Friday, April 16, 2021

Royal Society of British Artists - Annual Exhibition 2021

The Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of British Artists is the first exhibition actually hung on the walls of the Galleries this year.

I'll be going to see this exhibition soon - but in the meantime 

  • BELOW you can find out more about it.
  • View the artwork online - in various ways (links below) 

Next week I'll write my review of the exhibition - focusing on 

  • the overall impression
  • artwork which impressed me
The Annual Exhibition on the RBA website

Exhibition Details

The exhibition opened to the public on Thursday and continues until Saturday 24th April

You MUST have a ticket booked in advance to see the exhibition. You can book tickets here

There is no cafe - and there appear to be no seats in the Galleries - which means I'm not going to be staying long given my ankle. I hope they were only moved out for the filming of the Virtual View and have not been removed. There's a lot of older people who visit this exhibition - and many of us need to sit down from time to time.

Here's Mick Davies PRBA Hon RBSA President - the President of the RBA (and a lovely man!) - with a few words about the exhibition

We have all been challenged by the 2020 pandemic and adverse weather conditions, so it makes it all the more exhilarating and joyful to engage in something as uplifting and inspiring as this exhibition.
Our Patron, Sponsors and Prize-givers have reaffirmed their support for this prestigious event and we thank each and every one of them. This year we have had a record-breaking number of works submitted by non-members and I wish to congratulate those whose work is represented in the show. There were many others we would like to have included, had we had the space to do so – it was such a difficult task for our Selection Committee.


The Online Exhibition

You can see individual artworks on
  • the Mall Galleries exhibition webpage - clicking an image takes you to options to see bigger versions and sales details and how to make an enquiry about an individual work in the show.
  • The RBA website 2021 Exhibition webpage - which I actually much prefer as 
    • you can keep scrolling down and the images grow and them recede as you pass then
    • there's no need to keep clicking through to the next page (very irritating after the first few clicks)
    • if you click an image you can see more artwork by that artist - and also enquire about it.  I always think artwork has more appeal when you can see it alongside other works by the same artist. For those with lots of available artwork, you still have to click through pages to see it all.
You can also view a virtual view of the hung exhibition on the Mall Galleries website.

Virtual view of the East Gallery
Still too bright and "flashed out" for my liking - the gallery is NEVER this bright

You need to navigate the galleries using the dolls house or plan view (bottom left of above image) 

Unfortunately the virtual view is deficient in two aspects - compared to other software I've used in the last year:
  • if you click on an artwork in the virtual view, it does NOT tell you the basic details i.e. title / artist / media / price.
  • if you share a link to a view it only provides a link to the whole exhibition - which takes you back to the predetermined starting point in the West Gallery

Awards and Prizes

The Mall Galleries blog posts (below) show you who won what - which is great because I'll miss this bit out of my review! :)

Congratulations to all those who won an award

Royal Society of British Artists Prize & Award Winners 2021

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Review (Part 2): FINAL of Landscape Artist of the Year Canada (2020)

In my last post - Review (Part 1): FINAL of Landscape Artist of the Year Canada (2020) - I introduced the finalists and showed you their submission paintings - because of the absence of any commission paintings in the Canadian version of Landscape Artist of the Year Canada (2020).

In this second part of my review, I'm going to comment on:

  • what happened during the Final
  • the individual artworks produced during the Final
  • the winning artwork
The line-up for the final of Landscape Artist of the Year Canada (2020)

What happened during the Final

The Judges

The Judges for deciding which artists wins this competition and receives the associated prizes ($10,000 cash prize - plus the opportunity to have their artwork on view at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, home to the art of Canada) were expanded by one - to include Ian Dejardin, who is an art historian and the Chief Executive of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Ontario.

The weather 

The weather was typically of the kind experienced by plein air painters at certain latitudes i.e. everything on one day. They had sun, then a thunderstorm and lots of rain followed by lots of wind. Truly a test for the artists in terms of knowing how their media would respond and in terms of dealing with lots of changes in light - over and above that associated with the movement of the sun.
For me it's the type of weather which sorts out experienced plein air painters from the rest.
The thing was almost all the painters were studio painters - who work from sketches and photos!

The Paintings in the Final

I always think there's an element of "pot luck" about the Final in terms of:
  • the weather
  • how you're feeling on the day
  • the view from your pod
any one of which could either undermine you or enable you to do your best.

Consequently, comments are "relative" i.e to that experience by that artist on that day in that location. They can't be extrapolated to other contexts.

I'm going to order the artists in terms of the order they were in the pods - from left to right (or top to bottom of the slope) - see image at the top of the post

The Final Paintings

Below each image is the same size - but the paintings were not. This image gives you a much better sense of who painted big and who did not.

