Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Most Popular Art Programmes on Television in 2019

I've had a look back to see which are the most popular blog posts on Making A Mark in 2019. 
It didn't take long looking at Google Analytics to realise that very many of the posts which garnered the biggest audience related to programmes about art on television!

There'll be another post about top posts in 2019 tomorrow!

Top art programmes on television in 2019

Virtually ALL my really popular blog posts in 2019 related to art programmes on various channels - BBC, Sky/Now TV and Channel 4.

The top programmes were:
  • the Sky Artist of the Year Series - for both Portrait and Landscape 
  • The BBC's 'The Victorian Arts and Crafts House'
  • one episode of BBC's Fake or Fortune - which I only cover if it is really interesting

The painting under scrutiny by the Fake or Fortune team

1. William Nicholson: Lilian Browse vs Patricia Reed and my opinion on that glass jug (2018) 
This post was way out in front in 2019. I think this happened when the original programme was repeated and everybody started to do exactly the same searches online as I did!  Plus I think my blog post was coming up on the front page of Google after the first time the episode was aired - and you know what they say about the difference in traffic if you can get on the first page of a Google search!

Pictured: Rod Hughes, Niamh Wimperis, Patch Rogers, Ilsa Braniff, Anita Rani, Keith Brymer Jones, Abdollah Nafisa, Bryony Knox, Stephen Winstanley

2. The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts - Episode 1
This post was also a long way in front of the rest. Probably because it relates to my major coup of the year! In this post I lambasted the BBC for not naming the artisans - and did not mince words. By the end of the second episode, the artisans had their names added into the credits [see the end of this post]. 
I am getting very tired of the people who genuinely make the programme i.e. the people making things whether it's paintings or crafts - having their names left out of the press releases, the credits at the end of the programme and in general receiving very little formal recognition.

3. Duncan Shoosmith is Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 

a very popular winner but I got called out on Facebook by those who don't watch finals when they are first shown. To which my response is try keeping the winner of a major sporting event off the screen or out of the papers - after it has happened!
You do like to know the starting date! 
Interestingly I took the same line with Sky re the naming of artists and before the end of the series, the artists were all named in relation to their videos on the Sky Arts website. Now if this year they could manage to get the names on screen, they'll be remembering that nobody in the production company gets paid to work if the artists don't paint! 
Not quite sure why this cropped up again - except that this series did get shown in various places other than Sky in 2019. There again it might because it was held in London.

and the winner of Sky Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 is....
my post about this year's Call for Entries will be on Thursday. 
Visiting the venues for the heats seems to have become a favourite summer pastime of some artists. Hopefully based on this year everybody will be fully kitted out with wellies, waterproofs and souwesters for this summer's heats! 

9. Portrait Artist of the Year comes to Channel 4 

a big cheer came from all those who don't have Sky TV and haven't realised that you can get Artists of the Year series via a NOW TV stick - and occasionally and rather naughtily via YouTube!
I think the series gets a fall off after the first two episodes - until the final. It's certainly what happens to the blog posts. Or maybe the earlier ones get read more - because I list all preceding episodes at the end?
A view of two of the sets for the sitters and painters in Episode 2

[UPDATE: see also my other posts. I'm very pleased to tell you that the artisans wrote to the producers of the programme about the lack of name credit - quoting my blog post - and by the second episode, they'd got their name credit at the end of the programme!

(Left to right)
Rod Hughes, Ilsa Parry, Stephen Winstanley, Bryony Knox, Niamh Wimperis, and Abdollar Nafisi

Exposure for your art on television

In general, after more than a year of reviewing art on television, I think I'd now say that it's worthwhile endeavour so long as:

  • you make a point of watching previous series beforehand - which you can do via on demand television - and know what you;re letting yourself in for
  • you read my blog posts for the themes and the tips. (I've lost count of the number of participants who've told me how useful they found my analysis and tips!)
  • you make sure you are aware of how much time is involved - and how long the days are - this comes as something of a shock to many. Whichever programme you are involved with, you are painting/creating to a timetable - and if you can't then don't bother entering
  • you don't mess up your travel arrangements and make sure you are there in good time - and don't get stressed by a lengthy travelling time before lengthy painting for television.
  • you make sure that it's in your contract that your name will be in the credits! Otherwise what's the point. Exposure is one thing - but if nobody knows who you are - or can't verify what you say - then there is absolutely no benefit in career terms. Enough said! :) 
Landscape Artist of the Year Semi Final - with the Pods and oil derricks/platforms in the Cromarty Firth

You may wonder where BBC's "Home is Where the Art Is" - and the answer is it's not in the top 10. I'm guessing it didn't do fantastically well in terms of people reading blog posts reviewing each episode because it is a daytime programme and most working people would have to make a point of recording it or watching via iPlayer.

