Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Ana Schmidt wins Threadneedle Prize 2018

This is about the winner of the £20000 Columbia Threadneedle Award 2018 for contemporary figurative and representational art - and the other five artists shortlisted as finalists.

Dead End - an impeccably and impressively painted view of an urban space by Ana Schmidt (Bilbao, Spain) won the First Prize.  I'm really looking forward to her solo exhibition at the Mall Galleries. I think it's going to attract a lot of attention - and a lot of collectors of paintings of urban spaces.  How she manages to be an urban planning architect as well as a a very impressive painter is beyond me!

I'm enjoying the fact that I got two of the six finalists right! (Plus note my comment right at the end!)

Ana Schmidt with her First Prize Award and her painting 

The Exhibition and the People's Vote Award £10,000

The exhibition of all the selected artworks is on at the Mall Galleries until 17th February.

There's one more major prize worth £10,000. The decision as to who gets that is determined by the result of the People's Vote by visitors to the exhibition

My guess is it will be between Dead End and Babel Britain (After Verhaecht).  I'll certainly be torn which to vote for!

The Awards Ceremony

This year the sponsors of The Threadneedle Prize sought to change the way the winner is announced. So this year there was:
  • no announcement of the shortlisted finalists - until 7.30pm at the Awards Ceremony
  • no announcement of the winner until 8.00pm after the interviews with the finalists
  • even the winner did not know she had won beforehand!
  • meaning every artist who was exhibiting knew they were in with a shout of winning or maybe getting one of the runner-up prizes
  • and no dinner - and no clueless interviews by a nameless celebrity who I was not a fan of!
  • a mad scramble to get photos of the artists with their pics before they left....
I like the idea of keeping everybody in suspense - and it certainly generated a good turnout.

However, I think next time around it might be better if everything was moved back an hour so those with very long journeys and trains to catch to get home didn't shoot straight out the door after the announcement - including some of the prizewinners!

The First Prize

The winner of the First prize of £20,000 plus a solo exhibition at the Mall Galleries is Ana Schmidt.  This is what I had down as a profile for her
Ana Schmidt - (Website in Spanish) born in Germany, her family moved to Vietnam and then Thailand before her sixth birthday. major in architecture and enrolled at the acclaimed Polytechnic University of Barcelona, ​​Spain. Realistic painter who presents reality without an obvious style or embellishment. Uses sketches and painting from life + photographs and colour and composition studies. Every time I look at her painting I like it. I'll be very interested to see what it looks like in the gallery. Take a look at more of her paintings - I find them very impressive.

‘Dead End’ | copyright Ana Schmidt
acrylic, 165 x 114 cm
During generations, mythology and narratives have had influence over our view of the world. We live in a world where narratives are constructed for entertainment and merchandising, not to explain our experiences. Our world needs myths, art…Dead End is about painted histories on the walls, allows ambiguity, but it also presents a second reality, the reflections on the water.
Ana Schmidt
I was pretty certain this extremely impressive work was going to get shortlisted - and when I saw it in person it's even better than the website version. It was interesting when asking others in between the interviews and the announcement, a lot thought this work was going to win.

This is the sort of painting which makes me want to learn how to paint in acrylics. It's so much better than a photorealism or photography!

The Finalists (£1,000 each)

The five finalists who each won £1,000 were all women. Yet again the women do well in this exhibition. I'm not quite sure why.  Maybe more women create figurative art?

They are:
  • Emily Allchurch 
  • Caroline Burraway 
  • Serena Curmi 
  • Cathy Lewis
  • Lois Wallace
Below you can see them with their artwork (where I could get a photo) plus my profile of them which I did for the Selected Artists post. I've also got videos of the interviews but have not watched these yet - so maybe a link to these on YouTube later!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Call for Entries - Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

If you've been watching the Portrait Artist of the Year competition and want to enter the 2019 competition read on to find
  • a summary of how the competition works
  • what you have to do enter Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 - before the deadline for filming in April 2018
  • Plus TIPS on how to enhance your entry.

The deadline for entering the Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 competition is 18th March 2018.

How 'Portrait Artist of the Year' works

The winner of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 will be awarded
  • a £10,000 commission and 
  • £500 to spend on art materials at Cass Art.

