Wednesday, August 31, 2016

"The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains" at the V&A Museum in 2017

I predict one of the most popular exhibitions of 2017 will be The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains at the V&A Museum - particularly as it marks a collaboration by the remaining members of the band (see the official Pink Floyd website)
The exhibition will celebrate Pink Floyd’s place in history as the cultural landscape changed throughout the 1960s and beyond. 
Today the Victoria and Albert Museum announced that tickets went on sale at 10am today for this major retrospective despite the fact that the exhibition does not open until May next year! Dates for the exhibition are 13th May - 1 October 2017 (13 weeks).
I think they're anticipating a lot of visitors - and an awful lot of bookings!

The cover of Ummagumma
©Pink Floyd Music Ltd
To mark 50 years since the band released their first single Arnold Layne, and over 200 million record sales later, The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains will be an immersive, multi-sensory and theatrical journey through Pink Floyd’s extraordinary world. A story of sound, design and performance, the exhibition will chronicle the music, iconic visuals and staging of the band, from the underground psychedelic scene in 1960s London to the present day, illustrating their groundbreaking use of special effects, sonic experimentation, powerful imagery and social commentary.
Pink Floyd will forever be the musical back story (along with Tubular Bells!)) to my time as a student at Cambridge!  Not least because my boyfriend at the time was a huge fan and the band released some of their most iconic albums (The Dark Side of the Moon in 1973), Wish You Were Here in 1975) during my time there.

The fact that my final year digs were also in a don's house in Rock Road opposite the home of Roger Waters's mother provided an added connection! (For those with a penchant for visiting places associated with artists - or bands - the Cambridge Evening News does a very nice list of various places in Cambridge associated with different members of the band!)

Original members of Pink Floyd
from left to right: Roger Waters, Sid Barrett, Rick Wright and Nick Mason
The reason for highlighting the exhibition on this blog is that the exhibition will focus on iconic images, design and photography associated with band as well as the band’s era-defining work in composition, staging, film and music technology,
Pink Floyd have produced some of the most iconic imagery in popular culture: from pigs flying over Battersea Power Station, The Dark Side of the Moon prism, cows, marching hammers to giant inflatable teachers; their vision brought to life by creative individuals such as modern surrealist and long-time collaborator Storm Thorgerson, satirical illustrator Gerald Scarfe and psychedelic lighting pioneer Peter Wynne Wilson.
It will feature more than 350 objects and artefacts and will include

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Kathryn Maple wins Sunday Times Watercolour Competition for second time

The artists winning the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards in the 29th Sunday Times Watercolour Competition have been announced - and Kathryn Maple who won in 2014 has won again.
the competition aims to celebrate and reward excellence and originality in the medium of watercolour. 

You can:
  • see the images which won below
  • read about the artists and the paintings they created in this post
  • read more about the competition - the call for entries and selected artists - in my earlier blog posts which are referenced at the end of this post. My annual blog posts go back to 2008.
  • visit the exhibition in London, Cheltenham and Guildford in the next four months - information about venues at the end of the post.

At the end of this post I discuss whether this watercolour competition can still lay claim to the notion that it is the largest and most prestigious showcase of contemporary watercolour painting in the UK.

It certainly has the most valuable prizes for watercolour (apart from the Turner Medal) - but does it have the most paintings? I've done a count and have the answer....

First Place: £10,000 - Kathryn Maple


Winner of the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2016
Sandy Shoes by Kathryn Maple

110cmx92cm, watercolour

This is a painting of a space in the Southwest Indian Vypin Islands.  Maple says that she has
“… always been interested in interior/exterior places - and parts of India really feel like a green house waiting to explode. Sandy Shoes looks at the filtered shapes and vibrant colours I experienced in the Vypin Islands.” 
Vibrant is not a word which one always associates with watercolours and for that reason it has even more impact. However over and above vibrant, it continues to demonstrate Kathryn Maples predilection and talent for identifying and painting patterns in her surroundings.

She's excellent at recording a place so that you have a real sense of what it's like while at the same time translating it onto paper with her own particular sense of what is aesthetically pleasing - and that very definitely includes the scope for various methods of mark-making.

