Monday, March 08, 2021

Ophelia Redpath wins Landscape Artist of the Year 2021 at Trinity Buoy Wharf

This is about the Final - last August - of Series 6 of Landscape Artist of the Year

The three finalists - with their final pod paintings - waiting for the decision

The Location

The Location of the Final of Landscape Artist of the Year was Trinity Buoy Wharf.

The view from the pods - located at Trinity Buoy Wharf

I know it reasonably well having been there before - for sketching trips and exhibitions. The thing which has struck me each time is 
  • what a huge view it has of the bend in the Thames it is sooooooooooo panoramic!
  • how that wharf is VERY exposed to wind and weather - should it choose to get nasty.  I speak as one who tried sketching there one Sunday morning when I spent a lot of the time sitting inside the cafe - Fat Boy's Diner - sketching out the window while BP Portrait Award winner Susan du Toit sketched me!
View of the tiny pods - at Trinity Buoy Wharf
next to the Trinity light House and bridge to the pontoon

The Weather

The weather was dry and seemed to produce some interesting skies during the course of the day. It looked as if it started warm but got progressively cooler.

A TV Journey

The Artists 

As noted in my last post, it's an all female final for the second year running and the third female winner on the trot - after Jen Gash and Fujiko Rose in 2018 (review) and 2019 (review)  respectively. (This series would have run in 2020 if things had been normal).

(Left to right) Shelagh Casebourne, Ophelia Redpath and Claire Lord - socially distancing

The Heats

All good reality competitions on the television seem to want to be like a "Journey" so, as last year, I thought I'd record what I'd noted - and what was reiterated by the Judges in the programmes.
  • Shelagh Casebourne - won Heat 1 at Chartwell (House) when she painted a splendid view of the House from a very difficult perspective looking upwards. She then looked as if he was losing her way in the Semi Finals before storming to the finish with a few tweaks which made all the difference. She has a process and knows what works for her - and her paintings look more and more like those of Courbet!
  • Ophelia Redpath - won Heat 3 at the West Reservoir Centre Terrace. While writing my review of the Semi Finals I realised she was probably the most experienced in the show - having been an artist for some 30 years. I thought Ophelia would do well having seen her start her painting. Her experience tells her how long it takes to paint her picture - and how best to compose it - and I was right. Plus by the end of the semi-finals I was now in no doubt that the Judges were enamoured with her very unique magic realism style.
  • Clare Lord - won Heat 5 at West Wycombe House - from an awful view which required an assertive crop. She was then brave and energetic in the semi-final and completed the biggest painting demonstrating she has no inhibitions about painting big.
See also Review: Semi Finals of Landscape Artist of the Year 2021 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. For me they finished Ophelia, Shelagh and then Clare at the semi-final stage.

The Final

The Final comprised two halves
  • pod painting within 4 hours at Trinity Buoy Wharf
  • commissions - of three locations - within Kew Gardens
I'll deal with each in turn

Pod Paintings

Kate Bryan commented at the beginning that this was the Final and they needed to make it really hard! That was an understatement! 

Tai spoke at length about how much he hated the view. He thought it represented chaos
"There is nothing here I'd want to paint. I look out there and I want to despair" Tai Shan Shierenberg
Which says a lot about the very sensible decisions of all the Finalists to avoid painting the dome in its entirety and instead find views and motifs which interested them and which they thought they could complete in four hours.


Given the pandemic, the competition was unable to do what it normally does and ask the artists to paint a very specific place for a specific organisation.

Instead they were asked to paint three locations in Kew Gardens on the same day - which minimised the amount of travelling the film crew had and provided vast open spaces.
The Commissions allow the artists to paint away from the location and take as much or as little time as they liked for their paintings.

In a way it's the best indicator there is of whether or not the artist is up to painting the location for the final commission. 

In my opinion it's often the case that the competition is finally decided by the Commission Paintings rather than the 4 hour pod painting - where the artist has no option as to how they locate themselves. 