Portrait Artist of the Year - Process

This in outline is how the competition works from the call to entries to the broadcast of the final programme in March 2019.
  • Call for Entries - deadline 18th March 2018.
  • Selection of 54 artists from the entry submissions to participate in the Heats (9 artists per Heat)
  • Notification: Successful entrants (“Shortlisted Artists”) will be notified of the result of their entry on or shortly following 30th March 2018
    • you may be asked to 
    • non-successful entrants 
  • Filming of Portrait Artist of the Year will take place in April/May 2018. All short-listed artists must be able to transport the self-portrait to the heat as the self-portrait forms part of the judging process.
    • Episodes 1-6 - Heats filmed at a venue where the public can also watch. 
    • Episode 7 - Six Heat Winners meet for the Semi-Final
    • Episode 8 - The Final culminating in the announcement of the winner 
    • Episode 9 - A programme about "the artist of the year journey" and painting the commission.
  • You have to paint a portrait from life in a maximum of 4 hours over a period of 6 hours. The sessions are typically 45 minutes long before a short break (plus a longer break for lunch)
  • The Judging Panel has stayed consistent for four series. The Judges are:
    • award-winning portrait painter Tai Shan Schierenberg
    • independent curator and Chair of the Board of the Liverpool Biennial Kathleen Soriano (who also used to be the Head of Exhibitions & Collection at the National Portrait Gallery and Director of Exhibitions at the RA) and
    • British art historian, curator and arts broadcaster Kate Bryan.
  • The programmes are presented by Frank Skinner and Joan Bakewell - with the latter being a leading figure in the arts for nearly six decades.
  • Screening of the programme starts in January 2019 
  • The Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 Winners Exhibition will be held at a location to be decided on dates to be decided.
This is a video about both the Sky Arts Artist of the Year competitions.
You can also follow Sky Arts’ Twitter and Facebook page for updates.

These are previous posts about the competition

How to enter Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

The deadline for Applications for Portrait Artist of the Year closes on 18th March 2018.
There is

Subscribe and receive every post from Making A Mark via email.
Your subscription is only activated after you verify the link in the email you will receive

Who can enter

The Competition is open to all artists – amateur, professional or hobbyists - but there are some restrictions.

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Heatherley School of Art Staff Exhibition at the Bankside Gallery

The Fifth Staff Show by The Heatherley School of Art. is currently on display at the Bankside Gallery.

I went to the Private View last night (I'm a Visiting Lecturer at the School).  The artworks on display cover a wide range of subject matter, media and styles.

Artwork by Hero Johnson on the left and Melissa Scott-Miller on the right
The Principal Veronica Ricks is bottom left.
My general recommendation to people seeking any sort of art tuition is "look at the art produced by the tutor". If you don't like the art it's entirely possible you won't have any empathy with the tutor. Plus it also enables you to check out skills levels!

Heatherley's maintains a diary on its website of where you can see its tutors exhibiting throughout the year.

Very impressive it is too - with staff exhibiting in a wide variety of open exhibitions and prestigious art competitions as well as other solo and group shows.

However once a year they all exhibit together for a few days at the Bankside Gallery. This year the exhibition continues until Sunday 28th January.

Last night's preview was packed - but I got there early on and managed to get some shots of some of artwork I liked as I moved around the show (but not all I hasten to add!)

Woodcut prints by Hilary Daltry

Hilary Daltry RE is a London based printmaker who is Head of Printmaking at Heatherley's, a member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers and specialises in woodcut prints. She studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art and printmaking at Chelsea School of Art and was awarded the Prix de Rome scholarship. Her prints are often included in The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and she is a council member of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. She hand prints on Japanese paper. Jacksons Art have done two interviews with her
Paintings by David Stubbs below were not cheap - but that didn't stop them from selling! He teaches part-time at Heatherley's and trained at the Slade School of Fine Art, graduating in 1981.

A still life and landscape by David Stubbs.
The three portraits below are by:
Three portraits
I particularly liked the portrait of Jose escofet by Miriam Escofet. She has been a working artist since she graduated from graduated from Brighton School of Art in 1990. She was elected an Associate Member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 2014 and is a past winner of Winner Of The Burke's Peerage Award For Classically Inspired Portraiture. She's been selected four times for the BP Portrait Award exhibition and several times for the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.

Jose Escofet by Miriam Escofet
(oil on linen over panel)
 I hope you enjoyed this taster.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Review: Episode 2 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2018

This a REVIEW of the second episode of the new series of Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 - of the second heat, held at the Wallace Collection last April - aired on Tuesday night.
Anybody who has not yet watched and doesn't want to know who won should exit right now!

I am of course now watching care of my new NOW TV app! (see How to watch Sky Arts - Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 without subscribing to Sky!

