Thursday, May 23, 2019

Rare Lowry "Cricket March" painting - on view for 5 days in Salford and London

If you want to view "A Cricket Match" by LS Lowry - you can view this privately owned work, at The Lowry arts centre until 5pm on Monday (27 May) in their free LS Lowry: The Art & The Artist exhibition.

This rare painting - LS Lowry didn't paint many paintings to do with cricket - has gone on display in Salford ahead of its auction next month at Sotheby’s. Which means those of us who live in London can view it at the pre-sale preview exhibition at Sotheby's in June. (see details of times and dates below)

Laurence Stephen Lowry, R.A. 1887-1976
signed and dated 1938 |  oil on canvas  |  46 by 61cm.; 18 by 24in.
So basically if you're 'up north' you have until the end of the Bank Holiday weekend to see this painting.

Here's a very informative video with Claire Stuart, Curator of the Lowry Museum plus the Lady from Sotheby's telling you a bit more about it - if like me you're unable to get to the Lowry Museum.

A Cricket Match is a wonderful example of Lowry at his very best, in what is arguably his best decade as an artist, the 1930s, where he fully establishes the rules and parameters of his unique vision. It seems at first-glance to be a simple ‘slice of life’ and yet the painting is constructed very carefully, in both the way the narrative unfolds and also in how it releases its emotion. As ever, Lowry restricts his palette to a range of colours so narrow that Mondrian would no doubt approve: the dominant white; outlines in black; a dirty green and sooty blue to pin the work to the ground and to give it its sombre timbre. It is this blue-green that also frames the picture, drawing our eye into it, across the dirty standing water and snaggletooth fence posts in the foreground and through to the ramshackle sheds in the middle ground. To this Lowry adds a few dots of red, in a scarf or a hat: another favourite trick to draw the eye in a zig zag through the composition, to ensure the viewer looks everywhere and experiences it as a whole.
It is in the 1930s that Lowry’s masterful use of white really comes to the fore. It has both a painterly function – allowing him to give a clarity to his figures and buildings, which in turn enhances their phenomenological solidity – as well as an emotive quality, as it brings a hard, brittle coldness to his work, whatever the season, that in the viewer’s mind translates into an understanding of the hardship of the world he is painting. It has a conceptual aspect, too, as it is the white that makes this Lowry’s world, something that has its root in a hard reality but also seems to exist in of itself.Sotheby's Auction - Catalogue Note

Exhibition details

The Lowry says it's only been on public display twice before
  • once in 1939 when Lowry chose to include it in an exhibition in London
  • briefly in 1996 at Sotheby’s as part of a pre-auction display when it set the then world record for a Lowry painting of £282,000.
When A Cricket Match last appeared at auction in June 1996, it sold for a then world record price for a painting by Lowry, prompting a plethora of cricket-inspired puns from the newspapers, both national and local to the artist’s home town of Manchester: ‘Lowry scores a record price’, ‘Cricket oil hits artist’s price for six’, ‘Painting a big hit’ etc.  Catalogue note

On display in the exhibition at the Lowry

To be auctioned by Sotheby's 

The work will be auctioned on 18 June by Sotheby’s. It's estimated it could fetch up to £1.2 million.
This exceptional painting is both a ‘classic’ Lowry, depicting the hard life of the industrial cities at the turn of the 20th century, and also quite rare in its depiction of a cricket match, even though cricket has always been very much part of Manchester life.  Simon Hucker, senior specialist for modern and post-war British art at Sotheby’s
The exhibition dates and times are as follows
  • Friday 14 June 9am - 5pm 
  • Saturday 15 June 12pm - 5pm 
  • Sunday 16 June 1pm - 5pm 
  • Monday17 June 9am - 5pm 
  • Tuesday18 June 9am - 4pm 

Mrs Lowry & Son

Timothy Spall as LS Lowry in Mrs Lowry & Son

The display of the painting comes ahead of the release of a feature film this summer about the artist starring Timothy Spall and Vanessa Redgrave. Mrs Lowry & Son depicts the relationship between Lowry (Spall) and his mother Elizabeth (Redgrave) with whom he lived until her death.

The film is directed by Adrian Noble, the former director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and made by production company Genesius Pictures.
Timothy Spall's recent weight loss makes him uncannily like Lowry. Spall was JMW Turner of course in a previous acting incarnation!
"We’re absolutely thrilled to be able to share this work with our visitors. With the release of Mrs Lowry & Son this summer there’s a real buzz at the moment about his story and his journey as an artist and it’s great to have the chance to display a work few people will have seen before.” Claire Stewart, curator of The Lowry Collection

Monday, May 20, 2019

Review: Royal Society of Portrait Painters - Annual Exhibition 2019

Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2019 - Threadneedle Space

One of the overarching characteristics of the 2019 Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters  is that ALL works selected for exhibition from the Open Entry are chosen by members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. There are no administrators, sponsors, gallerists, art critics or other such éminence grise who get a say on what gets hung.
Unlike other portrait exhibitions, this exhibition is rigorously selected by professional portrait painters who themselves have been elected by their peers to their Society.
I was really looking forward to this exhibition after last year when I raved about the changes - see Review: Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition - Unstuffed!

However I came away feeling somewhat deflated this year - hence the gap before writing this review. I guess it was because I had high hopes it would continue in the same vein as last year - and yet I felt that the "stuffed shirts" had returned and were a little too prominent. It felt a bit like it had backtracked to previous exhibitions about which I've been a tad critical in the past.

