Wednesday, September 20, 2017

David Shepherd (1931-2017)

Today the death of David Shepherd CBE FRSA, the conservationist and renowned painter of planes, trains and wildlife, was announced by his family via his Foundation website. He died yesterday, on 19th September 2017, age 86.

I remember thinking how frail he looked at the end of June at the splendid Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition at the Mall Galleries.  Moving more slowly, a little more bowed and a little less weight than I remembered - and I was used to seeing at the preview at the exhibition which he started to raise funds for conservation.

However there was still the twinkle in the eye and the interest in what artists had painted and what people had done and were planning to do next in the world of wildlife art.

My last photo of David Shepherd - on 27 June 2017
at the preview of the exhibition for the Wildlife Artist of the Year 2017
David Shepherd taking a tour of the exhibition before the PV got properly underway

I won't attempt any sort of recap of his career. His website has an admirable one which draws out both the story of his life and his very many achievements and awards.
he became a conservationist overnight when he came across 255 dead zebra at a poisoned waterhole in Tanzania. Throughout his career David tried to do all he could to repay the enormous debt he felt he owed to the elephants, tigers and other animals that gave him so much success as an artist. ‘Tiger Fire’ was one of his first major fund-raising successes, raising £127,000 (equivalent to £1.4 million in today’s money) for Indira Gandhi’s Operation Tiger in 1973.
He set up the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) and has helped to protect endangered wildlife for over 30 years. The Foundation has now given away over £8.5 million to help save wildlife. Not bad for an artist - helped by more than a few other artists and other conservation enthusiasts

I'm sure very many wildlife artists will want to remember him best in terms of what he meant to them.  Please feel free to add a comment below. Messages of condolence can also be emailed to mandy(DOT)gale(AT)

I know that when he started the Wildlife Artist of the Year competition, as well as raising a huge amount of money for conservation he also enabled very many wildlife artists to show their art in a world-class exhibition.

I was always amazed at the number of international artists I met at the exhibition and whose work I saw. It's an exhibition which enjoys a very special kudos in the world of wildlife art - particularly for those who were concerned about the conservation of wild animals threatened with extinction.

Below I'll share just a few of my memories of David at the exhibitions over the years.

(left to right) David Shepherd CBE, Adam Binder - Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010,
David Gower and Robert Lindsay
David Shepherd at WAOY 2016 with his personal choice for a prize
The Sentinel by Laurence Saunois (Figeac, France)

Alan Woollett at the Awards Ceremony with David Shepherd
- he had no idea he'd won his category!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Rachel Whiteread on Drawing

Following on from yesterday's Jerwood Drawing Prize post, this is another post about 'drawing'.

This is Rachel Whiteread talking about drawing - in a very normal, accessible, everyday way in a video by Tate Britain. It was filmed for her exhibition of her drawings at Tate Britain in 2010

Another exhibition opened last week at Tate Britain - simply called Rachel Whiteread
Celebrating over 25 years of Rachel Whiteread’s internationally acclaimed sculpture
The exhibition is on until 21 January 2018.

Rachel Whiteread's Drawings

The show that can overturn one's attitude to an artist is as rare as hen's teeth. The show that can achieve this solely through drawings – unless the artist is a draughtsman – is even less common.
This first-ever museum exhibition of her drawings shows Whiteread doodling (her word) on paper, using pencil, gouache, ink, correcting fluid (to build texture). She calls these drawings her working diary, but they are in no way personal or confessional. They don't throw back at us any kind of image of the sculptor. They feel coolly constructed, painstakingly analytical. They remind us of work by the minimalists – paintings by Frank Stella from the 1960s, or stacked units by Donald Judd. They are cerebrally set apart from us.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Gary Lawrence wins Jerwood Drawing Prize - for the second time

Gary Lawrence has won the £8,000 First Prize in the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2017. It's the second time he's won First Prize. He also won in 2011

Last time he won with a very complex 6ft by 4ft drawing called Homage to Anonymous - as a tribute to unknown artists. He produced a simple view of Pothea reflecting on his holiday to the principal town on the Greek island of Kalymnos
using a packet of ten Tesco Value budget pens which he used to ink his images onto the reverse side of old Woolworths advertising posters.Hard-up artist bags £6,000 prize after using 3p biro to create stunning landscape | Daily Mail
This time he's won by producing an equally large drawing - also of the town of Pothea on Kalymnos. This time he's used poster paint (I assume that's the yellow background) and felt pens.

The fridge magnet reference relates to the two boards of bridge magnets with "scenes from Greece" on them which are then reproduced in little 'thought' bubbles on the edge of the paper. Each is accompanied by a comment from the artist – ‘Athens – never been here’, ‘Cyprus ‘08 ok-ish’, ‘Zante Town – Euro Spar’.

It reminds me of some of the drawings produced in the past which used to illustrate a journey with small drawings around the edge showing scenes from the route.  Quite why it should be yellow is not explained.

