Thursday, November 27, 2014

Video of the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition 2014

Last week I visited the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition towards the end of its run at the Mall Galleries. It continues online on the website.

I've mislaid the catalogue in which I made my notes which has made doing a review a bit more difficult than usual. However I'm loath to omit it from my reviews as I know a lot of people like to see what it looks like when thinking about an entry for next year - and not all of us live in London and can get to see it easily!

Hence this is a largely visual review - first a video and then a selection of photographs I took of pieces I liked.

ING Discerning Eye 2014 - view of parts of the exhibitions curated by Helen Sumpter and Nicole Green
Unfortunately the exhibition's website for some reason focuses on text and names rather than images - which frankly seems to me to be entirely the wrong way round - the emphasis surely ought to be on artists and the images!

Hence I can't look at the images quickly and identify the artist........ I will do my best.

2014 ING Discerning Eye Exhibition

The exhibition this year included a total of six hundred and fifty-seven works by three hundred and seventeen artists. This is more than in previous years and frankly parts of the galleries looked very crowded.

The website does NOT report the percentage of works which actually came from the open entry. (see ING Discerning Eye 2014 - Call for Entries). However this year the sponsors have become more transparent about the extent to which the exhibitions are selected from the open entry
Work is selected from open submission and from artists invited by the individual selectors.....The only restrictions are limitation of size (only small works are permitted) and to select at least 25% of their section from the open submission.
Frankly, I now hesitate to call this either an art competition or an open exhibition with a minimum for works from the open entry set as low as 25%.

For me an exhibition which characterises itself as an open entry should have at least 50% of the work from the open entry.

In some ways I think I'd almost rather see a straight properly curated exhibition by six individuals - with an injunction that this exhibition is not a rationale for giving your art students a leg up by selecting their work for the exhibition. The inclusion of students' work in those circumstances says nothing about its intrinsic worth - it's merely an accident of the selection of the curator. To my mind it's as bad as those open exhibitions where all the artists on the selection panel choose their friends for the prizes. At the end of the day such approaches only undermine the reputation of the exhibition and the jury process.

A transparent process would clearly indicate those artists who made it through the jury process on the labels and in the catalogue - and then we could see which curators really made an effort to seek out the best from the open entry and which stuck to the artists they already liked or wanted to favour.

My preference has always been for an exhibition which is 100% selected from the open entry. I'm not sure we'll ever get that - but the insidious downgrading of the open entry is, in my opinion, something which should be resisted.

A look round the exhibition

To me parts of the Galleries looked very crowded - particularly in the large West Gallery - while a few other areas looked sparsely hung.  One wonders whether the curators are given any advice as to how many works their space can comfortably accommodate.  I'm certainly no fan of small works being "skied".

I'm not trying to show you works in detail in the video so much as show you the character of the exhibition - which is six small exhibitions by different curators. You can see their names above their selection as the camera pans around. The curators this year were:
  • artists Nicola Green and Emma Stibborn RA
  • collectors Chris Ingram and Dr. Giles Brown
  • critics Simon Martin and Helen Sumpter

The order in which the small exhibitions are seen on the video are
  • Large West Gallery - Simon Martin, Helen Sumpter, Nicole Green, Emma Stibborn, 
  • Threadneedle Gallery - Giles Brown,
  • North Gallery - Chris Ingram
The exhibition I liked the best was by Chris Ingram - who also selected the work awarded the ING discerning Eye Prize, although there were individual works I liked in all of the exhibitions.


Can the organisers please do the decent thing (i.e. respect the artist) next year and
  • list the prizewinners on the website with their first name and their surname in the correct order.
  • give each of the prizewinning works a page with a unique URL so it can be clearly identified.
The 2014 prizewinners are listed below. The links in the titles of the work which has won the prize is supposed to go to the image of that work on the website. However the website is set up in such a way that the emphasis is on the artist and not the unique artwork - hence it goes to the first piece if it it's a group of work selected! Just keep clicking until you get to the one which matches the title!

The links in the artists' names below go their own personal websites where you can see more of their work.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

10 Golden Rules For Every Busy Artist

I'm sure some of you have probably seen the often quoted 10 Golden Rules for Every Busy Woman. I don't have a clue who wrote them as I've never seen an author acknowledged.

I thought I'd have a go at translating them into rules for a busy artist.

Why don't you take a look and then see if you can come up with your version. If you do please

  • either leave them as a comment
  • or write about them on your blog and link back to this one so I know you've done your own version.

So here's my....

