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!

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Impressionists in London - a marketing own goal by Tate Britain!

I'm going to recommend the new EY Exhibition at Tate Britain as worth seeing.
HOWEVER, this comes with a MAJOR caveat which needs explaining at the beginning. It's all to do with the title of the exhibition.

Three paintings of the Houses of Parliament by Claude Monet
my favourite is the one in the middle from the Art Institute of Chicago
I wouldn't have an issue with the new exhibition at Tate Britain if the headline was "French Artists in London".

However my expectations about what I was going to see were heightened by the title they chose instead which was "Impressionists in London" - with a subtitle of "French artists in exile 1870-1904"

So what follows is:
  • First the explanation of rather a lot problems associated with the title and 
  • then my review of the exhibition. I'll not be commenting much on at least the two of the rooms as a result.

So why is the title a problem and a marketing 'own goal'?

View of Room 5 - London through outsiders' eyes
Here's my list:
  • Only four of the eight rooms are given over to paintings by Impressionist painters
    • Room 1 contains paintings by painters who became known as Impressionists AFTER the paintings were painted
    • Room 5, 6 and 7 contain Impressionist paintings. 
    • Room 8 is devoted to Derain who was a Fauvist and the paintings were painted AFTER 1904
    • Room 1 is the introduction and focuses on why artists left France
  • Three of the rooms and very substantial sections in the catalogue are given over to four artists who are NOT IMPRESSIONISTS!
    • Room 2 is dedicated to James Tissot (1836-1902) who fought in the Franco-Prussian was and been a member of the Paris Commune and was definitely an artist in exile, However he was a painter of modern times and high society who had refused to exhibit with the Impressionists at their first exhibition in 1874. 
    • Room 3 is devoted to Alphonse LeGros (1837-1911) and Jules Dalou (1838-1902). LeGros is a very boring, conservative and academic painter - who left France in 1863 (i.e. he was an immigrant not "in exile" and was naturalised British in 1888). He's a made out to be a central person for artists exiling to London following the Franci-Prussian war. In no way is he an Impressionist!  Dalou may have changed the way sculpture was done but this is wholly unrelated to Impressionism.
    • Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1828-1875) is a French sculptor who to my mind only deserves to be a footnote in this exhibition but instead gets an entire room (Room 4) to himself! His visits to London don't merit a mention in either his entry in the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History or Wikipedia. He's in because he sculpted Napolean III.
  • A number of the artists were certainly NOT in exile at the time they were creating paintings in the exhibition.  They visited and revisited London - as painters - without any impulse or imperative to desert France!  The use of the word 'exile' strictly only relates to the period 1870-1880 for the Communards and a very much shorter period for everybody else. Thus the sub-title "French artists in exile 1870-1904" actually makes no sense to me at all. There was no exile after 1880.
exile - the state of being barred from one's native country, typically for political or punitive reasons.
  • Two of the painters are not even French and were never in exile in London!
    • James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) - who has three paintings in the exhibition is an American artist who was living and painting in London but was not in exile
    • Giuseppe De Nittis (1846-1884) is an Italian painter who was never in exile and paid periodic visits to both Paris and London. However five of his paintings were included in the First Impressionist Exhibition of 1874. 
The reality is that major exhibitions these days probably need to be joint ventures and have multiple venues both to access works and defray costs. However that does not excuse sloppiness of focus in representing the exhibition to the paying customer.

One of the information articles on the Tate website refers to Eight things to know: Impressionists in London and while informative it fails to highlight that a number of the artists were NOT IMPRESSIONISTS! When educational material becomes misleading to this extent, this is really not good enough.

Bottom line - two points
  1. This all makes for a very confusing exhibition. The actual Impressionist paintings don't even start until Room 5 of an 8 room exhibition
  2. this exhibition is not a 2/5 stars exhibition - as suggested by Jonathan Jones in his Impressionists in London review – how not to tell the origin story of modern art however I entirely understand why he gave this review - based on the expectations created by the title and the marketing
This pea souper of a show nearly achieves the impossible feat of making Monet seem dull, while illuminating little about British links to impressionism
To my mind the Evening Standard in its review Impressionists in London, exhibition review: Inaccurate and dishonest does have a point...
The title of this show isn’t just inaccurate, it’s dishonest. It’s only partly about those very bankable artists connected to Impressionism.
All those responsible for marketing exhibitions for Tate Britain really need to pay a LOT MORE close attention to the detail of the Non-Broadcast Code of the Advertising Standards Authority - particularly Articles 1 and 3
The central principle for all marketing communications is that they should be legal, decent, honest and truthful. All marketing communications should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society and should reflect the spirit, not merely the letter, of the Code.
As one of my readers commented on my Facebook Page
The Royal Academy puts on crowd pleasing Impressionist related exhibitions whenever they feel hard up, looks like the Tate may be doing the same.
It's really not good enough. Inaccuracies have become industrial in this exhibition.