Winner of the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2017
Gary Lawrence, Yellow Kalymnos with Fridge Magnets, 2017.
Felt pen and poster paint on canvas, 250 x 249cm. Photo: Colin Mills
The artist is from Wethersfield, Essex and was also shortlisted for the Derwent Art Prize 2015.

One of the panel of selectors, Michael Simpson, comments on the drawing as follows
“a brilliant evocation of a time capsule; of time squashed in on itself as a topographical romance in retrospect.”
While the drawing is an undoubted complex piece of work, I'm not quite sure how awarding the First Prize to somebody for the second time when the aim the Jerwood Drawing Prize is
promoting and celebrating the breadth of contemporary drawing practice
On the whole I prefer prestigious prizes which you're allowed to win once. My reasons are as follows:
  • Such a rule means that the benefit of the prize, not to mention the prize money, is spread amongst the widest pool of deserving artists. Ultimately that means it has the scope to enhance the careers of more artists - and that's no bad thing.
  • If you allow a prize to be won for a second time, then you begin to entertain scope for 
    • the "Ant & Dec" problem (entertainers who have won the "most popular entertainment programme in the National Television Awards every year but one going back to 2003)
    • accusations of favouritism
Nothing to stop other artists winning the other prizes more than once - but for me the rule of "win and that's it" for First Prize has a cogent rationale in the context of competitions generally and the aims of this one in particular.

Other Prizewinners

Evelyn Williams Drawing Award (£10,000) 

The final selection was made by
  • Elizabeth Gilmore, Director, Jerwood Gallery, Hastings; 
  • Anita Taylor, founding Director, Jerwood Drawing Prize, and 
  • Nicholas Usherwood, Art Critic and Curator and trustee of the Evelyn Williams Trust.

Barbara Walker won this new prize - which incidentally has the most prize money.  (Is this the new name of next year's drawing award given this is the last year of Jerwood Sponsorship?)

She's a very impressive artist with an outstanding portfolio of 'proper' drawings. 

Her figurative drawings explore race identity, belonging, class and power.  This drawing comes from her Shock and Awe series of drawings about the contribution of Black servicemen and women to the British Armed Forces and war efforts from 1914 to the present day. It includes embossed lines to represent the non-Black service personnel.

She's currently exhibiting in the Diaspora Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. (see my blog post
Khadija Saye and 'The Venice Biennale: Britain's New Voices' on BBC2 which includes my comments on her drawings for this exhibition.)

Winner of the £10,000 Evelyn Williams Drawing Award
Barbara Walker, Exotic Detail In The Margin#2,

Graphite on embossed paper, 52 x 61cm. Photo: Colin Mills

Other Jerwood Drawing Prize Awards

Thursday, September 14, 2017

£25,000 John Moores Painting Prize 2018 - Call for Entries

The John Moores Painting Prize is celebrating its 60th anniversary and holding its 30th exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool in 2018.  The anniversary of this prestigious painting is being celebrated with two additional prizes for the first prizewinner (see below for further details).

During the last 60 years it has championed contemporary British painting for over two decades longer than any other art prize of similar size.
"[The John Moores Painting Prize is] the Oscar of the British painting world"
- Sir Norman Rosenthal, curator and former exhibitions secretary at the Royal Academy.
Registration for the call for entries for the John Moores Painting Prize 2018 opened today at 12 midday today, 14 September 2017.

Below is an overview of the call for entries and links to relevant webpages.

About the John Moores Painting Prize

This art competition is a PAINTING competition and is open to all UK-based artists working with paint. It culminates in an exhibition at the Walker Art Exhibition in Liverpool which is held at the same time as the Liverpool Biennial.

Its named after the sponsor of the prize, Sir John Moores (1896 – 1993) and was originally intended as a one-off!

It's now a biennial event and this will be the 30th exhibition in 60 years - since its launch in 1957.

You can view the previous winners of the John Moores Painting Prize on the website (1980-2016 and 1957-1978) . They include:

The Walker Art Gallery has an ongoing display of a selection of previous winning works John Moores Prizewinners 1957 - 2006 and notes that
The exhibition has consistently helped to raise the profile of the artists and in particular to further the careers of its winners

Criteria for assessment - and how anonymity is maintained

The original aims of John Moores were:
'To give Merseyside the chance to see an exhibition of painting and sculpture embracing the best and most vital work being done today throughout the country'
'To encourage contemporary artists, particularly the young and progressive'

Hence the competition aims to support artists who paint. There are two important criteria:
  • all entries are judged anonymously
  • to bring to Liverpool the best contemporary painting from across the UK
and after that it's whatever the members of the jury care to place an emphasis on.

In terms of "anonymous entry and judging" this competition is much more thorough than most
  • all artists are allocated a unique entry number
  • jurors are not given the names of the artists 
  • jurors are only provided with information about the title, size and medium of the painting

The Jury

The Jury changes with every exhibition. They are selected and appointed by the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust and National Museums Liverpool.