Ten Golden Rules for Every Busy Artist

  1. Drawn in three minutes 
    after two years 
    of life drawing classes
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    When I'm 'in the zone' and in the studio I'm not available
  2. There's no such thing as the perfect drawing, painting, colour mix etc. - but practice helps me create art more effectively
  3. I am allowed to create a new way of making art - even if you and the gallery like what I used to do better
  4. Creating a tiff image as soon as I complete an artwork means I won't get upset when it sells and I realise I don't have a proper image of it
  5. I will always get through the admin and marketing faster and more effectively if I allocate a set time
  6. Time spent cleaning the studio is not downtime, it's thinking about the next piece time
  7. I don't have to say "Yes" to every offer or opportunity to exhibit or teach or demonstrate or give a talk
  8. I will stress less later if I file that paid invoice/expense receipt now
  9. Every now and again I should look up and say 'Hello' to friends and family and be thankful for my supporters
  10. I should always remember that galleristas and art critics can't do what I can!

These are very loosely based on

Ten Golden Rules for Every Busy Woman

  1. I am not on call to all people all of the time.
  2. I have needs of my own, which may not be the same as those of my family, my colleagues or my friends.
  3. I don’t have to say ‘yes’ to every request that is made of me.
  4. I don’t have to carry on doing something just because I’ve always done it.
  5. Time spent relaxing is time well spent.
  6. There’s no such thing as the perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect child.
  7. Time spent feeling guilty could be spent doing more enjoyable things.
  8. I shouldn’t always do it for them if they are capable of doing it themselves.
  9. I should give myself the same care and consideration that I give to others.
  10. I should remember, at all times, especially in the face of criticism, difficulties and anxiety, that I am doing the best I can!
Why not have a go and see what you can come up with!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hennessy Portrait Prize 2014 - shortlisted artists and winner

I've just discovered that if you are in the UK you can access RTE - and hence you can watch a short preview on RTE of the inaugural Hennessy Portrait Prize 2014.  Here's the link to the programme. It should start at 4 minutes 42 second.

Hennessy Portrait Prize 

This is a new prize open to artists resident on the island of Ireland or an Irish citizen living abroad
The Hennessy Portrait Prize was launched in March 2014. Open to artists in all disciplines, the competition’s aim is to showcase and encourage interest in contemporary portraiture, and to raise the profile of the long-standing and constantly evolving National Portrait Collection at the National Gallery of Ireland.
These were the Rules of the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2014. (pdf). Entry was digital. The only condition on media is that

The portrait must be of a size and medium that could reasonably be exhibited. 

Shortlisted artists

Educator Dr Declan Long, artist Donald Teskey RHA, art critic Cristín Leach Hughes and art author Janet McLean selected the shortlist of twelve finalists

Photograph courtesy RTÉ Presspack

The short-listed artworks and artists for the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2014 - according the official website - are listed below. You can see all shortlisted works in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Ireland until February 8th, 2015

Note that the artworks chosen are a mix of oil paintings, photographs and videos.  I rather like the idea that paintings are supposed to look like paintings and photos look like photos!

What do YOU think of the notion that a portrait competition should include photography and video?

Shortlisted artists - highlighting the winner

  • Links to the artist's website (if discoverable) are in the artist's name. 
  • Links to the artwork are also provided - and you'll find these also provide more details about the artist.

Monday, November 24, 2014

How to enter the £30,000 BP Portrait Award 2015 - and improve your chances of being selected

The website for the BP Portrait Exhibition 2015 is now online - complete with information about how to enter. As I have done in previous years, I've compiled my very popular Making A Mark Guide to help make sure you have spotted all the really relevant "need to know" facts.

Read my guide (below) first and you'll get the hang of the official pages more quickly! Or at least that's what a lot of the artists who enter tell me every year!

Thomas Kanter, winner of the BP Portrait Award 2014
meets Winner of the 2013 Award Susanne du Toit
This post covers:
  • the major change to the entry process for BP Portrait Award 2015 is the introduction of DIGITAL SUBMISSION for 100% of the entries. There is no more postal entries - which I've already alerted people about in BP Portrait Award 2015 entry goes digital
  • why this is a competition worth entering 
  • how to get selected
  • a review of the entry details for those who don't like very small white print on a black background! 
  • links to past posts about the BP Portrait Award and exhibition reviews on this blog

It is of course no substitute for the real thing and I won't cover every last detail - so you still have to read all the conditions.

Don't forget to let me know if your entry gets selected!

What's different in 2015

The major change for 2015 is that entry is going to be 100% via digital image submission.
We will no longer be accepting postal entries for the competition. All submissions must be made online via the website.
The entrants who are successful in this round will then be invited to hand-deliver or courier their work to a venue in London for the second round of judging and final exhibition selection. 

