Friday, June 23, 2017

BP Portrait Award 2017: Artists with their paintings

Portrait artists with portrait paintings selected for inclusion in the BP Portrait Award 2017 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery can expect the following benefits:
  • your portrait will be seen by well in excess of 250,000 visitors in London this summer - and even more around the UK over the course of the next 12 months (see the end of this for details of the exhibition)
  • your CV is greatly enhanced by selection for this prestigious exhibition - and it helps to interest galleries in showing your work
  • your website will get enquiries about commissions for future work. Assuming you remembered to get your website into good order - with a page devoted to commissions - in advance of the show!
Friends Preview

This post is about some of the artists whose work was selected. Let's also not forget the friends and families, many of whom sat for the portraits - and some of came to the press view yesterday!

Previously I've written about the artists selected for the BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2017 - which contains mini bios and links to their websites

Artists with their Paintings

The selection of the artists photographed for this post is not scientific. They are those who were at  the Press View yesterday morning and I managed to spot their label declaring them to be an artist. (Tip: never ever hide your label at a Press View!)

However, in a way it's also a mini profile and nod in the direction of the 2,580 artists from 87 countries around the world who submitted work for the show.

Not all artists are experienced and/or professional - a number are enthusiastic amateurs while others are starting out on their careers.

The painters in this post are:

  • UK: England - Martyn Burdon, Rowanne Cowley, Estelle Day, Raoof Haghighi (from Iran / now a UK citizen), Hero Johnson, Laura Quinn Harris, Lucy Stopford, Khushna Sulaman-Butt, Casper White,
  • UK: Scotland - Hannah Laws 
  • France - Julian Merrow-Smith (born UK; lives in Provence),
  • Israel - Anne Ben-Or
  • Lithuania: Laura Guoke
  • Israel - Anne Ben-Or
  • Turkey: Mustafa Ozel
  • USA: John Borowicz and David Stanger
  • Canada: Ross McCauley (currently living in Glasgow)
  • South Africa: Emily Stainer
At the end of this list is a section called Other artists I missed for are "the ones that got away" but somebody else was sensible and took a photo!

The narrative below includes large pics - but you have to click them to see the large version - and a link to the artist's website. The artists are also organised by country of origin (with a note of where they are living at the moment)

Click the images to see a LARGER VERSION

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ben Sullivan wins BP Portrait Award 2017

Benjamin Sullivan has finally won First Prize in the BP Portrait Award 2017 - after winning Third Prize in 2016 and being previously selected for the BP Portrait Award 12 times.  

Team Sullivan - portrait painter Ben Sullivan with the BP Portrait Award (First Prize)
his two models - wife Ginnie and daughter Edie
The winning portrait was selected from strong competition - 2,580 entries were received from 87 countries

Below is a list of the Awards and who won what.  You can read more about each of the artists in the profiles contained in BP Portrait Award 2017 - The Shortlist

Giving the BP Portrait Awards a final polish
Interestingly, all the sitters for the main prizes were women and the First and Second prizes were both portraits of new mothers.  All the winning portraits are also very precise paintings - with both the second and third prize winners using very small hatching marks.

Admission to The BP Portrait Exhibition is free to the public. It can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery in London on 22 June until 24 September - when it will get about 300,000 visitors - after which it will then travel to Exeter, Edinburgh and Sunderland. (see below for details).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review: New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2017

The 2017 Annual Exhibition of the New English Art Club (NEAC) opened at the Mall Galleries last week and continues until 25th June  (10am to 5pm; closes 1pm on final day).

I was unable to get to the PV for the NEAC Annual Exhibition and visited on Sunday afternoon instead. It was delightful to be able to see all the pics in comfort and I think I might want to make more Sunday visits! (Note I do most of the wide shots towards the end of the afternoon when fewer people are present)

This post provides:
  • images of the exhibition
  • my conclusions about 
    • the exhibition overall
    • the OPEN exhibition having viewed it in full three times and done some counting
    • sales - and sizes and price points
  • a listing of the main prizewinners

The Exhibition

The exhibition has 413 paintings, drawings and fine art prints (excluding work by members those not listed in the catalogue) plus 2 watercolours by HRH Prince of Wales. Paintings include oils, acrylic, watercolour and mixed media. Drawings included charcoal, pastel and graphite.