As usual I've looked up the profiles of the jury members for the John Moores Painting Prize 2018 which are summarised below
  • Prof. Lubaina Himid MBEProfessor of Contemporary Art. School of Art, Design and Fashion at the University of Central Lancashire. She has been recognised for her services to Black Womens Art - see Making Histories Visible
  • Marvin Gaye Chetwynd - a performance artist given to changing her name. She trained as a painter at training as a painter at UCL's Slade School of Fine Art and the Royal College of Art and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2012. See What do artists do all day
  • Jenni Lomax -  Ex-director of Camden Arts Centre (1990-July 2017) where she gave early shows to artists like Martin Creed and Yinka Shonibare. Awarded the Chevalier dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2007 and an OBE for her services to the Visual Arts in 2009. This is a Christies interview with her
  • Bruce McLean - a Scottish sculptor, performance artist and painter who studied at Glasgow School of Art and St. Martin's School of Art. He taught at numerous art schools including The Slade School of Fine Art, where he became Head of Graduate Painting (2002-2010). You can see his work here. In 1985, he won the John Moores Painting Prize.
  • Liu Xiaodong - a contemporary Chinese artist who studied at and graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. He now has tenure as professor in the painting department at CAFA. You can see his work here


All paintings included in the exhibition are eligible for a prize.

The jury will select a final shortlist of five paintings and award the prizes.
  • First Prize - £25,000 plus an additional award (to mark the 60th year): 
    • a three month fellowship at Liverpool John Moores University 
    • an in-focus solo display at the Walker Art Gallery in 2019.

    • In addition, the prize is NOT a purchase prize, but the Walker Art Gallery may also purchase the painting which means another 'win' for the First Prizewinner.
  • four prizes for the other shortlisted artists of £2,500

There is also a Visitors’ Choice prize of £2,018, voted for by visitors to the exhibition at the Walker and awarded towards the end of the exhibition period.

Call for Entries

These are the Terms and Conditions and FAQS and Commercial Agreement on which I have based this summary. I do NOT warrant that I've covered every detail you might need to know - it's up to you to read all of these documents thoroughly and make sure you can comply with them when you send in your entry and painting.

Who can enter?

Artists who MUST
  • be aged 18 years or over on the day of registration
  • living or professionally based in the UK
I suggest if you're not sure whether your paintings are suitable for this exhibition you take a look at my blog posts at the end of this post which
  • list those artists shortlisted and selected for recent biennial exhibitions
  • with links to their websites and images of some of the shortlisted works

Eligible to exhibit

You can submit only one entry per artist.
Multiple entries under the same or under different names are not allowed. Artists found to have done this will be deemed in breach of the Prize’s conditions of entry and will have all their entries disqualified.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Should artists use prize money to protest against the sponsor of an art competition?

Here's an ethical conundrum for artists.
  • Can you protest against those sponsoring art competitions - after you've taken the prize money? 
  • Or should you not enter in the first place if you object to the sponsor?

Henry Christian-Slane collecting his award and his cheque for £7,000 from Bob Dudley, CEO of BP
In June, Henry Christian-Slane won the BP Young Artist Award and received a cheque for £7,000.

Last Friday The Guardian:
These follow on from a Greenpeace interview with him This artist is donating part of his BP prize money to fight climate change that includes very specific criticism of a number of issues including a new proposal by BP to drill near to a newly discovered coral reef.
Last month, at London’s National Portrait Gallery, I was presented with the BP Young Artist Award, by BP’s CEO, Bob Dudley. It’s a prestigious award, and I was happy to receive it, but I’m not happy about being part of BP’s PR strategy. And so as a symbolic act I am donating £1000 of their prize money directly to Greenpeace projects that aim to protest BP’s further extraction of fossil fuels from the Earth. I hope this action will help keep the issue of BP’s role in climate change from being overshadowed by their contribution to the arts.

I think it is an important role of artists to represent and be critical of the context they find themselves in, regardless of where funding comes from. Art should not be a passive PR tool used by corporations to carry their name and logo. I feel it is my responsibility as an artist involved with the portrait award to voice my criticism of BP and I hope the other exhibitors and award winners agree with me.
Apparently he likes having the title of  "Young Artist of the Year", which doubtless will do his career no harm, but he doesn't like the actions of the sponsor of the awards

I was genuinely puzzled when I read this - it seemed to me to be very odd.

I would have thought that anybody who felt that strongly about the actions of BP would never have entered the competition in the first place - on principle.