Below I discuss some of the themes of the exhibition for me
  • Stuffed Shirts versus Skin
  • The Hang - juxtapositions and themes 
  • Exhibit to Market - why this exhibition is emphatically a marketing exercise re. commissions
  • Paintings I liked - a very small selection of the paintings I liked in the exhibition.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Call for Entries: Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition 2019

The Royal Society of Marine Artists has issued the Call for Entries for its Annual Exhibition in October 2019. They want to see submissions of art inspired by the sea and marine environment.

The exhibition has a variety of styles around the topic of the marine environment

Three good reasons to consider an entry if you like painting anything marine-orientated is that:
  • this is an exhibition which ALWAYS attracts a lot of people interested in buying marine artwork. 
  • It also has a LOT of decent prizes (see below for the list and purpose of each)
  • In 2018, the prizes were dominated by wins by the non-members - which is always good to see for those who submit work via the open entry.
The Exhibition of some 400 artworks opens to the public on Thursday 10 October and closes Saturday 19 October, 5pm (Hours 10am to 5pm)

RSMA 2018: Main Gallery

Call for Entries

Below you can find
  • a summary of how to enter the next annual exhibition.
  • a list of prizes
  • an archive of posts about past exhibitions - which contain a lot of images of the type of artwork that gets selected for exhibition.
You can also see two videos of the 2018 Exhibition on my (public) Facebook Page

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

BP Portrait Award - The Thirty Year Vote - which is your favourite?

2019 mark's the 30th year of BP's sponsorship of the annual Portrait Award competition hosted and run by the National Portrait Gallery in London. 

So this year they're doing something a bit different.

On the 30 Year Vote page you can

  • see ALL of the portraits which won the BP Portrait Award between 1990 and 2018. 
  • you're invited to vote on your favourite winning work from the past 30 years
    • the place to vote lies just to the right of the portrait
    • I suggest you look at all 30 portraits - dating back to 1990 - BEFORE you vote - unless you already know which one you will vote for

At the very least it's an opportunity to see how many of the portrait paintings and portrait painters  you can remember!
(To find out more - and see them all one page next to one another - see the BP Portrait Award "Past Winners" page on the microsite - where you can see the image, image title, artist name - and that's it - no media and no size info)

The 30 Year Vote seems to have precipitated some minor campaigns being waged in terms of which portrait - and portrait painter - gets the most votes. Ben Canaan (Israel) was way out in front at the weekend - but I rather suspect some nursing Mummies have pulled Ben Sullivan back to the top of the poll!  He's now the one to beat!

If you'd like to see the painters with their portraits have a look at my 2017 blog post What do paintings by BP Portrait Award winners look like? - because the one thing the Vote page lacks is any sense of size of the painting....

Who I voted for

Winner of the BP Portrait Award 1993
(crop of) Two Figures Lying in a Shallow Stream (1992) by Philip Harris
oil on canvas 72" x 48"

I had absolutely no hesitation when voting - Two Figures Lying in a Shallow Stream by Philip Harris is a monumental painting

  • which just made my jaw drop when I saw it for the first time back in 1993 - and 
  • I've never ever forgotten it. 

I knew what I was going to vote for before I even saw the choice!  It scores on so many levels:

  • major impact - this painting is HUGE. His website says 72" x 48" and the figures are a bit less than life size
  • two figures not just one
  • one clothed and one nude - so skin and textiles
  • hands and feet as well as faces
  • the best background ever - the stones and detritus of a stream bed
  • an implied story as well as a great figurative painting and two excellent portraits
So what will you vote for? Answers on my (public) Facebook Page please....

BP Sponsorship

BP sponsorship is not without controversy - as I fully recognise. I've set out my views and a commentary on BP sponsorship in previous posts - see
The company’s support of the Portrait Award, including initiatives such as the BP Next Generation programme, the BP Young Artist’s Award and the BP Travel Award, has also significantly contributed to the career development of more than 1,400 portrait artists, from aspiring young painters to established professionals.

Monday, May 13, 2019

David Hockney: Drawing from Life (2020) at the National Portrait Gallery

I'm very much looking forward to David Hockney: Drawing from Life - at the National Portrait Gallery in early 2020.

David Hockney Self Portrait, March 14 2012,
iPad drawing printed on paper Exhibition Proof 37 x 28"
© David Hockney

The NPG last week announced that they would be staging the first major exhibition devoted to David Hockney’s drawings in over twenty years.

The exhibition will run 27 February – 28 June 2020.

I remember extremely clearly visiting the last exhibition of his drawings in London. 
'David Hockney - A Drawing Retrospective' at the Royal Academy of Arts (Nov. 1995 - Jan. 1996) - and indeed still have the catalogue prominent in my bookshelves. It had a big impact on me and the regard I have for the use of coloured pencils to make drawings as fine art.

 David Hockney Celia, Carennac, August 1971, 
coloured pencil on paper 17 x 14"
© David Hockney Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt Collection The David Hockney Foundation; D
The exhibition 'David Hockney - A Drawing Retrospective', an exhibition of his drawings that I visited at the Royal Academy of Arts (Nov. 1995 - Jan. 1996), included very many of the pencil drawings of his family, friends and lovers. One of the reasons I like Hockney is because he has such a high regard for drawing apparently derived from his early training in Bradford. I gather he went through a phase of drawing according to the principles of American Abstract Expressionism at the Royal College of Art - drawings which represented feelings - but gave that up as a barren place to be. Anyway, he opened the Summer exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art this year and placed an emphasis on drawing as having fundamental importance in the world of art - as related in the BBC online interview with him "Taking Art back to the basics"

What's the Hockney exhibition at the NPG about?