One the whole I think a format which is less "game oriented" and more "realistic commission" oriented could be helpful for both educating and entertaining the public. We really don't want to encourage people to think they can invite three to pitch, get two to make - and then only pay one within a budget which might be wholly unrealistic for what they've asked.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Festive Greetings

Greetings to all my regular readers of Making A Mark
With my very best wishes for a 
Happy and Peaceful Festive Season

......and maybe a bit of art on the side?

Thirteen years ago I did my first Christmas Greetings blog post on Making A Mark - and I'm resurrecting the image as I was rather impressed by it when I looked back at it.

my 2006 coloured pencil sketch of my mother's unfinished Christmas wreath
complete with gauzy sparkly ribbon with stars!

This is what I wrote back in December 2006. For those who question "how do you do all this?", Mother is still going age 91 - but has slowed down just a tad!
Last week I drew my mother's Christmas wreath in coloured pencil in my sketchbook while she was out at a committee meeting. Aged 78, her various committees and panels keep her very busy - I'm trying to persuade her to cut it down to under 15 hours a week but I'm currently on the losing side!

She got back and announced I'd drawn last year's wreath and that she had still to finish re-decorating it for this year!!! I told her it was fine and would be totally over the top if she tried to get any more on it. I gathered from her reply that that's the way she likes it! 

Monday, December 23, 2019

A new Lowry at Christie's Modern British Art Sale

It's a joy when you get to read the catalogue for an art sale which is both informative and interesting. This post is about some of the interesting artworks and interesting back stories to be gleaned from the online catalogues for the upcoming auction of Modern British and Irish Art Sale in January 2020

Christies has a Modern British Art Sale in January 2020 and you can view the e-catalogues online
I particularly enjoyed the catalogue reflections on the effects achieved in the paintings which were like others in modern art - and art from history.

An example being when a 'new' (i.e. previously unseen, unexhibited and uncatalogued) painting by Lowry is compared to a painting of children's games produced by Pieter Brueghel - a connection I'd not made before but which now makes complete sense as to one of the reasons why Lowry paintings are so popular with the general British public who respond to content not being told why they should "appeciate a painting".

A few highlights from the sale - and why I shall go to the view - are that it includes the following. (Note the links I'm providing have images which are nowhere near as good as those included in the catalogue. You need to click the links above and then agree to the conditions before you can access the e-catalogues)

What I've listed reflects my taste or an interest in the back storey.  The catalogues also provide an insight into who collects and they they collect!

Evening Sale

  • The Mill, Pendlebury by LS Lowry - previously owned by Dr Leonard D Hamilton the chap who worked out the techniques for extracting DNA which was then tested by Crick and Watson to reveal the double helix structure for which they won the Nobel prize! How about that for a back story! The painting was acquired from the artist shortly after it was painted and includes the Acme Spinning Company Mill which was the first mill in the country to be lit entirely by electrocitiy. I wonder whether that scientific angle to the painting created a special fascination for the scientist. He was certainly a man who went on to build an impressive art collection.  He used to hang his Lowry painting in his rooms at Balliol College Oxford where he was an undergraduate. 
  • Hero II by William Turnbull - this is the bronze with a green patina and stone sculpture in the David Hockney painting American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman) owned by the American Art Institute of Chicago. For context see this link to the 1960s paintings gallery on Hockney's website - it's the first painting in the gallery. The sculpture comes from the Fred Weisman Collection. It's fascinating to hear the history of the sculpture and its antecedents in the British Museum. It's also interesting to see the texture in the sculpture and to read how it was created given its absence in the painting.
  • The Wiring Party by William Roberts RA - who has drawn a group of soldiers building or repairing the defences in "no man's land' in the First World War in a cubist style. He had been a gunner and he became a war artist in 1918. The catalogue contains an excellent narrative about working as a war artist. The work was first exhibited at the 60th Exhibition of Modern Drawings in Watercolour and Black and White by the New English Art Club in 1919. It reminds me of the sort of drawing I look for in exhibitions today - of people doing contemporary and routine but unusual things - but very rarely see.
New English Art Club, '60th Exhibition of Modern Drawings in Watercolour and Black and White by the New English Art Club', Maddox Street Galleries, summer 1919 (Burying the Dead after Battle 1919, The Wiring Party 1918)