I said in 2014 that her work reminded me of Doig and I've not changed my mind - which suggests great things for her future career.
With a practice firmly rooted in drawing, Maple is obsessed with the possibilities of mark making and image-making. Her works combine areas of fine detail with those of minimalism, creating tapestries of paint and line that appear compact yet broadly simplistic. She holds a particular focus on areas in her surroundings that are in some way forgotten or neglected. Often, these scenes depict buildings surrounded and permeated by nature – trees thrusting upwards behind wrought iron fences, dense foliage almost merging into brickwork. Profile on Beers London Gallery (Works on Paper exhibition)
Education: BA in Fine Art Print Making at The University of Brighton followed by Postgraduate 'Drawing Year' Programme at the Royal Drawing School
Residencies: India 2014/2015, Dumfries House (January 2014) and The Muse Gallery (January- June 2012)
Competitions:  Won Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2014; selected for the Jerwood Drawing Prize and Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize
Website: http://kathrynmaple.com/ - do take a look at the watercolours and her paintings sketches and paintings of India
Gallery - none listed on her website - although she is exhibiting internationally in group shows.  Somebody out there ought to be making her an offer she can't refuse!

You'll also be able to see a painting of hers in "In England we Dream of Gardens" - an Art For Youth Event at the Mall Galleries 12th-15th September 2016

Read more about her painting which won two years ago in my post Kathryn Maple wins Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2014. Last time I met her she was just about to depart on her trip to India...

Kathryn Maple with her winning entry in the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition in 2014

You can see a video of her talking about her time drawing at the Drawing School


Second Place: £6,000 - Chloe Le Tissier

Monday, August 29, 2016

Art Collectors and Instagram

Art collectors love Instagram.
  • In terms of posting - it's a place where they can show off their own art collections - but don't need to write anything much beyond a few relevant hashtags
  • In terms of browsing - it offers an excellent opportunity to find art they like and art they want to buy.  

Art Collectors on Instagram


Do you know how art collectors use Instagram?


You might find it surprising that according to an Artsy Survey
Over 50% of collectors have purchased works from artists they discovered on Instagram
This relates to a survey done by Artsy about how art collectors use Instagram. It targeted known art collectors - some with collections of 100+ pieces - who were known users of Instagram.

Results were reported in two articles.

How Collectors Use Instagram to Buy Art RECOMMENDED READ


Key findings from the collectors using Instagram who were surveyed are:
  • 73% like Instagram as they believe it makes the art market more transparent. Certain galleries have always limited images and the data that collectors have access to and encouraged mystique - and this is blown apart by Instagram!
  • 87% check Instagram more than twice a day 
  • 55% open the app 5 or more times a day
  • more than half (55%) post on Instagram multiple times a week (I'm left wondering whether these are the same people who actively check and buy using Instagram)
  • 30% post about works they're thinking of buying
  • 64% said the majority of accounts they follow are art-related
  • 61% consistently look at an artist’s hashtag
  • 51.5% have purchased work from artists they originally discovered through Instagram
  • 31% have bought art they originally saw on InstagramThat's a staggeringly high hit rate!
Charts of Artsy Survey Results

7 Ways to Win Over Collectors on Instagram


This article looks at how artists can seek to engage with collectors.

Key points to note are:
  • collectors are more likely to follow the individual account of a gallery owner than the generic account of the gallery
  • collectors like to search for an artist by hashtag (the survey speculates that some 94% do this at some point). The hashtag has the advantage of bringing together items from different sources - managed and unmanaged!
  • collectors need to know the addresses and hashtags that tell them how to find/reach artist and/or gallery
  • collectors like a response to their comments
  • collectors like browsing in the evening - between 6pm and 11pm
  • collectors unfollow those who post too much - or too much of the same thing (it's just plain boring!)
  • collectors love the stuff which goes on behind the scenes - so not just the unfinished product but the story of how it came about.

Note: The articles were written by Elena Soboleva (@elenasoboleva) is a contemporary art Specialist at @Artsy.

Who are the art collectors?


You might like to take a look at two posts that Larry's List published towards the end of last year about their perspective  on the Top 50 Art Collectors on Instagram. I'm guessing it's probably due for an update....

Note: The choice is as per Claire Bouchara - who used to be content manager for the site.

More about artists and Instagram coming up in the near future.....