Hockney is recognised as one of the master draughtsmen of our times and a champion of the medium. NPG
The exhibition will focus on
  • Hockney as a draughtsman from the 1950s to now
  • include 150 works from public and private collections across the world - and his own collection - with five main groups of drawings
  • self portraits over time
  • his depictions of his family and close friends
    • his muse, Celia Birtwell;
    • his mother, Laura Hockney; and
    • his friends - the curator, Gregory Evans and master printer, Maurice Payne.
In doing so, it will seek to trace the trajectory of his drawing practice over a period of five decades. will examine not only how drawing is fundamental to the artist’s distinctive way of observing the world around him, but also how it has often been a testing ground for ideas and modes of expression later played out in his paintings. 

The exhibition will also include some previously unseen work - new portraits of some of the sitters and drawings which have previously never been shared in public!

I'm a big David Hockney fan and can activate a mental video in my head of most of his past exhibitions by just thinking about the title of the exhibition and which gallery it was at. I can even remember which drawing or painting I spent ages staring at! I'm a particular fan of his drawings and even contacted the website to find out how to get a hold of copy of his facsimile sketchbook as seen at the last Hockney Portraits exhibition at the NPG in 2006.
"What an artist is trying to do for people is bring them closer to something, because of course art is about sharing; you wouldn't be an artist unless you wanted to share an experience, a thought"
David Hockney / David Hockney Portraits - from the 2006 NPG exhibition

Hopefully we'll see more facsimile sketchbooks this time round?

Which media will the exhibition include?

David Hockney Mother, Bradford. 19 Feb 1979Sepia ink on paper 14 x 11 inches
© David Hockney Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt Collection The David Hockney Foundation;

It's going to include traditional drawing media and equipment

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Prizewinners at the 128th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

One of my recurrent themes in recent years has been about how art societies really need to get their acts together and highlight those artists and paintings that win prizes - while the exhibition is current and not past. 

Otherwise it's
  • Neither supporting  the artists;
  • Nor showing courtesy to the sponsors of the prizes - who do like to see some recognition
I'd thought great strides had been made - but apparently not with all societies.....

It's therefore very sad to report that this week the Royal Society of Portrait Painters has completely failed to make any mention of its prizewinners at the 2019 Annual Exhibition - which opened on to the public on Thursday - on

It's a very great pity as these are decent prizes and great paintings - and I'm sure the artists would appreciate a mention. Most of the viewing public - particularly those who buy or commission - are online these days and you can't ignore online!

HOWEVER, The Mall Galleries Blog has posted Introducing the award winners from this year's Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition.

Nevertheless for the sake of completeness I will continue with mine - not least because the link on Facebook to the post kept returning the "This site can’t provide a secure connection - uses an unsupported protocol" message on both Chrome and Safari - before I could get it to show me the post!

In contrast to the Mall galleries blog post, I'm listing the prizes in order of the monetary value of the Prize - and will also add commentary on each one.

The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture (10,000)

The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture is sponsored by Sir Christopher Ondaatje CBE OC and the Ondaatje Foundation, this generous prize of a £10,000 cheque plus the Society’s Gold Medal is awarded for the most distinguished portrait of the year.

The winner of Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture 2019 is Peter Kuhfeld RP NEAC.

It's quite the smallest Ondaatje Prize I've seen in recent years. I'd quite got used to them tending to be rather large.  This by way of contrast is a small and quite subtle painting - very unflashy, but interesting nonetheless.

Winner of the Ondaatje Prize 2019
Executive Chef by Peter Kuhfeld RP NEAC
oil, 38 x 38cm (15 x 15 inches) NFS

Interestingly it's a long time since this artist last won a prize (he won the The Prince of Wales Prize for Portrait Drawing in 2002) - although he won a lot while at the Royal Academy Schools. One gets the impression this is not an artist who pursues prizes.

The artist was born on 4 March 1952 in Cheltenham - the only child of a German prisoner of war and an English classical pianist. He subsequently studied art at Leicester School of Art (1972-76) prior to teaching art at Rugby School of Art (1976-1978) and further postgraduate study at School of Painting, Royal Academy Schools then taught at the Royal Academy Schools in 1981. He was elected to membership of the New English Art Club in 1986 and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 1992 - from which he resigned in 2005 (according to Wikipedia - although he appears to have returned to the fold at a later date).

Prince Charles has been a patron of his and Kuhfeld painted portraits of Prince William and Prince Harry in 1986. He also commissioned by HRH The Prince of Wales to paint the royal wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. In 2009, he painted a memorable portrait of Harry Patch, who was the oldest man in Europe and the last surviving combat soldier of the First World War from any country.

He has accompanied HRH The Prince and Princess of Wales - as a trip artist - on a number of overseas trips in 1990, 1991, 1993, 2004, and 2010. I'd love to see his sketchbooks!

The de Laszlo Foundation Award (£3,000)

The de Laszlo Foundation award, worth £3,000 and sponsored by the de Laszlo Foundation, aims to encourage young artists. It is awarded, together with a silver medal, to an artist under thirty five years old judged to have submitted the best portrait.

The Winner of The de Laszlo Foundation Award 2019 is Joshua Waterhouse who entered his portrait painting via the open entry.  It's a fascinating painting which is part portrait and part still life - with both being painted extremely well. I loved the Holbein blue background.

The portrait is of Jack Stanger, a retired aeronautical engineer.
Commissioned by the Stanger family, the painting depicts its subject tinkering with a grasshopper escapement clock he made from scratch, surrounded by the paraphernalia of an engineer’s workshop. The unusual silhouette in the background is a nod to the engineer’s involvement in Concorde during his career.
Winner of The de Laszlo Foundation Award 2019
The Engineer by Joshua Waterhouse

oil 75 x 92cm (30 x 36 inches) NFS

Joshua Waterhouse is aged 30, was born in Newcastle in 1989 and currently lives in Camden. He did a Foundation in Art & Design at Edinburgh College of Art, followed by studying Fine Art & French at Aberystwyth University, graduating in 2014 with a First Class Honours. He also spent a year in Paris studying Art History at La Sorbonne.

