Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving DinDons

Best wishes to all my American Readers who are celebrating Thanksgiving.

Les Dindons
a.k.a. The Turkeys at Montgeron
(1877) by Claude Monet

oil on canvas, 174 x 172cm
Musee d'Orsay

This is my photo, taken nearly a decade ago at the Musee d'Orsay, of a 140 year old painting of turkeys. Plus the accompanying label identifying its title as "Les Dindons" by Claude Monet

They have a curious story.

The turkeys - the Dindons - were painted by Monet in 1877 in the grounds of the Chateau of Rottenburg at Montgeron (just south of Paris) which was the home of Ernest Hoschedé, a wealthy department store magnate who was also an art collector and Monet's patron.

This painting is unique insofar as:
  • this is the only painting I know in which Claude Monet painted birds. 
  • It was planned and painted as part of series of four decorative panels commissioned for the Chateau at Montgeron

As it happens the same year that this painting was painted, Hoschedé went bankrupt and his wife Alice and their children moved in with the Monets at Vertheuil while Hoschedé continued to try and work in Paris and subsequently moved to Belgium.

Monet's wife Camille had become ill with tuberculosis the previous year (1876). Then she gave birth to their second son in March 1878 - so having a second woman around may well have been a godsend.

Camille subsequently died (of cancer) on 5 September 1879 at the age of thirty-two - and Alice Hoschedé then helped Monet to raise his two sons, Jean and Michel.

Monet finally married Alice Hoschedé in 1892 after the death of her first husband.

Alice died in 1911 and Monet in 1926.

What happened to the painting?

The painting was exhibited at the Third Impressionist Exhibition 140 years ago in 1877 - and seems to have been sold
The third exhibition is considered “the most balanced and coherent” of the eight exhibitions held over a dozen years. Caillebotte contrived, solicited and arranged for what he wanted to see as a “democratic” exhibition of 230 works that represented 18 artists and attracted around fifteen thousand visitors in its thirty-day run. Gustave Caillebotte’s Dinner Invitation Leads to the Exquisite Third Impressionist Exhibition of 1877

Timeline of Ownership 

It's clear the painting was sold following the bankruptcy and the timeline of ownership is interesting.
  • from 1878, collection G. de Nittis, Paris
  • from 1884, in the Theodore Duret collection, Paris
  • 1894, sale of the Théodore Duret collection, paintings and pastels, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, March 19, 1894, n ° 24
  • from 1894, in the Théodore Duret collection 
  • bought on sale on March 19, 1894
  • from 1903 to 1906, in the collection François Depeaux, Rouen1906, sale of the Depeaux collection, Paris, Georges Petit Gallery, May 31 and June 1, 1906, No. 27
  • from 1906 to 1944, in the collection of the princess Edmond de Polignac, born Miss Winnaretta Singer, then became princess of Scey-Montbéliard (acquired on the sale of Depeaux collection of May 31 and June 1)
  • 1947, accepted by the State as legacy of Princess Edmond de Polignac to the National Museums for the Louvre Museum (committee of 27/06/1945, council of 03/07/1945, decree of 19/01/1947)
  • from 1944 to 1947, Louvre Museum, Paris
  • 1947, attributed to the Louvre Museum, Paris
  • from 1947 to 1986, Louvre Museum, Jeu de Paume Gallery, Paris
  • 1986, assigned to the Musée d'Orsay, Paris


After its exhibition in 1877 it didn't get out much - until 1980 - after which it has been exhibited all over the world!
  • Third impressionist exhibition, Paris, France, 1877
  • Claude Monet, A. Rodin, Paris, France, 1889
  • World and International Exhibition, Brussels, Belgium, 1910
  • Monet, Paris, France, 1928
  • Claude Monet: retrospective exhibition, Paris, France, 1931
  • Exhibition of masters of English 19th century painting, London, United Kingdom, 1936National Museums: New Acquisitions 1939-1945, Paris, France, 1945
  • French painting in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, Nice, France, 1955Tribute to Claude Monet, Paris, France, 1980
  • Monet, Tokyo, Japan, 1982Monet, Kyoto, Japan, 1982
  • The new painting impressionism 1874-1886, San Francisco, USA, 1986
  • The New Painting - Impressionism 1874-1886, Washington, United States, 1986
  • Claude Monet - Auguste Rodin, centenary of the 1889 exhibition, Paris, France, 1989
  • Monet: A Retrospective, Tokyo, Japan, 1994
  • Monet: A Retrospective, Nagoya, Japan, 1994
  • Monet: A Retrospective, Hiroshima, Japan, 1994Claude Monet: 1840-1926, Chicago, United States, 1995
  • Impresionismo: A Nuevo Renacimiento, Madrid, Spain, 2010
  • Birth of Impressionism. Masterpieces from the Orsay Museum, San Francisco, USA, 2010
  • Claude Monet 1840-1926, Paris, France, 2010

