Thursday, July 22, 2021

Funding for Art and Design Education in England is cut

This is about news about:
  • 50% cuts in funding subsidy for art and design courses
  • a new campaigning organisation for the arts
  • the potential impact on students and those offering them courses 
  • what might happen as a result - including new digital courses accessible worldwide

The Art Newspaper is reporting a 50% cut in funding for arts and design courses in higher education across England - see UK government approves 50% funding cut for arts and design courses. Specifically:

  • the subsidy for each full-time student on an arts course will be cut from £243 to £121.50 next academic year (2021/22).
  • this cut in subsidy will save about £20 million
Apparently the government's thinking behind the cut to art and design courses is the need to reprioritise funding and divert it towards the provision of high-cost, high-value subjects that support the NHS... high-cost STEM subjects [science, technology, engineering and mathematics].

But where is the information on authoritative websites?

I can find the information in The Guardian's 

The problem I had initially is that I went to all the relevant websites - and couldn't find a single item of information about this on:

Until I found this OfS confirms funding reforms (20th July 2021)

So is this going to make a dramatic different to art education in England? Simple answer is I don't know.

What is true is that
  • most funding comes via tuition fees and not through public subsidy.
  • HOWEVER, if you cut funding this means either
    • a decrease in tuition places
    • an increase tuition fees
    • a reduction in places offering courses
    • you have a major rethink about how to cut costs and maintain education (eg focus on course delivery and not the buildings which house education - see below for one example)
i.e. you can't carry on at the same levels if you cut half the subsidy.

Public Campaign for the Arts

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The earliest landscape watercolour painting in England?

Today I saw what is thought to be one of the earliest landscape paintings in watercolour which survives in England.

I was visiting the Renaissance Watercolours display - in place of the Renaissance Watercolours exhibition that never was - at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Mainly I was there to see the album of wtercolours by the 16th century botanical artist Jacques Le Moynes de Morgues - but there were several other interesting watercolour paintings which caught my eye.

One of these was the painting of Nonsuch Palace by Joris Hoefnagel - which was a grand hunting lodge which used to exist in Surrey in the area now known as Nonsuch Park.
"Among the earliest surviving English landscape watercolours, it brings to life one of the greatest monuments of the English Renaissance, now lost to us." Rare painting of Henry VIII's 'lost palace' saved from export | BBC News
Nonsuch Palace from the South (1568) by Joris Hoefnagel
Black chalk, pen and ink, with watercolour, heightened with white and gold

Estimated height: 24.2cm / Estimate width: 26.3cm
Interestingly Hofnagel only visited England in 1568 - and was only here for  few months. One wonders how he came to get access which enabled him to paint the palace.
Nonsuch Palace from the South by the Flemish artist Joris Hoefnagel is one of the earliest surviving visual records of Henry VIII’s opulent hunting lodge designed to celebrate Tudor supremacy. The artist successfully captured a blend of traditional English architecture and classically-inspired elements such as the spiral columns. Hoefnagel meticulously reproduced the framed stucco panels that lined the palace walls. With fine lines of black pen heightened with white, the artist illustrated the moulded high-relief panels depicting Roman emperors, gods and goddesses as well as the Labours of Hercules. Hoefnagel then balanced the exquisite detail of Nonsuch Palace with the sweeping countryside in muted hues of green and brown. Hoefnagel utilised this drawing for an engraving in the fifth volume of Civitates Orbis Terarum, an atlas of towns, in which Nonsuch Palace received a dedicated plate, a credit to its fame.
The painting shows the south facade of the Palace - including the towers and the lavish stucco relief at the top of the walls. Plus the hunting grounds which surrounded the building.
Detail of the stucco relief at the top of the walls on the south elevation
In 1959, Hoefnagel's incredibly detailed painting was shown to be surprisingly accurate. Archaeological excavations unearthed pieces of a stucco figure leaning on a shield, directly beneath the point where a similar relief is shown in the painting.

Landscape painting in watercolour

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Count the number of art competitions that no longer exist....

The only thing that is certain in this world is "change".

Which is why, one of the things that is certain in the art world is that art competitions change over time.

What's surprising me right now is just how many of the more major competitions in the UK have completely disappeared in recent time. 

  • I last wrote about this prior to lockdown back in early 2020 in The Disappearing Art Competitions 
  • Since when we've had confirmation more have been lost and the art competition 'maketplace' has changed significantly in the UK.

I thought it was time for AN UPDATE. Below I list those art competitions

  • which will not be taking place in 2021
  • which still exist and will take place
  • those replacing past competitions
  • minor art competions

plus why art competitions are important to artists.

By way of a preamble, I am absolutely convinced this is all about two things:

FIRST we're still experiencing coronavirus interruptus syndrome, i.e. the very long "stall" associated with not knowing when things are going to get back to normal. Right now I don't expect thing to approach normal until 2022 - but I do also expect people to be planning for this right now!