He is a hyper-realist portrait artist and he likes to paint in oil on wood in a highly meticulous way, producing portraits with a heightened sense of realism, where every surface detail is given equal consideration. He divides his time between working on private commissions and independent projects.

Below is a video of him painting the portrait.

The Engineer from Joshua Waterhouse on Vimeo.

The RP Award (£2,000) - on the theme of 'skin'

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Tony Costa wins $100,000 Archibald Prize 2019

For those interested in portraiture it's interesting to compare the 51 portraits selected for the Archibald Prize - a portrait prize worth AUS$100,000 - with those selected for the BP Portrait Award 2019 (see this week's posts: 40th BP Portrait Award (2019) Shortlist and Selected Artists and statistics - BP Portrait Award 2019) worth less than half of the Australian prize.

The Archibald Prize ( $100,000)

Sydney artist Tony Costa’s portrait of artist Lindy Lee has won the 2019 Archibald Prize - worth $100,000 to the winner. 

The prize money equates to roughly US$70,000, £53,000 or €62,000.

About The Archibald Prize

The prize will be awarded, in the terms of the will of the late JF Archibald dated 15 March 1916, to the best portrait ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia during the 12 months preceding the date fixed by the Trustees for sending in the pictures’.
The painting must be an original portrait painted from life, with the subject known to the artist, aware of the artist’s intention and having at least one live sitting with the artist. It may be painted in any medium  (eg oil, acrylic, watercolour, mixed media) but must not be bigger than 90,000 square cm (eg 3 × 3 m, 1.5 × 6 m).

The 51 finalists for the 2019 Prize included 11 self-portraits, 17 portraits of fellow artists and 12 portraits of people in the art world including acting, media and dance.

2019 Archibald Prize winner Tony Costa
Lindy Lee

oil on canvas, 182.5 × 152 cm
© the artist | Photo: AGNSW, Felicity Jenkins

About the artist - Tony Costa

The artist must have resident in Australia or New Zealand for the whole of the previous year.
  • Age: 64, born in Sydney in 1955 
  • Nationality: Australian
  • Occupation: Artist
  • Current home: Lives and works in Sydney
  • Art education: completed postgraduate studies at the City Art Institute (but attended law school for two years before giving up law for art
  • Previous appearances in this award: a finalist in the Archibald Prize in 2015, 2017 and 2018. (Has regularly been selected for various prestigious prizes in Australia)
  • Website
  • Facebook
  • Previous Awards: He has also been represented in the Wynne Prize, the Sulman Prize and the Dobell Prize for Drawing, and won the Paddington Art Prize for landscape painting in 2014. Winner of the Paddington Art Prize for Australian Landscape painting
‘I approach each painting with an empty head, beginning every portrait with charcoal drawings as I collect sensations and information. The challenge for me is to trap the energy of my sitter – the emotional feeling over and above the physical reality. In my portrait of Lindy, I have kept the colour minimal to avoid any visual noise. Ultimately the invention and the unity of the work is what matters most.’ Tony Costa

About the sitter - Lindy Lee

Lindy Lee is a leading contemporary Australian artist and a Zen Buddhist. Her practice explores her Chinese ancestry through the philosophies of Taoism and (Zen) Buddhism.
Lindy Lee, herself an Archibald finalist in 2002, has appeared as a subject in 2006, painted by Bin Xie, and 2012, in a portrait by Kate Beynon.

The reason she was asked to sit
‘I listened to an interview Lindy gave at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and found myself agreeing with many of her ideas. I was attracted to her wisdom, humility, courage, humour and, above all, her deep focus regarding her art practice,’ Tony Costa
Lee said from Shanghai,
“It was very enjoyable to sit for Tony. He just asked me to sit still in meditation for a few hours which is kind of like my favourite sport. I’m thrilled that he’s won. He’s been a very prolific and hardworking artist for many decades and he deserves to win this wonderful prize.” 

The Packing Room Prize ($1,500)

Through the looking glass (portrait of David Wenham) by Tessa MacKayoil on linen, 210 x 330.5 cm

The Packing Room Prize is selected by the staff of the Art Gallery of New South Wales who have to handle, receive, unpack and hang the Archibald Prize entries. Their Head 'Packer', Brett Cuthbertson, gets 52% of the vote

The sitter is an actor called David Wenham and he was painted by Tessa Mackay.  She was born in 1991 and paints large scale hyperrealistic paintings.  This is the first time she's been selected for The Archibald Prize.
‘David delights in strolling through his Sydney neighbourhood, be it the cafe strips for coffee and a yarn with his local barista, or the park where he takes his kids. All the while, he’s happy for passers-by to approach him, demonstrating his curious, generous nature. Sydney had to be part of his portrait, but I wanted to nestle David within a figurative essence of Sydney. David and I searched for a place to create my composition and I chose to situate him in a cafe behind a glass pane, with the streetscape reflecting into the interior. Through this sitting, and looking at my reference images later, I could study David’s face, his hands, arms and shirt, and begin to understand his environment and how he exists in the world. I also desired a challenge with this portrait and painted gradients, organic forms, geometry and vanishing points.’ Tessa MacKay
See also

The ANZ People’s Choice Award ($3,500)

This is voted for by those visiting the exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. The winner will be announced on 14 August 2019

Other reviews

Friday, May 10, 2019

Call for Entries: Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition 2019

Entries from non-members are now welcome for the 56th annual OPEN exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists.