See my post last week for how the episode works - Review: Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 - Episode 1

The Sky Portrait Artist of the Year set as seen from the top of the atrium in the Wallace Collection
The Heat 2 artists - lined up near the end of the programme to hear the results

The artists in the heat split between professional and amateur artists as follows (links to their websites in the names):

The Artists - the Professionals

The five professional artists are:
  • Philip Mackey (Facebook Page) - from Letterkenny, Co Donegal. He is currently employed by the Office of the Chief Herald as an heraldic artist and calligrapher based in the National Library, Kildare Street, Dublin.
  • Michelle Opuku Taylor - Her self-portrait showed her after her mastectomy holding her breast in her hand - a very powerful painting - and a good likeness.  She had graduated in law and was teaching but decided to make painting her full-time career after her treatment. 
  • Daniel Yeomans - born in Bedford 1986. Studied art, design and media at college and subsequently chose to study at the Charles H. Cecil Studios in Florence, where he trained using a technique known as ‘sight-size’. He usually paints directly from life under natural light in his purpose built studio (a converted cowshed) in Montgomeryshire.
  • Leanne Mullen - lives and works in Ireland. She studied clay modelling at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and attained a MA in sculpture and print from the University of Ulster. She teaches art at a secondary school as well as being a practising artist. Her website reveals how good a sculptor she is as well as a painter! She was shortlisted for the Hennessy Portrait Prize in 2016 and then highly commended for her work for her work 'Someone's Mother'
  • Danielle Vaughan (Facebook Page)a recycling artist who works in ripped paper on cardboard. She trained as a Shoe Designer at De Montfort University, then after a post-graduate certificate in education became a teacher for six years then home-schooled her own children for seventeen years.  Became a professional artist two years ago and currently working on a series of works about the people and places of Leicester.

The artists - the amateurs

The four amateur artists are:
  • Ashley Kitchen - 25 year old who studied painting and printmaking at Glasgow School of art and paints whenever she can
  • Liz Ellingham - an amateur artist from Glasgow who retired  from teaching graphic design and rediscovered a love of portraiture
  • Troy Edwards - b.1979 - a self taught artist who works in technical pens and pencil -  and likes to collaborate with musicians and graphic artists
  • Andrew Kelly - grew up in Ayrshire and inspired by Peter Howson according to his Saatchi website. Now a government lawyer who paints at weekends. Exhibited at the 70th Annual Open Exhibition of the Chelsea Art Society 2017.

Observations - Heat/Episode 2

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Aniconism and Artwork for the new Whitechapel Station.

This is about some of the artwork being commissioned for Crossrail - now officially known as the new Elizabeth Line - from Reading and Heathrow through central tunnels across London  to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. (map)

I read a BBC News article this morning about How art and design can transform the daily commute.

Subsequently I learned a new word - aniconism - which was not in the article but is the word which represents what I'd found out several years ago while sketching small muslim children in a mountain village in Bali.

Chantal Joffe in her studio
The article described how Chantal Joffe is designing 20 images of people in a bold cut-out style for Whitechapel Station.

This is intended to be a sort of modern-day Matisse expression of the people on the streets above the station at Whitechapel.

I know the area very well - it's just down the road from where I live.

There is a very active street market outside the station, directly opposite the Royal London Hospital. Almost all the stalls are run by local men of Bengali heritage - within the context of an area which in the past was traditionally Jewish for decades (and Joffe has a Jewish heritage) but is now completely dominated by
  • the community and multi-cultural visitors to the very large teaching hospital; and 
  • past migration from Bangladesh to the area. 
  • the enormous East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre a little further down the road - which reflects the numbers attending.
I guess it's one of the areas which President Trump might not want to visit if he ever succeeds in visiting London in an official capacity. He certainly seems to indulge in periodically being rude about it. The local Council voted to ban him from visiting Tower Hamlets last week!

The thing which puzzled me greatly was the notion of representing the people of the area.

That's because back in the early 90s a young boy stopped me from sketching his younger brother.  I hadn't set out to sketch him - I was just surrounded by children in a market in Bedugal in Bali as I tried to sketch the market and the people around and about.

He explained to me that he was a muslim and his religion meant that I could not draw him or his family.  He was very nice about it - and I erased the drawing of his brother.

I'm guessing you've probably guessed by now why I decided to write this blog post.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

#MeToo and The Art World

The art world continues to rock with yet more #MeToo accusations. Below I've commented and summarised in terms of:
  • Why we need more differentiation on #metoo
  • Accusations within the world of art - the artists
  • Offending artists from the past
  • Responses from artists
  • Changes in the art world
    • the art fairs
    • the galleries

The need for gradations of #metoo

The need for more precision?

I'm beginning to think that there needs to be gradations of the #MeToo labelling phenomenon in terms of the various "outings" of prominent people and others.