I came up with a number of explanations
  • Maybe this sentiment only arose after criticism from family and/or friends and/or the public - and that's why he now needs to make this announcement?
  • Maybe it's being photographed next to Bob Dudley with an award with the BP logo on it that caused the change of mind?
  • Maybe it's BP's latest proposal to drill next to the coral reef? (Incidentally, this is the Greenpeace link to Join the campaign to protect the Amazon Reef from BP drilling.)
I did a little bit of digging on his Facebook and Instagram accounts and it turns out there is no question Henry Christian-Slane really is an eco-warrior (see Instagram post below).  His other Instagram posts suggest he cares a very great deal about reef systems - so maybe the last suggested explanation was in fact the trigger for his donation.

The question his actions poses for me is "Do other artists who entered or were selected for the BP Portrait Award agree with him and his actions? "

I don't suppose any of the artists who entered are great proponents of global warming.

If that's the case, why did they enter the competition?

Sponsorship of the Arts - and BP

Demonstration against BP's funding of the BP Portrait Award
outside the National Portrait Gallery 22 June 2010
I've written about BP's sponsorship of the Arts and the various views taken about it on a number of occasions:
The major difference between when I started writing about art funding generally and now is the huge cut in public funding for the arts in general and art in particular over the past few years (it must be at least 25% if not more)

We're now living in an age where sponsorship by major corporate bodies or very rich individuals (and how did they get their money?) is absolutely essential to the well-being of art collections, art galleries and museums and art competitions.

My view is clear - as stated back in 2015.
I'll state my case up front. I really am not in the least bit bothered by BP's sponsorship of art galleries and museums. I'm far more concerned about:
  • fossil fuel companies behaving in a social responsible manner 
  • those trying to repair their reputation paying a fair price to society for the privilege of being associated with a prestigious art gallery or museum which only exists due to generous state support.
Of course I'd rather that energy sources came from renewable sources. However until somebody makes energy consumption from non-fossil fuel a cost effective and efficient proposition for most of the companies and families in the UK (and elsewhere) I don't see much alternative to the continued use of fossil fuels.

That in turn means oil companies will be looking for ways of sanitising their image - and offers a wonderful opportunity for sponsorship - so long as this is at the right price.

What do you think

Are all artists eco-warriors? Should they be?

Do other artists who entered (or thought about entering) or were selected for the BP Portrait Award agree with Henry Christian-Slane and his actions?
I'll also restate the questions I asked back in 2014
here's some questions to ponder on:
  • Should BP be sponsoring the Arts in this country - and why (or why not)?
  • Do you think exhibitions/competitions etc would suffer if BP funding was no longer available?
  • Do you think another company would fill the gap if BP no longer funded art?
  • Do you think any substitute sponsor would be better or worse than BP?
It's worth thinking about what the alternative might be. For example - supposing a Russian Oligarch whose money was generated by the oil industry were to invest in improving his profile in this country, might we be back at where we came in - or worse?
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. I'm really interested - and it's a question which is not going to go away....

This is what Jonathan Jones thinks - after reminding us all that the first sponsor of the Portrait award was John Player - the tobacco company!
It seems it’s always the controversial businesses that spend on the arts – the saintly ones don’t crave the publicity. Today it would be unimaginable for museums to take tobacco money. Perhaps museums need to find the next sponsors who need to clean up a dodgy image – soft drinks giants, maybe?

About Henry Christian-Slane

Monday, September 11, 2017

Training the Eye - Teaching to Look

I came across this video on training the eye and teaching people how to look last week.

It's about the clarity that comes from real perception.
“Training the eye is very, very important. You can’t come up with ideas if you don’t see — first.”
Inge Druckrey
Teaching to See has been described as
  •  a 40-minute crash course in Design Thinking
  • a document of the long and successful teaching career, and .... a teaching tool for generations to come.
  • deneficial to all visual students whether designers or artists.
  • a 2012 educational documentary film about graphic design and the teaching of Inge Druckrey and some of her students and colleagues.
Just watch it....

Still from Inge Druckrey: Teaching to See


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Linda Blondheim paints the Florida landscape and trees

Most of the time Linda Blondheim paints the fields, woods, swamps and trees of rural agricultural lands on farms in north Florida - when she's not offering smart business tips.

Linda Blondheim - Landscape Paintings of Florida
Right now she's evacuated from her field home and is hunkering down in her Paddiwhack town studio in Gainsville with her dog Henry, painting small bird paintings and hoping for the best.

