This year the exhibition includes 410 works of contemporary British figurative art - drawings, paintings and fine art prints. If you're unable to visit in person you can see work of NEAC members in the online shop of NEAC's trading arm - there's lots to look at!
I started by reviewing the catalogue which was wholly admirable with lots of pages of full colour plates of work in the exhibition. If you have ever thought of submitting work to this exhibition I recommend trying to get hold of a copy of viewing the work in the online shop as both give a very good flavour of the type of work which is favoured by this exhibition.
Changes this year
a series of six oil paintings,
copyright Ken Howard RA, RWS, NEAC, RWA, ROI, RBA, RBSA, ARCA
I noticed a few people displaying:
- triptychs and similar series demonstrating how colour changes with the light during the course of a day. Charlotte Ardizone had a triptych of the view out of a window while Ken Howard produced a series of paintings about the different Light effects in Calle Larga Galliana in Venice which made a great display when hung together. Such a pity that these are being sold singly rather than as a group.
- either the stages that a work goes through from sketchbook to painting to print. I particularly liked Richard Bawden's work in this respect- and his drawings, a watercolour painting and a linocut print of a view out an an Aldeburgh window
Personally I think this is a much better approach to the presentation of small paintings which can sometimes be swamped by larger works if hung in the main gallery. The Small Weston Room always enjoys good sales. Personally I think that's not just because they are more affordable prices. I think it's also becaause there are paintings hung from waist to ceiling which means people stay longer and scan and look more than in other rooms. It's always inteersting to see how really good work always stands out even when surrounded by similar sized works. My view would be that NEAC should experiment and try hanging even more work in here next year.
I also noticed that the sponsorship has changed. Two smaller galleries have pulled out but they now have a major new sponsor in Messums.
The exhibitions includes feature displays of work by:
- Honorory Life Members Bernard Dunstan (artwork) b.1920 and his wife Diana Armfield (artwork) and
- the late Leslie Worth PPRWS. I always looked forward to seeing any new work he produced. It's always sad to view work 'for the last time' ie when you know you won't ever see any new work and may indeed have difficulty seeing any work at all in the duture.
The prizwinners were:
- THE ARTS CLUB, DOVER STREET AWARD: Colette Clegg - Still life with red tulips
- CECIL JOSPE PRIZE for a non-member: Tessa Coleman - New York, September 2001
- ST CUTHBERTS MILL AWARD for works on paper: Charlotte Sorapure - The Architect - this is a very fine and deceptively simple drawing
- HORAN PRIZE: (former NEAC Scholar) Lucinda Stephens - Port at night
- MANYA IGEL PRIZE: Richard Price - She’s a star I - painterly realism and proof, iof any were needed, that you don't need always to paint faces in figurative work
- THE BILL PATTERSON MEMORIAL AWARD: Michael Whittlesea - Nude walking
- A&K WILSON GALLERY AWARD: Michael Whittlesea - Standing nude
- WOODHAY GALLERY PRIZE: Ruth Stage - Girl in shallows - this is a real eye-catcher from across the room and yet continues to intrigue as you get in close.
- THE WORSHIPFUL COMPANY OF PAINTER STAINERS’ PRIZE: Chris Whittaker - Man v nature
- NEAC CRITICS’ CHOICE: Pete Brown for his group of pictures
I particularly liked the attention that had been given to provide a large display of drawings and monochrome fine art prints. It's always really interesting to compare how an artist draws to hoiw they paint.
Although there was a lot of work I liked, I noticed that a goodly proportion of it was done by women artists - both members and non-members.
(Right) Jakob's Ladder (oil) by Charlotte Sorapure
copyright the artists
- I'm completely intrigued by the technique that Ruth Stage NEAC uses for her contemporary and very appealing egg tempera paintings. There appears to be some sort of resist involved given the effects she gets.
- Jakob's Ladder by Charlotte Sorapure NEAC was quite simply intriguing. I particularly like the perspective she uses for some of her landscape subjects.
- Ann Wright's oil painting of Hot Street, Santorini which positively radiated heat
- I found small oil paintings by Judith Gardner RBA to be very atmospheric in a very low key way (you can see more examples on the RBA website)
- June Berry RWS NEAC's wonderfully colourful paintings - as always appealed to me. I think it's the fact that I always spend time looking at them pondering the narrative element which they always have - coupled with the sense I've personally just spotted this scene from over a hedge or a wall.
- There was a wall of small paintings by Anna Gardiner who was a recent shortlisted for the Lynn Painter-Stainer Prize. Her style provides as much impact on a small scale as it does for her parger paintings.
- Liz Butler's series of small watercolour paintings of trees continue to prove very attractive when displayed as a group.
The artist who puzzled me the most was award-winning portrait artist Benjamin Sullivan RP, NEAC who produced three watercolour landscape paintings of English scenes (two of Oxford and one of Finchingfield) whose colours seemed to me to be veering very close to the "chocolate box". I like both his oil paintings and drawings a lot - and have previously highlighted them on this blog. However these watercolours just left me wondering whether he's an artist in search of a subject outside his own home.
- New English Art Club
- Mall Galleries Admission £2.50, concessions £1.50 (free to FBA Friends, Art Fund Members, Westminster Res-card holders and under 16s)
- New English Art Club - Annual Open Exhibition 2008 (2nd December 2008)
- New English Art Club - plus commentary and discussion (4th December 2007)