Friday, December 20, 2019

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

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

One view of the Last Exhibition

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

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

So what happened?

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018 Threadneedle Prize

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

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

2016 Threadneedle Prize

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

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

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

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

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

2014 Threadneedle Prize

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

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

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

2013 Threadneedle Prize

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

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

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

2012 Threadneedle Prize

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

2011 Threadneedle Prize

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

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

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

2010 Threadneedle Prize

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

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

2009 Threadneedle Prize

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

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

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

UPDATE.....and a comment from Sheila

2008 Threadneedle Prize

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

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