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Call for Entries - Royal Society of British Artists 301st Exhibition

This is a reminder that you have until 8th December 2017 to submit an entry to the 2018 Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA)

Paintings exhibited by members in the Main Gallery
The 301st exhibition in 2018 will be held in March 2018 at the Mall Galleries - across all three galleries due to its size.
  • It opens on Wednesday 21 March 2018 and closes at 2pm on Saturday 31 March 2018. 
  • It will open to the public every day from 10am - 5pm 
  • The Private View will be on Tuesday 20 March 2018, 11am – 8pm.
The RBA is a society where membership is often seen as a complement to membership of other national art societies. Indeed this was its original intention.
A group of painters met at Lincoln’s Inn Fields on May 21st 1823, to form the ‘Society of British Artists’, whose manifesto stated, ‘This organisation was not formed to rival existing societies but that every Member was to be at liberty to assist and support any other society.’
Below you can find
  • a review of the metrics associated with the 300th exhibition in 2017
  • a summary of how to enter the next annual exhibition.
You can also follow my summary of the Calls for Entries for the various exhibitions of the national art societies in the UK on my blog PAGE UK Art Societies: Open Exhibitions.

Paintings and prints in the North Gallery

Exhibition Metrics for 2017

Below you can find information about the 2017 exhibition which is worth looking at if you are considering entering the 2018 exhibition
  • This is a LARGE exhibition. 510 artworks were exhibited in 2017 in the open exhibition across the three galleries (i.e. excluding the work by past Presidents and members, NADFAS RBA Scholars and the National Students At Exhibition).
  • Of these 510 artworks 
    • 383 artworks (75%) by 86 members and 
    • 127 artworks (25%) were by 100 non-members
    • of the open artists,16 were members of other national societies (most of which are based at the Mall Galleries). Which leaves 84 which have no affiliation. 
You can find out more about the 2017 exhibition as follows:
For the 2018 exhibition I'd personally like to see:
  • more scrutiny of the originality (as in 'Has it been exhibited before?') and quality of work by members 
  • a bigger percentage of artwork coming from the open entry (i.e. nearer one third would be a good first step) 
After all the open entry is the future lifeblood of the RBA and the society needs to attract both good artwork and good artists who will be active supporters of the work of the RBA in future.

PLUS I think artists need reminding that having their artwork shown at the annual exhibition is the route to membership of the RBA
Before you may apply to become a Candidate it is essential that you have had several pieces of work accepted and shown at 3-4 of our annual exhibitions so members are aware of the quality of your work.RBA website - Election to Membership of The Royal Society of British Artists

Call for Entries

In summary, this is an OPEN EXHIBITION. Both members of the RBA and other artists are invited to submit artwork for consideration.
  • There is no constraint on type of artwork or medium - which creates the potential for this exhibition to be very interesting (However, typically this is an exhibition which tends to display paintings, drawings, sculpture and prints
  • All entries are via digital submission 
  • The deadline for entries is 12 noon on Friday 8th December 2017 
  • The entry fee is £15 per work payable at the time of submitting (£10 per work for artists aged 35 or under). 
Details of how artists can apply via the open entry process are set out below.
RBA in 2017 - Paintings and prints in the North Gallery
Founded in 1823, the RBA seeks submissions of work displaying the highest standards of skill, expression and concept of draughtsmanship. Artists are invited to submit works for exhibition alongside members of the Royal Society of British Artists at their Annual Exhibition 2018.

Who can Submit?

Any artist - over the age of 18 - living anywhere in the world can submit artwork to this exhibition.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Call for Entries - Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 206th Exhibition 2018

The Call for Entries opened last month for the 206th Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) at the Mall Galleries in April 2018.  The deadline for entries is 5 January 2018.
The RI seeks the best in contemporary watercolour and watermedia painting
Always an incredibly popular exhibition which appeals to all ages - this was the Private View in 2017

The RI was founded in 1831 to exhibit the best in watercolour painting and to show non-members’ works alongside that of members, a policy still followed today.

Exhibition Metrics for 2017

This is a summary of the exhibition metrics for the annual exhibition in 2017
  • The open entry generated 1,090 entries from 489 artists (c.2.2 paintings per artist). 
  • 389 paintings by both members and other artists were hung on the walls of all three galleries. 
  • 142 of the works (36%) were by 98 non-member artists (1.45 paintings each) were selected and hung in the exhibition.
  • Members: averaged 2.87 works hung
  • 'Open' artists: averaged 1.45 works hung each
You can review my past blog posts about this annual exhibition (2007-2017) 
at the end of this post.

Call for Entries

In summary, both members of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and other artists are invited to submit painting for consideration.  
  • Anybody can enter artwork created using in traditional watercolours or water-soluble media
  • All entries are via digital submission
  • The deadline for entries is Noon on the 5 January 2018.
  • The entry fee is £15 per work payable at the time of submitting (£10 per work for artists aged 35 or under).