So I thought I'd write this post highlighting her work and her great art tips.
If you feel moved to support a fellow artist and comment on Linda's blog or her Facebook Page can you PLEASE READ THE NOTES AT THE END first about Guidelines when discussing the hurricane with Floridians

More about Linda Blondheim

This is her website Linda Blondheim - Florida Landscape and Tree PaintingsI recommend you take a look at her landscape and trees on her website?
Florida is my home, and I have painted and roamed the fields and woods here all of my life. I grew up around horses, cattle and dogs. Growing up in north rural Florida has given me a deep appreciation for agricultural land and trees. These subjects are the focus of my work. As our rural areas of Florida fall to development, I feel it is urgent to preserve these beautiful lands and scenes on canvas. Future generations will know how lovely natural Florida was during my tenure. I have a trail on my own land where my dog Henry and I walk every day. We enjoy the wild creatures who share the land with us. I’ve been a country painter most of my life and I love the culture and cuisine of this region. Many artists in Florida paint the tourist areas of Florida, offering massive numbers of reproductions. I only paint original paintings in oils and acrylics. My paintings are one of a kind and unique. I paint the natural world where my roots grow deep.
This is her Facebook Page Linda Blondheim Art Studio

Linda Blondheim in her studio
She also delivers Classes, Workshops and Digital Tutorials

This is her Linda Blondheim Art Notes blog - where you can enjoy reading about the reality of an artist's life.
  • She talks about creating paintings and selling art. Lots of great stuff in there by a very experienced artist who has been making her living from making and selling art for a long time. 
  • Linda tells it like it is. I especially recommend reading her notes for all those who have romantic ideas about being an artist - Linda will provide you with the reality of what an artist's life is really like.
Here's a few recent notes worth reading (plus you often get a free recipe at the end!).
Why not subscribe to her blog if you like what you read....
One of the hardest concepts to understand is how to really see. Objects do not look like we think they do. In my mind, I know what an elephant looks like but in reality, I have no idea.
  • Swell Fall - about the routines an artist needs to follow to generate sales - lots of great tips
Think about ways that you can be unique among artists. What makes you just a bit different or makes you stand out from the pack. That is not necessarily about your art. It could be about the extra level of service you provide. Gift wrapping and shipping services for paintings, delivery and installation, framing consultation are all little extras which will impress future collectors. The easier you make life for them, the more likely they will be to choose you instead of your competitor.
It is important to figure out what you will sell and how you will attract buyers. You must find a good location for your shop. Life is not like the film Field of Dreams. If you build it, they will NOT come unless you work very hard and market endlessly to get them there. You will need to either have a large marketing budget or be in a dandy location. If you must choose one, go with the great location if you can.
  • Life Artist - about the reality of being a professional artist. It's tough talk and Linda doesn't pull her punchy points. However she has ridden the economic storms in the past and present and continues to be positive
I will continue to study and offer the best work that I can do. I am very willing to face the challenges of life as an artist because I know there are enough people who do value art to keep my career moving forward.

Guidelines when discussing the hurricane with Floridians

Linda posted this post which is circulating amongst those living in Florida on her Facebook Personal page.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Homer and Hurricane Paintings

I wondered if there were any paintings of Hurricanes or their aftermath and went looking. The answer is 'not many' - this is what I found.

Winslow Homer seems to be the main exponent of hurricane painting.

Hurricane, Bahamas (1898) by Winslow Homer
Watercolor and graphite on off-white wove paper
14 7/16 x 21 1/16 in. (36.7 x 53.5 cm)
Metropolitan Museum of Art
His first painting - done in 1898 - is of the high winds and gloomy skies associated with the periphery of a hurricane. It seems to be sketched plein due to the accuracy of the colour of the clouds and what's happening to the palm trees.

This was the era when he was absorbed with the power of the sea .

The next painting by Homer was done the following year and is the more famous of the two. It's called After the Hurricane.

After the Hurricane, Bahamas (1899) by Winslow Homer
Transparent watercolor, with touches of opaque watercolor, rewetting, blotting and scraping, over graphite, on moderately thick, moderately textured (twill texture on verso), ivory wove paper
38 × 54.3 cm (15 × 21.4 in)
Art Institute of Chicago

It resides at the Art Institute of Chicago and this is what they have to say about it.
"After the Hurricane, Bahamas" shows a luckless man—seemingly the same model depicted in The Water Fan—washed up on the beach, surrounded by fragments of his shattered boat. The splintered boat testifies to the frightening severity of the hurricane, even as billowing black clouds recede into the distance and sunlight begins to glimmer through the clouds. Frothy white caps and a surprising horizontal stroke of brilliant green in the distance conjure an ocean that is gradually calming itself. Homer used thin washes and fluid brushstrokes to render the waves, setting up a contrast to dry land, where he employed opaque red and yellow pigments, thickly applied, for the seaweed tossed upon the sand by the storm.
Homer is, of course, well known for painting the sea in all its many manifestations - including roaring storms off the coast of Maine.  He also was adept at changing the way he worked in watercolour for the different environments in which he painted - not least because he became more and more skilled at understanding how light and colour worked in different atmospheric conditions. Hence he changed his colours as the light and atmosphere changed.

He started visiting the Caribbean in the mid 1880s and swopped the seas off the Maine coast around his studio at Prout Neck for the much bluer seas under very blue skies around Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas. In fact all the places currently being visited by Hurricane Irma!