Something along the lines of:
  1. seriously not OK / inappropriate behaviour (unwelcome words not actions)
  2. crude, lewd and lascivious harassment (unwelcome / more than 1 and less than 2)
  3. sexual assault (actionable in law)
  4. rapist (re adults)
  5. paedophile (re under the age of consent)
This is because:

  • while I'm 100% in favour of calling people out on seriously unwelcome and inappropriate behaviour and worse, 
  • I ALSO really do think we need something which is rather less vague than #MeToo and rather more specific as to just how serious the accusation is.

Otherwise we are in serious danger of confusing an unwelcome pat on the knee or a bottom with the rape of a young teenager.

We also need to remember that
  • women can say 'No' or 'Stop It!' and walk out the door etc. just as others have done in the pat and will do in the future
  • AND that there's a fine line between speaking out and a witch hunt
  • AND that men have already killed themselves because of accusations being made...
  • it is at least possible, that some of the accusations are not true or do not accurately reflect what actually happened.
I'm saying this mindful that in reproducing links below I am channeling some of those accusations and allegations - and the simple truth is I don't KNOW what's happened and what has not. Nor do you. So we need to be circumspect to a degree. The question is what's the appropriate degree....

In summary:
  • I'm supportive of women who have been abused - including their right to speak out even if they're not bringing a legal action 
  • AND I'm not in favour of "witch hunts", hysteria or the type of person who likes to draw attention to themselves for all the wrong reasons.
Of one thing I am absolutely certain.

There is a LOT more abuse, both past and present, than many people realise 

Of itself, that is for me reason enough for the abuse issues within the art world - whether individual and personal or generic and institutional - to be discussed and debated.

Speaking personally, my small contribution is that I ALWAYS speak out and tell a gallery when I'm offended by a sexualised artwork they are showing - and explain why they should have a rethink (within the context of likely abuse) - not least because I'm aware of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (summary as PDF) - even if they are very obviously not!

Accusations within the world of art - the artists

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Works on Paper Fair

It's very nearly time for the Works on Paper Fair again. I went last year and will be going up Exhibition Road to the RGS again this year. (Do any of you have artwork in display?)

It's a really great fair for all those who like drawings, fine art prints and paintings on paper. There's lots to see in terms of artists from the past and present and a variety of art dealers attend the Fair.

You can see the list of exhibitors on the website

some of the exhibitors

There are a number of talks over the course of the fair as well. Grayson Perry is doing the Art Fund talk this year - which should be interesting - but it's sold out!

If you're interested....

Venue: Royal Geographical Society, Exhibition Road, SW7 (north of the Science Museum)
Dates: 31 January (preview) then 1st-4th February 2018
  • 3 pm - 9 pm - Wednesday (Opening Preview)
  • 11 am - 9 pm - Thursday 1
  • 11 am - 6 pm - Friday, Saturday and Sunday
This is how to get tickets. The site uses Eventbrite for ticketing and so last year I had my electronic ticket on my iPhone.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Review: Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 - Episode 1

I'm going to start doing a commentary on each of the episodes of  Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 - much as I've done for the BBC's Big Painting Challenge in the past.

That's because I have FINALLY worked out how to access the programme online (see yesterday's post - How to watch Sky Arts - Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 without subscribing to Sky!).

Top down view of sitter and artists

First a quick resume about the programme and what the prize is this year.

Portrait Artist of the Year 2018

This is a competition which ranks alongside the prestigious art competitions elsewhere on this blog.

That's because the artists are competing to win a £10,000 commission to paint Kim Cattrall, the actress. The intention is that the finished portrait will be added to the permanent collection at The Walker Art Gallery in Kim's birth city of Liverpool.

For reference - for those interested in being part of this competition in future
A total of 30 famous performers will sit for the competitors.  The semi-finalists will also be joined by another 13 wild cards to compete for a place in the final.

The portrait paintings are judged by a 'heavyweight panel'. They are the same as for previous series:
  • award-winning portrait painter Tai Shan Schierenberg
  • independent curator and Chair of the Board of the Liverpool Biennial Kathleen Soriano (who also used to be the Head of Exhibitions & Collection at the National Portrait Gallery and Director of Exhibitions at the RA) and
  • British art historian, curator and arts broadcaster Kate Bryan.
The three Judges with Frank Skinner
The series is presented by Frank Skinner and Joan Bakewell.

They say some very sensible things as voiceovers. One cannot but help think these may have been scripted for them - but it makes for a more educational programme!

Episode 1

A portrait should represent a likeness, the personality and possibly the mood of the sitter
Joan Bakewell - quoting what the Tate has to say about a portrait
I settled down in front of my iPad last night to watch - and was very favourably impressed by the programme.

I also spotted my arm and part of my head during the opening credits - but that's by the by!

Each week I'm going to identify the portrait painters by name and see if I can find a link to their websites so you can see the sort of people who enter this competition. Plus I'll give a link to their Facebook PAGE if they have one.

