Friday, February 07, 2020

121st Annual Exhibition of The Pastel Society

I visited the The Pastel Society's 121st Annual Exhibition earlier this week for the Private View. It is currently on display in all the galleries at the Mall Galleries,  The Mall, London SW1
  • It's open every day 10am to 5pm (closes 3pm on final day) until 16 February
  • Admission is £5
  • HOWEVER you can have FREE ENTRY for Two to the exhibition  (normal price £10) if, as regular readers, you quote "Making A Mark" to the people at the Gallery Desk at the entrance.
I'm probably going back tomorrow afternoon to see which paintings and drawings won prizes which were announced just before I left on Tuesday. More of these anon.

It's a good exhibition whether or not you are a fan, as I am of dry media.

A Table at Seven by Kitty Glavin
Winner of the Pastel Society Young Artist Award
Her work was created in oil pastels on several pieces of paper which were stick together
and hung without a frame!
Below you can find out:
  • how to view all the artworks online - both members, open entry and my photos
  • how you can meet individual artists in the gallery, and what talks and demos are happening during the remainder of the exhibition
  • my commentary about this exhibition and, if you like, review my past reviews of this exhibition!

View all the works online

You can view a folder of my photos of the exhibition on my Making A Mark Facebook Page (it's public - no need to be a member) - and you can see general views and images of the works I liked in this post.

Some of my photos from the Private View
You can also see artworks as follows

Meet the artist, see the demos, hear the talks

Felicity House is in the Galleries on Saturday.
Here she is with four of her works (on the left)

You can also meet the artist. Those participating in the remainder of the exhibition are:
Next Tuesday there is an Art Event Evening between 5.30 and 7.30pm

There are also demonstrations and talks- as follows
  • Monday 10th February:
    • 11.30 - 3pm Peter Vincent
    • 2 - 4pm Roger Dellar
  • Wednesday 12th February: 10.30 - 1.30pm Simon Hodges: The Sketchbook - view & discuss
  • Thursday 13th February: 2 - 4.30pm - Simon Hodges: The Sketchbook - view & discuss
  • Friday 14th February:
    • 11.30 - 1pm Brian Dunce - Talk - 'The Baroness'
    • 1.30 - 3.30 Jan Munro - Demonstration
Artworks by Jan Munro PS
who is demonstrating in the exhibition next Friday

Commentary on the 121st Annual Exhibition

My mindset about an exhibition is more or less set by my response to the first look at the exhibition from the reception area and the top of the steps. 
  • If it looks great I start with a positive outlook
  • If it looks muddled and boring then it has to work hard to make me feel good about it.
I'm surprised it's taken me some 14 years of reviewing to explain that!

This one got me from the get go as it were - and that was because of the hang and two works in particular which caught my eye
  • George's Walk (Panels 10-13) by Patricia Cain a Scotland based visual artist and scholar and previous winner of the Threadneedle Prize. This is work is a big triptych which looks hugely impressive when hung on the end wall about 100 feet away from where I'm looking from. This is the precise position where a "Come down those steps, come over here and look at me!" painting needs to be hanging!
Part of the feature end wall of the Main Gallery with pastel artworks by
Patria Cain PS (center); Jill Jeffrey PS (left; and Bob Last PS (right)
The Threadneedle space with large works and groups of works alternating colour and monochrome

On the other side of Reception I looked down into the Threadneedle Space at what looked like an interesting exhibition. Monochrome works were alternating with colour giving it an extra degree of vibrancy.  That and the fact there was some intense colour on the wall - including (on the right) the oil pastel drawing of A Table at Seven by Kitty Glavin.

Pastels of her garden by Jeanette Hayes PPS

I had a chat with Jeanette Hayes, the President of the Pastel Society and she indicated she'd had fun hanging the exhibition. Her aim was to have a good flow for the eye but also to have works which popped out and perked up the eye.

Hence we had Ian Rawling's pastel works strategically placed to zap the eye.

Sunny Side Up by Ian Rawling
His Sunny Side Up egg was right at the top of the stairs to the threadneedle space so got you when you came in AND left!  Ian Rawling is not a member of the Pastel Society but should be. His Wobbly Maccaroons were splendid and I'd love to see him as an artist doing a demonstration. I'd come!

I love drawing food - it provides such an interesting variety of shapes, colours and textures - plus looks good too! I keep trying to remember the other (American) Pastel artist who used to do food really well  - like Ian - but the name escapes me.

Wobbly Macaroons by Ian Rawling

It's worth mentioning the diversity of the work on the walls of this exhibition. To me it speaks of professionalism as there's a very wide range of subjects, dry media in use, and styles.  You can see this diversity in the online images (see links near the beginning of this post)

The small works wall beneath the mezzanine is particularly noteworthy for having small paintings which are well painted - as opposed to the unhappy habit which pops up from time to time in other exhibitions of submitting what I tend to think of as small slapdash studies. Small works are more affordable and hence more likely to sell - and the public notices the difference between those who have taken time and care and those who haven't.

Maybe this is because this is a Society which vets everybody's artwork - including those submitted by their members?

Moving on the the medium sized works, I particularly liked the colour swerve evident in Norma Stephenson PS's works on display which had a much lighter and brighter colour palette than normal - they raised the sunshine temperature in the room! I'm wondering if it's a while since I looked at her website - the colours of her work are amazing!  She seems to have moved away from the grey and mousey colours I always used to associate with her work. The framing is also perfect - complementary and does not compete and I particularly like the use of slips rather than mats to hold the work in place - it makes them look a lot like oil paintings.

Landscape Pastels by Norma Stephenson PS 
I also very much liked the pastels of animals in the landscape during a hot summer by Jenny Halstead PS. I think she should do many more landscapes (and revamp her website so the images aren't so tiny!)

Cows and sheep and shade in summer - pastels by Jenny Halstead

There is also a diverse range of prices. While some high prices are justified by the experience and track record of the artist, others are just ludicrous (i.e. if you produce a small painting but are not a well known pastel artist, don't have a lot of experience and don't have a significant following then it's just really silly to price it over £2k - it's highly unlikely to sell). When I go back I'm going to be paying particular attention to what has sold and what hasn't to see if the general parameters for sales are the same for this exhibition as others. 

That said most have priced their work sensibly and with the Own Art Scheme which runs at the Mall Galleries it makes the artwork very affordable via 10 monthly payments.

More posts about the Pastel Society

You can review previous posts about Pastel Society exhibitions - from my archives. As you can see I've done 14 reviews of this exhibition!

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