I'm slightly surprised not to have seen any reference to the competition on the Kew Gardens website or Twitter feed. I'm guessing whoever runs them does not watch Landscape Artist of the Year!

The Final Paintings

This is what the Final Lineup looked like when the Judges came out to Judge.

Commission and pod paintings respectively by:
(left to right) Shelagh Casebourne, Ophelia Redpath and Clare Lord

Below I'll discuss the paintings of each artist in turn. I'm not going to give you the Judges view - I'm just going to give you mine.....

Paintings by Shelagh Casebourne

Commission and pod painting by Shelagh Casebourne

Shelagh rebelled when it came to her pod painting. The dome did not interest her one bit and instead she turned to her left and looked east - past the exit of the River Lee into the Thames and past the cable cars crossing the Thames. She then spent an hour sketching and working out her compositon before her brush hit her canvas!

Tai was very complementary about it.
"What a nice early Monet or Sisley" Tai Shan Shierenberg
She chose to paint the Palm House's interior which I think was a wise choice. I've tried creating artwork of the Palm House's exterior many times and it's very, very difficult to make it look interesting becuse it's so big (unless you go to the other side of the lake and capture it just as the sun drops down and starts to shone thorough the glass so you get the silhouettes of the all the palm trees inside). A close crop of the interior is invariably the best approach.  Her painting of the vegetation enabled us to distinguish different plants as she varied leaf shapes and marks and the colour green.

Hence having demonstrated she could buildings in the first heat Shelagh then avoided both the whacking great big Palm House and Millennium Dome and went for more people sized views of her subject matter.

What Shelagh's paintings also told me is that she prefers to work with a limited palette and have injection of colour which pop within the paintings but don't ever shout.

For me while I greatly appreciated her compositional skills and the subtlety within her paintings, they were, on occasion, slightly too muted and greyed out for me. I'd have liked a bit more colour.

Paintings by Ophelia Redpath

Commission and pod painting by Ophelia Redpath

I thought Ophelia had a raw deal in relation to her pod painting as she was located in the centre pd and hence was much more limited in her scope to turn completely sideways and ignore the dome - as both Shelagh and Clare did!

So she got out of her pod and went looking for motifs which told the story of the location and ones which would allow for greater coherence and more interesting content within her painting.  I like the fact she organises her painting and composition - but is open to serendipity in terms of what happens and catches her eye. I liked the fact she got her animal motif in - in an understated way - when a seagull passed by. 

The balance in terms of tones, colour and shapes was masterful.

I thought her Commission painting was simply stunning. I've drawn that precise view and it's very  difficult to organise a composition given the various objects competing for your attention in what is a very ordered landscape.  

A Japanese Landscape Garden in Kew Gardens
by Ophelia Redpath

What I find impressive are:
  • the number of zones and organisation of shapes and repetitions within the painting
  • the variation in light crossing the painting and the ambiguity as to whether it is day or night
  • the amazingly funny motif in the bottom left hand corner
  • her simplified and meticulous rendering of the cloud styled vegetation in both the background and the middle ground
  • a foreground which did not compete
  • a point of interest which popped but did not dominate - but just made you ask 'Why?'
The monkey and the sleeping girl

I love the fact the monkey is NOT looking at you!

I should maybe make it clear Ophelia was my winner before she even started this Final. For me her work already shouted 'QUALITY" and "INTERESTING" and I did not mind in the least if some people thought it graphic or illustrative.  I also really didn;t mind if they were characterised by the Judges as being linked to the Magic Realism Genre. The reality is that they work - very well indeed. 

Paintings by Clare Lord

Commission and Pod Paintings by Clare Lord

I found it absolutely fascinating that both Clare's paintings included barriers as per her submission - her painting of the lake at Kew included the railings of the Sackler Crossing and the pod painting of the view of Docklands to the east of her pod also included four strong horizontals - albeit on a slight diagonal.

I liked her painting of the lake better than the pod painting. The depiction of the fluidity and streams within the water was masterful.  Her trees were also simplified but very effective.