Details of how artists can apply via the open entry process are set out below.

Information about the Annual Exhibition 2018

The 206th Exhibition will be held at the Mall Galleries between Friday 6 April and Saturday 21 April, 1pm (10am - 5pm every day) - so just over two weeks.

You can find
Another view of the 2017 Annual Exhibition on the Preview Day

Who can Submit

Any artist - over the age of 18 - living anywhere in the world can submit work in water-soluble media to this exhibition.

What you can submit 

  • Number: You can submit a maximum of six works - of which a maximum of four works selected.  Typically it's candidates for membership who submit a large number of paintings.
  • Media: Artwork in watercolour or water-soluble mediums, including watercolour, acrylic, ink or gouache (excluding water-soluble oils) are eligible for exhibition.
  • Size: Works must not be larger than 2.4m high and 1.5m wide.
  • Price: The minimum price is £450

Personally I think it's a mistake to pitch the minimum price at £450 since there are a lot of sales below this figure in other exhibitions. I'd limit how many low priced paintings can be submitted and pitch the minimum price at (say) £250 or £300.  I hope the rationale for this constraint on submission has been based in a rigorous analysis of past sales.....

The Candidates Wall at the RI Exhibition in 2017 - note each has four works hung

How to Submit

Monday, November 20, 2017

ING Discerning Eye Exhibition 2017 - award winners and review

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

View of one of the six individual exhibitions at the Mall Galleries
This is a review of the 2017 Exhibition which opened last week and continues until Sunday 26 November (10am and 5pm daily) at the Mall Galleries in London. It's taken a little longer than I had planned - I always forget how long this particular show takes to review properly - because there are lots of prizes and six completely different exhibitions!

If you're unable to get to see the show, you can
  • view the online artwork catalogue and 
  • also read my past reviews and view the sort of artwork which has been selected in previous years - with the different sets of curators they have each year - see the archive of my posts dating back to 2008 at the end of this post.

Some exhibition statistics provided by the organisers

This year there are 465 works by 237 artists on show
  • 75% of the artists and 55% of the works have come from the open submission. Typically if you see groups of work by the same artist in this exhibition it's a very good indication they have been "invited" to exhibit as opposed to "selected" from the open entry.
  • In terms of types of artwork selected for the exhibition:
    • Painting and drawing make up over 60% of the works, 
    • mixed media and sculpture about 15%, and 
    • printmaking about 8%.
This post covers the award winners and then reviews each of the six mini exhibitions in turn - with comments about different aspects of the show as a whole cropping up as and when!

2017 Award Winners 

This year there has been some very sloppy labelling of artwork in the exhibition and on the website. It's such a privilege to get selected and then such a disappointment when winning a prize if the right prize is not identified either in the gallery and/or on the website. The numbers are there for a reason - to get it right.

This is the list of prizewinnersThose that have numbers with an asterisk next to them were selected from the open submission.

11 of the 16 prizes went to artists selected from the open entry.  This breaks down as:
  • 6 of the 8 purchase prizes (75%) went to open entrants
  • 2 of the 2 other sponsor prizes (100%) went to artists selected from the open entry
  • 4 of the 7 regional prizes (57%) went to open entrants
Asterion by Jill Desborough
£1,200 SOLD
For those who have thought of submitting but not done so before, or maybe been dispirited by not getting selected, here's a word from Jill Desborough, who was one of the successful artists submitting via the open entry. This year she had two works selected by two different judges, won one of the top Purchase Prizes and also sold the other work that was selected
First, many thanks to the Discerning Eye for another lovely show and to Elmo Hood and Simon Tait for picking the pieces. There was such a good vibe there on PV night! Getting the prize was wonderfully encouraging. You have to harden yourself to a fair number of (kindly worded) rejections from open shows every year so it means an awful lot to get accepted and then the prize was an extra affirmation to keep on submitting!

The Purchase Prizes

These are prizes where the prize funds the purchase of the work. It's only just occurred to me that it could make a lot of sense to price your work to match the value of one of the Purchase Prizes! (Duh!)

The ING Purchase Prize £5,000

This year this was awarded to a painting by Rick Garland, one of the artists selected by Miranda Richardson.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Breach of rules - Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017

This is about a competition where the organisers and Jury allowed an entry which breached the rules to remain in the competition and win two prizes.

One of the things I do when writing about art competitions is I aim to make the process more accessible for those wanting to enter and further their careers and/or achievements.

To that end I do three things:
  • I aim to unpick and make the call for entries a bit more accessible for people entering for the first time
  • I try to show those thinking about entering what the standard of work is in the exhibition - and the competition they're up against.
I've had much praise over the years from people around the world for making that effort - which is NOT why I do it - but it's always nice to know that my efforts are appreciated.