They're both late works - he died in 1910 at the age of 74.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Feline Art in London, Washington and Before Internet Cats

September is feline art exhibition month in London. Plus Washington is also having an exhibition. This post features the following exhibitions:
  • Louis Wain and the Cat Show at the Christ Beetles Gallery
  • The Society of Feline Artists Annual Exhibition 2017 at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery
  • Before Internet Cats: Feline Finds from the Archives of American Art at the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Both of the London galleries are extremely considerate to out of London purchasers by showing digital images of the entire exhibition on their website - and both have a LOT of pictures.

Should you feel the need to pay a visit, you can find links to Google maps of the locations of the galleries at the end of this post.

Louis Wain and the Cat Show 

The Chris Beetles Gallery has its regular exhibition about Louis Wain and the Cat Show (9-30 September 2017) which includes work by a number of contemporary artists as well as by Louis Wain (5 August 1860 – 4 July 1939)

Wain was a very prolific artist who constantly portrayed anthropomorphised large-eyed cats and kittens - even after being committed to hospital for mental health reasons. His work now forms part of the permanent collection of the Bethlem Museum of the Mind.
Paintings by Louis Wain
The exhibition also includes paintings by other contemporary feline artists including:
More anthropomorphised cats by Susan Herbert
plus conventional cat paintings by Lesley Anne Ivory

Society of Feline Artists - Annual Exhibition

Celia Pike is just one of the many SOFA members and associates who have work in the show

The Society of Feline Artists (SOFA) have their annual exhibition (24th of August to the 15th of September 2017) at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery near to Waterloo Station and across the road from the Old Vic.

This exhibition has more than 300 paintings of cats, both domestic and wild, by full and associate members of S.O.F.A. including work by well known feline artists - including:
  • Celia Pike
  • Sara Butt
  • Jacqueline Gaylard 
  • Natalie Mascall
  • Gayle Mason
You can see the art in various ways
So if you are a fan of feline art feel free to indulge!

Before Internet Cats: Feline Finds from the Archives of American Art

Cats are ever popular on the Internet however they've been ever popular for a very long time

I recently discovered Before Internet Cats: Feline Finds from the Archives of American Art which is on view at the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery in Washington, D.C. (April 28–October 29, 2017)

If you can't get to the exhibition you can review its contents by clicking the links below
The Archives of American Art’s exhibition space is located two blocks away from their D.C. Research Center.

Gallery Details

Links below are to Google Maps of the location of each gallery

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Eileen Hogan - an artist not in residence

Eileen Hogan has a simply marvellous exhibition at the Garden Museum. It's the outcome of inventing a new concept - "the artist not in residence"

She was appointed the artist in residence at the museum just before it closed for a major refurbishment funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The museum reopened in May of this year and includes an exhibition by Eileen Hogan which comprises:
  • some sublime paintings of gardens around and about London
  • a large scale exhibit - on a wall - of her way of working as an artist not in residence.

I've loved Eileen Hogan's paintings for a very long time - ever since I first saw one in one of the first Lynn Painter Stainer's exhibitions at Painter-Stainers Hall in the City of London.

It was a real pleasure to see the exhibition of her paintings at the Garden Museum - see below for why!

The exhibition finishes on 17th September. See the end for why I'm posting this far too late!

There is a book about the exhibition for those who don't manage to see it - which I also recommend.

How she works - as "an artist not in residence"

Her idea for how to be an artist NOT in residence was that she would develop a project.

She would create a virtual garden museum through a year of excursions to gardens around London.

She wrote to lots of people she knew and some who were associated with the Museum to ask them to nominate a London Green Space that was important to them - giving reasons why it mattered. It could be a private garden or a public space - or even a remembered space glimpsed from the top of a bus.  It could also be related to any time of year.  She was surprised by some of the places people chose.

Her intention was then to choose a dozen sites - one for each month of the year - and turn these into large finished paintings.

The exhibition includes:
  • her sketchbooks
  • a number of oil sketches
  • etchings drawing from material in her sketchbook
  • photographs of her at work on her sketches
The exhibition of the process is as engaging as the paintings - and provides food for thought for any artist engaged in a similar project to record places.

Brompton Cemetery and Chiswick house - Photos of the way she works and sketchbooks

Chelsea Physic Garden - Photos of the way she works and sketchbooks

The paintings

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

I HATE the beta format for The Art Newspaper

The new format for THE ART NEWSPAPER IS just awful. 

I'm hoping that "beta" means they still have things to sort out in relation to the new format for The Art Newspaper.
I'm not a subscriber but I am a regular reader of their website online.

Here's a comparison of the "before" and "after" - as seen on my 27" iMac screen.

I much prefer their old format - which can now be seen at 

The "old" version of The Art Newspaper which finishes on 31 August 2017
This is readable - content is centred

I HATE their new format - - it feels like the content is falling off the edges of the screen

Have these people never heard of margins - or big screens?

