Friday, May 31, 2019

12th Wildlife Artist of the Year won by Stephen Rew

The Wildlife Artist of the Year 2019 Exhibition is currently on at the Mall Galleries until 2nd June 2019.  It contains 152 artworks for sale which were juried and selected for exhibition.

The Wildlife Artist of the Year juried art competition was established by David Shepherd CBE FRSA (1931 – 2017). It represents his vision for ‘The Art of Survival’ – using art for wildlife conservation. The exhibition is all about exhibiting the best in wildlife art and raising funds for wildlife conservation.

Below you can find:
  • facts about the exhibition and how to see it
  • the list of the award winners
  • my commentary on the exhibition - which this year is focused on what's different

Includes two paintings by last year's winner (top right and centre)
and two paintings of an animal - the polar bear - which won the year before in 2017!
You can see online
  • the shortlist of selected artworks featured in the exhibition and shortlisted for category prizes - for those unable to get to London,
  • an online exhibition of those artworks which didn’t make onto the walls of the exhibition at the Mall Galleries but which the judges believe demonstrate incredible skill and creativity. These are also for sale.
50% of every sale will go directly to saving endangered species and fighting wildlife crime across Africa and Asia.
Unfortunately I missed the preview and awards on Tuesday evening as I was at the National Portrait Gallery all day watching the Final of next year's Portrait Artist of the Year 2020 being filmed. However I visited the exhibition yesterday afternoon and images from this year's exhibition can be found below.

The Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition

50% of the sales of all works of art also goes to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation's wildlife conservation projects across Africa and Asia.

View of the exhibition in the Main Gallery of the Mall Galleries
Every year this exhibition attracts a lot of entries from all over the world. Many wildlife artists regard just getting selected as a major achievement given the number and calibre of the entries it gets.  It's particularly strong on wildlife art of the more exotic variety.

The competition is open to amateur and professional artists aged 17 and over and welcomes all traditional artistic mediums (excluding digital and photography).

For all aspiring wildlife artists it's an ESSENTIAL exhibition to visit. Although you can view the prizewinners online and on Facebook, you can only really appreciate the quality of the paintings and sculpture when viewed in the galleries.

The exhibition opened on Wednesday 29th May and is open as follows
  • Until Friday – 10am to 5pm
  • Saturday – 10am to 4pm
  • Sunday – 10am – 1pm
MORE OBSERVATIONS on the exhibition after the list of awards below.....

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Wildcard Artists wanted for Landscape Artist of the Year 2019

The entry for Wildcard Artists for Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 opened at 10am this morning. I found out from one of those who got an invite because she didn't make the cut for the 48 artists who will be in the pods - while watching the Final of the Portrait Artist of the Year 2020 at the National Portrait Gallery today!

Below you can find out more about
  • where the Heats are located
  • the dates of the Heats
  • how to enter as a Wildcard Artist

Wildcards Artists for Landscape Artist of the Year 2019

You can't be a wildcard unless you can make it to one of the Heats. These are as follows

Herstmonceux, East Sussex

  • Heat 1: 12th June 2019
  • Heat 2: 13th June 2019

Herstmonceux is a village in the Weald in East Sussex.  It's a pretty safe bet that one of the two locations will be Herstmonceux Castle 2 miles (3.2 km) south-east of the village. It may be that this provides two locations - with a view of the Castle and Gardens and a view of the lake. See the website and the map of the gardens

Alternatively they may go for the The Observatory Science Centre which is close by and has some pretty odd shaped buildings

An aerial view of Herstmonceux Castle

Plymouth, Devon

  • Heat 3: 19th June 2019
  • Heat 4: 20th June 2019

My guess is potential sites are:
Plymouth Hoe

Gateshead, Tyne and Wear

  • Heat 5: 3rd July 2019
  • Heat 6: 4th July 2019

I'm guessing here (well they're all total guesses!) but my bet is on:
Baltic Mills and the Bridge over the Tyne
Gateshead Millennium Bridge - when open and tilted

Invitation to be a Wildcard Artist

You have to click on your Preferred Heat to apply - and once 50 Wildcard Places have been given out that's it. Which is not to say you can't just turn up anyway - you just won't get the chance to be in the semi-final.

I'm getting "closed" on each of the Heats which may well mean all the places have gone. Alternatively they have a GLITCH!
On a first-come, first-served basis we will be offering 50 Wild Card places at each of our heats. By bringing your own easel and materials you could join us at one of our spectacular locations around the country and paint a landscape in front of the judges. If your painting impresses them you could win the opportunity to go through to the semi-final and move a step closer to winning a £10,000 commission.
 The Wildcard page includes

Monday, May 27, 2019

RECOMMENDED: There is no F in Art

Imagine you came across a book which says all the things about contemporary art that you think - but only occasionally say 'out loud'.

Imagine a book about 'art' which really makes you think about what's art and what's not.
Who says it's art and should we believe them?
You'd want to read it - or at the very least look at the juxtaposition of pictures and quotations and statements of facts about the current art market.

It's not often I come across small books which make you think about art - and the art world. This is one of them

I was sent a copy of There is No F in Art by its author Eli Castelli and found it both provoking and and enjoyable.

The book is a bit like a rather clever picture book which highlights the juxtaposition of words - often quotations - with images images of artwork and some clever graphics.

In essence it really highlights how much the importance and value of art very often lies 

  • NOT in the art itself or the artist 
  • but rather in the words written about it - often written by people other than the artist!