I very much liked the fact that the programme identifies how long it had taken each artist to complete their self portrait which was part of their entry to the competition.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How to watch Sky Arts - Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 without subscribing to Sky!

I do like a good television art competition!

Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 started streaming last night with the first episode of this year's competition

Some of you may recall that I'm particularly interested this year as last April I got to attend (and photograph) one of this year's heats as it was being filmed. 
So naturally I'd like to see the programme and find out how everybody does.

I might even write commentaries as I do for the BBC's The Big Painting Challenge! :)

Plus it reminded me that in my post The Top 10 Art Blog Posts of 2017 - on Making A Mark that I had to do a special section for the The Top 10 'Art on TV' Blog Posts of 2017 because my posts about on TV are so very popular!

So with that in mind I quite naturally had a whinge on Facebook about how it was such a pity that you can't watch this competition online without subscribing to Sky TV - which I simply won't do because I really am NOT going to shell out £20 per month via a contract to watch one television programme!!
When are Sky TV going to wake up the notion there is an income stream to be gained from those who
* ONLY want to watch Sky Arts online and
* have zero interest in signing up for Sky TV?
In turn, there were lots of fellow whingers, all feeling exactly the same.

However one chap popped up and pointed out that you can watch Sky Arts via Now TV for £7.99 per month - with no contract.  Apparently what you do is buy a NOW TV Entertainments Pass and the show is part of the programmes they show.

So I looked at my television and I still have absolutely no idea at all how I get NOW TV on my television.

However I did find something in the Help Section which says How to watch NOW TV on a Mac

So now I'm going to investigate further. 

What are you going to do?

UPDATE:  I can now watch!  Here's what I did:
  • downloaded the Now TV App onto my iPhone (which has unlimited mobile data on my Three package)
  • bought a NOW TV entertainment pass (I bought one for three months at a discounted rated)
  • found (with a little difficulty) the Sky Portrait Artist of the Year programme - including the first episode of the new series.
  • I'll also be downloading it onto my iPad and iMac.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Exhibitions about Woods and Trees: art, illustrations and photography

Is this the year of the tree? 
Did a lot of people get together to create a lot of art exhibitions about trees? 
Or is it just a coincidence?

From the series Sonamu (pine tree) by Bae Bien-U

Apparently - according to the Art Fund, there has been a recent event of note worth commemorating
In 1217, Henry III signed the Charter of the Forest, opening up the royal forests for the use of the people. To mark the 800th anniversary of this act, in November 2017 The Woodland Trust launches a new charter to recognise and protect those rights.
This is a link to the National Library and The Charter of the Forest

Below is a listing of the art, photography and illustration exhibitions about trees which I know about.

The Arborealists: The Art of Trees 2017 

The Arborealists: The Art of Trees 2017 has just finished at Bermondsey Project Space, London, until 13 January - but will be moving to the John Davis Gallery in Moreton–in-Marsh, Gloucestershire in June 2018
The appearance of the Arborealists in 2013 is an extraordinary phenomenon within the pervading orthodoxy in an art world that values post modernist objects, film and popular culture. Where events, interventions and installations engage the viewer, what can ‘tree painters’ (the Arborealists are for the most part painters), offer a public that is understandably titillated by Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.
The associated book is still available - and indeed I bought The Arborealists: The Art of the Tree before I realised there was an exhibition!

Trees in Illustration 

Trees in Illustration is at the V&A until next week and finishes on Tuesday 23 January 2018.
This display shows a variety of illustrations celebrating trees, woods and landscapes. Featuring watercolours by Beatrix Potter and Arthur Rackham, alongside drawings by E. H. Shepard for A. A. Milne's Pooh stories and his verses in Now We Are Six. Also included are Eric Ravilious' charming wood engravings for an edition of Gilbert White's classic The Natural History of Selborne. Exhibited here for the first time are Rolf Brandt's witty pictures for Stephen McFarlane's Story of a Tree. 
The second exhibition at the V&A - Into the Woods: Trees in Photography - is currently on display until 22 April 2018.

I saw it last Friday and it has some  simply stunning images - see above for just one example.
Trees have long been a source of inspiration for artists. This display explores the diverse representation of trees in photography – as botanical subjects and poetic symbols, in the context of the natural and human worlds.
This is not part of the exhibition but is a short video on YouTube by Bae Bien-U the Korean photographer who produced the stunning image at the top of this post.  He has apparently been acclaimed for his treescapes - particularly ones of Korean Pines - for the last two decades.

I'll write more about the exhibition and the other marvellous images later in the week.