One thing NEAC may want to rethink is this statement. It might have been true once but I'd be happy to debate with the society whether it is still true.
Our Annual Exhibition held at Mall Galleries is now firmly established as a fixture of the London Summer Season, exhibiting painting and drawing made from direct observation.
 Generally the exhibition looked good. I'll be curious to see whether it performs as good as it looks. My notes indicate:
  • obviously a new guiding hand as there is a lot more colour - and then while drinking my cup of tea noted that Richard Pikesley is the new President so that explains that!  I note also that Richard sold extremely well in the exhibition - so he's obviously doing his bit to drum up both traffic and supportive buying collectors.
  • the 'hang' hung together - and presents a very pleasing contrast to the RA Summer Exhibition which I saw earlier in the week - where my eye kept getting 'lost'
  • the artists hung seem to be different - and I can't quite work out what I mean by that. I speculate that it's probably artists I'm used to seeing in the exhibition do't have work included and there are probably some new members whose work I've less familiar with. There again - there's the issue of who got selected for the open...
  • The exhibition is odd in terms of what gets hung where - of which more in the next section
  • The sales are not representative of the exhibition - of which more in the sales section.

The Main Gallery

Almost all the work is by NEAC members.

There were two small works walls in the Main Galleries and both had generated a few sales.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Columbia Threadneedle Prize returns

The Columbia Threadneedle Prize 2018 for the best new work of figurative and representational art launched today - however I was out and most of the rest of my week is committed with the BP Portrait Awards and exhibition reviews so I'll be reviewing the new exhibition website and doing my Call for Entries post a little later.

You don't need to worry - the deadline for entries is 22 September 2017!

However you can see
  • the launch video below 
  • images of selected works in previous exhibitions in the Archive on the website
  • past winners and my reviews and photos of past exhibitions (which give you a perspective on size of artwork) in my blog posts below

Plus you can see in my blog posts below.......

who has won the prize previously

So far the gender ratio in terms of prizewinners is 6 women and 2 men (or 7 women if you count both of the double header win in 2013!)

what previous exhibitions looked like 

PLUS the solo exhibition by Lewis Hazelwood Horner, the last winner in 2016, can be seen in this post Impressive solo exhibition by 2016 Threadneedle Prizewinner

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Does the RA Summer Exhibition still have the WOW factor?

I went to see the 2017 Summer Exhibition of 1,092 artworks at the Royal Academy of Arts on Monday - and this post should have been written sooner (but for an event this week).

This blog post is going to
  • show you how you can see the exhibition - even if you can't get to London
  • examine why this exhibition wowed me less than others and
  • identify pieces I really liked.
Friends Review on 12th June - Gallery III complete with Pimms Bar
This is how you can see the exhibition - without visiting:
  • a video on YouTube - which lasts 74 seconds (how many years has it taken for the RA to catch up with YouTube for promoting what an exhibition actually looks like?)

  • a Summer Exhibition Explorer website - where you can see ALL the exhibits - and create pages for different categories and price points. It started last year and seems to have been refined this year
  • for example, for those seeking more affordable art - there is an art for under £500 website option - which tends to include a lot of prints. 
You can see the exhibition in person in the Main Galleries at Burlington House, the home of the Royal Academy of Arts until 20th August 2017 (Saturday – Thursday 10am – 6pm; Friday 10am – 10pm). Entrance is £15.50 (without donation £14). Friends of the RA, and under 16s when with a fee-paying adult, go free.

Has the Summer Exhibition lost its WOW?

The Summer Exhibition this year has certainly lost its WOW related to oversized works and/or statements by artistic testosterone flaunting male artists - whether that be pink walls and stripey staircases or massive paintings almost covering an entire wall in Gallery III

It's altogether a gentler exhibition - quite possibly because it was put together by a female curator Royal Academician Eileen Cooper who wanted to explore themes of discovery and new talent.

That does however mean that the Courtyard is positively disappointing. The Wind Sculpture VI by Yinka Shonibare work is simply not big enough - and it's not helped by the cones off to the left, the "pavement cafe" scene out front and the cranes out back. You only notice all these things when your eye is not totally absorbed by a massive something or other.  (Looking at the pic of it in the online website, it looks much better in a domestic setting.)

If it wasn't for the colours you could blink and miss this installation.
Looking back after nearly a week, I'm finding it difficult to remember anything much about the exhibition apart from the Western Union: Small Boats (edition of 3 £200,000) video by Isaac Julien which was very impressive.  It also won the The Royal Academy of Arts Charles Wollaston Award 2017

This is the challenge of the Summer Exhibition - making sense of it.
This year I was somewhat preoccupied by the fact my steroid injection for my arthritis has worn off and I was more interested in whether or not a gallery had a seat to sit down on. (There were some but nowhere near enough considering the age of a lot of the visitors - the RA could be a LOT more disability friendly). My solution was to see the exhibition in two halves - with lunch over the road at Fortnum & Masons inbetween (the art on my plate was much more to my taste!)