The third thing I do is the subject of this blog post.

Basically, I speak up for those who may feel they maybe can't when things happen which really shouldn't happen in terms of the conduct of the competition.

I don't like doing this - but I do think it's necessary.

This post is about how to undermine confidence in competitions 
  • BY allowing an entry which breaches the rules to remain in the competition 
  • AND win not one but two prizes!

One of Them Is a Human #1 (Erica: Erato Ishiguro Symbiotic Human-Robot Interaction Project) by Maija Tammi

Maija Tammi's project, One of Them Is a Human #1, is a series of photographs that places androids alongside one human, asking what it means to be alive.

A photo of an android was submitted as an entry into the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017

The portrait is not of a human, but the National Portrait Gallery decided to keep it in the competition anyway. In a statement they say (my bold):
The Gallery has decided not to disqualify this portrait though accepts it is in breach of the rules. The rules are reviewed every year and this issue will be taken into consideration for next year. This portrait was part of 'One of Them Is a Human #1', a broader series which presents androids alongside one human. It was felt that the subject of this portrait, while not human, is a representation of a human figure and makes a powerful statement as a work of art in its questioning of what it is to be alive or human and asks challenging questions about portraiture. The ambiguity of this portrait makes it particularly compelling.

We review the competition rules each year and as part of this will discuss whether they need to be changed in light of the selection of 'One of Them Is a Human #1' for this year’s exhibition. The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is dedicated to showcasing the best in contemporary portraiture. There are occasions when particularly compelling portraits raise interesting questions about the genre of portraiture, and these may be included at the judges’ discretion
The Judges also shortlisted the photograph which then went on to win
  • the third prize of £2,000
  • the John Kobal New Work Award and a £5,000 prize for a photographer under 35.
Maija Tammi with her awards
So a total of £7,000 (presumably in part funded by competition entry fees) was awarded for an entry which breached the rules and was ineligible for entry.

I'll now go on to explain why, in my opinion, this should not have happened.

Leonardo da Vinci sets new record for the most expensive painting ever sold at auction

The auction sale of Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi at Christies New York yesterday is unusual for a number of reasons - the nature of the sale, the price it went for and the history of the painting

This post is for those who enjoy their art history and includes reference links to other more in-depth articles about the painting.

Salvator Mundi (c.1500) by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) 
25⅞ x 18 in (65.7 x 45.7 cm).
Sold on 15 November 2017 at Christie’s in New York
Here's my summary - each section is followed by referenced to some of the articles which comment in more depth on the painting and the auction

The Auction Sale

  • The final hammer price shattered the world record for a sale of an artwork at auction. The painting sold for $400 million (at a cost of $450,312,500 to the buyer after you include the auction house premium). That equates to a cost to the buyer of £342,182,751.
  • It exceeded the previous highest valued painting at auction by more than $200 million
  • It was very unusually sold at an evening auction of Post-War and Contemporary Art - because it's at evening sales where wealthy art collectors buy their art
“By putting it in a contemporary sale, they shine a big light on the painting.”
  • Almost 30,000 people viewed the painting as it was displayed to the public in The painting was show to the public in Hong Kong, London, San Francisco and New York. It's the very first time the painting has been shown to the public in Asia or the Americas.
  • It was billed as "The Last Da Vinci", the "Male Mona Lisa", a "once in a lifetime sale" and the “Holy Grail” for elite collectors
  • The auction house was so confident that it would sell for a high price that it had guaranteed a price of $100 million
  • The bidding lasted 19 minutes with four bidders on the telephone and one in the room. The last bid jumped $30 million to close out the auction!
  • The comments on the Facebook Live Stream of the sale make for interesting and somewhat predictable reading
  • Nobody knows who the successful bidder was. It's likely to remain in private hands.

They made a film of people viewing the painting prior to the sale.


The history of the painting

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

César Dezfuli wins £15,000 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017

Winner of the £15,000 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017
César Dezfuli being interviewed about his portrait of 16 year old Amadou Sumaila
It's extremely gratifying that the two photographs of refugees won the first and second prize in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Competition 2017 over the photograph of the android which to my mind was technically in breach of the rules of the competition and should have been eliminated.

I'm very much NOT a fan of competitions which change the rules after they have taken the money from those people who submit entries. It's just not fair or decent - and some might argue it's not legal either.

I'm actually going to split this post in two and deal with:
  • the first two prizes and the exhibition in this post
  • the entry which won third prize and the reason why, in my opinion, this was a clear breach of the rules - and what needs to happen to prevent this happening again in a post tomorrow. 
This aside.....

The competition had 5,717 submissions from 2,423 photographers living in 66 countries.  Those on the walls of the exhibition are as international as those submitting their photos for consideration by the jury.

The jury considering the entries has nothing other than the title to go on. All entries are anonymous as both the name of the photographer and the person who is portrayed. 