The benefits of the move to 100% digital submission are:
  • it opens up entry to artists who may be seriously deterred by the expenses associated with the previous requirement to submit the actual portrait painting. 
  • it's going to cut costs significantly for ALL those who submit - but don't make the cut for the second round of selection. 
    • The only cost will be the entry fee and any costs associated with a decent digital image. 
    • Most can eliminate the travel or courier costs totally and forget about the expense of framing for exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery
  • it saves time - no more visits to the framers for most artists, or the couriers or the National Portrait Gallery
  • it's much more cost-effective for artists, judges and the gallery!  You may be surprised when I say judges and gallery - but remember the paintings had to be stored - and the judges had to sit for a very long time while the portraits are paraded in front of them!  

The challenges associated with digital submission
  • the competition increases significantly. Last year, in the first year of digital submission - the entries increased by over 20%
  • you need access to a computer even if you don't have one or use one
  • you MUST submit a good quality digital image
  • if you can't afford the fees of a professional photographer you may need to learn about how to take photograph and create a digital image! Fortunately the competition organisers have provided a comprehensive guide to How to photograph your work.

Why enter the BP Portrait Award 2015?

10 reasons to enter this competition

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Recording Britain Now - exhibition and prizewinner

Recording Britain Now is the John Ruskin Prize 2014 exhibition I never thought I'd get to see. However a generous sponsor enabled it to be brought from Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery where it was first shown on was. It can be seen until the end of the month at The Electricians Gallery at Trinity Buoy Wharf.

It's an exhibition of drawings, paintings, prints and textiles by 23 artists shortlisted for the second John Ruskin Prize

The theme of the second prize exhibition is Recording Britain Now. Artists were invited to
...present fresh, contemporary visions of their urban, rural or social environment.
There were some 600 entries and the selection panel agreed on 23 images that offer
an engaging mix of materials, techniques and topical commentary, exploring urban sprawl, dereliction and the endangered British countryside.
You have one more week to see it. The exhibition continues until 30th November and is free. 
  • Sun 23 Nov 12-5pm
  • Wed 26 Nov 12-5pm
  • Thu 27 Nov 4-8pm
  • Fri 28 Nov 12-5pm
  • Sat 29 Nov 12-5pm
  • Sun 30 Nov 12-5pm
Here are some of the photographs I took last weekend when sketching there.  Note:
  • how large some of the drawings are
  • how some large drawings are not framed but rather are suspended from fishing wire lopped through small bulldog clips which attach to the sheet of paper. This seems to be have become an accepted way of showing large works on paper - if for no other reason than everybody avoids the problems with weight and the risk of broken glass!

The John Ruskin Prize

Former scientist and recent art graduate, Maggie Hargreaves, was awarded the £1,000 prize for
"two huge drawings revealing nature’s revenge on man’s despoliation of the countryside."
(Right) 'Slowly Creeping' (2011) by Maggie Hargreaves
charcoal on paper, 150x212 cm
(Left) Changing Space II (2009) by Maggie Hargreaves
150x220 cm, charcoal on paper
Here, built structures encroach on natural environments but as those structures are abandoned, no longer required, the woods reclaim what was taken, creeping back and re-establishing territory.The level of detail and large scale of these drawings invites viewers to enter the space depicted and spend time exploring it. Concurrently, as the drawings are approached, the image dissolves and the materiality and process are established; the artifice of the image construction is revealed as a piece of paper with handmade marks, pinned to the gallery wall. Drawing and erasing with charcoal reflects the transient shifting nature of the relationship between people and the surrounding living environment.
Ruskin Prize for Drawing 2014 - Winner! Maggie Hargreaves' blog

More photographs from the exhibition. 

I'm afraid still trying to find the listing which identified which drawing is which artist

I LOVED the textile landscape drawing!
The selected artists in the exhibition are: Anny Evason, Alex Hamilton, Ben Lingard, Colin Maxwell, Catherine Sutcliffe-Fuller, Chris Shaw Hughes, Dr Dolores de Sade, Darren Reid, Evy Jokhova, Gillian Swan, Hannah Brown, Ian Chamberlain, Jennifer Morgan, Michael Cox, Maggie Hargreaves, Mandy Payne, Philip Sanderson, Ros Ford, Rebecca Upton, Roanna Wells, Sonia Stanyard, Sarah Taylor- Silverwood, Sean Williams.

The John Ruskin Prize 2014 Selection Panel:
  • Gill Saunders - Senior Curator of Prints, V&A
  • Laura Oldfield Ford - Artist
  • Sue Grayson Ford - Director, Campaign for Drawing
  • Kirstie Hamilton - Museums Sheffield
  • Clive Wilmer - Master, Guild of St George.

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