So 10 reasons why the Summer Exhibition has lost its wow are:
  1. nothing made me say Wow!
  2. disappointing entrance to Burlington House (see above) and the exhibition (an exhibit at the entrance which stops you moving forward is not good for circulation and the colour of the walls was vile - like sick!)
  3. the small paintings are lost or swamped - why it's OK to hang similar smaller sized photos together but not small works is beyond me.  I used to love the crush in the Small Weston Room as we all tried to see all the small works - typically entered by the public.
  4. no models in the architecture section - it was literally and metaphorically too flat
  5. some galleries are crammed/swamped with strong images making them indigestible (eg the photography) and the gallery difficult to view.
  6. a certain lack of punctuation or good design on the walls - eye-catching statement pieces were either competing with one another or located in corners - making it difficult for the eye to 'read the room'
  7. too few good figurative paintings - by which I mean of the relatively realistic variety. There were any number of the more fantasy oriented or "I can't draw" variety.  I see a lot more paintings I like better on a regular basis in the open exhibitions and art competitions exhibiting at the Mall Galleries. 
  8. too few drawings - in past exhibitions we're seen a lot more drawings
  9. the prints seemed to lack something - I love the print rooms and yet this time prints seemed more amorphous - lacking colour or size as punctuation and scattered across a number of rooms
  10. Overall, it seemed as if the exhibition lacked a good "Edit"
I thought the galleries with coloured walls had more impact - but I wasn't a huge fan of the colours chosen.

See what I mean below

Friday, June 16, 2017

If you're interested in drawing - in London

For those interested in drawing, the Royal Drawing School is offering some opportunities to improve your drawing via

  • The Foundation Year
  • Free Life Drawing events
  • Summer Schools

The Foundation Year

Next Tuesday is the Open Day for The Foundation Year - A free one year, skills-based foundation course in London's creative Docklands
  • full-time course - five days of teaching a week 
  • structure of the course progresses from set assignments towards self-directed study
  • a limit of 50 places to ensure one-to-one tuition
  • free to 18 and 19 year olds 
  • some bursaries available for over-19s.
  • located at main campus at Trinity Buoy Wharf
You can book for Open Days on Tuesday 20 June 2017 @ 2pm
This is a link to the event announcement on Facebook re. the Open Day on 20th June and the same on the webite

Plus 2017/18 Open Days will be held on:
  • Thursday 12 October 2017 @ 2pm
  • Thursday 26 October 2017 @ 2pm
  • Saturday 25 November 2017 @ 11am
  • Wednesday 17 January 2018 @ 2pm
  • Saturday 27 January 2018 @ 11am

Applications for The Foundation Year 2018/19 will open in September 2017 and close in February 2018

You can see The Foundation Year End of Year Exhibition 2016-17 at Trinity Buoy Wharf between Wednesday 14 June – Thursday 22 June 2017 (Open 11am–6pm daily)

FREE Life Drawing

Every first Thursday of the month, during term time and the holidays, there is a free life drawing session, in collaboration with Time Out and the Whitechapel Gallery, 6.30-9pm. Places are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and basic drawing materials are provided free of charge. This month we will be drawing in the studio with a life model.
See the website for more details about dates and venues for the First Tuesday events at:

Other public courses

More information about other public courses can be found on the website. You can also download our Public Courses brochure.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Let's celebrate the work of Khadija Saye

Very often when a tragedy happens, it's one person who makes it very real.

For me, in the case of the tragic and incomprehensible fire at Grenfell Tower that person is the photographer Khadija Saye - who is missing. [Update - see postscript at end]

Khadija Saye and her camera
(Photo credit: Lauren Frame | Facebook)
40 years ago, when I first came to London, I lived on the 15th floor of a "hard to let" GLC tower block in the East End. It was badly in need of updating and those entitled to a council tenancy were refusing to live there.

Living there had its benefits - I was able to save the deposit for the flat that I later bought - and I made some good friends at the time, some of whom were recent graduates from the Royal College of Art who were starting out on their careers - who lived on the top floor.

However the reason the tower block was "hard to let" was because things didn't work. The lifts broke down on a regular basis and the heating and hot water facilities were poor - until they broke down altogether. So hot baths took forever to prepare and I did an awful lot of walking up and down stairs.

I also used to be really, really worried about fire - because I knew that the ladders of the firemen wouldn't reach the fifteenth floor where I used to live.  I knew the notion was that if there was a fire in the block you should stay in your own flat because - being concrete - it was compartmentalised from the rest of the block and the front door provided fire safety of at least an hour.