This year for the first time those entering work were allowed to submit digital entries for the first sift which will have much reduced expenses in relation to postage and packing for those living overseas. It also means that the jury can spend longer on those that make it through to the second sift.

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 - First Prize

Amadou Sumalia by César Dezfuli
From the series Passengers
Inkjet print, August 2016

The £15,000 prize went to César Dezfuli for his photograph of 16 year old Amadou Sumalia from Mali. He was later transferred to a reception centre in Italy.

It comes from his series of photos called "Passengers". This documented in 118 photographs (click the link to see other photographs in the series) about the migrants on a boat who came from Mali, Gambia, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Most will have been economic migrants fleeing poverty.

It was taken very shortly after Amadou had been rescued from the Mediterranean, 20 miles off the Libyan coast along with 100+ other men. When compared with the rest of the photographs taken it's clear why this one was selected for this competition.

César Dezfuli

  • Age: born in Madrid on 10 January 1991
  • Nationality: Spanish-Persian origins
  • Occupation: freelance journalist and documentary photographer - focuses on issues of migration, identity and human rights
  • Current home: Madrid
  • Education: graduated in journalism and audio-visual communication from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain followed by a postgraduate qualification in photojournalism. 
  • Previous appearances in this award: None
  • Website:
His work documenting human rights issues has been published in numerous magazines and has been seen in group exhibitions in 2017 including First Prize in the Head On Photo Festival 2017 Portrait Category, and awards at the International Photographer of the Year Awards and the Moscow Foto Awards.

César told me that he'd been working on a freelance basis, following a project to rescue people who were at risk in the Mediterranean as they try to reach Europe.
I think Amadou’s portrait stands out because of the emotions it transmits. He had just been rescued by a European vessel, apparently fulfilling his dream. However, his look and his attitude show fear, mistrust and uncertainty, as well as determination and strength.’

Judges Comments: 

Against the balance and precision of Dezfuli’s composition, the directness of Sumaila’s gaze is striking and unsettling. The portrait powerfully conveys his loss, solitude and determination.
My comments: It's much smaller than I imagined but amazingly arresting.

Second Prize

Winner of the £3,000 Second Prize 
Abbie Traylor with her award and her photograph Fleeing Mosul
From the series Women in war: Life after ISIS
Colour coupler print, November 2016
Abbie Trayler-Smith won the £3,000 Second Prize.  Abbie is a Documentary and Portrait Photographer who was working on an assignment for Oxfam when she took the photograph. She was at the Hasan Sham camp for internally displaced people in northern Iraq when a convoy of buses had just arrived, bringing people to safety from the intense fighting in Mosul.
‘I remember seeing the shock and bewilderment in the woman’s face as she looked out at the camp from the window. It made me shudder to imagine what living under ISIS must have been like.’
Abbie told me that the woman is now in Baghdad with her husband.  Her family have returned to Mosul but her sister had both her legs blown off when their home was bombed in Mosul.
  • Age: born 20 May 1977
  • Nationality: born and raised in South Wales
  • Education: - 
  • Occupation: documentary and portrait photographer. Her work covers women’s rights, social development and the aftermath of conflict for national newspapers, charities and NGOs. She 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. Her work has been seen in numerous publications and in group exhibitions and has also won awards
  • 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.
  • Website:

Abbie Trayler-Smith (b.1977) studied law at King’s College London. In her photographic career

Judges’ comments: 

The colour and texture of the portrait has a painterly quality, created by the mud-streaked glass through which the young woman is framed. Her haunting expression quietly suggests the unimaginable horrors of life under occupation.
My comments: I really liked this photo and hoped it would do well. The drips on the window of the bus seem to act as a metaphor for the situation at some many different levels.  Also while she is undoubtedly traumatised by her situation, there seemed to me to be a certain element of curiosity about what lay out the window which comes from being moved from where you have lived all your life.  Is it going to be any better?


One of the interesting things about the exhibition is how it has changed since both the Director of the NPG and the Curator of Photography have changed (following their respective retirements).

One of the first notes I made was "no twins and no gingers". I think I'd begun to assume these were perennial features of photographic competitions - but obviously not.

There's a very powerful wall about the America of 2016/17 which was excellent which I am now euphemistically referring to as the "portrait of America". The two photos either end of the left hand wall are of the "wall" between Mexico and the USA. Inbetween are photographs of the American election.  On the right are two photographs of individuals with iconic emblems of the 'real American'.

Portrait of America
Alan Mozes followed the campaign trail for two months at the end for Vanity Fair and his portraits of both Clinton and Obama made the cut.