These are my comments to the author.
You love words don't you? I keep wondering what your background is - and it has to involve words....

It's thought provoking. I think the bits which hit home clearest for me was how the art is often in the words of those labelling or marketing the art and the value is often attributed by the words rather than created by the artist i.e. who makes the art - the artist or the wordsmith or marketeer.

I kept getting a sense I'd heard some things said before - but that made sense when I got to the bibliography at the back and might possibly be to do with my own reading on similar subjects.

Nevertheless it's a much more accessible way of making the essential points.

I've maintained for a very long time that Damien Hirst's real talent lies in marketing!
It turns out I was right and the author's background involved marketing and the music business in the past.

It takes a marketing person to spot what's product and what's marketing - and where the value lies!

I feel conceptual ‘art' relies on 'art speak’ to justify it as a genre, as most of it fails to speak for itself - Eli Castelli

About the book - There is no F in Art

RECOMMENDED: This is a small book which identifies what you really need to know about contemporary art and the art market.

I very definitely RECOMMEND this book

  • to art students 
  • to those wanting to get involved in the contemporary art market - as either an artist or art collector 
  • to all those who want to write about art - mainly so they stop sounding like pretentious [expletive (plural) deleted].
The book covers:
  • What is Art
  • Who says it's art and should we believe them?
  • Isn't Charles Saatchi the Artist?
  • Is Conceptual Art a Con?
  • The Art of Marketing Art to the Art Market?
  • Is the Best Art the Most Expensive?
  • Tate Modern - Scared Institution or Sunday Playground? 
  • The Next ...Ism

Title: There is no F in Art
Author: Eli Castelli (it's a pseudonym. This and the name of the publishers is why I said yes when asked did I want to review it)
Thanks for the swift reply Katherine. You are only the second person to notice the "juxtaposition" of Eli Broad and Leo Castelli
Publisher: Sven Dali Press - note the puns continue!
Pages: 112 pages
Paperback / Product Dimensions: 17.7 x 1.3 x 12.1 cm
Price (new) £7.99
You can find it

About the author

My background is Marketing and when Saatchi first put a Shark on display in Boundary Rd, I said to my aspiring artists friends "this feels more like my world than yours!" I was at the Tate Modern in February 2018, looking to impress my visiting niece with some of the finest art and it felt more like a playground (adult sized swings & giant disco ball) than a sacred museum (attached). I was further 'uninspired' when we moved onto the Conceptual art room & more so, when the room guide told me the Curators wrote the wall descriptions.

I contacted Saatchi, Tate Modern curators and read several books by Sarah Thornton, Grayson Perry, Don Thompson, Georgina Adam, Sotheby's Philip Hook and watched endless interviews with Rauschenberg, Koons, Poons, Hirst, Gagosian, Richter, Murakami, Emin, Robert Hughes, Jerry Saltz... I also saw and thoroughly enjoyed the Swedish film, The Square.

When the book was printed The Price Of Everything came out soon after. There's a lot of common ground, purely by coincidence.

Art students are my main customers so far, an MA from St Martins saying "it's a beginners guide to the art market."

My aim was to stimulate some sort of conversation, the way art does and should in my opinion. I also tried to create a mirror effect within the book's layout & design and added art history references for people to discover & question for themselves.
Instagram: @NoFinART

Friday, May 24, 2019

Modern & Post-War British Art - Exhibition at Sotheby's

I spent more time today looking at the catalogue for the Modern & Post-War British Art evening auction taking place at Sotheby's in London on 18th - 19th June 2019

It's got a lot of interesting artworks by various artists and I very much recommend you 

  • view the 5 day exhibition (see dates, times and venue address at the end) in advance of the auction
  • take a look at the catalogue if interested in this period of British Art 
    • click the link to Modern & Post-War British Art 
    • either scroll down the page 
    • or click a pic and go straight to the detailed page for that artwork - and click the pic again and get a larger image

The feet of "Beautiful Girl Lying Down" by Euan Uglow (1932-2000)
oil on canvas | 61 by 93.5cm.; 24 by 37in. | Executed in 1958-59
Estimate £300,000 - £500,000

Artists include:
  • Edward Burra
  • Sir Eduardo Paolozzi
  • Euan Uglow - I was transfixed by the very beautiful painting "Beautiful Girl Lying Down" - do read the catalogue note about his work
  • Alison Watt
  • Leon Kossoff
  • LS Lowry
  • Walter Richard Sickert
  • Henry Moore - both sculpture and shelter drawing
  • Ben Nicholson
  • Dame Barbara Hepworth
  • Patrick Heron
  • David Nash
  • Graham Sutherland
  • John Piper
  • Roger Hilton
  • David Bomberg
  • Winifrid Nicholson
  • Augustus John
  • Duncan Grant
  • Vanessa Bell
  • Paul Nash
  • Craigie Aitchison
  • Dame Lucie Rie
  • Dame Elisabeth Frink
  • Sir Peter Blake
  • David Hockney
  • Sean Scully
  • Christopher Le Brun
  • Sir Terry Frost
  • Gillian Ayers
The exhibition dates and times - at Sotheby's at 34-35 New Bond Street London W1A 2AA - 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

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 √©minence 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 26 July 2019 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, gicl√©e 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: £18 per work (£12 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 31 August, 10am to 5pm: Deliver your work to Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD
  • Tuesday 3 September, 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 5 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
Note: some dates have been updated since publication.

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