However, the fire at Grenfell House has had a profound effect on me - partly because o
  • my fears from the past 
  • I know how difficult it would be for anybody to climb down from the 20th floor - where Khadija lived with her mother in such circumstances
  • I've filmed her work and shown it on this blog.
Khadija Saye is a photographer and an emerging artist of Gambian heritage. She and her mother had a home on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower.

In May, Khadija posted on Facebook and Twitter about exhibiting at the 57th Venice Biennale.

Her photographs of, ironically entitled Dwelling: in this space we breathe are in the Diaspora Pavilion.
Dwelling: in this space we breathe is a series of wet plate collodion tintypes that explores the migration of traditional Gambian spiritual practices and the deep rooted urge to find solace within a higher power.
She's listed in the exhibition catalogue at #15 right next to Yinka Shonibare at #16 whose work I saw featured in the courtyard at this year's Summer Exhibition on Monday.

You can read below how absolutely thrilled she was about exhibiting at the Biennale. Note who she is standing next to...

Back in November 2014, she was exhibiting her series Crowned at the Mall Galleries in the ING Discerning Eye exhibition - having been invited by one of the artist curators Nicola Green

In fact you can see her work in my video of the exhibition. Her series "Crowned" which I remember very well comes into shot at 34 seconds

Today the tweets are about her - for a completely different reason.

She and her mother had a home on the 20th floor of Grenfell House. At the time of writing she was last heard of when messaging at 4am on Facebook.
'Please pray for me. There's a fire in my council block. I can't leave the flat. Please pray for me and my mum.'
Her mentor, Nicolea Green , the wife of David Lammy MP, posted this on Twitter.

I am so very, very angry today.

Last night I was at a PV and when I got home I fell asleep in my chair before I made it to my bed. When I woke up I checked the news and was confronted with pictures of the fire as it accelerated across and up the building (check George Clarke's Instagram for how it progressed)

I was rooted to my chair. It was all my worst nightmares and worse.
  • 40 years it took very considerable effort and the formation of a Residents Association to get the GLC to pay attention to what action they needed to take regarding looking after the health and safety of residents. (Our block subsequently made it on to Dan Cruickshank's television series "At Home with the British" - The Flat - however they missed out the grind involved in getting the work done properly!!!)
  • A few years back I helped neighbours when there was a major refurbishment of their ex-Council estate. Another Residents Association was set up and we ran a campaign which went on for a few years. I KNOW exactly how much contractors duck and dive and ignore the conditions of planning permission and the law and regulations relating to building and health and safety in order to save time and money - or because they are just plain incompetent. It took online outing via blogging, videos, documentation and a call I made to the London HQ of the Health and Safety Executive to start bringing them into line and to get the Council to read them the "riot act". 
I am just so absolutely utterly appalled to find that the same neglect for the health and safety of residents has quite obviously occurred at Grenfell House.

That fire has extinguished so many homes and, we all fear, so many lives as well.

It's about time councils started listening to residents of tower blocks and paying more attention to what is required to keep people safe!

In the meantime let's celebrate the work of Khadija Saye. This is her Facebook account and this is her Twitter account for her photography. Why not 'follow' the latter - by way of support?

Apparently the latest is that those living on the top three residential floors - which includes the 20th floor - are unlikely to be among the survivors. However we can always hope she is found.....

UPDATE 16 June 2017

a tribute from David Lammy‏ MP @DavidLammy
May you rest in peace Khadija Saye. God bless your beautiful soul. My heart breaks today. I mourn the tragic loss of a wonderful young woman
Plus articles in

Monday, June 12, 2017

Art Exhibitions in London: June-July 2017

If you're visiting London and want to visit an art exhibition in London in June-July 2016, you'll find the list of art exhibitions below a useful start for choosing what to see and where to go.

It starts with exhibitions about individual artists and moves on to the Group Shows.  Dates are indicated and the title of each exhibition includes a link to the gallery's webpage about the exhibition

If you know of any more that deserve to be added in please leave a comment or contact me.

Exhibitions about an Artist

British Museum

  • Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave - (25 May – 13 August 2017 - Room 35) - focuses on the last thirty years of Japan’s most renowned artist’s, Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), career from around 1820 to 1849.

Dulwich Picture Gallery

  • Sargent: The Watercolours - 21 Jun 2017 - 8 Oct 2017 - The first UK show in nearly 100 years devoted to watercolours by the Anglo-American artist, John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).

Gagosian Gallery (20 Grosvenor Hill)

Garden Museum

  • Eileen Hogan: Artist-Not-In Residence (May-September 2017) -  twelve large-scale oil paintings, one for each month of the year of places, parks and gardens in London that mean something to people. Includes an exhibition of her sketchbooks. Executed while the 'artist-in residence' for a museum that was closed for refurbishment.