Alan Mozes with his portraits of Clinton and Obama

Alice Schoolcraft graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Photographic Arts with First Class Honours at the University of Westminster in London. She is half Swedish and half American and went to stay with her (never met before) American family and found that their values and activities were very different from those she has been brought up with. She photographed some of the curious things they got up to and called the series The Other Side.
Curiosity about people’s personal lives is a driving force in my work and by employing detailed study I want to provide the viewer with the feeling that they know the people in my photographs personally without ever having met them.
Halo by Alice Schoolcraftinkjet print
The dog is wearing a necklace and is standing behind a chair which has a dress on it
Somebody is behind the dog and has put their hands through the arms of the dress
There are also very few celebrities this year - of the bling variety. Instead we have artists as subjects - Jack Vettriano (who was at the preview this morning), Maggi Hambling and AA Gill who has subsequently died.  Plus one of David Cameron looking fairly harassed a few days before the Referendum result - and his resignation.

Jack Vettriano (on the right) in front of the photo portrait of him
by Ian Mcilgorm (on the left)
David Cameron adjusting his tie prior to his formal portrait photo by Charles Bibby
Young people and what they get up seemed to be a recurrent theme of this year's exhibition. The exhibition also felt rather more international than it has hitherto.

Young people around the world
More young people from around the world

Four boys who feature in one of the portrait photos (top left)
Minecrafting by Hania Farrell - which is actually two portraits in one

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.)

More about the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

The posts below contain images of past prizewinning portraits.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Three portraits of Billy Connolly

Back in May 2017, three portraits of the Big Yin - Billy Connolly - or Sir Billy Connolly as he is now designated - were unveiled as giant 50 ft/15m high murals in Glasgow as a tribute to his 75th birthday. (see Billy Connolly murals in Glasgow – the city’s birthday gift to the Big Yin at 75).

The portraits are by the Scottish artists - Jack VettrianoRachel Maclean and John Byrne.

Crops of the portraits of Billy Connolly by Jack Vettriano, Rachel McLean and John Byrne

The process of creating the portraits was filmed by the BBC and can be seen on iPlayer as Billy Connolly - Portrait of a Lifetime. 

The programme involves him talking about his life with each of the artists and is worth watching if only to see how each artists addresses the conundrum of how to portray Billy Connolly.

Jack Vettriano

The self-taught artist who paints from photographs - who portrayed Billy from a still from the Billy's television programme World Tour of Scotland series in 1994. It features a very windblown Billy on a storm-lashed coast near John O’Groats

Personally I think the Vettriano portrait is absolutely awful. He dislocated his shoulder in 2015 and announced at the time that he could no longer paint.  Whether or not he is back to fine fettle as an artist, the fact remains it just doesn't look like Billy Connolly!

His mural can be seen on a wall end in in Dixon Street near St Enoch Square.

Rachel McLean

Rachel represented Scotland this year at the Venice Biennale. She was born in 1987 in Edinburgh and lives and works in Glasgow. Her first degree, a BA Honours Drawing and Painting was at the Edinburgh College of Art, followed by a stint at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, USA

She works predominantly with videos and digital prints. She created a special costume based on his jokes. This came
replete with motifs from his career such as ‘mini bike parked in bum’ epaulettes, a sporran with an ‘aged’ nose sprouting hair, and make-up reflecting his famous ‘pale blue Scotsman’ joke, with representations of Glasgow life past and present in the background
I thought Rachel Mclean's approach to making a portrait was both ingenious and very in keeping with the sort of man Billy Connolly is. I'm not so sure I like the very dark digital print which was chosen for the mural.  The video below shows the extract from the BBC programme where Billy is shown the costume he's going to wear.

Her printed mural is on the Gallowgate near Barrowland Park.

John Byrne 

John Byrne is an old friend of Billy who attended Glasgow College of Art. He's unique in being both a prominent portrait artist and a playright. He has paintings in the collection of paintings hang in The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, the Museum of Modern Art and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. He chose to create a drawing rather than a painting of Billy.

John Byrne is obviously the most accomplished draughtsman and I was very interested watching him draw Billy as he is now. However I thought it was a preliminary study for a painting and I was rather disappointed to find it wasn't going to be converted into a painting.

His mural can be found on a wall end in Osborne Street, Glasgow.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Best of the Drawing Year 2017

Students of the Royal Drawing School’s postgraduate programme - the Drawing Year - are having exhibitions of their work this month.
The works are by artists graduating from the School’s intensive postgraduate programme who have spent the last year exploring their practice through drawing from observation.

The Best of the Drawing Year 2017 Exhibition at Christies Ground Floor Gallery

The Drawing Year

The Drawing Year was founded in 2000 as the School’s flagship programme. It offers:
  • a year of intensive study, research and practice in drawing from life
  • high-quality teaching from a distinguished faculty. 
  • Every student is given a full scholarship and free studio space, allowing artists of all backgrounds to develop their artistic professions and careers in the creative industries
The scope to study for free is particularly relevant and helpful at a time of rising fees for education and the high cost of living in London.

Past graduates of The Drawing Year have gone on to work as fine artists, or have professional
practices in illustration, animation, architecture, film and theatre design.