The Final Paintings lined up in the same order as the pods

Some preliminary observations

  • big tends to be better than small in a Final BUT the painting has to be spot on!
  • paintings which have a "look at me" quality are more likely to be noticed
  • quiet artworks can be overlooked
  • quality is important
  • originality is important
In truth it's much the same as being selected for an art competition.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

RA Summer Exhibition 2021: Call for Entries

 This is about how to enter the Summer Exhibition 2021 of the Royal Academy of Arts - as in

  • a summer exhibition which is actually more Autumn / Winter as it is being held between 
    • opens - Wednesday 22nd September 2021 
    • closes - Sunday 2nd January 2022 
  • the Call for Entries opened yesterday 
  • the Digital Submission closes on Monday 24th May 2021. 
The RA Summer Exhibition 2021 is being held in the Autumn / Winter

Yinka Shonibare RA will be the co-ordinator of this year's exhibition and chair the selection panel

Themes for this year's exhibition

The theme of the overall exhibition in 2021 is ‘Reclaiming Magic’.
"The show is to be titled 'Re-claiming Magic' and will transcend a singular Western art history's point of reference to focus on magic and a return to the visceral aspects of art-making. The exhibition will be a celebration of the transformative powers of the magical in art, a return to the ritualistic and the sheer joy of making. Western Renaissance art education, Modernist and Conceptual Art practices led to the devaluing of art practices from other cultures in their unmediated forms. This exhibition seeks to restore value to marginalised practices, to reclaim the magic of those works in the context of the Royal Academy. I seek to propose a new pride in the concept of 'Primitivism' as an equally valid form of enlightenment alongside other Art practices".

The theme for the Architecture Room at the RA Summer Exhibition 2021 will 

  • consider architecture through the expression of “Climate and Geography (or vice versa)” 
  • focusing on the context: site, geography, climate, political climate, people, community and culture.
which sounds interesting!

Selection and Hanging Commitee 2021

It's worth studying the background and interests of those who comprise the Selection and Hanging Committee.

Those responsible for the selection of work - and then hanging it in the exhibition - are as follows. I've indicated their respective category (of election to the RA), the year of election after their name - and embedded 
  • their website in their name
  • their RA page in the year of election
  • Sir David Adjaye OBE (2017) - awarded the RIBA Gold Medal in 2021 - an award winning Ghanaian-British architect known to infuse his artistic sensibilities and ethos for community-driven projects


  • Tony Bevan (2007) - the security certificate on his website has expired so Google won't let me see it.... His RA Page suggests he's not had a recent exhibition.  You can see 12 artworks by or after Tony Bevan at the Art UK website - but they are all old and pre-election to the RA. Apparently his subject matter is his head.
  • Vanessa Jackson (2015) - a British painter, notable for her abstracted wall installation paintings.
  • Mali Morris (2010) From Oct 2019 - Oct 2020 she was Professor of Painting at RA Schools.
  • Humphrey Ocean (2004) I rather like his very simplified paintings of people 
  • Bob and Roberta Smith (2013) Patrick Brill OBE RA, better known by his pseudonym Bob and Roberta Smith, is a British contemporary artist, writer, author, musician, art education advocate and keynote speaker.  He's the one who always seems to produce paintings of sloganeering text - there again he did train as a sign artist!


  • Emma Stibbon (2013) - Engraver - works primarily in drawing and print on paper depicting environments that are undergoing transformation including the polar regions, volcanoes, deserts, coastal and urban locations. Currently Senior Lecturer in Fine Art Printmaking at the University of Brighton.


  • Eva Rothschild (2014) - she designs and sculpts in geometric forms.
  • Yinka Shonibare CBE (2013) (Co-Ordinator) -  explores issues of race and class through the media of painting, sculpture, photography and film.

How to enter

The basics are:
  1. Create your account prior to submission
    • Submitted in 2020? You should already have a Summer Exhibition account. 
    • Login to your account, or request a new password if you’ve forgotten.
    • First time entrant? Register now and we’ll send you a link to your new account.
  2. Pay your entry fee
    • You can enter one or two works, for a fee of £35 per work, which covers our administration costs. You can pay this online by credit or debit card.
  3. Enter the details and upload images of your artwork

A longer version covers everything you need to know

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please note that dates may be subject to change.
Basically it assumes no third wave after everybody gets back from their summer holiday - IF they can leave the country!

1. You NEED TO READ carefully:

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Review (Part 1): FINAL of Landscape Artist of the Year Canada (2020)

I'm going to do my review of the Final of Landscape Artist of the Year Canada (2020) in two parts - with the second part on Thursday. This is because this final is a bit different to the UK one.

First off there are seven artists in the Final. 