Jerwood Gallery

  • Jean Cooke - Delight in the Thing Seen (24th May - 17th September 2017) Jean Cooke RA (1927-2008) delighted many people with her very personal view of the world and the way she could make art from the everyday activities
  • Quentin Blake: The Only Way to Travel (14th June - 15th October 2017) - news works created featuring extraordinary beasts, machines and narrative scenes, exploring themes such as dislocation, loneliness and depression.

National Gallery

  • Chris Ofili - Weaving Magic (26 April – 28 August 2017 - Sunley Room) A new work in a new tapestry medium for Chris Ofili; imagery reflects Ofili’s ongoing interest in classical mythology and the stories, magic, and colour of the Trinidadian landscape he inhabits

National Portrait Gallery

  • Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends (23 March - 18 June 2017 - Porter Gallery) - the first exhibition of portraits by Howard Hodgkin (b.1932), one of Britain’s leading artists

Queens's Gallery

  • Canaletto and the Art of Venice (19 May 2017 - 12 November 2017) - series of views of 18th century Venice in a series of paintings, drawings and prints by Venice's most famous view-painter, Canaletto (1697-1768). It also includes works by other Venetian artists but Canaletto is very much star of the show

Serpentine Gallery

Tate Modern

  • Alberto Giacometti (10 May – 10 Sep 2017) - focusing on influences and practices
  • Fahrelnissa Zeid - 6 Jun – 8 Oct 2017 - Zeid (1901–1991) was one of the most influential female Turkish artists; best known for her large-scale abstract paintings

White Cube. Mason's Yard

  • Wayne Thiebaud (1962-2017) (24 May – 2 July 2017) - a selection of paintings and works on paper that date from 1962 to 2017.

Group Art Exhibitions

British Museum

Courtauld Gallery

  • Bloomsbury Art & Design 18 February – 21 September 2017 Special Display - a wide-ranging selection of work by the early twentieth century Bloomsbury Group. A new selection of works on paper will be displayed from 24 May 2017.

Garden Museum

  • Tradescant's Orchard: A Celebration of Botanical Art (May-September 2017) - a contemporary exhibition comprising watercolours of fruit by fifty eminent botanical artists alongside alongside a display of ‘The Tradescants’ Orchard’, a seventeenth-century volume of sixty-six watercolours depicting fruit varieties that John Tradescant and his son might have grown in their market garden at Lambeth

Mall Galleries

  • New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2017 (16 June 2017 to 25 June 2017) - an exhibition by a group of visual artists whose work is based principally upon direct observation of nature and the human figure
  • Wildlife Artist of the Year 2017 (28 June 2017 to 2 July 2017) - the ever popular exhibition organised by David Shepherd includes fine art in various media by international wildlife artists

National Gallery

  • Michelangelo & Sebastiano - 15 March – 25 June 2017 (North Galleries) - About the creative artistic relationship between two great Renaissance masters, Sebastiano and Michelangelo, from the 1510s through to the 1540s

National Portrait Gallery

Natural History Museum

Royal Academy of Arts

  • Summer Exhibition 2017 (12 June — 20 August 2017 - Main Galleries) - the biggest open art exhibition in the world. A unique platform for emerging and established artists to showcase works across painting and printmaking, photography, sculpture, architecture and film. 

Saatchi Gallery

  • From Selfie to Self Expression (31 March - 23 July 2017) - the world’s first exhibition exploring the history of the selfie from Velazquez to the present day, while celebrating the truly creative potential of a form of expression often derided for its inanity.

Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, Kew Gardens

  • British Artists in Shirley Sherwood Collection (25 March to 17 September 2017) - Her vast collection of botanical art contains 330 works by 86 British botanical painters. Some of these are showcased in this exhibition, including Brigid Edwards, Coral Guest, Rory McEwen, Rosie Sanders, Pandora Sellars and Graham Rust..

Tate Britain

  • Queer British Art 1861 - 1967 (5 April - 1 October 2017) - Featuring works from 1861–1967 relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) identities, the show marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England.

Tate Modern

Victoria & Albert Museum

  • The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains (13 May – 1 October 2017 - Room 39 - Exhibition Space) - includes set and construction pieces from some of Pink Floyd’s most innovative and legendary album covers and stage performances, original designs, architectural drawings, handwritten lyrics and psychedelic prints and posters.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Who's made a mark on art #264?

Anybody in need of an anti-politics antidote this is it!