You have until 12 noon on Friday 27 July 2018 to get your digital entry ready and upload it and complete your submission online.
The Selection Committee of the SWLA seeks to encourage all forms of three and two-dimensional artwork (see 'Acceptable media' below) that is based on representing the world’s wildlife. The Committee is particularly keen to encourage all artists with fresh visions to submit work to the Annual Exhibition that shows imagination, artistic ability, originality and genuine creativity.
The exhibition includes wonderful prints and drawings as well as drawings and paintings

Why wildlife art is important and the role of the wildlife artist

The wildlife artist has never been more important in:
  • highlighting the diversity of wildlife in the UK and abroad 
  • recording all those species which are under threat
  • helping conservationists make the wider public aware of the threat to both species and ecosystems - and consequently humanity - caused by the failure to stem the practices which are leading to a massive decline in species.
Earlier this week, a summary of a report - due to be published in six volumes later this year - was published which is the most comprehensive assessment of its kind. It indicates
  • the rate of extinction is increasing
  • some 1,000,000 species are under threat from the activities of man and climate change.
Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely, warns a landmark new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the summary of which was approved at the 7th session of the IPBES Plenary, meeting last week (29 April – 4 May) in Paris.
To increase the policy-relevance of the Report, the assessment’s authors have ranked, for the first time at this scale and based on a thorough analysis of the available evidence, the five direct drivers of change in nature with the largest relative global impacts so far. These culprits are, in descending order:
  1. changes in land and sea use;
  2. direct exploitation of organisms;
  3. climate change;
  4. pollution and
  5. invasive alien species.

Pangolin - "the most trafficked creature you've never heard of"

Call for Entries: 56th annual exhibition of SWLA

View of the 2018 Exhibition in the Main Gallery

The SWLA call for entries is administered by the Federation of British Artists at the Mall Galleries and you can find more information below and on their website

For full terms and conditions, click here.

You should also note a comment from my Review: Society of Wildlife Artists 55th Annual Exhibition in 2018 (my bold)
the 2018 annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists at the Mall Galleries is emphatically not an exhibition of photorealistic artwork.
You can see images from previous exhibitions in all review blog posts listed at the end.

Prizes & Awards (subject to final confirmation)

There are many prizes and awards available to win, including:
  • The Terravesta Prize: £2,000 for the best work exhibited
  • Birdwatch Artist of the Year Award: £1,000 plus Swarovski equipment
  • RSPB Award: £500
  • Birdscapes Gallery 'Conservation through Art' Award: £700 split between the artist and a conservation charity of their choice
  • Mascot Media 'Nature in Print' Award: For the most original, unusual or effective interpretation of the natural world using traditional printmaking techniques. The winning artist will receive £200 and their choice of 10 current Mascot Media books
  • Dry Red Press Award: The winning work reproduced as a greetings card

Eligible artists

Any artist over 18 may submit.

Eligible artwork

The artwork must be of wildlife. 
Work should be based on representing the world’s wildlife.
Wildlife includes any non-domestic animal such as birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, crustaceans and insects. 
In summary, the SWLA Selection Committee is looking for:
  • two and three dimensional artwork inspired by the natural world
  • work that displays a deep knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, based on ‘in the field’ observation
  • work that reflects a personal, original, and creative response
  • work that displays a high level of technical skill
  • work that showcases interesting approaches and emerging new talent
Works likely to be rejected include:
Works depicting domestic animals or purely botanical subjects are not permissible. 
Works depicting wildlife divorced from its environment or without place, setting or context are rejected in many cases. 
Biological or scientific illustrations are in most cases not permissible.

If you've not submitted before the best thing to do is 
  • visit the show first. 
SWLA 2018 Catalogue Cover
The next best thing is to review
  • the online catalogues - which includes photos of members' artwork
  • my blog posts reviewing past exhibitions (see end) which provides images of artwork selected for the show from the open entry as well as artwork by members

Number and size of artwork
  • Maximum of six works submitted. Maximum of six works selected
  • Works should not be larger than 2.4m along the longest dimension.
  • All work must be for sale.
  • The price of works must include commission of 45%+VAT
  • However if foundry fees are applicable, the commission is 33.3%+VAT) .
  • Minimum price: £200 (except for prints: framed £120, unframed £95).

Ineligible work

Work will not be accepted IF it meets one or more of the following criteria
  • NOT for sale
  • NOT completely dry
  • NOT completed within the last three years
  • larger than 2.4m along the longest dimension
  • previously exhibited in London
  • a botanical subject
  • portrayal of pets and/or domestic animals,
  • decorative wares (such as vessels or tiles),
  • work in metal frames, poorly framed or badly presented.
  • Photographic reproductions or mechanical prints, giclée prints of original artwork etc., (i.e. COPIES which are often promoted as ‘limited edition prints’ are not acceptable).

Eligible media

In addition to the usual art media of painting, sculpture and original prints (if prints, please detail edition and how many are available) the SWLA is keen to embrace new and innovative medium.

SWLA will accept computer-generated images as ‘original prints’ but ONLY if the digital print only exists as an original print and was created by the artist to be realised specifically as a print.

How to submit an entry

This is the detailed call for entries.

To enter an exhibition you need to login or register as a new artist.

Advice on photographing

It is very difficult to assess work from poor photographs. When submitting work for pre-selection, please ensure that the photographs are accurate and show the work at its best. It is worth noting that sometimes work is let down by very poor photography including reflections on the glass, out of focus images or images that are angled from being propped against a wall when photographed. The lack of care reflects badly on the artist and does not help the task of selecting work. Sculptors in particular should use plain backgrounds and make the most of the option to add more views of the submission.

Advice on framing

Artists are encouraged to choose simple plain frames and mounts that will suit the exhibition and not detract from the work itself or interfere with adjacent works when exhibited in the galleries.