A Walk in the Woods: A Celebration of Trees in British Art 

Web page for A Walk in the Woods at Higgins Bedford

A Walk in the Woods: A Celebration of Trees in British Art is on at The Higgins Bedford - in Bedford - until 25 February 2018 (just over half an hour on the train from Central London - I've been checking train timetables!).

A trip to Bedford will also be rewarded with another exhibition of Edward Bawden and his Studio if you go before 28th January.
The Higgins Bedford pays homage to the tree with a new exhibition celebrating the role of trees and woodland in British landscape painting. Drawn from the world-famous Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Collection, some forty watercolours, drawings and prints from the past two centuries will be on show and will include works by John Constable, John Sell Cotman, Edward Lear, Samuel Palmer, Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland and Lucian Freud. The show will highlight the importance and enduring popularity of trees in art, and explore various themes which have evolved in artists’ depictions of nature: magical and dreaming trees, trees in the countryside, the pleasures of woods and the lure of the exotic.
There's also a A Walk in the Woods Study Day on Saturday 20th January 10.30am – 2.30pm (
£20 Including lunch and tea or coffee on arrival - Booking essential)

This study day brings together speakers to explore further the subject of trees in British art. The day will start at 10.30 with refreshments and registration followed by talks by
  • Christiana Payne, Professor of History of Art at Oxford Brookes University, author of ‘Silent Witnesses: Trees in British Art 1760-1870’ and co-curator of A Walk in the Woods; 
  • Fiona Stafford, Professor of English Language and Literature University of Oxford, presenter of The Meaning of Trees on BBC Radio 3, and author of the acclaimed ‘The Long Long Life of Trees’, a tribute to the diversity of trees. 
  • David Boyd Haycock, freelance writer, lecturer and curator specialising in British cultural history of the twentieth century. Author of ‘Paul Nash’ and ‘A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War’, David is currently writing a book called ‘A Grand Epoch: Young British Artists and the End of the Century’ for Tate Publishing. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Last Call - Annual Open Exhibition 2018 of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

The deadline for the Call for digital entries for the next annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters is Friday 19 January 2018, 12 noon.

This is an OPEN exhibition which any serious portrait painter should think very seriously about entering due to the high quality of the non-members exhibits and the scope to attract commissions for future portraits.

RP Annual Exhibition 2017 - Threadneedle Space
The RP seeks submissions of new and traditional artistic models and perspectives in portraiture
Below you can find:
  • a review of the chances of getting exhibited
  • reasons why you SHOULD enter the exhibition if you are a serious portrait painter
  • details about the exhibition
  • details of the prizes
  • summary of the call for entries

Exhibition Metrics

Things you need to know - based on the works hung in the 2017 exhibition
  • about half the portraits exhibited are by artists who are non-members
  • only about 5% of the works submitted were selected for display in the exhibition - 102 artworks by 89 non-members were selected from 1,963 entries submitted by non-members
  • your work needs to be very good to get selected. You are competing with the top portrait painters who are not members for a place in this exhibition - because of its reputation as a shop front for commissions
As usual there are plenty of good non-member paintings in the exhibition. (my comment in last year's review of the exhibition)

Portrait drawings and fine art prints in last year's exhibition

Reasons why you should enter the RP's annual exhibition

For those wondering why they should submit an entry to this exhibition, take a look at the following.

Entry is digital

You only need to go to the expense of framing and transport if invited to progress to the second stage of selection.

The Importance of Exhibitions to Portrait Commissions

Some significant prizes

A prestigious exhibition and an Online Exhibition

  • This is a very prestigious exhibition and is run in all three galleries at the Mall Galleries on the Mall in London.
  • The exhibition is also put online so it can be seen all over the world 

A changing exhibition

Why it compares favourably to the BP Portrait

2018 Annual OPEN Exhibition

  • Venue: Mall Galleries - across all three galleries due to its size.
  • Dates: Thursday 10th May 2018 and closes at 5pm on Friday 25th May 2018. 
  • Hours: Open to the public every day from 10am - 5pm 
Wall in the Main Gallery (2017)

2018 Prizes

The prizes include:
  • The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture: £10,000 plus the Society’s Gold Medal awarded for the most distinguished portrait in the Society’s annual exhibition
  • The de Laszlo Foundation Award: £3,000 plus a Silver Medal for the most outstanding portrait by an artist aged 35 years or under
  • NEW The RP Award: a new £2,000 prize for portraiture 
    • All works shown in the Annual Exhibition will be eligible. 
    • winner will be the artist whose work best represents the year's chosen theme - ‘Friends’. 
    • The judges will be looking for the most interesting and engaging interpretation of the idea of ‘Friends’ within the parameters of portraiture. 
  • The Prince of Wales's Award for Portrait Drawing: £2,000 and framed certificate for a portrait in any recognised drawing medium
  • The Burke’s Peerage Foundation Award: £2,000 and framed certificate for the most classically inspired portrait in the exhibition
  • The Smallwood Architects Prize: £1,000 for a portrait in which architectural or interior features play an important part

Below you can find a summary of how to enter the next annual exhibition.

