Thursday, July 20, 2017

Civilisation, Cultures and Collaboration - the BBC Arts Agenda

Civilisation, Cultures and Collaboration seem to be the dominant themes of plans for the arts - and art - on the BBC in 2017/18 - as indicated in the BBC Annual Plan for 2017/18
The BBC’s mission in arts has always been to nurture artists and organisations, create great art and engage the widest possible spectrum of audiences. 

Highlights for Art on the BBC

The Brexit Lesson has been well and truly learned by the chattering classes amongst the London Elite at BBC Centre!
The BBC is determined to rise to the challenge of better reflecting and representing a changing UK. The biggest investment in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for decades has recently been announced and will be implemented over the next three years. BBC publishes Annual Plan for 2017/18
Key points are:
  • Culture UK and Collaboration - Recent launch of 
    • an ambitious new Culture UK partnership with the British Council, the Arts Councils of England, Northern Ireland and Wales, and Creative Scotland with a view to energising audiences, artists and the creative industries across the UK. You can read more about Culture UK here
Culture UK represents an unprecedented new level of collaboration for the BBC, and it will deliver at least three big landmark moments a year, starting this autumn with poetry.
Culture UK - Looking very white, very middle aged and very middle class!

Darren Henley (Chief Executive of Arts Council England), Jenny Niven (Creat)ive Scotland), Tony Hall (Director of the BBC), Jonty Claypole (Director of BBC Arts), Nick Capaldi (Chief Executive, Arts Council of Wales) and Noireen Mckinney (Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland)
"We’ve come together because we want the UK to be the most culturally engaged and creative country in the world, where everybody, wherever they come from, can take part. There are real challenges that make working together more necessary and more urgent than ever. Culture is one of the things that unites us all and expresses our identity. We ignore that at our peril.” Tony Hall, Director of the BBC
    • a £4m Artists First commissioning budget and change to how the BBC commissions arts programming - to enable the BBC to be more open to artists and arts organisations.
  • Civilisations – a major season across television, radio and online telling the story of art from the dawn of human history to the present day, for the first time on a global scale. This will 
    • A landmark nine-part series on BBC Two - remaking the original version and adding in civilisations from Asia to the Americas, Africa as well as Europe.
    • accompanied by programming on BBC Four, BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4 - as well as digital partnerships with cultural organisations across the UK.
Civilisations will explore the visual culture of societies from around the globe, revealing alongside the magnificent objects made in the West the wealth of treasures created by other cultures, from the landscape scrolls of classical China and the sculpture of the Olmecs to African bronzes, Japanese prints and Mughal miniatures.
Civilisations will have three presenters, each bringing their own skills and perspectives to the series:

  • Simon Schama, an art historian with a breadth of experience and authority second to none, will present six programmes, reflecting the wide-ranging nature of his expertise and his extensive knowledge of global art
  • Mary Beard, the well-known Cambridge classicist, will present two programmes which put the art and culture of ancient Greece and Rome into a much wider context, using early material from China, Iran and Mexico
  • Historian and writer David Olusoga, who is also making two programmes, will call upon his expertise in Empire, military history and the relationships between global cultures
David Olusoga, Mary Bear and Simon Schama
  • BBC Two will also celebrate 
    • the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy and 
    • the art of Picasso. 
  • Continuing to showcase Hull as the UK City of Culture 2017 over the coming months, with hundreds of hours of coverage of Hull 2017
  • Regular programming
    • Saturday nights on BBC Two will be the new focal point for arts built around a key 9pm slot with a landmark documentary or collaboration 
    • Topical arts programmes across BBC Radio include Front Row and regular coverage on TV programming through shows like Artsnight. 
    • Landmark content includes significant artist-led documentaries or profiles such as Imagine... 
    • a further series of the popular Fake or Fortune strand will return to BBC One.
The above comes from Media Packs published by the BBC - explaining its Annual Plan and Culture UK

Personally, it seems to me that the hand of Nicholas Serota - now the NEW CEO of the Arts Council - can be seen all over the plans for Culture UK although he doesn't get a mention in this plan or announcements.

However back in the 2015 Plan he is quoted as follows
This partnership will give audiences, people in this country and an international audience, an unprecedented opportunity to see work by major companies, by emerging companies, and by young artists. It’s a great platform to show what’s vital, exciting and special about what’s happening in the United Kingdom today
Sir Nicholas Serota, (then) Director, Tate
However he was talking about "The Ideas Service" a new UK Arts Platform. I'm just left wondering if this morphed into Culture UK?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

National Open Art Competition 2017 - extends deadline to 23rd July

The National Open Art Competition 2017 - for artwork in various media, including digital, photography and the moving image - has extended its deadline to 23rd July. It may well appeal to those who feel that:
  • their art doesn't get given a fair review in other competitions 
  • art competitions always involve the judges rewarding those they know
See below as to why. There again there are other things one needs to know about the National Open Art competition....