For her pod piece it's a very interesting composition - but the eye needs to fight its way through several different barriers. Her painting of water was again strong. However the background, as one of the Judges observed was ambitious but weaker than the rest of the painting.

Decision Time

The announcement of the winner

Ophelia Redpath was selected as the Winner of Series 6 of Landscape Artist of the Year.  Her prize is a £10,000 Commission to paint Snowdonia to commemorate Dinas Oleu for the National Trust

Announcement of the winner - Ophelia Redpath

All of Ophelia Redpath's paintings

There's an amazing coherence and uniformly high standard of composition and painting in all of Ophelia Redpath's paintings for Landscape Artists of the Year.  Although her submission and her commission - along with her paintings on her website - indicate most clearly the quality of this artist's artwork when left to her own devices!

Not to mention her clients and admirers she has acquired in the 30 years she's been an artist -  who have included include Clive James, Joanna Lumley, David Attenborough and Mary Beard.  It's no wonder she has already exhibited her work in over 100 shows in Britain and overseas.

Ophelia Redpath's paintings for Landscape Artist of the Year
(left to right)
semi-final; commission at Kew; Final pod painting; submission and Heat 3 pod painting

What's really weird

Not one single post by the official Facebook Page for Artist of the Year run by Sky Arts about the winner! I'd be miffed if I'd just won....

NEXT WEEK: The Commission

I'm looking forward to next week and seeing the Commission and how Ophelia approached it and what the final painting looks like. I'm sure it's going to be another stunner.

I may also tackle a repeat of what I've done once before and do a round-up of the key themes and takeaways from this series of Landscape Artist of the Year.  

DO NOT FORGET the deadline for entries for The deadline for entries to LAOTY Series 7 - which will be filmed this summer - is currently NOON on 30th April 2021 (Details below)


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Call for Entries for the Next Series of Landscape Artist of the Year

In my blog post - Call for Entries: Landscape Artist of the Year (Series 7) - I provide
  • my overview of the call for entries - plus tips
  • links to my reviews of past episodes - which also contain quite a few tips (also see below)
    It includes:
    • Key Features of the competition
    • So you want to paint landscapes on television?
    • Who can enter
    • Eligible Landscape paintings - for submission
    • Your digital entry (and what will disqualify you)
    • What are the Judges looking for?
    • My Reviews of Previous Heats in 2018 and 2019
    To help you prepare I RECOMMEND that you
    • Take a look at my reviews of the last THREE years (below) - which include lots of pics - to help you have a think about whether you want to enter.
    • Watch previous series in a major binge on Sky or Now TV - where all episodes are available.

    Past Blog Posts

    Below you can find
    • the link to my reviews in the current and previous series
    • THEMES for each of my reviews are highlighted under the link for each review of the episode
    • links to blog posts written by the participants - always very helpful!

    2021: SERIES 6


    • Review: Episode 1 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2021 at Chartwell + themes
      • Artist profiles
      • Composition and completion
      • Simplification and what to leave in and what to leave out
      • The importance of shadows
      • Highly Coloured Grounds
    • PLUS participant blog posts
      • Landscape Artist of the Year 2021 | Stuart Jarvis
      • Preliminary drawings of the day. | Stuart Jarvis


     EPISODE 3

      EPISODE 4
      EPISODE 5
      • Review: Episode 5 of Landscape Artist of the Year at West Wycombe House
        • Working in different media - silkscreen printing and marker pens
        • Give the artists a proper chance to do well (one for the production team!)
        • How to use a frame to find a picture
        • Coping with the weather
        • What the artist likes to paint - and what happens if you avoid aspects you don't like
        • The darkest darks and the lightest lights
      EPISODE 6


      2019: SERIES 5

      EPISODE 1

      EPISODE 2

      EPISODE 3

      EPISODE 4
      EPISODE 5
      EPISODE 6
      • Review: Semi-Final of Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 at Cromarty Firth


      2018: SERIES 4

      HEAT 1

      HEAT 2

      HEAT 3

      HEAT 4

      HEAT 5

      HEAT 6 


      the heat; the view; the wind;PLUS




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