The new beta version of THE ART NEWSPAPER which seems to have started at the beginning of September 2017
- and stretches from one side of my 27" screen to the other with absolutely no margins at all
Maybe I'll have to stick to reading it on my iPhone where it is at least presentable - i.e. they remember to include the white space at the sides!

P.S. The website reminds me of the format for the Royal Academy of Arts which, while some may think it looks good, too often feels to me like a full on frontal assault of my eyeballs. I have to stop looking much more quickly than I did before they changed their format.

Do these people never ever test their formats on wide screens or are they glued to their laptops?

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

£15,000 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 - Shortlist announced

The three works shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 include photographs of
  • a migrant rescued in the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast; 
  • a Japanese android called Erica; and 
  • a girl fleeing ISIS in Mosul, Iraq
The shortlisted portraits and photographers are:
  • Amadou Sumaila by César Dezfuli
  • One of Them Is a Human #1 by Maija Tammi (Erica: Erato Ishiguro Symbiotic Human-Robot Interaction Project.) 
  • Fleeing Mosul from the series Women in War: Life After ISIS by Abbie Trayler-Smith
Three shortlisted photographic portraits
From left) Amadou Sumaila by César Dezfuli
One of Them Is a Human #1 (Erica: Erato Ishiguro Symbiotic Human-Robot Interaction Project) by Maija Tammi
Fleeing Mosul from the series Women in War: Life After ISIS by Abbie Trayler-Smith

Here's more about the photographers and their selected photographs.

    The exhibition is at the National Portrait Gallery from 16th November 2017 until 4th February 2018

    Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 - Shortlist

    This year the major international photography award - for portrait photography - organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London is celebrating the tenth anniversary of Taylor Wessing's sponsorship.

    The prizes

    • The Prize for winning the competition is £15,000. 
    • The judges, at their discretion, will also award cash prizes to one or more shortlisted photographers. (The second Prize winner receives £3,000 and the Third Prize £2,000.)
    • The People’s Pick allows exhibition visitors the opportunity to vote for their favourite portrait in the show.
    The prizes for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 and the winner of the sixth John Kobal New Work Award will be announced on Tuesday 14 November 2017 at 19.00.

    The competition

    5,717 submissions entered by 2,423 photographers from 66 countries. A total of 59 portraits from 50 artists were selected for display, in which 18 were part of a series.

    Photographers were again encouraged to submit works as a series in addition to stand-alone portraits, and there was no minimum size requirement for prints.

    Judging Panel

    This year’s judging panel was
    • Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Chair (Director, National Portrait Gallery, London); 
    • David Campany (Writer, Curator and Artist); 
    • Tim Eyles, Managing Partner, Taylor Wessing LLP; 
    • Sabina Jaskot-Gill (Associate Curator, Photographs, National Portrait Gallery, London); 
    • Fiona Shields (Head of Photography, The Guardian) and 
    • Gillian Wearing (Artist.)
    Their choice gives me a certain sense of "other worldliness" about the prize - and maybe this was the intention of the judges curating the exhibition and their choice.

    Alternatively maybe this is an expression of contemporary themes and interests of today's photographers.

    Just three photographic portraits have been shortlisted.

    César Dezfuli

    Age: born in Madrid on 10 January 1991
     Spanish-Persian origins
     journalist and documentary photographer - focuses on issues of migration, identity and human rights
    Current home: 
    Double Degree in Journalism and Media Studies
    Previous appearances in this award:

    Amadou Sumaila © César Dezfuli;
    The sitter Amadou Sumaila was photographed in the Mediterranean Sea, in international Waters 20 nautical miles off the Libyan coast. He has since been transferred from a rescue vessel to a temporary reception centre for migrants in Italy. The portrait was taken as part of Dezfuli’s work as a freelancer, documenting the search and rescue of migrants on board an NGO vessel in the Central Mediterranean Route.

    Maija Tammi 

    Age: born 5th June 1985
     regularly works with scientists; background in photojournalism - photographs engage with science and aesthetics. 
    Art education: 
    Masters in visual journalism ; currently working on her studio art-based doctoral thesis at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Helsinki, Finland.
    Previous appearances in this award: None
    Exhibitions: exhibited in Europe, North America and Asia.

    One of Them Is a Human #1Series: (Erica: Erato Ishiguro Symbiotic Human-Robot Interaction Project.)© Maija Tammi;
    Tammy’s photograph portrays Erica, an android from Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories. One of Them Is a Human #1 is part of a broader series which presents androids alongside one human and asks questions about what it means to be alive. The photograph was taken at Ishiguro Laboratory, Department of Systems Innovation at Osaka University, in an experiment room where researchers work with Erica. 
    “I had half an hour with Erica and a young researcher in which to take the photograph. The researcher told me that Erica had said that she finds Pokemon Go scarier than artificial intelligence.”