(Meanwhile I continue with my staycation with himself / getting ready for an art exhibition!)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Tips on Scanners, Printers and Copiers for Artists

An artist asked me to give her some tips on Scanners, Printers and Copiers for Artists.

What follows are some general principles, considerations and criteria to consider prior to making a purchase - as opposed to recommendations on specific technology.

At the end I ask you for your recommendations as to specific machines you use and are happy with.  You'll see what I use in this blog.

What do you need it for?


Sit down and write out a list of what you want your machine to do.

  • What are your priorities in terms of functions? Are all functions - scanning, printing copying of equal importance - or is one more important than another. For example I do very little copying but at times in the past I've used the scanner as much as I've printed
  • Is space an issue? Does it need to be an "all in one" scanner/printer/copier? Or do you have the space for separate devices?  There's no question that one device is easier to house - but this tends to come at the cost of performance which fall short of the best that is available in terms of the different functions
    • standalone scanners tend to deliver better performance than scanners bundled into printers
    • photo printers provide much better colour printing compared to 'normal' printers
    • all devices have become better designed and tend to occupy a smaller footprint over time.
  • What quality are you aiming for?  Is the printer for personal or professional use? (i.e. do you aim to sell anything using images printed from your machine?)
  • What quality does the black and white printing  need to deliver? A machine which is excellent at printing text is not the same as a printer which delivers good quality black and white photos. They are totally different outputs and need totally different printers with completely different printer inks
  • Does colour printing need to give you good quality photos?  Colour printing quality varies enormously - from photos to party invites. Some printers are designed to print photos - while others just print in colour - but not to the same standard as a photo printer. If you want photo quality colour printing you have to be buy a photo printer.
  • Is the cost of ink tolerable? The cost of ink is never reasonable - but you can decide whether or not ink costs are excessive.  Look at how much ink costs relative to the number of sheets it will print. I discovered when deciding what my next printer would be that very cheap printers are often associated with more expensive inks - so beware!
  • Consider the paper that a printer needs to use. Printers are very fussy about the different types of surfaces and weights (gsm) of paper stock that they will use. Many a person has totally screwed their printer by attempting to use the wrong type of paper stock which just gets stuck in the printer and refuses to come out!  So first define what sort of paper stock you want to print on. If you want to print on high quality fine art paper designed for inkjets then you need to check what weight they will take.
  • Are standalone scanners better than those bundled with printers. They generally are if they are a decent scanner - and very often have additional functionality (eg scan film). However you need to ask yourself whether you can justify the extra cost for the difference in functionality.  For example being able to upgrade from A4 to A3 size is a big thing for a lot of artists - however A3 printers in the past have either been expensive or not performed well. The first A3 printer which gets ace reviews from everyone will sell well!

After considering all the above, this is the machine I currently use which I got last year.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Why artists need to be business-like with expenses and tax

My latest published article - with more than 40 tips about tax for artists - in the September edition of the very popular "The Artist" Magazine somehow managed to lose its proper title during the process of transferring it from my submission to the printed version.

Article about tax in the Artist September 2016
This is what it should look like - complete with its proper title!  It starts...
You can’t ignore tax if you make an income from your art. You also can’t claim business expenses if you are just a hobby artist.
The article covers what you need to do when you start out as an artist - and how to avoid fines from HMRC! Many of the succinct tips provided relate to every artist. Some only relate to artists in the UK.

They cover:
  • when/how to complete a tax form if you sell your artwork
  • how you can help yourself without needing professional help
  • simple ways of organising paperwork that reduce stress
  • simple and efficient ways of creating tax records and completing a tax return
  • what an artist can and can't claim against tax - including...
    • who can and who can't claim expenses against tax
    • a checklist of typical artists' business expenses
    • ways in which HMRC make it simple by allowing flat-rate expenses
  • how to go about claiming a tax loss
  • if you are successful - why you need to "up a gear" and think about a range of issues which are not relevant to smaller operations.
There's absolutely no way it's possible to cover every aspect of tax related to artists on one side of A4. However 
  • the article does point you in the direction of various places online, forms and guidance notes you may need to know about! 
  • don't forget to seek professional advice in writing if you need to deal with any complex issues.
You can find the article in the latest edition of The Artist (September 2016) which is available in all good newsagents and also online (The digital version now has the right title! :)

You'll find I also update regularly on tax matters in the news blog of my Art Business Info for Artists website.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Guerrilla Girls at the Whitechapel Gallery this Autumn

Come October there will be a new artwork in the Whitechapel Gallery in London which expands on the statement created by the Guerrilla Girls - "It's even worse in Europe" - within the original 1986/7 collection of posters.

