Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Review: NEAC Annual Exhibition 2024

This review is rather later and shorter than I would have hoped for. However the Private View for the Annual Exhibition 2024 of the New English Art Club (NEAC) last Wednesday evening was the evening before my annual RHS Botanical Art Show Marathon started - from which I've still not surfaced. But I am having a break!

I arrived at the Mall Galleries just before 6pm and managed to get in and race around to get photos of the exhibition before the hordes arrived. Twenty minutes later the place was full!! By the time we got to the opening speeches and the awards the West Gallery was packed and standing room only overflowed to the messanine level - from where I took this photo (below)

Gyles Brandreth delivering an excellent speech to open the exhibition

I've uploaded the photos to albums attached to my Making A Mark Facebook page and you can see them there:

You can also see it online on the Mall Galleries website - and even buy artwork online!

This is also an exhibition which is timed to coincide with the opening of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. If you're coming up to London to see the latter, then it's very easy to walk down to the Mall and visit the NEAC exhibition too. They make a very good pair of exhibitions to see in one day.

However this one finishes at 5pm on Saturday 22nd June.

The exhibition is open daily from 10am to 5pm until 22 Jun 2024.The Mall, London SW1. 
Admission £5, Free for Friends of Mall Galleries, Friends of the NEAC, and under 25s.
Concessions available. See the Mall Galleries website for full details.

East Gallery from the stairs

The clash with my Botanical Art Marathon with the RHS Gold Winners meant that I haven't had time to go back and see the exhibition again, which I often do when the exhibition is very crowded at the PV. Simply because there is no space to stand back and look at the artwork and no time to reflect on which pieces keep calling to you. So another look when it's much quieter is usually very helpful - but that hasn't happened this year.

Which makes this a difficult review to write.

I did however note one thing while at the PV - and that was how many people I was used to seeing were not there. The whole demographic of people attending the PV has changed quite radically from what it has been for many years. I learned later that the PV was clashing with the service/memorial for June Mendoza (who died recently) and that might well account for a lot of the faces which were missing.

However it did serve to remind me that I've been coming to these exhibitions on a regular basis for nearly 20 years since I took early retirement. I'm now a lot older than I was when I started and I've written more than a few memorial pieces for artists who have died in the last few years.

The PV felt to me as if there was a bit of a sea change was in the offing. The art looked a bit different and the people looked a bit different.
  • So far as the art was concerned, it's more because art I'm very used to seeing is simply not there any more (eg due to the passing of artists like Ken Howard, Tom Coates, Bob Brown) - and yet I was overjoyed to see 3 artworks by 104 year old Diane Armfield in the North Gallery. I love her drawings of sheep!
Three artworks by Diana Armfield RA HNEAC PS
  • So far as the people are concerned, I saw a lot of younger artists receiving awards - which is good and augurs well for the future
You can see the artwork which won the Prizes and Awards for 2024 on the NEAC website. They chose a number of the artworks which kept catching my eye as I walked around.

There are 409 artworks in the exhibition:
  • I saw some large imposing paintings - including one by the new President Patrick Cullen
  • I also saw a lot of much smaller paintings - and both members and non-members seem to have adjusted to the fact that we are not out of the woods yet in terms of the economy and making art more affordable is a good idea. At least those who gave their artwork more affordable artworks did - as these were the ones which were selling
If you go through the online view of the exhibition you can see the prices of artwork which has sold. 
  • There are still more than a few artists who have not yet adjusted to the new economic climate. 
  • If they're selling at those prices at their own galleries, then good luck to them. 
  • If they're not, then I recommend they study the sale prices.
I'll finish with a few artworks which caught my eye.

I'll start with a painting of a still life / interior which I've never ever seen before - and yet the inside of a tidy organised fridge makes an excellent subject for this really effective painting by Bernadette Timko. You never know it might become a meme! This absolutely bounced off the wall as I eyeballed it and submerged everything near it. That might because I'm a bit of a foodie and I do like a well organised fridge - but I think it might be to do with very good painting!

Fridge Still Life
Oil on board, 34x32cm (36x34cm framed)
£800 SOLD

On the subject of food, I was very pleased to see Felicity House had two more of her excellent compilation paintings associated with making a meal.

179 - Kitchen Composite an177 - Cashel Blue & Pears
Both: Pastel, 37x52cm (48x63cm framed) Both: £850

I was, as always, very taken with the egg tempera landscape paintings of Ruth Stage - particularly the one at the bottom which had the most persuasive clear warm water.

349 - Boating Central Park and 350 - Clear Waters
Both: Egg tempera, 45x60cm (49x64cm framed)
Both: £1,900

I really liked this next painting a lot. It reminded me very much of the project which Michael Landy undertook to draw all the weeds seen on the streets of London. His etchings are now preserved as the Nourishment (series), 2002-3 in the archive of Tate Britain. I've visited to see them in person and they are amazing. I very much think he's also got scope for a series here.

295 - Not Forgotten
Watercolour, 51x36cm (62x47cm framed)

James Crittendon had a standout work among some excellent monochrome drawings and fine art prints in the North Gallery. 

Etching and drypoint, 71x50cm (86x64cm framed)

I very much recommend that those who prefer drawings and prints to paintings make time to linger long in the North Gallery.

Prints in the North Gallery

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