Recent success stories include:
  • Clara Drummond, First Prize winner of the BP Portrait Award 2016
  • Kathryn Maples, winner of the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition in 2014 and 2016
  • Alice Shirley, acclaimed designer of Hermès silk scarves. 
Alumni have also exhibited widely in the UK and internationally, and their work is included in major collections, such as Tate, the Royal Collection, British Museum and the V&A Museum.

The Drawing Year 2016-17

Graduates of the most recent Drawing Year include the first ever graduate who started out on the Drawing School's Young Artists courses who has then gone on to complete The Drawing Year.
  • Londoner Gideon Summerfield age 22 was part of the Young Artists programme between the ages of 12-17. Since then he has graduated from Cardiff School of Art and Design with a First Class Honours Degree in Illustration, and credits the School with much of his success. I first highlighted him on this blog in Drawings of Holocaust Survivors.
  • Lee Cutter’s ink drawings of Japanese gardens symbolise the presence of harmony and balance. This metaphor of finding peace is important to Cutter – he led a difficult childhood, facing challenges in his education, a lack of support networks, and some bad decisions, which led to spending time in prison. Upon discovering drawing, it ‘gave him a new life’; he went to study fine art at university, and now works at the Koestler Trust, helping others transform their lives through the power of art.
drawings by Christabel McCreevy
  • Christabel MacGreevy came to The Drawing Year from Central St Martins, with a background in fashion and commercial textiles, looking to expand her practice. Christabel took up drawing and illustration to create the designs for her fashion brand launched in May 2017, Itchy Scratchy Patchy, featured in Vogue, NY Times Style and Financial Times Fashion
  • Richard Ayodeji Ikhide has used drawing to develop his textile designs into fine art.
  • Jack Fawdry Tatham’s interest in aquatint etchings (pictured above), has led to plans to reopen the printing press under Pollock’s Toy Museum, a Victoriana museum in Fitzrovia owned by his Grandmother. 
All the drawings in this exhibition are for sale; prices for a small print, study, or a large-scale drawing range between £150 - £2000.

The commission goes towards funding the School’s scholarship and bursaries programmes so that high-quality drawing tuition is available to all regardless of background or circumstance.

Exhibiting Artists

  • Joshua Bristow, 
  • Rosie Chamberlain, 
  • Jessica Jane Charleston, 
  • Ben Westley Clarke, 
  • Becca Collins, 
  • Mark Connolly, 
  • Laurie Crean, 
  • Somaya Critchlow, 
  • Lee Cutter, 
  • Joana Galego,
  • Alexander Gilmour, 
  • Judith Hagan, 
  • Nancy Haslam-Chance, 
  • Emily Hill, 
  • Richard Ayodeji Ikhide, 
  • Charlotte Johnston, 
  • Alice Macdonald, 
  • Christabel MacGreevy, 
  • Isaac Nugent, 
  • Jackson Rees, 
  • Tom Scotcher, 
  • Dorry Spikes, 
  • Jamie Stenhouse, 
  • Gideon Summerfield, 
  • Jack Fawdry Tatham, 
  • Stefan Tiburcio, 
  • Catherine Watson, 
  • Peter Wenman

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Queuing to visit Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art!

Last night was the Private View for the four new art exhibitions at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

We were told that some 8,500 people had visited the Gallery last week and that at the weekend people were queuing to get in!

Rebecca Louise Law: Life in Death

The number of visitors and queues will be in no small part related to the Rebecca Louise Law: Life in Death exhibition which is quite unlike anything I've ever seen before. It's an experience!

Rebecca Louise Law with her exhibition Life in Death at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, Kew Gardens
Rebecca Louise Law with her exhibition Life in Death at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, Kew Gardens

Her exhibition is an installation within the large central space within the Gallery and promotes her passion - the use of preserved plant material as art material.

Plants and flowers that she has collected over a ten year period, have been dried and strung on very thin copper wire garlands suspended from grids attached to the ceiling. There are 350,000 specimens strung on c.1,000 garlands spaced at intervals of around 12 inches.

Rebecca Louise Law: Life in Death #1

It seems as if the entire room is completely full of dried flowers and pods. However a wavy path cut through the middle allows visitors to start on one side and move through to an exit via a diagonal which takes you through an amazing range of plant material.

I'd seen the exhibition previously and kept feeling the need to spin round to look at the exhibit from every angle. Looking at the plant material and the disorientating effect of spinning around in part explains why people take quite a bit of time moving through....

Rebecca Louise Law: Life in Death #2
What was interesting yesterday was that there was a distinct aroma in the air which I hadn;t noticed previously. Almost like being in the centre of a giant pot-pourri.

This exhibition is supported by a separate exhibition (in Gallery 4) of the ancient Egyptian preserved funeral garlands of Ramesses II in Kew's own collection - which date back to 1300BC.  This is a very rare public display of the fragile and beautiful ancient Egyptian wreaths, which, draped over mummies and coffins, accompanied the dead to the afterlife.