Cue jokes and knowing glances between Judges about "The New Group of Seven"! (Note what I said in my review yesterday of the third episode!!)

Secondly, I'd like to do a commentary on the paintings in the Final and why I think the Judges chose as they did i.e. my interpretation over and above what they actually said in the edit. - so that's what will be covered in the second part. Along with what happened on the day.....


The Final was filmed at Lake Rosseau in Ontario - about 120 miles north of Toronto. This is a famous lake in Muskoka - which was painted by members of the Group of Seven (although interestingly Wikipedia neglects to mention this)

I'm assuming - based on the location of the lighthouse that they were based on a slope down to the lake - running through the middle of the photo above.

This was the location of the pods - close to and above the lake shoreline

The location of the pods

Herein lies the nub of the problem of why we have had three episodes of flat ground for the pods facing flat views with architecture / manmade objects.

There's a lot of trees in Canada.

Which is absolutely fine and tickety-boo if you are an individual plein air painter - painting on your own.

However if you're filming a television programme with seven GINORMOUSs pods for the artists (exactly why do they have to be that big??)......

...then you have to have them jacked up if they are on a slope - and as you can see they had a two way slope - going down in front and from left to right as per the pic below.

I'm not sure Health and Safety would have approved of the technique and extent of jacking up of that pod on the right below

This is another view of the jacking up of pods. They seem to be using wood disguised by fronds of fir tree!

Also - there was a bit of an issue with the view from the pods. Besides the slope and the jacking up -there were quite a few trees in full view for some.  In fact I think the view must have been quite variable depending on which pod you got to paint in.

The Artists

I'm going to show you pics of the artists with their submissions to gain entry into the Heats. 

That's because of another aspect of the programme which is different to the UK one. There is no commission painting done by those selected for the Final.

Those who follow my reviews for both LAOTY and PAOTY will know I always - repetitively and endlessly - indicate that the quality of the submission painting is critical to 
  • decision-making about who wins a heat, goes through to the Final and 
  • wins the competition as a whole. 
The commission painting done for the Final is often the point when we know who will win.

The submission/commission is also a proper reflection of the calibre of the artist - as it's 
  • a subject they have chosen (if a submission)
  • composed in whatever way they thought created the best painting
  • painted / created in whatever amount of time the artist required to produce a painting worthy of 
    • an entry to the competition 
    • winning the final
But no commissions in the Canadian Final - so I'm going to revert to their submissions.

So listed below - with their paintings are the group of seven artists in the Final - as covered in my first three posts about this competition

Monday, April 12, 2021

Review: Episode 3 of Landscape Artist of the Year Canada (2020)

This is my VERY late review of of the final (third) heat of Landscape Artist of the Year 2020 (Canada). Not quite sure what happened last week. Suffice to say, my planned posts went out of whack! See also

Artists in Episode 3 waiting to hear who's going to the Final

Episode 3 of Landscape Artist of the Year Canada (2020) 

This originally aired in Canada on March 1 2020. 

Location of the pods: HEAT 3 - Midland Town Dock

This was an industrial landscape.
A grain elevator and silos at Midland Town Dock - albeit the silos were decorated with a mural.
Known to the Huron/Ouendat people as “Ouendaronk”, to the French as “La Mer Douce,” and to the British as Georgian Bay, the waters of the so -called “Sixth Great Lake” have had a profound effect upon those who inhabited its shores. Welcome to the Midland Town Docks
Georgian Bay on Lake Huron is significant within the context of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven - Thomson was brought up on its shore and a number of the Group of Seven painted its landscapes - and lakescapes. 

The pods at Midland Town Dock.

Interestingly the pods are set up differently to the UK. The roof is slanted and normally runs side to side, whereas in Canada it runs front to back - making getting in an out rather more difficult for some!

I'm afraid I can't look at grain silos now without remembering that utterly dreadful explosion in Beirut - which happened in August 2020 - before this was broadcast in October 2020.

Mural about the heritage of the location - with a Huron man and a Jesuit priest
This mural measures 80 ft high and 250 ft wide and is the largest outdoor historical mural in North America. It displays Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons as it would look like in the 1640's
However grain silos painted in a mural (painted by Fred Lenz) which explain the history of the location make them much more interesting. So much so that virtually all the artists avoided painting the silos and mural! Only one had a go.  

Tip for the programme makers - just because it makes the visuals very interesting doesn't mean artists will paint it - IF YOU ONLY GIVE THEN 4 HOURS!! It's quite difficult enough painting places without painting paintings of places done by somebody else!

The weather

Predictably enough - the weather changed during the course of the programme. Starting off dull with lots of cloud and then better weather came later - and generated skies which started changing a LOT!