  • Marynka pregnant by RB Kitaj - has an interesting story behind it which involves a visit to the Henri Roche shop in Paris to buy some pastels
  • Square Form by Henry Moore in the auction - reminds me of why photos of your work in your studio can help provide provenance and also data a piece!
  • Red and White Tulips by Samuel John Peploe - I always like to see a Peploe - and always interesting to see how an artist paints white flowers.... If you're using a 27" screen like me and click the catalogue you get an up close view of the brush strokes used - which to me always indicate the difference between somebody who paints and an artist who knows how to paint flowers

Other artists include Dame Elizabeth Frink, Howard Hodskin, Leon Kossoff, David Bomberg, Lynn Chadwick, Mark Gertler,  Allen Jones, Peter Lanyon, Ben Nicholson as well as other sculptors

Day Sale

This includes
  • Postcards written to Felicity Hellaby by Lucian Freud - I just sat and stared! Quite unlike anything I've seen from Freud before.
  • Gregory by David Hockney - one of his line drawings in ink which I adore. Gregory was Hockjney's Assistant and Companion through most of the 1970s. You can see more of Hockney's drawings in the 1970s on his website.
  • Celia, Hollywood, May 1984 by David Hockney - another line drawing in pen and ink. These are other drawings by Hockney in the 1980s (I just love his drawings!)
  • Church at Cassis by SJ Peploe - evocative of Cezanne - but not quite the same
  • Barnet Fair by Walter Richard Sickert - almost a 'history painting' - recording what happened at the time - in 1928-30
  • Maquette for Draped Reclining Woman and Maquette for Reclining Figure by Henry Moore - His website provides a record of the series of full size sculpture series developed from this maquette (and others, I guess). Moore is one of a few modern sculptors who "gets drapery" right. I've visited Hoglands and seen the studio where he made his maquettes and how he used them to upscale to his larger works - see my Flickr set Henry Moore Sculptures, Hoglands, Perry Green
  • Eleven ideas for Sculptures and Figures in Settings by Henry Moore provides great insight into his working process and the importance of his drawings to his 3D works
Other artists include Frank Bowling, Dame Elizabeth Frink, Maggi Hambling, Leon Kossoff, Frabnk Auerbach, Sie Edward Paolozzi, Patrick Caulfield, RB Kitaj, Ben Nicholson, John Piper, Eric Ravilious and lots of minor (and not so minor) artists

Viewing is at Christies in King Street, St. James from Monday 13th January to Tuesday 21 January
  • 13 Jan, 6pm - 8:30pm
  • 14 Jan, 9am - 4:30pm
  • 15 Jan, 9am - 4:30pm
  • 16 Jan, 9am - 4:30pm
  • 17 Jan, 9am - 4:30pm
  • 18 Jan, 12pm - 5pm
  • 19 Jan, 12pm - 5pm
  • 20 Jan, 9am - 4:30pm
  • 21 Jan, 9am - 3pm
  • 22 Jan, 1pm (Lots 101 - 210)

More auctions

There's also what look like they might be interesting auctions in the early New Year
I'm now going to take a look at those e-catalogues!

Friday, December 20, 2019

After The Threadneedle Prize + a recap of past winners and what happened next

I'm wondering how many people are aware that the Threadneedle Prize has finished and there will be no more calls for entries

One view of the Last Exhibition

There's an announcement on the Threadneedle Page on the Mall Galleries website - but I'm not sure that it's had a high profile.
Between 2008 and 2018, Mall Galleries partnered with Columbia Threadneedle Investments to present The Columbia Threadneedle Prize: Figurative Art Today (formerly The Threadneedle Prize) which grew to become the UK’s leading competition for representational art. Over the decade, nine exhibitions featured over 750 works, through which over a quarter of a million pounds in prize money was awarded to the winners of the £20,000+ First Prize, and £10,000 Visitors’ Choice Award (since 2010)....
Having achieved its goal “to provide a showcase where figurative artists, working in a range of media, can excite, stimulate, and provoke in a way that encourages us to look anew at the world around us” (in the words of Lewis McNaught, the Prize’s founder and former Director of Mall Galleries), the competition concluded at Mall Galleries in September 2019 with ‘City of Shards’, a solo show by Ana Schmidt, the tenth and final winner.
BELOW I recap past winners with images of the paintings which won first prize - and where they are now.

