Monday, September 22, 2014

Threadneedle Prize 2014 - The Shortlist

Six finalists have been selected for the Shortlist for the Threadneedle Prize 2014 awarded to the very best in new figurative and representational art.

The prize on offer is a £20,000 Prize and a solo exhibition of a wider body of work at the Mall Galleries in 2015. 

Artists shortlisted for The Threadneedle Prize 2014 outside the Mall Galleries the exhibition opens on 25th September
The finalists have been selected from over 3,600 entries and their artwork will be exhibited alongside 58 other entries. The entries have continued to increase year on year in part fue to the continued sponsorship by the Threadneedle Foundation.

The Threadneedle Prize Exhibition opens at the Mall Galleries on 25th September and continues until 11th October 2014. All the works in the exhibition are for sale.

Importantly all exhibitors are also eligible for the £10,000 Visitors’ Choice Award.

The Threadneedle Prize 2014 Shortlist

The six shortlisted artists are:
They were selected by a panel of experts comprising
  • Arts Commissioning Editor and Art Critic at The Times, Nancy Durrant; 
  • Internationally exhibited and collected sculptor, Kevin Francis Gray; 
  • Independent Advisor and Curator of the Hiscox Collection, Whitney Hintz; and 
  • Gallerist and Founder of Art Dubai, John Martin, who has two gallery spaces in London.
Panel member Kevin Francis Gray spoke about the shortlisted artists
“This year’s shortlist highlights the talent of practicing artists who both find ongoing inspiration in the human form and the abstraction of the human form, as indeed have generations of artists before them. This year’s prize shows the need for the support of a timeless response – that of interpreting our artistic experiences in a manner based in representation.”
Below you will find images of the work and the artists and my commentary on the work - as yet unseen in person.

However tomorrow night is the Awards Dinner to which I am invited - and I'm looking forward to hearing the announcement of who has won The Threadneedle Prize. My iPad will be going with me and you might even get a video!

Sue Williams A'Court

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Who's made a mark in art? September 2014

POLL: Should people be able to photograph art in galleries & museums?Right click to see a larger version
Nearly 50% of the respondent's to last month's POLL: Photography in Art Galleries and Museums think that photography in art galleries and museums should be allowed, although 22% think this should be on the basis that no flash is allowed.

You can see the results in detail if you click the image above. Some 28% of respondents did not think photography should be permitted. While 8% think it's simply impractical to prevent photography given the wide usage of mobile devices and 8% would like to have camera free days.

Have you photographed artwork in art galleries and museums?

You can see this month's poll in the side column - see What's the payoff for a degree in art? (Plus a new POLL)


Drawing and Sketching

  • Four artists from Urban Sketchers in the UK - Adebanji Alade, Andrea Joseph, James Hobbs and Olha Prymakk - were featured in a Huffington Post article Urban Sketchers at Covent Garden (and How to Become One) about an urban sketching initiative in Covent Garden - the Moleskine City Stories initiative
  • The names of the winners of two major Drawing prizes were announced this week - see the Art Competition section below. Both were 'different' and at least one was very controversial.
  • I got a little distracted taking photos yesterday when I spotted the book by James Hobbs - that contains a profile of me - displayed on the bookstand at the Mall Galleries (excellent small bookshop BTW!). It just happened to open at my profile page. OK I might have helped it a little bit....... (James tells me it's now been translated into German!)
My profile in Sketch Your World by James Hobbs



  • Watch out for the name Ramona Zoladek - see the competition section below. This young Polish born artist who came to live in the UK seven years ago is very definitely one to watch! Her Tumblr blog is a delight to view

Art on Television / Art Videos

Who painted this? 

  • Who painted this? #62 - I've added a tip into the post.  The clue is you're looking for an artist who is trying to paint like another artist......

Art Competitions

Friday, September 19, 2014

Who painted this? #62

Who painted this? #62

Apologies for the delay in restarting Who Painted This? I wasn't planning on having to move quite so many websites in quite so short a space of time - and getting ready for an exhibition at the same time.

Hopefully this series of art history challenges will now get back on track and be a bit more regular!