The contention at the time was that nobody needed any explanation about what was worse in Europe given the main topic of Guerrilla Girl activity!

The 1986 Guerrilla Girls Public Service Message "It's Even Worse in Europe"
The Whitechapel Gallery has commissioned the Guerrilla Girls to create a new artwork as part of an archive display at the Gallery. Following their 1986 poster which states "It’s Even Worse in Europe", the new work will present the results of fresh research based on questionnaires sent to over 400 European museum directors in 2016, including the Whitechapel Gallery.
This is the Guerrilla Girls response
“With this project, we wanted to pose the question ‘Are museums today presenting a diverse history of contemporary art or the history of money and power?’ Our research into this will be presented at Whitechapel Gallery this fall.”

Exhibition:  Guerrilla Girls: Is it even worse in Europe? 

  • Venue: Pat Matthews Gallery (Gallery 4) in the Whitechapel Gallery, 77 – 82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX
  • Dates: 1st October 2016 and continue until 5th March 2017.
  • Admission: Free.
The exhibition will:
  • address relating to the representation of artists in recent exhibitions who are female, gender nonconforming or from Africa, Asia, South Asia and South America. 
  • present new statistics on the state of museums and galleries in Europe.
  • include a broad range of research and production materials which throw light on how the group works. The Guerrilla Girls will give a special public presentation at the Whitechapel Gallery about their 31 years of activist work on 1 October.
In addition there are other events

At the Whitechapel Gallery

  • Artist Talk: Guerrilla Girls on Saturday 1st October, 3pm | £9.50/£7.50 conc - The Guerrilla Girls will present a lecture illustrating their work over the past 31 years, and the work that still needs to be done.
  • Curator's Tour on Thursday 8th December, 6.30pm | Free - Co-curator Nayia Yiakoumaki leads a guided tour exploring the Guerrilla Girls’ exhibition.

At Tate Modern

  • The Guerrilla Girls will also lead a week-long major public project at Tate Modern (4-9 Oct.), as part of Tate Exchange (which opens at the end of September).

Who are the Guerrilla Girls?


They've gone from being the conscience of the art world to cultural icons.

The famous 1989 Poster which the Public Art Fund refused to use on a billboard in New York
and was subsequently banned from NYC buses as being too suggestive

Interestingly Guerrilla Girl posters are now included in the collections of the
New York Public Library and the Museum of Modern Art, among other institutions.
We’re feminist masked avengers in the tradition of anonymous do-gooders like Robin Hood, Wonder Woman and Batman.
and
We undermine the idea of a mainstream narrative by revealing the understory, the subtext, the overlooked, and the downright unfair.
and
The Guerrilla Girls, a group of anonymous, feminist activists was founded in 1985. Each member takes the name of a dead woman artist as a pseudonym and in public their identities are hidden under gorilla masks. Using facts, humour and fake fur, they produce posters, banners, stickers, billboards, projections and other public projects that expose sexism, racism and corruption in art, film, politics and the culture at large.
The idea of the Gorilla masks was that it always keeps the focus off the individuals involved and on the messages they want to promote.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Gender imbalance: Are women artists under-represented in art?

This is a round-up of and commentary on surveys about women artists and gender imbalance in art around the world.

Regular readers will know that I've regularly commented on this blog about the representation of women in artists selected for art competitions, exhibitions in galleries and on the committees running art societies and museums etc. Indeed I have been known to comment also on the "get on and do" approach of a number of societies run by women!

Part of a very effective graphic for the admirable "Countess Report "
- published on a regular basis in Australia. The latest (2016) report draws on 2014 data.
This post started from one recently published survey report in the UK - and then grew and became international!