  • It's interesting how some used the prize as a springboard for their development of their career while some have disappeared off the art scene ( at least online) and others have continued pretty much as before.
  • To my mind it serves to emphasise that the winning of a prize is not the ticket to success that people believe it to be. 
    • It requires a lot of time and effort after you win the prize to maximise its impact for the furtherance of a career in art.  
    • Having thought about where you want to be and what you want to do before you win a prize inevitably helps you make the most of a prize in terms of status - and the cash reward!
Lewis McNaught, Director of the Mall Galleries addressing those attending the 2016 Private View- encouraging them all to vote in the poll for the the £10,000 Visitors Choice Award
by identifying the painting they liked the best

So what happened?

I think it's very sad that we've lost this important and prestigious prize. Despite some hiccups I'm aware of (which I couldn't possibly repeat!) it made a very useful contribution to

  • highlighting the range and scope and styles of figurative / representational art. 
  • showing us larger and more impressive artwork than is typically seen in many other shows.
  • introducing us to many artists who don't typically exhibit in the open exhibitions of the national art societies - or show in London at all! (One of my favourites was 

I've known for some time the competition was not returning but that the organisers did not want to announce this until such time as the Ana Schmidt, the last winner in 2018, had held her solo exhibition (which happened this Autumn).

My recollection is that the reason for it ending is that it was a simple case of the Sponsor did not want to continue.

Given it started when we are experiencing the worst of the banking crisis, it seems very odd that another banker couldn't be found to sponsor the prize more than ten years later - but the demise of Prize comes at a time when there's been a changeover in Directors at the Mall Galleries and this prize was very much the initiative of the outgoing Director Lewis McNaught.

To my knowledge, most of the BIG prizes go through successive sponsors over the years. I guess I'm not the only person who remembers
  • a watercolour competition sponsored by Singer & Friedlander?
  • or a portrait competition sponsored by John Player? ;)
Below you can find
  • my list of blog posts about the Threadneedle Prize between 2008 and 2019 - which allows you to see the range of excellent artwork displayed over the years - and some very odd artwork too - as well as the sort of artists which got selected!
  • a recap of pics of the winners with their paintings
  • an update for the Threadneedle Prizewinners in terms of "Where Are They Now.....?"

2018 Threadneedle Prize

Winner of the Threadneedle Prize 2018: Ana Schmidt 
with her First Prize Award and her painting 
Ana Schmidt (Bilbao, Spain) won the First Prize with Dead End - an impeccably and impressively painted view of an urban space. I very much enjoyed her solo exhibition "City of Shards" earlier this year when she displayed more of the same. See 
Ana had a well established and well regarded practice prior to the exhibition and has continued in the same vein.

View of part of the City of Shards Exhibition by Ana Schmidt (September 2019)
Threadneedle Space, Mall Galleries
My paintings are realistic depictions of urban landscapes. I navigate manmade spaces to discover subjects of intrigue; then I record these detailed reflections of modern life, showing crumbling pavements, broken walls, graffiti-tags, ... In these images, the stuff of daily life counts as the subject, the “something” of the picture. Ordinarily we pass these objects by. We don´t give them credence as visual subjects for art. My paintings include abandoned spaces, rubbish and decay, objects that would barely constitute proper subjects for paintings. The landscapes I paint are often on the edge of cities, normally quite unattractive. They are places that have outlived their original purpose, to leave only traces of human activity. 
The Jackdaw Magazine, Nov/Dec issue 2019, London, UK
"Easel Words"

2016 Threadneedle Prize

Winner of the Threadneedle Prize 2016Salt in Tea by Lewis Hazelwood-Horner
Lewis Hazlewood-Horner won both the First Prize AND the Visitors Choice Award for his painting Salt in Tea. This painting was then exhibited at the Palazzo di Strozzi in Florence, Italy alongside Picasso and Kandinsky amongst others.