For example, two years ago in National Open Art Competition 2015 - Final Call for Entries i commented that

Other than the fact THEY DO NOT EXPLAIN:
  • why the art competition exists!
  • what the prizes are!
....they've got a well organised website which provides answers to all the "other"  FAQs  - click the link for the full answer. My brief version follows the question
They do not know who the artists are, whether you are male or female, how old you are, where in the UK or Ireland you come from or live, your background, your education or your training, if any. We do not brief the judges and we do not dictate any percentage or quota for each category (e.g. painting, photography, drawing or young artists’ work). The only condition we ask of our judges is that if they recognise an artist they know or are familiar with, that they make their position known and withdraw from the selection process of that piece, leaving the decision to the remaining panel. 36 reasons to enter the National Open Art Competition.
Finalists will be announced in late September and the winners revealed at the Private View and Prize Giving this Autumn.


The exhibition will be held in...
A vast, untouched four-storey industrial building will host the 21st National Open Art Exhibition. Bargehouse is an exciting atmospheric space on London’s fast moving South Bank and Bankside areas and sister building to the iconic landmark, Oxo Tower which stands proud on the cultural path between the National Theatre and Tate Modern.
This is a Video of the 2016 Exhibition

NOA Awards 2016 from ProAction Creative on Vimeo.

Reasons to Enter

This is the link to the article which suggests 36 reasons to enter the National Open Art Competition.

Personally I've always felt very ambivalent about it - and that's because the website doesn't address basic questions.

Monday, July 17, 2017

ING Discerning Eye 2017 - Call for Entries

This is about the Call for Entries for the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition 2017 at the Mall Galleries in November.

Below you can find:
  • information about the exhibition
  • a note about the judges - with links to their websites
  • a summary of information about prizes
  • Call for Entries - How to Enter
    • a summary of the information for artists e.g. who can enter what etc.
    • information about the deadlines and dates and where to find information about regional collection points
  • links to websites and my blog posts showing images of the art selected and hung in past exhibitions for those unfamiliar with this art competition.

About the exhibition

The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition is a show of small works independently selected by six prominent figures from different areas of the art world: two artists, two collectors and two critics

Michael Glover's exhibition in 2016

The exhibition is unusual for a number of reasons
  • it's a very large exhibition with c.600 artworks spread across all three galleries in the Mall Galleries.  In 2016, a record 724 works by 403 artists were exhibited.
  • However, the exhibition is actually six small and diverse exhibitions - of small and varied artwork
    • one for each selector/curator - who are two artists, two art collectors and two art critics who all operate independently
    • each small exhibition (of c.100+ works) represents the individual interests, taste and style of that individual curator
    • all works selected are SMALL works - drawings, paintings, fine art prints and sculpture
  • In order to get selected you just have to please one selector
  • Selectors can also invite artists whose work they like as well as selecting artists from the open entry. This sometimes works to the disadvantage of the open entry if a selector leans very heavily towards artists they know/favour and have invited to exhibit (as has happened on occasion in the past eg one educator selected all her students!)
  • This is a rare opportunity for works by lesser-known artists to be hung alongside contributions from better known artists.
  • Finally - all works are for sale.

The 2017 ING Discerning Eye Exhibition will be open to the public from Thursday 16 November until Sunday 26 November, between 10am and 5pm daily, at the Mall Galleries.

Admission is free - and it's certainly an exhibition that I recommend people going to see.

Dan Coombs exhibition in 2016


There are more prizes this year and the value of other prizes have changed. The 2017 exhibition prizes are:
  • ING Purchase Prize - £5,000
  • DE Founder's Purchase Prize - £2,500 - in honour of Michael Reynolds
  • DE Chairman's Purchase Prize - £1,000
  • Meynell Fenton Prize - £1,000
  • Humphreys Purchase Prize - £750
  • Wright Purchase Prize - £500
  • DE Sculpture and 3D Work Prize - £250
  • St Cuthberts Mill Award
  • Regional Prizes of £250 each awarded to outstanding entries from the regions

Sacha Craddock's exhibition in 2016

Who are the Selectors/Curators in 2017?