The artists in Episode 3

There was a bit more variation in the places that the artists lived in Canada in this heat. Only two lived in Ontario (both in Toronto) - whereas there were four other artists from two from British Columbia, one from Alberta and one from Nova Scotia.

There's no question, in my opinion, that this episode had more competent artists participating than the previous two episodes.

Links to their websites are embedded in their names. Links to their social media come after the name.

Professional Artists

Five professional artists took part -
listed below
  • Kylee Turunen (Facebook | Instagram) - an emerging Canadian artist, born in London Ontario to a landscape painter father. Now lives in Port Alberni, British Columbia. She completed the Fine Art program at Toronto's Centennial College in 2009 and is currently represented by a number of galleries around Vancouver Island. This is an interview with her. She has one of those "difficult to read" websites because everything is in capitals - which means you give up reading pretty quickly - which is a shame as she creates nice paintings. I'm not entirely clear about what differentiates her landscapes from her abstract landscapes as some look pretty similar to me. She normally works just from photos which means painting to a time limit plein air was a very new experience for her.
  • Nadine Prada (Facebook | Instagram | Twitter) Lives in Toronto, ON after spending her childhood in the Caribbean. Educated at Ontario College of Art and Toronto School of Art. Used to have a career in advertising until she experienced a 8.8 earthquake. Now works as a professional contemporary artist and facilitator.
This is a story about “careful what you wish for”. I used to watch the original British show, Landscape Artist of the Year, and think to myself, “I’d really love to do that one day.” So when the call came out to audition for the Canadian premiere, I didn’t think too hard and just sent in my submission. (No time to talk myself out of it.) Cut to the day we actually had to show up and produce a painting in 4 hours (WAAAAAAAYYYYY outside my comfort zone since I work in lots of layers - and in front of an entire film crew, complete with judges, no less). It’s seriously one of the most exhilarating, rewarding experiences I’ve had in my art career and now I get to share it with all of you. I hope you get a chance to watch, and then tell me what you thought of the show. Nadina Prada | The Prada Gallery, Facebook 23 October 2020
  • Jeff Wilson (Facebook | Instagram | Twitter) - a very different background story. Grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland & trained as a structural geologist. He then worked in mineral exploration around the world before settling in Vancouver in 2004. He took took art classes at Emily Carr University, and his a hobby transitioned into a full-time art practice in 2013. His paintings have been exhibited widely in public galleries in BC, Alberta and WA State. He's represented by a number of galleries, has work in various public and private collections and has won awards for his art.
Kylee, Nadine and Jeff

  • Ron Kuwahara (LinkedIn) Halifax, NS Had a 40 year professional career as a physicist - working for Defence Research and Development Canada Atlantic. Turned to painting in retirement. In 2011, he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art, with a Major in Painting after studying at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University. For me, he's doing better than a lot of younger paintings who've never done anything else. I like the fact he's not afraid of going big and abstracting his landscapes.
  • Elzbieta Krawecka (Facebook | Instagram | Twitter) - born and raised in Krakow, Poland. -Now lives in Toronto, ON (via Kuwait).  Moved to Canada to attend the Ontario College of Art and Design - and developed a love for the Canadian landscape. Her landscape paintings depict large areas of open spaces such as skies or water, defined by pattern formations. She's exhibited her art in numerous group and solo exhibitions. I appreciate a lot of artists who appear on television (not all by a long shot) but only rarely want to own one of their paintings. Take a look at the gallery on her website - and work your way back to 2001. You'll find you jaw dropping as I mine did at her amazing paintings of skies. I'd like one of her paintings.
Mackenzie, Ron and Elzbieta

Amateur Artist

There was just one amateur artist.
  • Mackenzie Brown (Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn ) A very interesting individual. She is First Nations Cree from the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, though she currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta. She has a degree in Child and Youth Care and creates contemporary Indigenous art, teaches Cree cultural lessons throughout Alberta, works as a Project Manager at Indigenous Tourism Alberta and facilitates discussions throughout all levels of government and academia.  She paints in acrylic and includes beadwork in her paintings and focuses on the land and uses materials from the natural world to honour her ancestry. 
My name is Kamamak, or Mackenzie in English. As a young girl I was taught about balance. The balance between traditional and contemporary. This is how I live my life – with a moccasin in both worlds.

Wildcard Artists

Yet again, a lot of the wildcards were impressive. I keep wondering if they are all people who create fabulous paintings but are unable to talk to camera....

The Wildcard Artists were painting from a jetty nearby 
(Pods are in the top left background)

The wildcards had a more interesting, less architectural view

What I liked about This Episode

It was good to see a member of one of the indigenous nations of Canada taking part - particularly as the relationship between artist and land is rather different to other artists of European heritage. I hope it wasn't only prompted by the mural on the grain silos.