Lewis had a solo exhibition Beer and Guns in the Threadneedle Space in the Mall Galleries in September 2016 - see my blog post Impressive solo exhibition by 2016 Threadneedle Prizewinner

Beer & Guns by Lewis Hazelwood-Horner
After his Threadneedle Space show he exhibited in nine further shows in 2017 and 2018 (and needs to update his website for 2019!)

In 2017 he was also 
  • elected to membership of the Royal Society of British Artists
  • Highly Commended for the Royal Society of Portrait Painters' De Laszlo Medal for Excellence (to be awarded to an artist under 35 for the best work from life)
  • selected for the Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Prize Exhibition
He's also now represented by Thompson's Gallery and was featured in Artists and Illustrators Magazine in 2019.

This is his Facebook Page | Twitter | Instagram - and he continues to paint people involved in their occupations and normal working life

2014 Threadneedle Prize

[After this exhibition, the competition became a biennial - and added in a solo show for the winner]
Winner of the Threadneedle Prize 2014
Tina Jenkins with her painting "Bed Head"

Gloss paint and acrylic on plastic sheeting
170 x 170 x 8cm
£3,950 (sold)
Tina seems to have been mainly occupied with further academic studies since 2014.

She also won the Owen Ridley Award for an outstanding MFA project in 2014 and subsequently started doing her PhD in Practice Based Research in Fine Art at the University of Reading.  (see Linked In profile)

2013 Threadneedle Prize

The Threadneedle Prize 2013: Joint Prizewinner: Lisa Wright
Lisa Wright participated in a number of group and juried exhibitions in 2014 and 2015 but her website is offline and another page about her stops at 2015.

According to her Facebook account FUTURE FOREST is a collaborative installation project between Lisa and Tom Piper MBE (the poppies at the Tower man), which is part of the Centenary celebration of The Forestry Commission. Open at Thetford Forest, Suffolk until 30th May 2020.
READ Tower of London poppy memorial designer takes to the woods

The Threadneedle Prize 2013: Joint Prizewinner:
Clare McCormack
I can't find anything much online about Clare post 2013 - there again not everything materialises online!

2012 Threadneedle Prize

Threadneedle Prize Winner 2012
Ben Greener - "My Feet"
Ben Greener similarly seems to have disappeared from view. His website is offline. (Mind you I'm having a problem with Google refusing to show me websites which are not secure i.e. using htpps prefix)

2011 Threadneedle Prize

The Threadneedle Prizewinner 2011: Henriette Simson
Bad Government (After Lorenzetti)

Henriette Simson continued with her Practice-related PhD, Slade School of Fine Art, London (2010 - 2017 ). Her thesis title was Landscape After Landscape: Pre-Genre Italian Backgrounds in a Post-Genre Digital Age 2010 - 2011

She's had a number of exhibitions, the most significant of which appears to be Making Landscapes (2016 - 2017), HSBC Landscape Collection, HSBC Tower, Canary Wharf, curated by Jeremy Akerman

2010 Threadneedle Prize

The Threadneedle Prizewinner 2010: Patricia Cain
Building the Riverside Museum, Pastel, 110 x 170 cms, SOLD
Patricia Cain stands in front of her prizewinning work
which won the £25,000 Threadneedle Prize 2010
Patricia Cain is an artist whose artwork I see regularly in various exhibitions at the Mall Galleries.

Below are some of the things which have happened since winning the Threadneedle Prize in 2010:
  • elected to membership of both The Pastel Society and the New English Art Club
  • awarded the RSA Kinross Scholarship,
  • awarded the RSW Hospitalfield Residency,
  • 2011: regional prize winner in ING Discerning Eye
  • 2013: a finalist in the Arte Laguna Prize 2013 in Venice
  • 2014: 
    • selected for the Lynn Painter Stainers Exhibition
    • Conte à Paris Award, Pastel Society UK
  • 2015: exhibited at 
    • the Affordable Art Fair, Hampstead
    • the Contemporary Watercolour Society Competition held by the 
    • Royal Society of Watercolours at the Bankside Gallery
  • 2018: Finalist Derwent Art Prize

2009 Threadneedle Prize

The Threadneedle Prizewinner 2010: Sheila Wallis
Self portrait, oil on canvas, 20cm x 20cm
I guess 2009 was a bit of a highspot for Sheila Wallis  as she also won the Winsor and Newton Painting Prize and the Watts Painting Prize that year.