You can also follow my summary of the Calls for Entries for the various exhibitions of the national art societies in the UK on my blog PAGE UK Art Societies: Open Exhibitions.

Call for Entries

This is an OPEN EXHIBITION.  Artists are invited to submit works for exhibition alongside members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters at their Annual Exhibition 2018.
  • All entries are via digital submission 
  • The deadline for entries is 12 noon on Friday 19th January 2018
  • The entry fee is £15 per work payable at the time of submitting (£10 per work for artists aged 35 or under). 
Details of how artists can apply via the open entry process are set out below.

Who can Submit?

Any artist - over the age of 18 - living anywhere in the world can submit artwork to this exhibition.

Some of the portraits exhibited in the North Gallery last year

What you can submit

  • Media: any medium including original prints but excluding sculpture and photography.
  • Number: a maximum of three works (of which a maximum of three will be selected)
  • Dry: Paintings MUST be completely dry at the time of delivery.
  • Size: Works should not be larger than 2.4m along the longest dimension.
  • Exhibitions: Work must not have been exhibited previously.
  • For Sale: All work must be for sale. 
  • Price & VAT
    • The minimum price is £300 (Works can NFS - not for sale).
    • The price of works must include commission of 45%+VAT irrespective of whether the artist is registered for VAT
    • Artists from outside the UK may need to register for VAT, please check with HM Revenue and Customs:

RP Annual Exhibition 2017 - Main Gallery (Private View)

Generic Information about submitting to the Annual Exhibition 2018

This is the standard information relevant to any exhibition at the Mall Galleries by a society which is a member of the Federation of British Artists. The General Terms and Conditions are universal. The ones which are specific to this exhibition are in "What you can submit" above

You can find Information about the exhibition on the Mall Galleries Website

The Call for Entries Terms and Conditions are applicable to ALL FBA exhibitions at the Mall Galleries. These cover:
Some of the portraits exhibited last year

The RP Exhibition 2018

With respect to the RP Annual Exhibition you need to use:

How to Submit

The process works as follows
  • Read the generic terms and conditions - general and specific 
  • Read the specific entry requirements for this exhibition
  • Register for digital submission - if you have never entered before
  • Login to the Open Exhibition Entry website
  • Submit your entry online prior to the deadline of 12 noon on Friday 19th January 2018
    • You need to complete the form, pay the fee and upload images of work 
    • Images must be in JPEG format and under 5MB
  • Pre-selection is based on online entries and associated digital images 
  • Notification of Pre-selection: Friday 26 January, 12 noon 
  • Deliver pre-selected entries ONLY to Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD for final selection on Saturday 24 February, 10am to 5pm
  • Final selection - in front of a Panel of Members of the RP
  • Notification of Acceptance Tuesday 27 February, 12 noon 
  • Collect work not accepted for exhibition from Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD on Thursday 1 March, 10am to 5pm
  • Collect unsold work: Thursday 31 May, 10am to 5pm

The selectors' decisions are final and no feedback is offered.

More about Past Annual Exhibitions


Thursday, January 11, 2018

TRAC 2018 - The Representational Art Conference

TRAC - The Representational Art Conference 2018 - home page of the website
People in the UK and Europe often complain that all the best art conferences happen in the USA and nothing happens over here.

Well it would appear that one of the Conferences TRAC 2018: 'The Representational Art Conference' which has previously been held in the USA is this year going to be held in the northern Netherlands - where, apparently, there has been an unbroken tradition in classical fine art education that has survived the past 70 years.

This is what it's all about
the goal of the unique TRAC series of conferences is to provide a community for the discussion of exciting ideas and new developments in 21st Century representational art. It is an extraordinary gathering of artists, lecturers, philosophers, historians, critics, collectors, museum and gallery professionals.
Past keynote speakers at their conferences have included people like Roger Scruton and Juliette Aristides (according to the Huffington Post article TRAC2014, an Interview With Michael Pearce About the Representational Art Conference


It's actually being held in in Leeuwarden - which the website describes as the cultural capital of Europe - and it turns out it is!  It's also a province in the northwest of the Netherlands
Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018 tackles its Capital of Culture year by sticking its head above the parapet
Previously it's been held Ventura, California in 2012, 2014 and 2015, and in Miami, Florida in 2017. 