SECOND there is an absolute DEARTH of key components for a prestigious art competition. These are:

  • key people whose networks enable them to prize out sponsorship money from corporate bodies which can afford it
  • strategic thinking within some regional museums - in relation to the traffic which can be generated by a good art competition
  • organisations which want to be associated with significant art prizes.
  • organisations with expertise and practical experience in developing efficient and effective art competitions with significant prizes (i.e. why are we losing all these top art competitions?)

By way of contrast, I am also noticing that some national art societies are getting very good at generating / replacing very good levels of sponsorship for prizes for their open exhibitions.  

  • I now highlight clearly those national art societies which people should take a close look at on the basis of prize money alone.
  • This should make artists think about whether they are applying for the right  open exhibitions!  PROMPT to my recent client: this is what I was talking about! :)

Art Competitions that no longer exist in 2021

BP Portrait Award

The last BP Portrait exhibition in the NP

Monday, July 19, 2021

Call for Entries: ING Discerning Eye 2021

This post is about the Call for Entries for the 2021 Exhibition of The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition which will be held at the Mall Galleries and Online between 11 and 21 November 2021

The Deadline for Entries is Tuesday 7 September 2021 (5pm)

The ING Discerning Eye is an educational charity, established in the UK in 1990, to encourage a wider understanding and appreciation of the visual arts and to stimulate debate about the place and purpose of art in our society, and the contribution each one of us can make to its development.

The exhibition comprises both publicly submitted works and works independently selected by six prominent figures from different areas of the art world: two artists, two collectors and two critics. Each section is hung separately to give each its own distinctive identity. The impression emerges of six small exhibitions within the whole.

Last year - due to the exhibition being held online only - there was a there were the number of entries was larger than usual and there were over 600 artists and nearly 1000 works.
Which seems odd to me - I'd expect there to be much more entries than this given the numbers received by other open exhibitions and competitions. 
I've criticised this competition in the past for having too many artworks by artists selected by the selectors from OUTSIDE the open entry. 
  • Maybe that changed in 2020. 
  • Maybe it will return back to the normal bias away from the open entry in 2021. 
  • Who knows? It would be nice if they were much more EXPLICIT AND TRANSPARENT about something which is a competition with paid entries!

What stays the same in 2021

The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition in 2021 will: 
  • be OPEN to all artists resident in the UK 
  • who can submit up to six original works 
  • accept digital only entries
  • include only 
    • works constrained by size i.e. only small works are permitted (it must be less than 20 inches (50cm) in its greatest dimension.)
    • which MUST be an original creation by the artist
  • comprise works independently selected by six prominent figures from different areas of the art world
    • two artists,
    • two collectors and
    • two critics
    • each selector is solely responsible for their own selection
  • AND all artwork submitted via the open entry MUST be for sale
In addition, the DE continues with the Discerning Eye bursary of £1,500
Plus the Call For Entries site will be via ArtOpps

What will be different in 2021 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Book Review: Pure Pastel: Contemporary Works by Today's Top Artists

This is about a book about Pure Pastel: Contemporary Works by Today's Top Artists edited by Anne Hevener

The last thing I did when I was leaving the Annual Exhibition of the Pastel Society on Wednesday was pick up a book I'd not seen before in person. 

This is the latest book about pastel artworks and pastel artists published under the auspices of the Pastel Journal - also edited by Anne Hevener (until 2019). She invited 100 of those she considered to be the top contemporary pastel artists to contribute works to the book.

Normally I would have bought it on the spot - but I'm currently carrying a rollator up and down stairs on the tube and even thought this is carbon fibre, there was absolutely no way I could possibly carry this large and heavy book!

So I took a photo of the cover (so as to remember the title and details) and ordered it from Amazon as soon as I got home!

and this is the photo of the cover
- for this review
- in my sitting room this morning!

Essentially, it's a giant picture book - with artworks by leading pastel artists. Each gets

  • details of the artwork
  • a paragraph from the artist about how it came to be created - which are very diverse and also provide some useful tips in terms of approach and development of the artwork

What I like about it

  • It includes many pastel artists from the USA whose names are very well known to me - including the late Bill Creevy whose book for Watson Guptill first got me switched on to pastels.
  • It includes six artists members of the Pastel Society in the UK. These include:
  • I like the way it organises the artwork. I very much liked the fact it didn't go for the basic (and can be boring) categorisation of subject to organise the artworks. Instead, there are five chapters focusing on some much more interesting aspects of any artwork:
    • Colour and Light
    • Composition and Design
    • Mood and Atmosphere
    • Style and Expression
    • Concept and Story
  • There's an Artist Index at the back which provides 
    • the artists' credentials (members ship of societies / awards etc)
    • an indication of where they live (town; state/county; country) 
    • website address (however I found not all are current and/or live - which might be something to do with security certificates for the site)
    • email address
  • Reproduction values and colours and tones look very good to me. Certainly the clarity of how pastel is used by the artist is there - I tested these on Cheryl Culver's pastel works which I know well!

What I'm surprised about

There's a few things which surprised me