Cost of entry

Submission fee: £15 per work (£10 per work for artists aged 35 or under).


  • 12 noon on Friday 26 July 2019: Deadline for digital entries: Upload images of work (in JPEG format / under 5MB) at
  • Friday 2 August, from 12 noon: Check to see if your work has been pre-selected
  • Saturday 7 September, 10am - 5pm: Deliver your work to Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD
  • Tuesday 10 September, from 12 noon: Check on , to see if your work has been accepted to the exhibition. Please note that selectors' decisions are final and no feedback is offered - other than general comments
  • Thursday 12 September, 10am - 5pm: If not selected for exhibition, collect your work from Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD
  • Thursday 24 October, 10am: Exhibition opens
  • Sunday 3 November, 1pm: Exhibition closes
  • Thursday 7 November, 10am - 5pm: Collect unsold work

If you do NOT live in the UK

INTERNATIONAL Artists, who are not resident in the UK but are resident in the EU or elsewhere in the world are welcome to submit work. However you MUST read and make a careful note of the instructions on the website
International Entrants

Artists who are not resident in the UK but are resident in the EU or elsewhere are welcome to submit work. If your work is sold at the exhibition you have a responsibility to register and account for UK VAT with H.M. Revenue & Customs.

Artists without a UK residence (known as 'NETPs' - non-established taxable persons) can find further details on 'NETP' status and how to register for VAT at, (HM Revenue & Customs Reference: Notice 700/1, Mar 2014) under the heading 'Should I be registered for VAT?' Please note: the registration process can take up to 4 weeks. Please address any questions you may have to the VAT Helpline on tel. no. 0300 200 3700 or Outside UK: +44 2920 501 261.

Artists sending work from abroad should use a picture carrier. Many artists use Picture Post Art as they offer a packing and delivery service for our exhibitions (we do not accept any liability for their services). Picture Post Art - Tel: 0044 (0)1302 711011 / Mobile: 07833 450788 / Email:


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    2016 - Review - Society of Wildlife Artists 53rd Annual Exhibition

    Thursday, May 09, 2019

    Selected Artists and statistics - BP Portrait Award 2019

    This post is about the artists behind the 44 portraits selected for the BP Portrait Award 2019 Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

    The exhibition opens to the public on 13 June 2019 and admission is free (see details at the end).

    Ruminating Man by Frances Bell

    As always this post takes rather longer (hours and hours!) to write than usual and that's why it's being published today and not yesterday as indicated on Monday.

    At the end there is a BIG TIP for those aspiring to enter in 2020 and beyond....

    Selection Process

    The competition is open to all artists aged 18 and over from around the world.

    In 2019:
    • 2,538 artists submitted a portrait as a digital image to the BP Portrait Award 2018. (2,667 artists in 2018)
    • from 84 countries (minus 4 countries compared to 2018).
    • Of these 290 (11%) made it through the first stage assessment and got to hand deliver or courier their actual portrait for viewing by the Judging Panel.
    • Of these just 44 (1.7%) have been selected for this prestigious annual exhibition - which will be seen by more than 250,000 people
    In terms of geography, out of the 44 selected artists from all over the world
    • 19 portraits (43%) came from the UK - England, Scotland and Northern Ireland (52% in 2018) 
    • 25 portraits (57%) came from 81 other countries (48% in 2018)
    Key changes in statistics include
    • a very significant reduction on the number (50+) which have been selected in the past (eg 55 portraits in 2012)
    • a very significant reduction in the number of selected portraits by UK artists
    • an apparently big increase in artists who have never had their work selected for the exhibition before
    Effectively this means that over time, the number of UK artists being selected for this competition has more of less halved.  

    It's now very much an international competition - not a UK one.

    Selected Artists (and statistics)

    Below are short profiles of the selected artists. Links in their names are to their websites. (Note that almost every artist has a website )

    The artists are ordered according to 
    • their country of origin and
    • the number of artists that hail from each country highlighted
    Artists are welcome to send me images of selected portraits and/or photos of them with their portrait - and they will be added into this post.

    I'm still trying to work out the statistics. Below I've got one artist without a country (although I suspect it's Colombia) - and numbers that don't tie in with the press release. There seem to be more Americans and fewer Brits.

    UK (19 artists)

    England (15)
    • Jane Beharrell - a painter of figures and still life. She's from Hull, but is now based in Beverley, East Yorkshire. First time in the BP.
    • Frances Bell RP SWA (see her portrait at the top of this post) Facebook Page A full time professional portrait and landscape painter and elected a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 2018 (and her work can be seen at the RP Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries from tomorrow). Born in Cambridge in 1983, and raised in Suffolk and now basw in Northumberland. Studied portraiture at the Charles. H. Cecil Studios in 2001 for 3 years, and then taught sporadically at the Charles Cecil studios for a further 7 summers. She has exhibited widely and internationally and won a number of prizes.  In 2019, one of her paintings was awarded a Certificate of Excellence from the Portrait Society of America in this years International competition.
    Frances Bell with her portrait of Ruminating Man.