    Abbie Trayler-Smith

    Age: born 20 May 1977
     born and raised in South Wales
    Education: - 
     documentary and portrait photographer. Her work covers women’s rights, social development and the aftermath of conflict.

    spent eight years as a photographer with The Daily Telegraph, covering world events such as the Darfur conflict, the Iraq war and the Asian tsunami, before deciding to go freelance in 2007.
    Current home: based in London
    Clients: wide variety of clients including Time, The Sunday Times, The Independent Review, Marie-Claire, Tatler, Monocle, Vice, Oxfam, Save The Children, IRC, UNICEF, Sony and BBC worldwide.
    Previous appearances in this award:
      The Big O, won 4th prize in The National Portrait Gallery’s 2010 Taylor Wessing Prize.

    Fleeing Mosul
    from the series Women in War: Life After ISIS
    © Abbie Trayler-Smith
    Her shortlisted photograph was shot outside Hasan Sham IDP camp in Northern Iraq. Trayler-Smith was there undertaking a commission for Oxfam documenting the camp where the charity was providing aid, talking to women who had lived under ISIS who were prepared to be photographed. A convoy of buses arrived from Mosul, bringing people to safety who had escaped the battle just hours before.

    "I just remember seeing her face looking out at the camp and the shock and the bewilderment in her’s and other’s faces and it made me shudder to imagine what living under ISIS had been like. To me the uncertainty in her face echoes the faces of people having to flee their homes around the world and references a global feeling of insecurity."

    More about the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

    The posts below contain images of past prizewinning portraits.

    Sunday, September 03, 2017

    Khadija Saye and 'The Venice Biennale: Britain's New Voices' on BBC2

    Back in June, after the Grenfell Fire, I wrote Let's celebrate the work of Khadija Saye about a young artist/photographer who was one of the victims of the fire.

    At the time, a BBC programme was due to air the following Saturday about the Diaspora Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. It was very naturally postponed.

    Last night, The Venice Biennale: Britain's New Voices aired (with a new title) on BBC2 - and you can now watch it via BBC iPLayer.

    The programme has been changed to lose its original title (Venice Biennale - Sink of Swim no longer seemed appropriate) and to include

    • a preamble about the fire (the film features Grenfell and her home before the fire) and 
    • a postscript to say what had happened since the Biennale. 
    Naturally a lot of it features Khadija Saye and her work at the Biennale - Dwelling: in this space we breathe. More than two months after the fire it's still incredibly sad to have lost such a vital new talent.

    The feature image for the programme - on the Grand Canal in Venice
    on the way to the opening of the Disapora Pavilion 
    (left) Brenda Emmaeus, presenter and (right) Khadijah Saye - artist 
    In this film made before the Grenfell Tower tragedy, presenter Brenda Emmanus follows a group of emerging, diverse artists as they launch the first ever Diaspora Pavilion in a Venetian Palazzo during The Venice Biennale - the so called Olympics of modern art.
    One of the artists we meet is 24 year-old photographer Khadija Saye, who died on 24 June 2017 in her home. We follow Khadija and the other emerging artists as they discover new art inspiration across the city, navigate networking at VIP launch parties, and most importantly find out what the critics and taste-makers verdict is on the exhibition's opening night.  
    BBC Media Centre
    (So sad that the BBC Media Centre can't get the date right - that's just plain disrespectful! Khadijah Saye died in the fire on 14th June. She wasn't formally identified until a later date.)

    The intention of the exhibition was that it should feature nineteen artists whose practices variously connect to different diasporic experiences.

    (For those struggling with the word diaspora - it is used here to reflect The dispersion or spread of any people from their original homeland. Originally used to describe the experience of the Jewish people, it is now used for all diverse groups and ethnicities who move beyond the countries of their origin).
    DIASPORA PAVILION brings together 19 artists whose wide-ranging practices variously expand, complicate and destabilise diaspora as an enduring critical concept. The project seeks to provoke discussions around sites of contact and the significance of movement beyond the national frame of contemporary art.
    Curated by David A. Bailey & Jessica Taylor Download Diaspora Pavilion Exhibition Text here
    Diaspora Pavilion is part of a two-year mentorship and professional development project for 12 emerging artists with 10 artist mentors, and runs parallel to a similar project, Beyond the Frame, designed for 10 emerging curators with 10 curator mentors. Both projects aim to challenge the under-representation of artists and curators from diverse backgrounds in the visual arts. Both the artists and curators will have the opportunity to take part in group forum, masterclasses and international site visits over 22 months. Venice Art factory
    The programme features the work of the following participants in the Diaspora Pavilion - which included established artists such as Yinka Shonibare MBE RA and Isaac Julien as well as the new "Voices"
    “Established practitioners can help emerging artists by giving advice and support at a critical stage in their careers. This important and exciting initiative breaks new ground and brings some of the best young artists to international attention in Venice.”
    Sir Nicholas Serota, Chairman, Arts Council England
    Other artists - both new and old - are: