wonderful picture titled Catching the Light.

It's a wonderful painting - one of those that when you enter the room you spontaneously comment "Oh, that's good!" without a second thought.  It confounds all sorts of 'rules' about the way you are supposed to organise your foreground. Charlotte is very clearly a figurative painter and yet she seems to be a painter who enjoys playing with format, layers of paint and creating distortions and devices which make you look at a painting more closely as you begin to realise there's rather more to it than appears at first glance.

Charlotte Sorapure NEAC with her painting (top left) Touching the Light

She has said of that illusive thing 'a successful painting'
A successful painting is where all the elements have found their natural place in the scheme, yet the image is in no way predictable. It should be bold and decisive in design. It should read from a distance, yet also be subtle and deeply mysterious. I just want to be able to continue painting and developing. There is always so much to do and learn. Life is short… and art is long!
Charlotte Sorapure
talking about her work
- plus Jeremy Isaacs on the left
and Richard Pikesley
President of NEAC on the right

Charlotte won the Holbourne Prize in 2012 and was commissioned by the Holbourne Museum to produce a painting of the famous photographer Don McCullin. The process was documented in an article for The Guardian - see Portrait of a photographer: McCullin by Sorapure

Charlotte is a member of the New England Art Club. As well as exhibitions at the Mall Galleries she is represented by Messum’s in London and Brian Sinfield Gallery in Burford.

She studied art at Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools and her career has seen her selected on a regular basis for open exhibitions and she is a regular prizewinner. I only worked out on Wednesday for the first time that she's married to Saied Dai.

Do take a look at her website (embedded in her name above) as she has a wonderful portfolio of work.

The Doreen McIntosh Prize (£5,000)

This significant prize was won by Martin Yeoman (b. 1953) with his painting of Taj Mahal Winter.  It reminded me very much of colours and atmospherics displayed in the pastels Monet used to create of the bridges across the Thames  as seen from his room at the savoy Hotel during Wintery peasoupers!

Monday, June 13, 2016

RA Summer Exhibition - open and online - with prints for sale

The Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition 2016 opened to the public today and I'm sure they had a lot of visitors.

However you can now also view the entire exhibition online via the Summer Exhibition Explorer so you can browse:
  • gallery by gallery
  • by artwork - these are listed in the order they are listed in the catalogue. You can review every single work in the exhibition. Each one has its own page. It also means that if you can't get an artwork out of your head you can go back and have another look when you get home before deciding whether or not to part with some cash.
The section of the RA Summer Exhibition Home Page
which takes you to the Summer Exhibition Explorer

Buy prints online

The major change of note for 2016 is that you can now BUY any print online by placing a deposit. This is the major change for 2016. Last year the artworks were available online - but  you had to fill a form in and then enquire whether it was still available.

I think I may have just found my answer as to why the sales were looking so very good on Friday when I visited at the first of the Friends Reviews.

Incidentally - as an update Pricing prints for the Summer Exhibition, this print has now sold 102 prints of an edition of 150

102 prints sold at the end of day 1 of the exhibition being open to the public
Oddly, the press release for the exhibition makes absolutely no reference to the ability to buy prints online so I don't know how many others covering the exhibition will have highlighted this new facility.

I also can't find any reference to the new facility on the Facebook Page.  Very odd!

Implications for other art competitions and open exhibitions

I think taking the entire exhibition online and making it both virtual and accessible to those who want to buy is a very clever decision.
For the first time in 2015 we produced the Summer Exhibition Explorer – an online fully illustrated list of works. Nearly 120,000 users visited the website, many to check the availability of works for sale.
In fact it might well prompt others to think very hard about the fact that it's rapidly becoming a standard expectation that exhibitions are virtual as well as in a gallery - with artwork for sale.

After all if ordinary artists without a gallery have been making sales online with just decent images and complete and full information about the artwork, why can't we expect the organisers of art competitions and open exhibitions do the same?

Especially as most submissions are now digital!

What I'm curious about is whether the RA uses the artist's digital image or whether they reshoot the artwork for the website. I'm not quite sure why anybody would photograph 1,240 artworks unless they had to.

It does make me also think whether we are underestimating the importance of the quality of the digital image used for submission.

Creating Virtual Exhibitions - and more sales!

Doubtless it costs the RA more than a little to get the virtual website up and running. However they did it for the first time last year and it was more than a bit successful. 120,000 visitors is a lot of visitors and I'm sure they can grow that number once people become more aware that the virtual exhibition is available to view.

Obviously the new facility has also revealed the scope to sell more art given that the majority of people who visited last year did so to check the availability of works for sale.

It comes as no surprise therefore that this year the RA are making it even easier to generate more sales.

It's interesting to see there is an Amazon like "if you like this then you might like this too" section seems to be biased towards the price range or the type of artwork rather than the nature of the artwork.

Try it for yourself and see what you think.

My feeling is the "you might like this" ought to be have a much better fit with the artwork. However I guess that might be a monumental task - or maybe they just need to get much better and more refined at tagging artworks so the software can do it for them?

While you still have to fill in a form if you want to buy an original painting, drawing or sculpture, the  printmakers are rather more fortunate.  If you're a printmaker I think I'd download this pdf statement for information re. next year's submission!
In 2016 exhibitors have the opportunity to reach this wider audience by making unframed prints available for sale online, so that buyers can pay the deposit via the RA website. This means that a buyer can make an ‘Offer to Purchase’ for an artwork without having seen it in the galleries at the RA. This type of sale is known as a ‘distance sale’.&

As in previous years, the exhibitor is the seller of the work with the RA forwarding the ‘Offer to Purchase’. However, it should be noted, by offering to sell work online the exhibitor agrees to comply with the UK’s distance selling regulations.