The 2017 Judges/Curators are a curious bunch!


artwork by one of the judges - Anne Magill
  • Elmo Hood - a self-taught artist who creates colourful work using stencils, spray paint and acrylic (pop art meets graffiti!). 
  • Anne Magill - born in Ireland; studied at St. Martin’s School of Art. Initially a commercial artist; moved into fine art in 1992. Has an international following


  • Ellen Bertrams Curator of the ING Collection. Specialised in art policy and management at the University of Amsterdam. 
  • Miranda Richardson - acclaimed actress (Golden Globe Awards and Academy Award nominations). Best known to a certain generation for her role of Queenie in Blackadder. Films have included 'Tom & Viv', 'Empire of the Sun', 'The Crying Game', and 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'. 


  • Nicola Coleby - an art historian, with a particular interest in modern and contemporary art. Works at the Royal Pavilion & Museums in Brighton & Hove.
  • Simon Tait - a freelance journalist, writer and editor; formerly arts correspondent of 'The Times'. 

Chris Orr's exhibition in 2016

Call for Entries

The really important information is highlighted in red below.

Who can enter?

ONLY artists who were born or are currently resident in the UK.

What kind of artwork is eligible?

  • all artwork must be an original creation by the artist. This usually means the artist must be able to assert copyright (i.e. the work is not derivative) and the work has not been copied from another artwork or photograph.
  • Painting, prints, drawing, photography and sculpture are all accepted. 
  • Maximum size limit: 20 inches / 50 cms INCLUDING THE FRAME. (3D – 20” x 20” x 20” (50 x 50 x 50 cm) including base/stand). Works exceeding these dimension in any direction will be rejected.
  • All works must be for sale. This is essential / not optional. 
  • Up to six works can be submitted for competition.

What sort of framing is acceptable?

There are very specific requirements as to framing and presentation for hanging. Don't let your work get rejected because you didn't read the small print!

Frames and mounts of unusual colour, size or design may prejudice the selectors’ judgement.

What does it cost?

  • Entry fees are £15 per work - payable when works are delivered. However you can reduce or eliminate this by 
  • PLUS a transport fee of £8 per work if you use a regional collection point
  • PLUS Commission is charged at 40% + VAT. Price entered on the entry form is the catalogue selling price from which commission and VAT payable is deducted.
The Discerning Eye is a non-profit making organisation and any monies received go towards the next exhibition. Any sales effected by The Discerning Eye will have priority over a sale effected by the artist.

How to enter

  • Deadline for entries is 5pm on Monday 4 September 2017.  There are earlier deadlines for those wanting to submit their work via a regional entry. 
  • Paperwork: Download the documentation for entries that you need directly using these links: 
  • Complete and sign the entry schedule - making sure each copy is legible 
  • Provide a digital image of each work. This is NOT for selection purposes - rather it's for inclusion in the online catalogue. 
  • Label each work LEGIBLY in block capitals and attach to work. Include your regional area to become eligible for a regional prize

How to deliver

  • All 2D works should be delivered unwrapped, although corner and edge protection on paintings is permissible. Frames must be able to accept a small screw or nail in the back for hanging purposes
  • 3D work should be sent in sturdy cardboard boxes. Do NOT bind wrapping materials with tape or string. 
  • Make sure your work is insured (see Insurance for Artists)
  • Take your labelled artwork and entry schedule to a regional collection point or 17 Carlton House Terrace by the deadline for that location.
  • You can submit direct to the Mall Galleries on 2nd OR 4th September 2016 (between 10am and 5pm)
  • Alternatively use the Submission by Post service at a cost £8 (inclusive of VAT) per work. Various dates for various places around England, Scotland and Wales between 24 August and 1 September including:
      • England: Berwick-Upon-Tweed; Birmingham; Bristol; Doncaster; Exeter; Kendal; Manchester; Newcastle; Norwich; Penzance; Plymouth; 
      • Scotland: Edinburgh; Errol, near Perth/Dundee; Glasgow, Stirling
      • Wales: Cardiff; 
      • Motorways: M74 & M6 Service Areas

For further details or any queries please contact Parker Harris
  • Entry forms and further details are available from:
  • on 01372 462190
  • or
  • or Parker Harris, 15 Church Street, Esher, Surrey KT10 8QS

More about the ING Discerning Eye

The Discerning Eye website maintains an archive of:
The following are all posts on Making A Mark over the last 10 years.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt - review

Last week I visited The Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt  - the first ever exhibition of portrait drawings by European Old Masters at the National Portrait Gallery.