In 2014 she graduated with a Masters Degree in Fine Art (Distinction) from City and Guilds of London Art School

Sheila continues to paint, get selected for art competition/open exhibitions and runs a private teaching practice from her South London studio. Plus she is a workshop leader at Tate Modern.

UPDATE.....and a comment from Sheila

2008 Threadneedle Prize

Winner of the Threadneedle Prize 2008: Nina Murdoch
Untitled, Egg tempera, 152 x 122cm

Nina Murdoch joined the list of artists represented by the Marlborough Galleries in 2010 and has solo exhibitions with them in 2011 and 2014.  She experienced a crisis in her painting in 2014 when the glazing medium she had been using to keep her layers of egg tempera seperate was discontinued - and she started to explore alternative options.
Her website seems to have gone offline.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Call for Entries: New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2020

The Open Submission for the 2020 Annual Exhibition of the New English Art Club (NEAC) is now open. Three big changes this year are as follows:

1) I think they've CHANGED the summary description of NEAC's purpose
The New English Art Club is an elected society of contemporary painters whose ethos resides in art informed by the visual world and personal interpretation. 
(my bold underlining)
compared to the 2019 catalogue (see below). What happened to the emphasis on figurative and drawing?
The New English Art Club Annual Exhibition is a chance to experience the very best in figurative, observational and painterly work in the UK.
It showcases paintings, drawings and prints from its elected members alongside work by emerging artists whose ethos reflects its own: informed by the visual world and personal interpretation; and underpinned by drawing. Mall Galleries Introduction

2) artists may submit to the NEAC Annual Exhibition in one of TWO ways:
    • Online Pre-selection (Route A) or 
    • Physical Selection (Route B).
The New English Art Club now offers Route B for artists wishing their work to be judged physically at the gallery for the first time, bypassing the online shortlisting process.
This is in recognition of the fact that it can be difficult for the selection committee to fully appreciate an artwork on screen, but at the same time recognising that the online pre-selection may save artists the time and expense of framing and transportation. The submission fee is the same for both options.
I wonder how much this is down to requests from artists and how much due to selectors not liking selecting online and/or not having computers which are good enough to make a decent selection...


3) They have some NEW sponsors and two NEW rather good new cash prizes - open only to either a non-member or an emerging artist under 35!

This post provides:
  • my commentary on the nature of this open exhibition
  • a reminder of the metrics associated with the annual exhibition in 2019 - including
    • the number of works selected from the open entry, 
    • the number of non-member artists who got to exhibit and 
    • the average number of artworks hung by a non-members.
  • a summary of what you can enter AND how to enter the next annual exhibition.

view of part of the 2019 exhibition

The nature of the NEAC Annual Exhibition

There are aspects of the NEAC Open Exhibition which are worth bearing in mind when considering whether to submit art via the open entry.
  • LOTS of artists want to be a member of NEAC. For example, very many members of the OTHER art societies based at the Mall Galleries would like to be a member of NEAC - so your competition is people who have already been elevated to membership of societies belonging to the Federation of British Artists.
  • that's because historically it's had 
    • status - this art society was established by people who broke away from the Royal Academy of Arts
    • a good repuation (historically)as having lots of good quality artwork. Latterly I'd argue that this has wavered a bit
  • over £10,000 in monetary awards are now available (with two NEW prizes this year)- some of which can only be won by a non-member or an emerging artist.
  • around 75% of the artworks hung are by members of NEAC
  • around 20% of artworks hung come from the open and are by artists who are not a member of any art society based at the Mall Galleries. This is a LOT LOWER than the equivalent percentage for ALL other FBA Societies.
I'll unpick the metrics below. They are VERY IMPORTANT when thinking about how many works to submit and the competition for membership.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Celebrity Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

I watched Celebrity Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 at Battersea Arts Centre in person back in April.