    • Frances Borden Won 2nd prize in 1998 - In 2019 selected for both the BP and the Ruth Borchard Portrait Prize. Studied art at Chelsea College of Art & Design - BA (Hons) Fine Art (Painting) (1993 to 1996). Regularly selected for exhibitions by other art competitions and previously selected for the BP Portrait Award in 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000,  and 2016  
    • Simon Thomas Braiden - Born 1971. He's a self-taught artist who is a member of Manchester Academy of Fine Art. His work has been seen in exhibitions in Manchester, Buxton and London. self taught artist born in Manchester in 1971. Early Flemish painting and 20th Century Modern Realist painting have been his main influences. He has exhibited extensively throughout the UK in both private and public galleries. Previously selected in 2018 - when I interviewed him for BP Portrait Award 2018 - Artists with their paintings
    • Bridget Cox - b. 1951. A practising artist currently living in Cumbria. Trained at the Carlisle College of Art and Design and the University of Ulster, Belfast BA(Hons) painting. Her paintings are in private and public collections in the UK, Ireland and France.  Her portrait titled ‘Chinese Cloth’ is of Hilary Linton of Brampton
    • Vanessa Garwood - Born in Israel 1982, Vanessa studied painting and sculpture for three years at Charles Cecil Studios in Florence.  Now she lives and works in west London. Also selected for BP Portrait Award 2018 Facebook Page 
    • Emma Hopkins - Shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2019 - see 40th BP Portrait Award (2019) Shortlist
    • Tedi Lena - studied at CASS and successfully completed Undergraduate program in Fine Art and got my result 95%. July 2018 Awarded Degree of Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours London Metropolitan University. Painted Frank Bowling for the exhibition. Leading an Exhibition Tour on 28 June
    • Jeff Midghall - Graduated with BA (Hons) Fine Art, Kent Institute of Art & Design, Canterbury, UK in 1997. Possibly based somewhere in France?

    • Keith Milow - born 1945 in London, grew up in Baldock, Hertfordshire, lived in New York City and Amsterdam, now lives in London. He is an abstract sculptor, as well as a painter and printmaker.  (Note artwork online makes no sense in terms of portraiture!)
    • Sarah Jane Moon - Sarah Jane comes from New Zealand and is a painter and printmaker who specialises in portraiture and figurative painting and explores identity, sexuality and gender presentation. In New Zealand she graduated in 2003 with BA - Art History, English Literature, Japanese Victoria University of Wellington and in 2007 BA (Hons) Visual Arts Theory University of Western Australia, Perth. After coming to the UK she studied for Diploma in Portrait Painting at The Heatherley School of Fine Art, London, UK (where she now teaches regularly). She has exhibited extensively and regularly been selected for the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.

      Dr Ronx by Sarah Jane Moon

      Monday, May 06, 2019

      40th BP Portrait Award (2019) Shortlist

      The shortlist for the BP Portrait Portrait Award 2019 was announced last week. I'd been inspecting my inboxes for an email from the National Portrait Gallery and checking the NPG website on an almost daily basis for all of April to no avail.

      I knew if I went away it would be announced - and so it came to pass!!

      So - one week late - here's the Making A Mark analysis of this year's shortlisted portraits - and the artists who created them.

      Four portraits shortlisted for 40th BP Portrait Award 

      The portraits shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2019

      • Sophie and Carla (1520mm x 920mm, oil on polyester) by Emma Hopkins
      • Quo vadis? (900mm x 600mm, oil on aluminium) by Massimiliano Pironti
      • The Crown (500mm x 400mm, oil on linen) by Carl-Martin Sandvold 
      • Imara in her Winter Coat (1200mm x 900mm, oil on canvas) by Charlie Schaffer 
      Interestingly we have:
      • a completely new set of artists producing shortlisted portraits
      • three of the artists entered for the first time this year
      • four portraits all use a portrait format
      • there are two small and two large portraits
      • ALL artists painted in oil
      • four different supports were used for the shortlisted portraits
      Below there is a brief summary about the competition and then information about each of the artists

      The BP Portrait Award 2019

      The Open Entry

      This year's open and international entry comprised 2,538 digital entries (minus 129 entries) from 84 countries (minus 4 countries).

      Selected Artists

      Only 44 portraits have been selected.  This is a very significant reduction on the number (50+) which have been selected in the past.
      • 20 from the UK
      • 24 from international artists
      Effectively this means that over time, the number of UK artists being selected for this competition has halved.  It's now very much an international competition - not a UK one. I'll be publishing my blog post about selected artists on Wednesday.

      If you want a small image of your portrait included in my post please send me an image.

      The Judges were:
      • Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery (Chair)
      • Gaylene Gould - Head of Cinemas and Events at the BFI Southbank + Cultural Ambassador for London appointed by the Mayor
      • GaryHume - artist (member of the YBAs and a painter but not known as a portrait artist)
      • Dr. Alison Smith - Chief Curator of the National Portrait Gallery 
      • Des Violaris - Director, UK Arts & Culture, BP and 
      • Zoé Whitley - Senior Curator of the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London.

      Exhibition and Awards 

      The winner of the £35,000 BP Portrait Award and other award winners will be announced on 10th June 2019 at the National Portrait Gallery, London at the Awards Ceremony.

      • First prize: £35,000 + a commission worth £7,000 (agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist). 
      • Second Prize: £12,000 and 
      • Third Prize of £10,000 is also awarded. 
      • The BP Young Artist Award, with a prize of £9,000 goes to one selected artist aged between 18 and 30. 

      The exhibition will be held at:

      Artists shortlisted for BP Portrait Award 2019

      Below you can find profiles for each of the shortlisted artists

      Monday, April 29, 2019

      Commission an artist: 'Home is where the Art Is' (Episodes 11-15)

      This post is about 
      • my overall conclusions about Home Is Where The Art Is 
      • information and links about the artists participating in Episodes 11-15.
      If you want to find out the details of artists who participated in the first two weeks see below for the links to previous posts.