Representation of Women Artists in the UK


Earlier this year a research report on the Representation of Women Artists in the UK was published. I've summarised its conclusions below.
  • The report was commissioned by the Freelands Foundation and the author of the report was Charlotte Bonham-Carter
  • The report addresses the question "Are female artists under-represented in Britain?"  and seems to have started from the presumption that they are not.
often people think that equality has already been achieved in the arts due to the fact that things have indeed improved. Inspirational figures such as Tracey Emin, who have defied the statistics, exist in the public arena – but the truth is that women are still severely under-represented in the art world.
I don't know if the link to the report I've highlighted above is the complete report or a related presentation. (Does anybody know?)

Context - previous reports


I'm providing the hyperlinks to the resources it built on as these are either missing in the document itself or the links don't work in the online version.

if only we could!
It built on The Great East London Art Audit - conducted by the East London branch of the Fawcett Society in 2013.
This report Cultural Value and Inequality: A Critical Literature Review written by Dr. Dave O’Brien & Prof. Kate Oakley is also cited as an influence. It was commissioned by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Cultural Value Project
Inequality has become essential to understanding contemporary British society and is at the forefront of media, political and practice discussions of the future of the arts in the UK


Representation of Women Artists in the UK Conclusions


In summary, the conclusions of the the Representation of Women Artists in the UK report (in the document I've read) are that:
  • female art and design graduates outnumber men
  • men outnumber women in activities relating to a relevant career for an art graduate eg solo exhibition at a large gallery
  • representation of female artists has increased over the years. An audit of female representation at non-commercial artists showed that 42% of shows were by female artists in 2014/15 compared to 31% in 2012/13
  • representation of female artists drops outside London (down to 33%)
  • gender imbalances persist at and beyond the mid-career stage
So - bottom line. It's very clear that there's a gender gap - but we already knew that didn't we?

My concerns are that the report essentially 
  • Fails to rather than formulate and test a hypothesis in statistically robust manner. Consequently it does not demonstrate that its conclusions are statistically valid (speaking as one who crunched data for a good part of her career! See NOTE at the end of this post re. some of my statistical concerns)
  • Fails to test other dimensions which ALSO contribute to levels of progression and 
  • Describes rather than analyses statistics collected - e.g it does not look for any patterns of correlation with any other relevant factors
For example, many women who choose to combine having a career with motherhood often pursue very different career patterns over the life of their career due to a desire to provide stability for children when they are young.  It's a matter of choice for some - not the dominance of a male sub-culture in the "Art". Not everybody wants to hand over their children to childminders - some are happier to allow a career to take more of a backseat role for a period of time - with a view to pursuing career development and achieving career 'markers' (e.g. get selected for the Venice Biennale; get short-listed for and/or win the Turner Prize) at a later date.

At the same time very few artists (of any gender) are ever going to achieve the 'top level' achievements. The top artists come out of a big pool of those who don't quite make it to the top.
The bigger that pool is, the more women artists will eventually make it to the top - so long as there is fair-dealing and appropriate processes to support career development.

Of much more concern - and I would argue of much more relevance to the expenditure of research funds - is the ability to
  • identify those factors that make the biggest difference to how most artists progress their careers - and become part of "the pool" and then climb out of it.
  • ensure that the data framework and sampling frame and methodology are statistically valid i.e. if you're going to count do it in the right way.
  • identify and track relevant data on a regular and consistent basis - e.g. by ONE project. (See The Countess Report below for a more methodologically sound basis for collecting and analysing relevant data)

The scope and breadth of relevant context


I'd have thought a more thorough-going review would have looked at a wider context e.g.
  • the extent to which ALL art graduates (i.e. analysed by gender) remained in full time art-related activity - thus creating a gender-related baseline for measuring engagement and progression
  • whether studies of gender imbalance in relation to other vocational degrees (eg medicine and the law) and/or other areas of creative professional activity (drama/music etc) also contribute to understanding better how 'being a woman' impacts on career progression. 
I suspect there are a fair few longitudinal studies out there for other areas where the progress of women in career fields continues to be an area of concern.

See for example the following articles highlighting the even worse gender imbalance at music festivals.
Half of music festival attendees are women. But on stage, the numbers tell a different story.
from : Where are all the women headlining music festivals? | The Telegraph 08.08.14

Plus here's an interesting observation from one female musician commenting to The Telegraph - suggesting that it's not unusual for those sitting within one area of the arts to not look to closely at what's going on in another area!
"When it comes to mindfully representing women with the right message, music is out of date in comparison to art and literature.

How do gender differences in art vary around the world?


Another consideration is whether the progression of female artists is the same around the world - or whether it varies from place to place. Study of such factors says a lot more about the influence of general culture and attitudes to and support for the progression of women.

For example if we look to the southern hemisphere....

Sunday, August 07, 2016

London Portraits by Carl Randall

Carl Randall's London Portraits - on display at the National Portrait Gallery

When Carl Randall won the BP Travel Award in 2012, he produced an exhibition of portraits of the people of Japan at the National Portrait Gallery the following year which demonstrates a cross-section of old and new Japanese society and placed all the people in the context of both traditional and contemporary Japanese places.  

'In The Footsteps of Hiroshige: The Tokaido Highway and Portraits of Modern Japan' proved to be very striking and memorable and you can see the images and read my thoughts on his paintings in my review Carl Randall's Japan - the best BP Travel Award Exhibition ever!

Now he's back at the National Portrait Gallery in 2016 with a new series of portraits - this time of London and featuring places in London.

London Portraits


His most recent project is called ‘London Portraits’.  This is a series of 15 portraits of people who have contributed to British culture and society.  His Japanese influenced style makes for a very different sort of portraits and they're very striking.

He met all the participants in person and asked each of them to choose a place in London which was meaningful to them for the background of their portraits.

A documentary video ‘London Portraits’ has been made which shows the making of the paintings and sitters explaining their choice of location.  Do watch it - it's really interesting about process and sitters.


Documentary about Carl Randall's 'London Portraits' 
11:06mins. © Hawkeye Productions 2016.

The participants


Jon Snow - presenter of the Channel 4 Evening News
in the Channel 4 studios

© Carl Randall
  • Newscaster Jon Snow - who as usual has a very luminous tie for newscasting!  (I sketched Jon Snow once in the Restaurant at the top of the National Portrait Gallery.) 
  • Comedienne Jo Brand - outside the Comedy Store in Oxendon Street
Comedienne Jo Brand
outside the Comedy Store

© Carl Randall
  • Animator Nick Park - (of Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep fame) in the Dinosaur Gallery
  • Illustrator Raymond Briggs - outside 65 Ashen Grove where he was born and brought up
  • Novelist David Mitchell - in St Paul's Cathedral
Novelist David Mitchell
in the Whispering Gallery in St the dome of St Paul's Cathedral
© Carl Randall
  • Actress Katie Leung - outside The Shed on the Southbank
  • Poet Benjamin Zephaniah - in Epping Forest
  • Illustrator Dave McKean in front of St Giles Church
  • Movie producer Jeremy Thomas - outside Bar Italia
  • Film-maker Julian Temple - outside Temple Station
  • Poet Simon Armitage - outside the Royal Festival Hall
  • Dancer Akram Khan - in a skate park
  • Zoologist Desmond Morris - at London Zoo
  • Actor Antony Sher and Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company Greg Doran - at the Noel Coward Theatre
  • Actress Julie Walters - across the River Thames from the concrete monolith known as the National Theatre
Julie Walters
with the National Theatre in the background

© Carl Randall
The portraits are available as prints from the National Portrait Gallery. You'll find a display of them in the basement next to the cafe.

Display of the London Portraits as prints next to the NPG cafe
Links:

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Review: Society of Women Artists Annual Exhibition 2016

The 155th annual exhibition of the Society of Women Artists has a lot to recommend it. The exhibition opened last week at the Mall galleries and continues until 7th August.

A very well hung exhibition 
The end wall in the Main Gallery exemplifies how to hang large and/or dark artworks
without having an adverse impact on other artwork in the exhibition.
You can see images of artwork in the exhibition in the two online exhibition galleries:
This eclectic exhibition displays huge diversity in terms of topics, media and type of artwork. There's a very good mix of media on display and a range of different types of artwork - in terms of drawings, paintings, fine art prints and sculpture. As in other art societies exhibiting at the Mall Galleries, the work of the printmakers is impressive.  The sculpture and 3D artworks are also extremely varied both in terms of subject matter, media and concept behind it.

The exhibition is also well hung - with the Main Gallery being particularly impressive.  I also appreciated the way that walls were hung with a view to the whole. It lent coherence and unity to the whole. I was reminded of very good shop windows where a colour theme unites the objects even if they are very dissimilar in character. Given the diversity of artwork within this exhibition, this is no small achievement.

I went to see the exhibition on Monday and below you can find out:
  • what I learned about what has been done differently this year to improve the standards of artwork on display - which you can read about below.
  • who won which award. I've listed this year's prizewinners towards the end. Top prize is £2,000.
  • artists whose work caught my eye are listed at the end.

The North Galleries

What's different in the SWA Annual Exhibition 2016?

Last year I was very pleased to see that the Society of Women Artists seemed to be making a concerted effort to 'raise their game'.

This year they have continued to make changes and below you can see a list of the main differences - which are significant and includes ones which other art societies might be well advised to adopt also!

Monday, August 01, 2016

How not to run an online art competition

This morning I experienced an emphatic learning lesson in how NOT to run an art competition online.

An online art competition which prevents you voting


If you run an online art competition there are usually two objectives:
  • marketing your brand
  • getting engagement with your brand and website/blog
However in relation to this competition:
  • First votes are only valid via Facebook. This completely ignores the fact that there are still lots of artists who won't use Facebook. This means the host runs the risk of annoying all those clients or customers who are not Facebook fans. To my mind this runs completely counter to the notion that this might be a marketing exercise for the brand! Any online competition must have a method of voting which is open to all online!
  • Next the organisers says it doesn't seem to work with Chrome on iOS or Android accounts. So the competition appears to eliminate: 
    • the most popular browser in the world 
    • all mobile devices - which are now very much the device of choice for browsing and the most likely method most people will come across this competition and want to vote!
  • I've just discovered that not all entries will allow votes when using Firefox. After taking trouble of moving from Chrome to Firefox and logging into Facebook all over again on my Apple iMac! I got the error message "User opted out of platform: The action attempted is disallowed, because the user has opted out of Facebook platform."
  • Either that or there's a distinct possibility that this competition doesn't work on Apple platforms at all. Which is just silly! That's when I started writing this post!
"What is the point if you can't use 3/4 of the device that people use?" - comment on Facebook
The competition in question is Jackson's Art Supplies The Art of Reflection Competition.

This is last Friday's blog post announcing the shortlist and inviting votes

I want to emphasise that I really like Jackson's Art Supplies Blog - it's usually excellent and I often share content on the blog. They generally have a very good online presence and this is very much an exception to general performance. However Jackson's really do need to find a better way of running online art competitions fast!

So do go and admire the artists who took the trouble to enter and were fortunate to get selected.

But I wouldn't bother trying to vote in this competition!

What works better for votes


If you ever think about running a competition it's essential that you have
  • identified and checked out in advance a method which works for everybody on all platforms 
    • eliminating popular platforms is not an option - you need to find one which works across all platforms
    • working via the Chrome browser and Apple operating systems and all mobile devices is a basic!
  • a way of preventing multiple votes from the same internet account - experience shows that artists and their families are not above voting for themselves multiple times!
For Polls and Votes I always use Polldaddy. I've found it very reliable and used it in different contexts.

There are other alternatives available. If you have one you favour please leave a comment below.

Reasons why I like Polldaddy for Polls


  • The major advantage is that the Poll is based on their website. This means:
    • you can embed the Poll on a wide range of platforms for example I've embedded Polldaddy polls on my Blogger blog and Weebly websites
    • I can also link to it directly on my Facebook and Twitter account, in emails etc and people then vote via the website
  • You get to choose the level of feedback you give to voters after they have voted. People can also see the votes or the percentages voting for different options if you choose - or the results to date can be hidden if you want to keep votes secret until you announce the results
  • You can determine precisely when the vote closes
  • It works on Apple mobile devices (using anything which does otherwise is limiting the votes cast!). Plus it now has an iPhone/iPad app.
  • You can upload media to each voting option - which means it works for image-based competitions. (Obviously for an art competition this might mean hosting a larger image on another site - however for voting you only need a prompt that you're voting for the right image)
  • You can also restrict access by blocking repeat voters by IP address or cookie or both.
I hasten to add that I have no relationship with Polldaddy - I just like their software. It works and causes me no hassle!
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