Thursday, July 01, 2021

Review: Annual Exhibition of the New English Art Club 2021

I visited the Annual Exhibition 2021 of the New English Art Club at the Mall Galleries on Tuesday - and it was as if everything were normal again. Apart from the face masks, the galleries were full of the "double jabbed" all keen to see this year's artwork

What was odd was that there was rather less of "this pandemic year" than one might expect. Did artists not think it was relevant - or were they bored of it.

However, there was some excellent artwork recording life as lived over the last 15 months. I particularly liked the large painting produced by Sarah Godsill who is an artist who relates to the need to record historical memories. I couldn't agree more! I do however think her pricing is VERY ambitious - and I'll comment more on pricing later...

Spring Lockdown by Sarah Godsill (OPEN ENTRY)
whose work centres around figures

Interconnected (right) is by David Cobley

The reality for me is we never ever think war art is unusual - so why, given there was a LOT of very focused art producing during the Pandemic, is there so very  little in this exhibition? (Given the submissions for the previous exhibition had largely been submitted prior to the pandemic). It just seemed rather odd to me....

Was it filtered out by the selectors - or did they just not receive enough good submissions? Will we ever know? (I'd love to know which it was if anybody would like to tell me!)

The Annual Exhibition 2021

You can see my photos of the exhibition on my Making A Mark Facebook Page - which is accessible by everyone in these three albums
  1. NEAC Annual Exhibition 2021 - East Gallery
  2. NEAC Annual Exhibition 2021 - West Gallery   
  3. NEAC Annual Exhibition 2021 - North Gallery

Incidentally, I mostly try to exclude people from my photos - they're in no way representative of the number of people in the galleries!

Thank you to all those who say they like looking at the exhibition they cn't get to in this way. You'll also find my blog post Three Virtual Views of the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2021 helpful if you want to find out more about the art and who painted - and whether it is still available!

The Annual Exhibition continues until 5pm on Saturday 3rd July.

A number of my photos are annotated with details of the painter - particularly if it was work I liked, even more so if the artist had been selected from the Open Entry.

Artists whose work I liked

Below I'm noting the artwork I liked by artists selected through the OPEN ENTRY - with links in their names to their websites. 
NEAC is, after all, a good place to spot up and coming artists with new takes on how to create good art.

East Gallery

Dordogne Landscape by Belinda Crozier
This is "a six footer"!
Which as Constable found is a great way of getting attention
  • I really liked "Dordogne Landscape" by Belinda Crozier who seems to paint mainly portraits and still life. Yet it's often those who don't paint landscapes who can pull something out of the bag - because they're NOT painting "same old same old". It's always great to see a big panoramic landscape - and it's SOLD! (Check out her Instagram)
  • A large and impressive painting "Fallen III by Michael Corkrey (who really needs to sort out his 'presence' online!) 
  • I loved the painting of "Derek Jarman at Prospect Cottage" by Ronald Hellen (Acrylic 86 x 66 cm framed). I recognised the subject from the other side of the Gallery! Colours are wonderful - including the pink sky! This is another lockdown painting - although less obviously so. (SOLD)

West Gallery 

  • Three paintings by Tom Benjamin - a candidate for membership. I take the number of paintings selected from candidates for membership as a good guide as to who has the "inside track".
  • A bright cheerful painting titled "Orange" by Hashim Akib. I'm a big fan of people who paint groups of people and show normal activities - and include some colour! (SOLD)
  • I was very taken by three very painterly paintings by a colourist called Norman Long who's also an active outdoor painter - including on streets in the North! His paintings are very seductive and I'm not in the least bit surprised to see they have ALL SOLD! Those who love murky browns and dull greys would do well to observe! Norman is also a Candidate for Membership and will have done his chances no harm at all by selling all three paintings! (I also note and hear that others were very impressed with his work too)
Three paintings by Norman Long
which perform the wonderful trick of becoming more
interesting the closer you get


 North Gallery

  • Tomas Clayton's portrait painting technique produces an immaculate result. I stand in awe in front of his paintings every time I see them. The combination of embedded narrative puzzle and amazing skill just makes my jaw drop... (see cropped example of The Serpent). Interestingly this painting is also a lockdown painting. I think this is his first exhibit with NEAC - I normally see his paintings at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters where they are selected for exhibit on a very regular basis.
'The Serpent', a painting about loss, isolation and fear of the air that we breathe.
  • I really liked two paintings of 'everyday still life' by Sean Cunningham. Very nicely painted and great use of colour. I can't find anything that looks remotely like a website or social media site online - which is a shame. 


Prizewinners are highlighted in a blog post on the Mall Galleries website - see
New English Art Club Annual Exhibition Prizes & Awards 2021 - so I won't repeat the information here.

Prizes Winners are: 

The Hang

In terms of the Hang, I think it makes sense to include the very many smaller paintings by those selected via the Open Entry in the North Gallery - where they looked good together and weren't swamped by bigger artworks

That in turn opened up the scope in the West Gallery to do something different on the Messanine Wall - which is traditionally home for some of the smaller paintings. 

However I'm puzzled as to why this then became home to some very large colourful paintings 

Mezzanine Wall - artworks by Toby Ward NEAC and Laura Smith
(I'm liking what seems to be a new style for Toby Ward)

.....while at the opposite end of the West Gallery we had rather a lot of paintings which quite frankly looked pretty anaemic. 

The end wall of the West Gallery
traditionally the home of the "look at me" artworks

My experience of the Mall Galleries is that you want the big "WOWZER!" pieces on that end wall - because they draw people through the gallery. It's certainly the first place I traditionally look when I walk into the gallery - what's making me look to the end in this exhibition. I'm certainly NOT a fan of looking at a sea of browns and greys. They just don't work when all placed together.

(Note: notable exceptions were the two paintings on the right by Kenneth Le Riche - which were most intriguing)

The East Gallery seemed to be home to a lot of medium to large works - and the colour worked well with the profound greyness of the room - and colour also adds interest to the polished concrete floor too!

East Gallery - view of The Mall Wall

From the Mall Wall of the East Gallery


I'm going to do the pricing post tomorrow - as I want to check the numbers sold again from the website. Plus I'm going to do a table and charts to reinforce (yet again) some very basic points!

Guess which Gallery had the most sold paintings and which had the least.....

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