      In general, the series has been a real education in terms of the client's perspective
      • Overall some of the artwork during the course of the series has been simply stunning and very professional. By way of contrast, some of it has been distinctly amateurish.  
      • I've been amazed to find that both domestic and corporate clients can really like artwork which fails (from my perspective) to demonstrate any real skill or talent.  My view - and I'm entitled to it - is that what is considered to be quality art varies depending on your experience of looking at art and your perspective (likes and dislikes)
      • I'm wondering how many other people are like me and ended up, over the series as a whole, quite bemused by some of the choices of both artists and artwork. 
      • Notwithstanding commissions are always about personal choice and there is no right or wrong if it makes the client happy.
      The process of looking for the links has also clearly demonstrated how vital marketing and social media is for selling art and commissions
      • the extent to which some artists fail to design websites with commission clients in mind
      • why some people can make an income from commissions. This seems to correlate strongly with being organised and/or better at marketing and/or social media and/or getting the artwork out and shown wherever - including on BBC1!
      I also discovered a few things in the final week of Home Is Where The Art Is
      • One enterprising artist who participated in the programme has set up a Home Is Where The Art Is Facebook Page to promote the work of those participating. However that's going to be a lot of help to those artists who participated without a website or Facebook Page. One wonders who people are intended to contact them....
      • Next - some of the artists produced work for the commissions based on other work they had done previously. Now this is quite a common approach used by some artists - and one which is often used for clients who have a tight budget. However I'd hesitate before calling it "bespoke" unless it was unique in every respect and only available to that client. Of course it's quite different if the client requests "one like that but tailored to our preferences for colours / things which are important to us".

      Finally - some other individuals have also documented the details. But my posts remain the most comprehensive! :) 
      • below are website and social media links for the artists who participated in Episodes 11-15 in week 3
      • contact details are embedded in the artist's name
      • commissions details are provided if self evident

      Commission an Artist (Episodes 11-15)

      This is about the artists with a name in the end credits of Home Is Where the Art Is (Episodes 11-15). 

      It follows on from my previous three posts

      Episode 11

      Location: South Lake District
      Commission: up to £500
      Budget: a piece of art to celebrate their recent move, and in particular to thank their children
      Media represented: metal sculpture; glass or watercolour painting
      Outcome: BOTH pieces were bought

      Both artists sold their commissioned artworks.
      The Artists in Episode 11 were:

      Episode 12

      Location: Cheshire
      Commission: to mark a new start - having become recently single and moving home
      Media represented: textile artist with a love of bold colours; painter with an eye for symbolism or magazine collage creator
      Outcome: The watercolour painting was bought - because the symbolism of a new start which was so important to the client was embedded in the painting

      Watercolour painter Jane Austin being congratulated by Giles Davies (collage artist)
      The Artists in Episode 12 were:
      I thought Giles collage landscapes were incredibly impactful and intriguing at the same time.

      Episode 13

      Location: Central Manchester
      Commission: a new piece of art for a new home in an apartment in a cotton mill
      Budget: up to £700
      Media represented: screenprinter, illustrator, upcycling artist
      Outcome: The clients bought the screenprint by Robin Ross (left in the photo below)

      I rather suspect the fact that the little works by Meha might have been in with a shout of also being purchased if they had also been framed. I couldn' quite tell whether the support they were fixed to was temporary or permanent. The joy of small square artworks is that you can arrange them anyway you like, intersperse them with other pieces and generally make them work hard as a very flexible artwork - but this was not self-evident from what was produced.

      When you hear you've won you close your eyes to process the statement! :)
      The Artists in Episode 13 were:
      • Robin Ross (Winner) - a screenprinter based in the Rock Factory Print Studio located in an Old Rock Factory in the centre of Blackpool. Became a print maker after more than 35 years as a broadcaster. He Limited Edition hand pulled screen prints and has worked with the BBC, DIY SOS, and Children in Need.
      • Meha Hindocha - Originally from Kenya, now a professional artist living in Manchester. Meha creates all art either by herself or in collaboration with other local artists. She produces richly illustrative cityscapes, animal portraits and abstract paintings.

      • Amanda Godden - based in Gleaston.
        • website - no website
        • commissions - no details re commissions
        • Facebook | Twitter

      Episode 14

      Location: Cheshire (recently moved from Essex)
      Commission: a bespoke piece of art - in the home or garden - to mark their ruby wedding anniversary
      Budget: £400
      Media represented: visual artist,  sculptor, painter
      Outcome: Both works were purchased

      Paul Dunkerley and Lucie Ann Trickett - who both sold their work
      The Artists in Episode 14 were:
      • Paul Dunkerley (Winner) - contemporary British Sculptor aka Loosebox Sculpture. Based in Nantwich, Cheshire, UK. Studied Art and Visual Studies at Manchester Polytechnic in the 1980s. Has been creating and selling work since 2010 and has exhibited in Regional galleries in Staffordshire, Shropshire and Cheshire since 2011 
        • website
        • commissions - Arrange for meeting to discuss requirements of location, materials, style, budget, payment schedules and production time scales.
        • Facebook | Instagram | Etsy

      Episode 15

      Location: Bury, Lancashire
      Commission: a piece of art to mark a new time in their life, having changed career at 50, lost their mum and ended their marriage
      Budget: c.£600
      Media represented:  glass maker, clay sculptor or ceramic artist
      Outcome: The clay ceramic head was purchased - and the emotional reaction did the trick

      The head on the right won the commission for Jane Richmond
      The Artists in Episode 15 were:
      Hello everyone! I would just to let everyone know that my website is fully sorted again but might bit a little slow! It was experiencing issues due to high volume visits 😯 It's been one crazy day.

      • Jane Richmond (Winner) - artist and ceramic sculptor who live and works in Burnley Lancashire who likes to portray sensuality and emotion in both the subject and the style.  B.Ed (Art and Education). Qualified teacher with 33 years’ experience. Also provides workshops in ceramics.

      and finally......

      I think I'm actually going to miss it!

      Amazingly a number of the artists are based near where my mother lives so I may be visiting at some point in the future....