I've seen paintings by this artist before and have been impressed by them - and that's all I'm saying for now. Other than that you might want to be circumspect as to attribution.

[UPDATE: You're looking for an artist who has, in the past, produced paintings like another artist.]

How to participate in "Who painted this? #62

Don't forget - there are rules to how "Who painted this?" works - and these are detailed in THE RULES for participating in this challenge.

Briefly, in your comment you must tell me ALL of the following:
  1. the title of the artwork
  2. the name of the artist who created this artwork
  3. the date it was created
  4. the media used
  5. where it lives now
  6. how you know all this eg how did you do your search
  7. anything else you can find out about the artwork and/or artist
The Winner is the first identifiable person (i.e. no anonymous guesses) who, in my judgement, is the first person to get to the answer by fair means AND provides the best quality answer in terms of added details about the artwork and artist

Remember also 

  • no use of Google image search or Tineye to find the image allowed - this is a traditional web search of images using words only plus "hit the books" time
  • I don't publish the comments until next week's post.

Who painted this? #61

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2014

The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition opened to the public on Monday and continues until 5pm on Saturday 20th September in the (large) West Gallery of the Mall Galleries in London. I definitely recommend this exhibition for the range and quality of its watercolour paintings

The interesting thing about reviewing the exhibitions for two art competitions in the galleries this week (i.e. the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition and the Derwent Art Prize) back to back is that you can compare the calibre of work and the selected artists.

For example, I would argue that the calligraphic markmaking used by the winner of the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition could easily have won the Derwent if the prize had been about drawing rather than pencil art!

It was delightful to meet Kathryn Maple, the winner of the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition on Monday evening.  Her painting was even more impressive when seen in person. On Monday afternoon and evening it had lots of visitors standing and looking at Fatboys Diner for a long time.   That to my mind is a worthy winner.

Kathryn Maple - with her painting "Fatboys Diner" (£900)
which won the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2014
This painting won her a prize of £10,000 - and the painting has also sold.
(all photographs and videos copyright Katherine Tyrrell - all rights reserved
all paintings - copyright the artists)

Below you will find:
  • a video of my walk round the exhibition. 
  • a note of which artists I liked
  • more images of artwork in the exhibition
Visitor reviews part of the exhibition in the West Gallery - the visitor of course lend scale!
Small paintings in the exhibition for the Sunday Times watercolour Competition

A video of the exhibition

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: Derwent Art Prize 2014 Exhibition

The Derwent Art Prize 2014 celebrates pencil art and its current exhibition at the Mall Galleries is very successful at demonstrating the range of artwork and approaches to making art that can be seen in contemporary pencil art today.

This post has:
  • a video of my walk round the Derwent Art Prize 2014 exhibition - to give you a feel for what it it looks like
  • some general observations about the exhibition
  • the artworks which caught my eye - including those that I would have had on my short list for prizewinners

Video - a walk round the Derwent Art Prize exhibition


There are some incredibly impressive artworks in coloured pencil. If you want to see what can be achieved with coloured pencils then this is the exhibition to come and see.  This exhibition also clearly highlighted for me how much more impressive coloured pencil works are when artists don't constrain the size of their pieces.  Three of the four pieces were very much bigger than those typically seen in exhibitions of coloured pencil art.  Time for coloured pencil artists to have a think about size as well as technique!

The pieces worth remaking upon for me were as follows

"After Dinner" (coloured pencil) by Tegan Iversen
an Australian artist, currently studying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Drawing)
at the Victorian College of the Arts. This is a huge drawing with large marks.
"Vitality" (coloured pencil) by French artist Isabelle Cridlig (or 'big blue' as I kept calling it.)
the image on the left in this panoramic shot
A lot of people were assuming this one had won prior to the announcement.
Virtually everybody I spoke to liked it

This is what 'Vitality' looked like close up - lots of shapes which suggested people
 - or some other sort of life - swimming
As good an argument as many for the need to see - and judge - a work in person

a close up of part of Patsy Whiting's coloured pencil piece which won Third Prize
Note the texture and the delicacy of the treatment of both light and colour.
Extreme right: The Cloud (coloured pencil) by Meghan Hyckie
Meaghan is a Canadian ex pat.
Her artwork was very amorphous - as all good clouds should be - and full of mark-making
There were some impressive series. I gather the process of submission works in such a way that the artworks cannot become separated and hence the judges can see all works together.