That said, I'll now endeavour to highlight why it's an exhibition worth seeing.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Do's and Don'ts of writing an Artist Statement and CV

I'm a Visiting Lecturer at The Heatherley School of Art and in two weeks time I'm going to be giving a talk there about the Do's and Don'ts When Writing an Artists Statement and C.V.

Heatherley School of Art, 75 Lots Road, London SW10 0RN(almost opposite Burnaby Street)

How to Market Your Art #2:
Do's and Don'ts when writing an Artist’s Statement and CV

This is what I'll be covering
  • Why people are afraid of the “artist statement”
  • Why you need an artist statement
  • Avoid confusion - the difference between an artist statement, bio and CV
  • What to include – and what to leave out
  • How to communicate with your target audience
  • How to interest people in what you do – and why people stop reading!
Here are the details of where the talk is.
  • Venue: The Heatherley School of Art. Consult this page to see where they are on a map and how to get there via public transport. 
  • Date: Monday 13th November 2017
  • Time: 4.30pm
  • Admission: FREE 

You don't have to be a student at Heatherley's to attend the talk but you can't book a seat.
This event is free and open to the public but seating is limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
My first talk How to get on - online was very popular, so I'd recommend getting there in good time as this talk is a "by request from the students" topic and is also the topic which gets the most traffic on my website!

I'll be providing a synopsis of key points as a handout at the talk

For those who can't get there, I'll also upload the synopsis to my Art Business Info. for Artists website after the talk - and will let you know when I've done this.

Heatherley School of Art: Talks and Courses

Do also keep an eye on the events page at Heatherley School of Art - as they have a number of interesting speakers during the course of the academic year.

You can also find details of the various full-time and part-time (day and/or evening) courses on offer at the School on its website.

Monday, October 30, 2017

How to be an artist by Howard Hodgkin

I recently shared and RECOMMENDED the transcript of a lecture about "How to be an Artist" by Howard Hodgkin on Facebook.  It's an amazingly good read.

Other people thought so too and I stopped counting after it got shared more than 50 times...

Personally I think it should be printed out and tucked away in that file of stuff we reread every so often when we feel in need of giving ourselves a big kick up the proverbial.

Then I realised I hadn't shared and highlighted it on Making A Mark - so here it is.

Below I explain some of the reasons why I think it is such a good read - besides the fact it's very well written for a lecture. I did find myself wondering whether it's a transcript of a recording or of his notes.

Howard Hodgkin

Why is it a good read?

Here are some of the reasons:
  • he commented about the context of being an artist IN ENGLAND
  • He talks about "running the gauntlet of art school" in a country which has more art schools per head that any other country
Once you cross the threshold of an art school, you are not in the real world but nor are you really of course in the academic world because nobody in an art school knows what to ask for in the way of instruction and nobody teaching knows quite what is expected of them to teach. There are no recognised skills that can be passed on and although this is obviously the grossest generalisation, for the most part it is true.
  • he talks about the effect art school has on the people who teach in them
  • and about the need for artists to look after themselves
we have to look after ourselves, we have to build up a reservoir of feeling which is real but which can be tapped on demand. We have to criticise ourselves, we have to be our own audience and our own patrons until somebody else does that for us. 
  •  He comments on the value of collectors and how to treat them
Collectors should be loved, admired, nurtured, flattered and crept to. They are probably the only people in the art world worth really taking seriously; however ridiculous they may be personally, they are for real.
  • he provides a mantra
Artists have to look after themselves and they have to make their audience themselves.
  • He talks about reality
It is no good saying that quality will out. Look at how much bad art is extremely successful. 
  • He talks about inspiration and social position and emotion
  • and he talks about MONEY!
Because if you are wondering how to be an artist the most important thing of all is that you should be paid for doing it. But never, whatever anyone does for you, feel grateful. The gratitude is all on the other side. Whatever you do, however unsuccessful, however creepy, mendacious, self-serving, aesthetically indefensible, morally wrong, however bad an artist you are in fact, never feel grateful when people buy you pictures, never feel grateful when people say nice things about them

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Natural Eye - the sort of wildlife art that gets selected

The Natural Eye exhibition at the Mall Galleries finished at lunchtime today. If you aspire to submit your work and get selected next year - read on!

cover of the catalogue is Red Admirals and Passing Hobby by Darren Woodhead
This post is all about:
  • the selection process
  • eligible artwork
  • eligible media
  • how to help get your artwork selected
  • how to become a member
Images in this post are of artworks from this year's exhibition not featured in the posts to date - see list at the end of the post

The SWLA Exhibition in the Threadneedle Space
- note some of the very contemporary treatments of wildlife

What Selectors are looking for

You can see an interesting interview with the current President (Harriet Mead) and the immediate Past President (Andrew Stock) on London Live. This:
  • provides a good view of The Natural Eye show 2017 and 
  • highlights what the selectors are looking for 
I've had various conversations with the President Harriet Mead over the years about what they look for in terms of the open submission.