Drawings by Holbein
It shows forty-eight portrait drawings by artists who worked in Europe in the 15 and 16th centuries and shows how they moved away from copying "pattern books" to making drawings from observation.
The exhibition includes some of the hidden treasures of Britain’s finest collections, as the drawings’ sensitivity to light means they cannot be put on regular display.
This is not a blockbuster type of exhibition - but it does fill two rooms and a couple of ante rooms - and it does include some very special drawings.

The exhibition opened to the public on Thursday 13th July and runs until 22 October 2017.

This is my review. You can find links to reviews by others at the end of this post.

(Left) Dr Tarnya Coooper and (right) Dr Charlotte Bolland
The exhibition has been three years in the making and has been co-curated by
They gave an excellent tour of the exhibition and, if you're interested in portrait drawings, I suggest you book up for The Encounter: an Exhibition in the Making (on Thursday 27 July, at 7pm. ) in which the co-curators talk about the process of creating an exhibition like this - with loans from all sorts of prestigious collections.

What's interesting about this exhibition?

Drawings were selected to record different types of connections between sitters and artists. Interestingly because they are also drawings and not paintings, they record a wider group of people than we are used to seeing in portraits from the same era.
Some of the people depicted in these portraits can be identified, such as the emperor’s chaplain or the king’s clerk, but many are the faces from the street – the nurse, the shoemaker, and the artist’s friends and pupils in the studio – whose likenesses were rarely captured in paintings during this period. 
Highlights of the exhibition include

  • 15 drawings generously lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection, including eight portraits by Hans Holbein the Younger; 
  • a group of drawings produced in the Carracci studio from Chatsworth; and 
  • the British Museum’s preparatory drawing by Albrecht Dürer for a lost portrait of Henry Parker, Lord Morley, who had been sent to Nuremberg as ambassador by King Henry VIII.
You are greeted by this wonderful Holbein Drawing

John Godsalve
by Hans Holbein the Younger c.1532-4

black and red chalk, ink, bodycolour and white heightening on prepared paper
Copyright: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017 | Royal Collection Trust
The exhibition is constructed around a number of themes which are:

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Recommendations for a new modem router?

I'm looking for recommendations for a new modem router (which I prefer since it means only one bit of kit to accommodate) for my iMac.

It needs to be
  • capable of accessing standard broadband - which I currently use in my study
  • capable of accessing fibre broadband should I decide to upgrade
  • very reliable connections/performance 
  • very secure
  • include ethernet
  • includes ADSL and an integrated VDSL2 modem
I must confess it's ages since I bought one because last time I bought a very good one and it's lasted me a long time. However it's now time to upgrade (see "the background...." below for why).

Which means I have to get my head round the:
  • need to know - re current context and prospects
  • what's available
  • what's recommended
  • what works with normal broadband and fibre - just in case I upgrade the broadband in my study
I'd be very interested to hear recommendations from anybody - particularly if you've updated your set-up recently - about:
  • your set-up
  • which is the best brand
  • which is the best modem router.
I'm also interested in any recommendations as to nifty features that are worth having.

Note: I've currently got a Zyxel P-660R-Tx v2 Series ADSL2+ Access Router which has served me very well for many years!
What my Zyxel modem router does

What's a modem router?

A modem router combines the modem and the router
  • the router creates a network between devices in my home
  • the modem connects the network to the internet
I prefer this because it means I only have to find space for one bit of kit rather than two.

This article explains it better - What’s the Difference Between a Modem and a Router?

My iMac has an internal modem which means it can connect via wifi to my other (fibre) broadband in another part of my home via the BT Hub - which means when my current set-up is playing up (as mine is at present) that i can still get online - as I am at present!

What's VDSL?

I need to look beyond ADSL2 which is what I've been using so far.  I found this article What’s the difference between ADSL, VDSL and fibre internet?

The background to the current situation

I think I've finally worked out the cause of my current iMac problems - it freezes - except if I disconnect my modem router and my back up hard disc.

After a mammoth session with Applecare Support last week where I did various techie things to try and clear out the source of any software problems, I ended up deciding to try and use the computer by creating a wifi link to my second broadband account - in another part of my home and disconnecting all the hardware. I then worked fine for a week!

So hardware was definitely the source of the problem- but which bit?

I got the answer this morning when having to update some credit card data which I only like doing on an ethernet connection. So I turned my Zyxel back on - and did the transactions and then started to continue as usual - at which point it froze - and I had my answer as to which bit of hardware was causing the problems

So I'm now back on my internal modem and connected to the other broadband.