I really ought to make more of an effort to highlight the links to interesting art stories or aspects of art that now go straight to Facebook  - but which used to get highlighted in "who's made a mark"

So here's a list of links - organised by source

Making A Mark

See my Making A Mark on Facebook Page if you want to get links more often


Songbird stamps for Royal Mail by Federico Gemma - to mark International Dawn Chorus Day 

Art on Television

Dr James Fox in Japan - for The Art of Japanese Life
In the upcoming short series The Art of Japanese Life on BBC Four, the BAFTA nominated presented Dr. James Fox (he's one of the good ones!) examines the art and culture of Japan.
  • The first episode is about Nature -  he examines how the country's two great religions, Shinto and Buddhism, helped shape a creative response to nature often very different to the West - and how contemporary artists are shaping a new response to nature
  • In Cities - he looks at how the artistic life of three great Japanese cities shaped the country's attitudes to past and present, east and west, and helped forge the very idea of Japan itself.
  • In Home - explores the art of the Japanese home and how its clean minimalism has been exported round the world.
Last night we had the annual BBC2 review of the Royal Academy of Art's Summer Exhibition - the world's largest open submission exhibition. Kirsty Wark and Brenda Emmanus going behind the scenes at the Royal Academy and exploring the stories behind the exhibition - which I'm going to view tomorrow morning. The Summer Exhibition opens to the public on 13th June and continues until 20 August.
A wind sculpture by Yinka Shonibare is in the courtyard
Two years ago Katherine Tyrrell took this photo of us after our exhibition following #theBigPaintingChallenge. We still keep in touch, we are all still painting and still enjoying it... (Anne Blankson-Hemans)
from left to right the links are to Facebook - Paul Bell, Alison Stafford, Anthea Lay, Jan Szymczuk,
Anne Blankson-Hemans, Claire ParkerHeather HardingRichard Salter,
plus the two not in the pic 
Melvyn Flint,  Amy Goldring

Art Competitions

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Cultural development post election - the promises and who decides who gets what

The Art Newspaper seems to think that the outcome of the UK election could trigger a cultural bonanza based on the notion that
Both the major political parties make big promises about new money for the arts
When I started reading the article it occurred to me maybe there was another perspective based on timelines that it may have missed and the sort of lobbying that goes on behind the scenes in terms of what gets into any political party's manifesto.

First here are the promises - it's worth making a record of what they aim to do. I've abbreviated and bullet pointed where appropriate.

Then I reflect on how it might all work - and who might decide who gets what.

If there is a Conservative Government

This is what the Conservative Manifesto says - albeit I had to find most of this by plugging in words to the find command while viewing the pdf file. It's not very accessible!

Prosperous towns and cities across Britain - page

Our towns and cities excel when they have vibrant cultural life. Britain’s arts and culture are world-beating and are at the heart of the regeneration of much of modern Britain. 

We will 
  • continue our strong support for the arts, and ensure more of that support is based outside London.
  • maintain free entry to the permanent collections of our major national museums and galleries. 
  • introduce a new cultural development fund to use cultural investment to turn around communities. 
  • hold a Great Exhibition of the North in 2018, to celebrate amazing achievements in innovation, the arts and engineering. 
  • support a UK city in making a bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. 
  • in this 70th Anniversary Year of the Edinburgh Festival we will support the development of the new Edinburgh Concert Hall, reaffirming Edinburgh as the UK’s leading festival city and a cultural beacon around the globe.

A Knowledge Rich Curriculum - page 50-51

We will 
  • ensure all children have access to an academic, knowledge-rich curriculum. 
  • introduce a curriculum fund to encourage Britain’s leading cultural and scientific institutions, like the British Museum and others to help develop knowledge-rich materials for our schools, 

Shared institutions of Union - page 34-45

For too long, power in Britain has been centred in London. This means opportunity has centred in London too. It is time major cities around Britain shared in the government of the United Kingdom. 

We will 
  • proceed on the same basis with the arts and cultural organisations that give our United Kingdom such strength. 
  • Channel 4 will remain publicly owned and will be relocated out of London
  • work with the nation’s most eminent museums and galleries to ensure their works and expertise are shared across the country

If there is a Labour Government

Labour have a LOT more to say about Culture and the arts

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2017 - Watch the Heats

The Heats for the Sky Landscape Artist of the Year 2017 start next week. There are six heats in the first stage of the Competition taking place in the North East, North Yorkshire and South Wales.

All the Wild Cards have now been dished out with the exception of Heat 2 on Wednesday 14th June. See this page to apply

However the public can watch the heats take place!

Sky Arts LandscapeArtist of the Year competition would love you to come and join us on the day to support the artists and join in the fun! Filming will take place between 10am - 5pm approx. (it is not essential to stay for the duration of filming, you may come and go as you please)
Please take into consideration the weather and location in regards to clothing, footwear, and refreshments when planning for your chosen day.