We also had a long chat on the phone after I'd seen the show as I wanted to be clear how the selection process works and also what sort of criteria are employed in selecting artwork.

What follows is a summary of that discussion.  I hope the London Live Video (above) and this summary are useful to those who are
  • unclear why their artwork didn't make it through to the exhibition and 
  • want to know what to focus on re. future submissions via the open entry

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Art World not immune to harassment and misconduct allegations

ArtForum reported and ArtNews asked awkward questions

It emerged this week that the art world is not immune to allegations of sexual misconduct / inappropriate behaviour. This post covers:
  • the NEWS articles about the alleged misconduct by Knight Landesman, now an ex-publisher of ArtForum
  • why it's more complicated than just misconduct
  • why it's unlikely to be limited to one individual
At present, the ALLEGATIONS all seem to relate to one named individual who has been various described as
  • a pillar of the international art scene, 
  • a well-known and powerful figure
  • a longtime publisher of Artforum magazine and a power broker in the art world
  • a man-about-town known from the galleries of Manhattan to the Art Basel fair in Switzerland for his primary-colored suits and deep connections in the industry.
  • accused of very Harvey Weinstein-like behavior 
Below are links to the newspaper articles which this week closely followed the accusations of alleged misbehaviour - after a complaint was filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York accusing former Artforum publisher Knight Landesman of years of sexual harassment.

I've ordered them by

  • general news titles and then art news titles
  • the prominence of the publication and 
  • the date order of the published articles
It's been difficult keeping up with who said what and when!  

However there is a much bigger picture about abuse of power which also needs to be highlighted - and the debate now seems to be moving in that direction........

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Review - Cezanne Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery

I recommend you see the new Cezanne Portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery if you can.  I wasn't expecting to like it as much as  I did. 

It's very much a historic one-off exhibition. It's the very first time
  • over 50 of his portraits have been gathered together for exhibition in one place. 
  • his portraits have been seriously exhibited since he died and the retrospective in the Paris Salon d’Automne of 1907, the year after his death which influenced both Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, amongst others.
It's also a splendid and significant exhibition occupying almost all of the ground floor exhibition space at the National Portrait Gallery - the same space occupied by the exhibitions for the Lucian Freud retrospective and Picasso's Portraits.

Interestingly, it opens in London 111 years - almost to the day - after he died in 1906.

The last self-portrait (1898-1900) by Cezanne
oil on canvas, 641mm x 533mm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The exhibition opened to the public at the NPG  today and continues until 11 February 2018. So lots of time to see it - however this one is undoubtedly going to be a blockbuster (see below) - so don't hang around to book tickets.
I saw it twice yesterday - in the morning at the PV and then again in the afternoon at the Friends Preview - which was packed.

The Portraits include two of (left) his gallerist Vollard and (right) the art critic Geffroy

The morning was a briefing. I listened to Nicholas Cullinan tell how this exhibition started out some six years ago during the tenure of his predecessor Sandy Nairne.

Then listened to the curator of the exhibition, John Elderfieldprovided an excellent tour and explanation of the exhibition. (He's the Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, following his tenure from 2003 to 2008. He's also nothe Adler Distinguished Curator of European Art and Lecturer 19th- and 20th-Century European Art at Princeton).  

RECOMMENDED READ: John Elderfield has written an article for Apollo Magazine - Cézanne’s radical portraiture by John Elderfield

He also highlighted the help that the online Cezanne catalogue raisonnée published in 2014 had been in preparing the exhibition (and incidentally it's fascinating!)

Elderfield's aim has been to:
  • give a sense of progression in Cezanne's painting processes from beginning to end. 
    • models at the beginning are largely family, lovers and very close friends. Towards the end of his life he paints people around where he lives in Provence. His wife and son by this stage are living in Paris.
    • his use of the knife seems to diminish after the criticisms at the Salon in 1876
    • his palette changes and lightens after 1872 when he moves to Auvers to be near Pissaro and learn about painting plein air and how to paint landscapes
    • his portrait production drops - before recovering later in life
  • highlight the complementary pairs of paintings and the series of paintings - different versions of the same subject (eg of himself, his wife Hortense, his uncle - but also of his gardener at the end of his life)