This means that when the exhibitor responds to the distance ‘Offer to Purchase’ they must inform the buyer of their fourteen-day right to cancel. Otherwise, the buyer is legally entitled to cancel their purchase and return the print for an additional 12 months.

RA Statement to Printmakers

Buy original art

However if you want to buy original art - in the form of paintings, drawings, sculpture, installation or photograph

How to find the website

If you lose the website address you now know it's listed in this blog post. However the other place you can find it is on the Summer Exhibition Main Page where it says "Browse and buy art"

As you'll know if you read Pricing prints for the Summer Exhibition I went on Friday

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Pricing prints for the Summer Exhibition

One very small artwork on display at the 2016 Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts very neatly illustrates a very important point about pricing for art competitions and the Summer Exhibition in particular.

Regular readers will remember I wrote recently about Is there a guide for pricing art for competitions? in which I
  • commented on the silly way artists price their artwork high for a competition and 
  • offered some practical advice for artists wanting to work out how to price their artwork when entering a competition.
In my past reviews of the Summer Exhibition, I've also repeatedly commented about how the artists who very often do best out of the Summer Exhibition (apart from the RA members) are the printmakers.  

If you submit a print that appeals and get the pricing right you can very often have a runaway success with the red dots!

Sleeping Mouse

I spotted a very small print hanging in Room VII of the Summer Exhibition yesterday. It's an etching and chine-coll√©.  It drew my attention because of the number of red spots it had. I counted them at the time and then later went back and took a photograph and counted them again.

It's also a completely delightful print and I can well understand why it has appealed to some buyers.

However it hasn't just appealed to "some" buyers. It's appealed to an awful lot of them!

78 prints from an edition of 150 have been sold at the Preview Party and towards the end of the first of the RA Friends' Previews. That's one day and an evening. The exhibition doesn't even open to the public until Monday 13th June!

The framed print in the exhibition cost £100. Every unframed print from the edition of 150 prints costs £75.

That means this small sleeping mouse has so far made for Sarah Rogers, the artist who created the print:
  • £5,950 (gross) and 
  • £4,165 (net) after commission of 30% (£1,785).

Sleeping Mouse by Sarah Rogers
etching and china-colle | edition of 150
copyright Sarah Rogers
(If you're wondering about the count, the big red dots are annotated with '10')
I've observed at previous Summer Exhibitions that some prints just seem to provide a trigger for the people who really want to buy something at the exhibition.

It's very often a fine art print or a print with a slightly fantasy or comedic edge to it which fulfills this need. It's also very often a print where the artist has created an accessible artwork due to the pricing used for the cost of a print from the edition.

I suspect this mouse hits the 'nail on the head' for ALL the factors contributing to a successful printwork which appeals to a large audience. It's:
  • a drawing of a mouse sleeping with its head on the table while sat on a chair (cute furry animal + fantasy). Has the mouse has one too many? ;)
  • this is a small artwork which is very easy to hang in any number of places
  • this is a print that is priced at the cost of a lunch in this area of town!
It all contributes to making this a very easy buy. I imagine the complete edition will be sold out in the next couple of days.

That means if the complete edition sells out - as I expect it will - that Sarah's astute decision on pricing this one small print will have made her:
  • £11,350 (gross)
  • £7,945 (net) after 30% commission of £3,405
That's quite aside from the fact it will have also raised her profile and demand for her prints!

[Update: 13 June 2016 - 102 prints have now been sold - with only 48 left! Plus you can now buy online!]

Below you can find out more about Sarah Rogers and her printmaking practice. In the meantime anybody who likes etchings of very small field mice should take a look at A Little Bedtime Story and Celebration.

Review of the Summer Exhibition

Tomorrow I'll be writing up my review of this prestigious exhibition and showing you what I think are 10 artworks I think are well worth seeing.

I'll also be commenting more on sales and prices for those interested in the business end of the exhibition!

The exhibition opens to the public on Monday 13th June and continues until 21 August in the main Galleries of Burlington House - the home of the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly.

If you want to know more about how to enter the Summer Exhibition, you should refer to my blog post in January each year. Here's the one for 2016:

About Sarah Rogers

Sarah Rogers is an Irish printmaker. She has a very limited presence on the web. However I found this statement about her
  • grew up in the North West of England 
  • graduated with an honours degree in Textile/Fine Art from Goldsmiths College. 
  • lives and works in County Wicklow and London
  • had her first solo show,” Perfect/Imperfect” in Aras Inis Gluaire in 2014
  • group exhibitions have included RHA, RA and RUA Annual and Summer Exhibitions, Jerwood Drawing Prize and Eigse. 
  • She is a member of Member of Graphic Studio Dublin
  • She is  a member of the Printmakers Council in the UK and participates in all members’ Exhibitions.
  • This is her Facebook Page - but she's not been active on it since 2013.
This is her Artist Statement
As an artist I like to use imagery and observations from what I see as the presented, saleable world and re-configure them to a world of experience. My work expresses an atmospheric, gothic world. I’m interested in the obstinate side of life, those moments often hidden. My work is rooted in drawing and observation but I also love found imagery. In their construction, the prints are slightly off beat employing collage and the methods of making reflect the sometimes unusual subject matter I prefer.