Here are the locations

Heats 1 and 2: Paddy’s Hole, Teesside 

13th and 14th June 2017 - "striking industrial scenery in Teesside"

Paddy's Hole - The Wikipedia version
Paddy's Hole is a small harbour at the mouth of the River Tees - down river from Middlesborough. It's located in South Gare, near Redcar in Teeside (in the North East of England). This is a man made cove and is home to fishing boats and fisherman huts.  The backdrop in the picture above is the Coke Plant and Blast Furnace of the Teesside steelworks. It's situated about 2 miles down the private access road from Warrenby.
There are no shops at Paddy's Hole - so visitors will need to pack food and drink for the duration of your visit.

Paddy's Hole - the optimistic publicity version!


Heats 3 and 4 - Knaresborough Castle, North Yorkshire

20th and 21st June 2017 - "picturesque historic town"

Knaresborough Castle - up close

I'm thinking some of the views from the top of the hill must be superb if the ones looking up at it from the River are anything to go by.

Knaresborough Castle from underneath the bridge on the River Nidd

a stunning cliff-top location towering over the River Nidd stands Knaresborough Castle, once a mighty stronghold of medieval kings.
Knaresborough Castle is a ruined fortress overlooking the River Nidd in the town of Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, England. It's owned by the Duchy of Lancaster and is managed by Harrogate Borough Council.


Heats 5 and 6: Rhossili, Gower, South Wales

27th and 28th June 2017 - "spectacular views from the Gower Peninsula"

Sandy beaches at The Gower
The Gower Peninsula (Welsh: Penrhyn Gwyr) was the first place in Britain to be designated as an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' (AONB) by the Countryside Agency.  Rhossili is located at the most Western part of the Gower Peninsula - effectively it's the end of the road!

Rhossili Bay curves along an arc running northwards from the village. The sandy beach is three miles (5 km) long and is backed with sand dunes. Locals refer to the beach as Llangennith Sands. At the southern end of the Bay is the small tidal island called Worm's Head. It'll be interesting to see how the producers try to contain the painters!

Worm's Head

Important notice - Car park improvements taking place at Rhossili, although parking is available, we’ve fewer spaces than normal, it can get busy at times, please allow plenty of time for your visit. Coach parking is unavailable during improvement works.

Semi Finals and The Final

The Semi Finalists will consist of the winners of each of the Heats and will take place on Tuesday 18th July 2017. The Finalists will be asked to complete a further two landscape artworks

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Monday, June 05, 2017

4th John Ruskin Prize Shortlist announced

The shortlist for the 2017 John Ruskin Prize was recently announced - and the names of the artists are listed below

Theme for 2017

The theme of the 4th John Ruskin Prize is "Hand & Eye: Master of All Trades in The Age of Jack" - it's about the Artist as Polymath

This year’s theme: refers to the Artist as Polymath. Open to a range of interpretations and approaches, the theme is intended to lend itself to responses from artists and makers whose work celebrates the opportunity to marry diverse materials and disciplines.

In celebration of ‘Artist as Polymath’, 2017 marks the first year that The Prize will be open to makers and craftspeople, as well as fine artists. Alongside Ruskin’s own career as a polymath, the theme has been jointly inspired by The Year of Making in Sheffield, which took place throughout 2016, and The Big Draw’s year of STEAM Power, which celebrates the interconnections between Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths

The Awards

The Award is £5000 with
  • £3000 going to the winner, and 
  • £1000 going to both the Second Prize and Student Prize & Recent Graduate winners.