There were three series which stood out for me
The drawings are entitled 'A Fall of Ordinariness and Light' and visualise the ‘progression’ of the buildings’ imminent demise, symbolising the fall of social ideals of progress.
A Fall of Ordinariness and Light' by Jessie Brennan
graphite on paper ( drawn as if on crumpled paper)
This major housing development which is due for demolition stands yards from the Town Hall
in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and I know something of the 
fight that surrounded the redevelopment. of Robin Hood Gardens.
It will in part be replaced by private housing for sale.
Anybody who has travelled onto the Isle of Dogs via Poplar will know it well.
Jessie has caught the whole ethos associated with this property and its demise
This is drawing as social comment - using an approach and format which echoes its message
What I also found interesting about Jessie's work is that this built upon a series of four drawings in last year's exhibition - which were small and documented the architecture and features of life lived on a council estate.  Drawing the substance of everyday life for a lot of people always has a lot to recommend it.

The lesson from the series I saw in this exhibition is that if you are going to submit more than one drawing, it's better to make it part of a series.

Interestingly I found the more detailed representational drawings in the exhibition did not "call to me" unless they had interest within the picture or a story about them.

Technical precision on its own did not have an impact.

These four drawings were much more interesting

A corner of the North Gallery
Works in the exhibition included a variety of pencil media - graphite, charcoal, coloured pencils, pastels. Some were combined with other media with some fascinating results eg embroidery and coloured pencils and encaustic and graphite on a wooden panel.

I think it's a great pity there are no 3D works in this year's show unlike last year which demonstrated very clearly that drawing in pencils is not limited to a 2D format. The decision not to include any seemed to me to be a retrograde step - there again, maybe the ones submitted were not deemed worthy by the Judges.  It did seem very odd since I gather one of the aims of the judges was to try and show the range of ways in which pencils can be used to create art.

I do think there needs to be a review of what is meant by "pencil".  If pastel sticks and charcoal sticks are agreed to be pencils then so be it - that's fine. However it did strike me that some of the works didn't actually have a close relationship with a pencil!

The exhibition is generally speaking a well hung show. There's a sense of those works having a relationship one to the other being given the space they need.

A contrast between the very professional and
a presentation which has scope for improvement
 - shame, because the drawing is excellent!
A number of works in the exhibition were not framed - including the winner of the overall prize. I checked the terms and conditions and this was not a mandatory requirement. While it certainly encourages entries from international artists it did strike me that if you compared the exhibition in the North Gallery (Derwent Art) with the one in the West gallery (Sunday Times Watercolour exhibition) then I know which one looked more professional and worthy of a competition with a significant money prize.

Indeed the Derwent Art Prize exhibition had an interesting mix of very professional with corners which had an air of final degree show about them - which, while I was writing that, actually seemed very unfair to the proper presentation of a lot of work seen in final degree shows!

It also seemed somewhat ludicrous to have drawings with a significant value held up by bulldog clips!

If the sponsors wish for the exhibition to continue to gain status I recommend that they insist on all 2D works being framed.

There are framers in London who will frame works for exhibitions (i.e. frame on loan) and this is a suitable option for overseas entrants.

Bottom line it just seems unfair to me that people living in the UK should go to the trouble and expense of getting their work framed and shipped down to London when these aren't expenses which need to be deducted from (say) the individual winning the £6,000 first prize!

For those looking to submit work in the future, in terms of frames you can see from the video that they are VERY neutral - mainly black, white, grey, bleached wood or natural light woods. In other words the standard London exhibition frame!

Finally - I'd love to give you links to the details of the works of the artists shown in this post - but the exhibition website is still not working!

Derwent Art Prize - Links to previous blog posts



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