Lindsay Sekulowicz: Plantae Amazonicae

This exhibition forms a portrait of the Brazilian Amazon, resulting from collaboration between the artist Lindsay Sekulowicz and Kew’s Science team.
Lindsay Sekulowicz: Plantae Amazonicae combines new artworks by Lindsay with items from the economic botany collection maintained by Kew.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

International Watercolour Masters Exhibition at Weston Park in 2018

In recent years, I've been very interested in following the travels of a small number of watercolour artists to top watercolour competitions across the world which have attracted international submissions by the Masters of Watercolour Painting.

Now it seems it's the UK's turn - or rather it will be in 2018!

Never before has the UK staged such a prestigious exhibition featuring contemporary world Masters in watercolour painting - until now...

Next April, there is to be an exhibition I'd hoped we'd see in England but had rather lost hope of ever seeing. I'm sure it's an event which will warm the collective hearts of many a watercolour and art society member up and down the UK!

Here are the details

International Watercolour Masters Exhibition
Venue: Weston Park, Granary Gallery, Weston Park, TF11 8LE ENGLAND View Map
Dates: April 28-May 31 2018.
Admission: FREE
Eventbrite Page
J.M.W.Turner, David Cox, Walter Langley RI, George Sandby & other English Master artists of the 18th & 19th Centuries took water colour painting to the world. Now on 28 April 2018 to May 28 2018 the worlds leading water colour Masters come to England , for the first time, for a unique contemporary exhibition at historic Weston Park.

Never before has the UK staged such a prestigious exhibition featuring contemporary world Masters in watercolour painting. During the show several of the artists will lead guided tours, and also demonstrate their techniques. Watercolour workshops will also be arranged.
The exhibition has been organised by David Poxon (England) - who is one of the artists who has been travelling the world and picking up prizes as he did!

(He's also an artist whose work is much copied in terms of subject matter and technique - but never bettered. I keep seeing the work of those who try to emulate him and Angus McEwen at many exhibitions which include watercolour paintings!)

The special guest artists are listed below.

I'm very sure that some of the names will be recognised by those who follow the international watercolour competitions.
During the show
  • Several of the artists will lead guided tours, and also demonstrate their techniques. 
  • Watercolour workshops will also be arranged.
David Poxon (centre) with one of his paintings
and (left) Alvaro Castagnet (Uruguay) and (right) Liu Yi (China)
The exhibition started life as a solo show for David Poxon RI. David is very well known and appreciated around the world for his pure watercolour paintings. He travels extensively to exhibitions abroad. I'm forever seeing photos of him on Facebook at yet another one of the major competitions!

He is also an elected member of the prestigious R.I. (Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours) and the NWS (National Watercolour Society of America)

During David’s International travels he has exhibited with many of the worlds leading
water colour artists who have become close associates and friends. Having discussed his 2018 Weston Park show with Janine Gallizia (Australia) the concept of a larger structured exhibition was conceived. David extended his invitation, and after receiving an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response, the International Watercolour Masters exhibition was born.

I suggest watercolour painters make a note of the dates in their diaries!

(Note: This exhibition is not formally associated with or organised by any of the watercolour societies or competitions in the UK as I understand)

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing

I posted a link on Facebook this morning about the links between art and health - and it obviously was something that lots of people identified with.
Why GPs prescribing arts activities to some patients could lead to a dramatic fall in hospital admissions and save the NHS money
So here is the link - plus
  • the report which triggered this 
  • other articles 
  • some more links about how art interfaces with health and how arts activities arts can lead to better health

The Report

The report which triggered the articles is Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing | All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing

You can Download it

You can View online

Articles about Art and Health

The Guardian Articles

Organisations about Art and Health

In the UK

Interestingly I could fine very little about art and health outside the UK - and wnhat I found was on the Resources Page of the LAHF

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Exhibiting Artists - ING Discerning Eye 2017

The artists whose work has been selected for the 2017 ING Discerning Eye Exhibition have been announced.

Ing Discerning Eye 2017 - The Exhibition

The exhibition will be open to the public from Thursday 16 November – Sunday 26 November, between 10am and 5pm daily at the Mall Galleries, The Mall London SW1. Admission will be free and all the works will be for sale.

See my previous blog post ING Discerning Eye 2017 - Call for Entries for more details about the submissions process and the hurdles that needed to be jumped!

ING Discerning Eye - Exhibiting Artists

Below is the list of exhibiting artists listed alphabetically by surname. I've also included images of some of the artwork selected.

I normally include a link to the artist's website but since this will take hours and hours for this number of artists, I'm putting up the list first and embedding links in an artist's name to his or her website later when I have the time. The names I recognise will be done first!

If people want to send me the best link to use so much the better!