The Shortlist

The shortlist of 26 artists, makers and innovators was selected from over 1,000 entries.
The artist / scientist parallel is apparent in the shortlist but there is also evidence of traditional craft combined with social commentary, skilful material manipulation and a visual wit within the selected artworks.
In my experience this is an art competition which throws up some of the more interesting artists working today.
  • Louisa Boyd - primarily works as a book artist
  • Holly Brodie - a self-taught landscape painter brought up in rural Somerset and now based in suburban West London
  • Nuala Clooney - a sculptor and a visiting lecturer at Birmingham City University
  • Andrew Ekins  
  • Erin Dickson - a digital designer and fabricator. She's worked as the waterjet technician at National Glass Centre and is now the design and manufacturing technician at FabLab Sunderland.  Her Twitter account is @Archiglass
  • Paul Hazeltona British artist based in Margate. His sculptures are intricately constructed using household dust, cobwebs, hair or cut paper, stuffed toys or other materials.
  • Marielle Hehir - Did an MA Painting at the Slade between 2014-2016 - and was awarded a Distinction
The original Midland Line Railway Works 2 
is the drawing which inspired Ann Howeson's work
selected for the exhibition
  • Anne Howesonan artist and a Tutor in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art. Shortlisted for a stop frame 'moving drawing' called Regeneration and Revival at King's Cross
She devised the seminar series ‘DRAW’ which supports second-year MA students working on sustained drawing projects and welcomes a wide interpretation of ideas from any area or discipline
  • Rebecca Ilett - Has a degree in sculpture and later trained to be a jeweller - trying to present jewellery as art and aims to create wearable art or wearable narratives
Rebecca Ilett 'Spinning Straw into Gold' (2016). Photo: Simon White
  • Shelley James - Trained in textiles, pursued a career in corporate design for international clients; studied Printmaking at the University of the West of England and has developed new techniques for encapsulating prints in glass. Her work is currently inspired by conversations with scientists
  • Debbie Lawsonborn in Dundee and lives and works in London. Graduated from Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art. A multi-media artist. Difficult to describe what she does.... but it's interesting
  • Emily Lazerwitz - graduated from Slade School of Fine Art with an M.F.A in Fine Art Media with Distinction, June 2016. She makes Machine Knit Scarf made of 100% reredacted CIA documents from the FOIA archives
  • Sue LawtyTextile Artist in Residence at the V&A in 2005
  • Bethan Lloyd Worthington - Ceramics Artist in Resident at the V&A in 2016. A London based artist who works with drawing, objects and installation to explore themes of place and fragmentation through time
  • Hugh Miller - an award-winning contemporary applied artist specialising in studio furniture in wood. Hugh’s work is based on a set of design principles, developed during his Churchill Fellowship in Japan in 2015
  • Rosa Nguyena London artist with an established practice based in ceramics. She makes objects, installations and displays which include ceramic, glass and botanical elements.
  • Kyle Noble - Graduated with a Masters in Fine art from Edinburgh College of Art in 2013. He received the RSA Highland Society of London Award 2014, the RSA William Littlejohn Award 2013 and was selected for the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2013. Over the last two years Noble has devoted his practice to the description of an imaginary ancient culture called 'The Meiklians', who built the stone circles around his home in Aberdeenshire.
  • Briony O Clarke - Artist in Residence (2014-2017) at Portmeirion Village, North Wales. MA in Communication Art & Design (2009-2011) at the Royal College of Art
  • Sumi Perera - an interdisciplinary artist whose work draws on her background as a doctor and scientist. She generates multiple series from a given set of plates by combining hybrid printmaking techniques (etching, aquatint, drypoint, monoprint, chine-colle, collagraphs, mezzotint, lithography, kiln-fired screenprint decals etc.) with stitch and Computer Numerical Controlled methods (laser-cutting/engraving, sandblasting etc.)
  • Shauna Richardson - produces realistic life-size animal sculpture created using crochet
  • Conor Rogersgraduated from Sheffield Hallam University 2014 and one of his degree pieces was selected for the John Moores Painting Prize. Paints photo realistic depictions of everyday life and landscape in acrylic on found objects (e.g. crisp, cigarette and condom packets and beer mats)
  • Fi Smart
  • Serena Smith - trained in fine art lithography at the Curwen Studio (1984-96), and studied Fine Art at Central Saint Martin’s School of Art (MA); work has been selected for numerous exhibitions both in the UK and internationally
  • Harland Viney - born and raised in Australia, resident in the UK since 1999. Work with film, performance, drawing, painting, printing and photography
  • Simon Ward & Robert Mach - foil wrapper from a Tunnocks teacake gratefully received...
  • Ray Winder - a Surrey-based artist and sculptor specialising in miniature paintings and finely carved sculptures in wood

Selection Panel

The members of The John Ruskin Prize 2017 selection panel who selected the shortlist from over 1000 submissions are:
  • Kirstie Hamilton (Head of Exhibitions & Displays, Museums Sheffield), 
  • Zachary Eastwood-Bloom (Sculptor), 
  • Mandy Payne (Artist), Julia Bell (Former Head of Partnerships, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art), 
  • Dr Rachel Dickinson (Director for Education, Guild of St. George / Principal Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University), and 
  • Kate Mason (Director, The Big Draw).

Private View and Prizegiving

The selection panel will announce the 1st Prize, 2nd Prize and Student Prize Winners (total prize fund of £5,000) at the Private View of the shortlist exhibition on 20th June 2017.

The Exhibition

The exhibition is being held at Millennium Gallery, Sheffield between 21st June and 8th October 2017


  • John Ruskin Prize:
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