Last night I watched it again on Sky Arts via my Now TV stick - after being reminded by my other half that it was on. I think he was trying to spot whether he appeared as well as he came with me and stayed for about an hour before deciding he has "other things to do"!

I stayed to the end so knew who won in advance. Actually I knew who was going to win from just after lunch but there you go....

The portraits of celebrities produced by celebrity artists

However but it was good watching again to see whether I arrived at the same conclusion with what I saw on the television

You can see an album of my photos from watching it "for real" on my Facebook Page.  This includes their self portrait submissions.  The photographs also give you yet more insight into the conditions in which the artists paint.
Making A Mark added 54 new photos to the album Celebrity Portrait Artist of the Year 2019
PS I am visible in the background at one point! As always I tend to avoid the cameras....

The Celebrity Artists and sitters

These were

Watching via Sky Arts and Now TV

You can watch the programme on demand via Sky Arts or Now TV

I have the latter - see

I expect it might very well turn up on Channel 4 at some point.

I gather episodes of the various Artist of the Year shows periodically turn up on YouTube before being spotted by Sky and removed!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Modern Slavery and Art Media, Materials & Supplies

Next time you use a paint using cobalt you might want to think about whether and how your purchase is contributing to the continuation of modern slavery.

This post is about:
  • child slaves being used to mine cobalt
  • the law and regulation in the UK, California and Australia - relating to Modern Slavery and the need for the proper audit of supply chains
  • whether art materials manufacturers and distributors are transparent about their actions to recognise and identify any modern slavery practices in their supply chains and, in particular, child slavery
  • a detailed listing of current practices by different manufacturers and retailers of art materials and supplies

How this blog post started

I was really shocked this morning when I read about how children were being used to mine cobalt in the CongoIt stayed with me all day - hence this post.

I have absolutely no idea where the cobalt comes from which is used in "Cobalt Blue" - but this article might make you pause the next time you reach for this colour.

Earlier today, I wondered aloud on my Facebook page about how many manufacturers of art materials were taking appropriate action to ensure that there were no children involved in mining cobalt to produce the cobalt oxide which then contributes to "cobalt Blue".
Cobalt pigments such as cobalt blue (cobalt aluminate), cerulean blue (cobalt(II) stannate), various hues of cobalt green (a mixture of cobalt(II) oxide and zinc oxide), and cobalt violet (cobalt phosphate) are used as artist's pigments because of their superior chromatic stability.[96][97] Wikipedia | Cobalt

Cobalt Blue pigment

Are art supplies companies transparent about sources?

I then began to wonder how many other current components of art materials might be tainted by association with modern slavery.
Companies have a moral responsibility of ensuring that no slavery has been used in producing the products they sell. This should apply not only to goods produced in their own factories but also to their suppliers, and suppliers of their suppliers, all the way down the supply chain. Slavery in Supply Chains | Anti Slavery
A little while passed and I wondered some more why human slavery was much less of an issue and had a much lower profile than for example
  • breeding/saving sables from having their hair taken for brushes.
  • the extent to which animal products formed part of art materials (see Schminke page
Child slaves don't get a choice about what they can do.......

My conclusions from taking a look at the current situation in relation to art materials/media and modern slavery is that:
  • priorities need to be reviewed
  • most of the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act (see below) completely bypass companies which produce or distribute art materials and media - mainly because they are too small in turnover terms to be regulated by current legislation
  • we know extremely little about the extent to which modern slavery might be related to the production of art materials
  • HOWEVER good practice does not require regulation.  There's nothing to stop companies which manufacture art materials and media being honest and ethical and providing statements on their website saying what they currently do to ensure that modern slavery is not involved in the production of art media sold to the public. 
Here's how I arrived at my conclusions. 

Modern Slavery

I started by looking at the legislation, regulations and government guidance for organisations on how to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in their business or supply chains.
consumers and businesses are inadvertently promoting and sanctioning these crimes through the purchase of goods and products that have been tainted in the supply chain, and that, absent publicly available disclosures, consumers are at a disadvantage in being able to distinguish companies on the merits of their efforts to supply products free from the taint of slavery and trafficking. The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act

This Act requires entities based, or operating, in Australia, which have an annual consolidated revenue of more than $100 million, to report annually on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and actions to address those risks.

But interestingly in Europe, the situation seems to be one of encouragement but no laws or and regulations..... Why not?  Also is it only California in the USA? Why not Canada?