Conference Basics

Dates: May 1st - 4th 2018
Venue: WTC/ Westcord Hotel, Leeuwarden, The NetherlandsConference Language: English - for those wondering about whether their Dutch is up to scratch!

I have to state upfront that I know absolutely nothing about it - but what I have done is:

  • review the website - which looks to me like a proper art conference website - with a "call for papers" (which is how come come I know about it) and some suggestions of serious topics for discussion
TRAC2018 is specifically interested in papers about 21st Century representational art. What does it say about our current condition? What ideals does it seek to express? How does it relate to the history of art? What does it tell us about our current social reality? Does the artist have a new role? What cross-cultural themes will dominate 21st Century figurative art?
  • checked out media coverage in the past - which is respectable
I'd recommend people take a look. For those interested in representational art - from a serious perspective - you may well find much to interest you. You might also want to contribute a paper!

Capital of Culture

For those more generally interested in the Capital of Culture activities check out 
It all kicks off at the end of this month with the opening weekend!

Monday, January 08, 2018

Selected artists for Columbia Threadneedle Prize Exhibition 2018

Congratulations to all those artists whose artwork was selected to be shown in the Columbia Threadneedle Prize 2018 - with prizes worth £35,000. This blog post is about the artists whose work has been selected for the exhibition

The focus of the exhibition is best new works of figurative and representational art

The exhibition is at the Mall Galleries in central London. It's open from 31 January to 17 February 2018, 10am to 5pm (closes 1pm on final day) - and admission is FREE.

The Columbia Threadneedle Prize website has a new design for the 2018 prize which I will review on Wednesday.  An innovation for 2018 is the publication of a virtual exhibition of the selected artwork where you can browse before the exhibition opens.

Some submission and selection statistics

  • Over 4,000 people submitted digital applications and images of their artwork for the Columbia Threadneedle Prize 2018.
  • Nearly 700 were invited to submit their artwork for review in person by the Panel of Selectors.
  • Just 104 artworks were selected
    • That's c. 1 in 7 of those who made it through to Stage 2 and 
    • this is approximately 2.5% of the total entries.  The latter is not dissimilar to the success rate of those submitting to the BP Portrait Award.
The number of artists selected is an even lower number of 95 artists as 8 artists have had more than one work selected.

This year’s Panel of Selectors were:

I think they've done a good job of giving us a good variety of styles of figurative and representational art - and a wide variety of subject matter. Although I detect a few sub-themes coming through - I have started to wonder if we are going to have a corner with very large paintings of architectural subjects!  Might be rather nice!

The prizes

The prizes are:
  • First Prize: £20,000 and a solo exhibition 
  • Visitors Choice Award £10,000
  • Five Shortlisted Artists: £1,000
It doesn't say so on the website but Lewis told me before Christmas that the shortlisted artists won't be announced until later. I forget whether it's when the Exhibition opens or just before the Awards Dinner.

Anyway - I'll be doing another blog post when the shortlisted artists names are announced.

It's good fun in the meantime to see if you can spot those likely to be shortlisted!

Selected artists

Below are mini profiles of the artists. Links to the artists' websites are embedded in their names.

It's a mammoth effort and takes me hours - I do hope you find it educational. The reason I do this is to encourage others to enter art competitions in furtherance of their art and careers as an artist. You can see
  • what sort of art education people have pursued and 
  • what sort of artwork they produce

I lecture on artist statements and CVs and develop the mini artist profiles below in a very short space of time from the information provided on websites. Hence they they come with hints and tips for some!

I sometimes feel by the end of what follows that I should be giving out an award for "best website" and "easiest to see who you are and what you do" website!

The main difference for me this time around - apart from the improved websites - is the increase in people exhibiting who live in Europe. I wonder if this will continue post Brexit?

  • Emiko Aida RE - Grew up in Tokyo where she did her first degree. MA Printmaking, Royal College of Art. Now an awardwinning printmaker and painter living in London who is a member of Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers. 
  • Emily Allchurch -  trained as a sculptor, First Class (Hons.) degree in Fine Art from the Kent Institute of Art & Design – Canterbury in 1996, and an MA from the Royal College of Art in 1999. Now uses photography and digital collage to reconstruct Old Master paintings and prints to create contemporary narratives.  Her work Babel Britain (After Verhaecht) is a Transparency on bespoke LED lightbox. This is MY TIP for A PRIZE - because there is an explicit nod to art history, it's clever and technically much more than proficient, uses contemporary visual art media and provides an intelligent comment on contemporary society. It's a contemporary figurative artwork with a BIG 'C'.
Babel Britain ( After Verhaecht) by Emily Allchurch
Transparency on bespoke LED lightbox (edition of 20, 10 available) 128 x 140 cm