Manufacturers of Paint and Coloured Art Media

I then wondered how many manufacturers of art materials had adequate statements about what they were doing to prevent child slavery and other abhorrent practices.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Interviews with the Judges of Jackson's Painting Prize 2020

Jackson's Art Blog interviewed me recently in my role as a Judge of the Jackson's Painting Prize 2020.

I'm one of a team of Judges who will be reviewing entries to the competition in March next year.  You can read the interviews with all the Judges online - see the links below (the last one was published this morning!). 

Each provides an individual response to two questions asked of all judges
  • How important do you think awards and competitions are for artists today?
  • Do you have any advice for artists out there thinking about entering the Jackson’s Painting Prize this year?
I wrote more about the competition in my Call for Entries: Jackson's Painting Prize 2020 which you should read if you're interested in entering.

Judges for the Jackson's Painting Prize 2020
Top row: Adebanji Alade, Iain Nicholls, Rosalind Davis
Bottom row: Elizabeth Dellert, Terry Greene, Katherine Tyrrell

Read about the Judges

You can also read the interviews with the other expert Judges below. The LINK to the interview is in the Judge's name
  • Iain Nicholls - last year's winner. You can also watch a video of an interview with him after winning last year's competition at the bottom of this blog post.
  • Katherine Tyrrell - that's me! Do have a read 
    • if you've not seen any of my artwork in a while, now's your chance to see some.
    • or want to know about my favourite artists and see some of the art I like and/or appreciate - there's some images of that too
    • finally, for those who want to know more about my thoughts on art competitions I have a something to say about their value and some tips for those wanting to enter!

  • Elizabeth Dellert - Director of the Affordable Art Fair - UK Fair 
  • Terry Greene - an artist living and working in West Yorkshire. who makes abstract paintings and writes the art blog Just Another Painter - in which he explains his interests and processes.

An interview with last year's winner

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Fujiko Rose won Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 in Final at Battersea Power Station

The Final of Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 was broadcast last week - and tomorrow is the 'final' programme in this year's series. It's about the winner's journey to paint Venice for a £10,000 commission for the Royal Institute of British Architects.

the final six paintings of the competition

This is a commentary on the Final. 

After this there's one more post where I'll be trying to round up and summarise what we learned from the Heats, Semi-Final and Final this year.  (That's for those who are already contemplating entering for next year - see Call for Entries: Landscape Artist of the Year 2020)

The Final is always something of a bit of an odd show since 5 other participants are missing and there is the need to recap the journey to the Final

This one had an extra participant since Kate's new Baby (Juno) also came along for the evening (although I'm sure she was sent home for sleep).

The Location

After the Landscape Artist of the Year first of an all woman final we had another first - painting at night!

They went for a night painting at Battersea Power Station - an architectural icon which is currently undergoing a major reconstruction.

It's very clear to me that all the Heats were leading up to the subject for the Final.
  • So many verticals and/or dominant structures
  • So much architecture. 
  • So little natural landscape!!!
Was it a good choice as the location (and time) for the Final? 
Emphatically NOT in my opinion - and you only have to look at the results to see why.

Battersea Power Station with cranes and the red warning lights looking like fairy lights!

To my way of thinking - once whoever decided on Battersea Power Station as the location, somebody else probably remembered that Whistler used to paint his Nocturnes around and about this area of the Thames (Whistler and the Nocturnes certainly got a mention on the programme).

Hence the idea of night time painting at Battersea Power Station and producing Nocturnes was born.

SOMEBODY forgot to think about the additional issues and pressure this might present for the finalists - or decided this was a good idea! "Somebody" was both ignorant and wrong in my opinion.

Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge 
by James Mcneill Whistler
By using the word 'nocturne' I wished to indicate an artistic interest alone, divesting the picture of any outside anecdotal interest which might have been otherwise attached to it. A nocturne is an arrangement of line, form and colour first - attributed to Whistler in Dorment and MacDonald, p.122
Note - Whistler didn't get this good the first time he tried a nocturne!

The artists all agreed the location and timing were a major challenge AND that there was a lot of detail!

A TV Journey

All good reality competitions on the television like a "Journey" so I thought I'd record what I'd noted - and what was reiterated by the Judges in the programmes.