Of the 60 guest artists selected from the Call for Entries to exhibit work at The Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2019, several are new faces at Mall Galleries, and some have never shown their work publicly in the UK or elsewhere before. Many of these first-time exhibitors have gone on to win prestigious prizes at the Exhibition, and here they share their experiences of submitting and exhibiting.

Andrea Santi, winner of the Alfred Teddy Smith & Zsuzsi Roboz Award

21-year-old Italian artist Andrea Santi won the £5,000 Alfred Teddy Smith & Zsuzsi Roboz Award for a pencil drawing of her mother in The Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2019. It's Andrea's first exhibition at Mall Galleries, and we've devoted a whole article to her here

Mum by Andrea Santi: Graphite, 35 x 33 cm - £1,100

Sophie Amauger, winner of the Frank Herring & Sons Award

‘I’ve never submitted my pastel work to an exhibition in the UK before, but I felt ready to do it this year after winning a prize in America’ says Sophie Amauger. Regular Mall Galleries exhibitor Penelope Milner told Sophie about The Pastel Society Call for Entries, and the artist decided to enter her work. ‘As a member of an art society in France, I also met some of The Pastel Society members, David Brammeld RBA PS and Margaret Glass PS, when they visited us in France.

‘It has been a great experience to see my work hanging alongside member artists at The Pastel Society Annual Exhibition’ says Sophie. ‘I was astonished by the quality of the works on display, and the diversity of mediums and subject matters. Many of the artists have such a strong style that their work is instantly recognisable. Several of the exhibitors are very well-known in France. Halla Shafey, who won the Henri Roche Award for her work Red Sea, is featured in this month’s popular French Arts Magazine, Pratique Des Arts. It was great to meet her at The Pastel Society private view.’

The Plunge by Sophie Amauger: Pastel, 80 x 80 cm - £2,100

‘Exhibiting at Mall Galleries is like showing your work in a national museum; the quality of the space, the light, and the various rooms creates a special environment for displaying art. I feel very lucky to have been selected and even more so to receive a prize, because lots of talented artists compete for a spot on Mall Galleries’ walls.’

‘If I was to offer advice to other artists thinking about submitting to a Mall Galleries Call for Entries, I would say that having a nice technique is not enough; personality is required. Now that I’ve exhibited at The Pastel Society Annual Exhibition and won the Frank Herring & Sons Award, I feel inspired to devote more of my time and efforts to creating work and exhibiting. This has been a great step for my art career.’

Lynn Norton

‘This was my first attempt at entering an exhibition at Mall Galleries and I’m absolutely thrilled to have a painting accepted’ says Lynn Norton. ‘I was encouraged by an art tutor, herself a member of The Pastel Society, who thought my work was of a high enough standard to exhibit. I’m so delighted she persuaded me to enter as I wouldn’t have had the courage otherwise.’  

‘I discovered The Pastel Society a few years ago. Visiting Mall Galleries for their Annual Exhibitions helped me to discover how I could use pastels in an exciting way. Traditional ideas of safe pastel painting are long gone thanks to exhibitions like this one; there are so many techniques, styles, and innovative approaches to dry media on display. I love getting up close to the paintings to study the mark making the artists have used.’

Komorebi by Lynn Norton: Pastel & Acrylic, 62 x 62 cm - £500

‘Attending the private view and seeing my painting on display among such fabulous work was a surreal moment for me. My adult daughters came too, and it was a proud moment showing them the painting hanging in such a fantastic gallery, with such a prestigious art society.’

The Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2019 is great. There’s something for every taste and budget, and an amazing range of sizes, so whether you’re looking for an enormous statement piece, or trying to fit great beauty into a small space, there’s something for you. It was fantastic to see a full spectrum of styles, with examples of everything from pure abstraction to photorealism on display. Some of the paintings were so realistic I had to scrutinise them closely just to believe they were created with pastels.’

‘It’s early days, but I’ve already had some great feedback from being in the exhibition. Some people didn’t know about Mall Galleries, and they’ve all loved the space. Others had assumed certain things about dry media, but were amazed at the work on display.’

‘I would encourage other artists to enter their work to Mall Galleries Call for Entries. It’s scary at first, but the online application process is very straightforward. Mall Galleries shares a list of trusted art couriers on their website, so that took care of the logistics. I found a lovely chap who transports artwork from Northern England, and it was plain sailing after that. Having done it once, I’d like to do it again, and I’d recommend others to do so too.’

Phil Irons

‘I really liked that The Pastel Society welcomes innovative work and pencil drawings, which is my medium’ says Phil Irons, ‘so my family encouraged me to enter their Call for Entries. I met several of the judges and members of the society, and they were all extremely friendly and encouraging as well.’

Old Fishing Shed, Dungeness by Phil Irons: Pencil, 31 x 47 cm - £1,000

‘It’s quite surreal to have my work on display in The Pastel Society Annual Exhibition because I’ve only been drawing for 18 months. I didn’t really expect my submission to be successful, so to see my drawing hang alongside such talented artists is very humbling. The standard of the works in the exhibition is really impressive, and the gallery space looks amazing.’

‘Since the exhibition opened, I’ve received encouraging and complimentary comments from other exhibitors and members, especially on social media. I would certainly encourage other artists to enter in the future.’

Eugenia Solomkina

‘This is the first exhibition of my artistic career’, says Eugenia Solomkina. ‘I submitted to The Pastel Society Call for Entries because I wanted to know whether my work is good enough for public display. I’m a student at LARA, and I still have a couple of years before I finish my training, so it was really flattering to know that my technical skill impressed The Pastel Society judges.’

Steve by Eugenia Solomkina: Charcoal, 92 x 51 cm - £1,200

‘I really appreciate how exhibitions at Mall Galleries provide opportunities for emerging artists to reach a wider audience, and to get their name out there. It’s fantastic to show my work alongside prominent members of The Pastel Society, in an exhibition where the level of skill on display is so high. I will definitely tell other artists to submit their work to future exhibitions.’

Tracey Gent

‘I decided to enter The Pastel Society Open Exhibition after meeting member artists Caroline Bays PS and Susan Relph PS at life drawing classes in Woking, who suggested I should submit my work’, says Tracey. ‘I've been submitting for a few years now, and this is the first year that my work has been accepted.’

‘I was drawn to The Pastel Society because of the lovely work on display in the Annual Exhibitions. This year, I’ve started signing up to the society’s workshops and events at Mall Galleries too.’

Stone and Shadow by Tracey Gent: Pastel & charcoal pencil, 33 x 28 cm - £350

‘It’s very flattering and a little intimidating to have my work on display alongside such talented artists. I feel like I still have a lot to learn. As a community, The Pastel Society has been very supportive and congratulatory. One member took me under her wing at the private view and introduced me to lots of the other exhibitors, which was great.’

‘I would encourage other artists to submit their work to Mall Galleries Call for Entries’ says Tracey, ‘with the advice that they shouldn’t be discouraged if they are rejected. It can be difficult to handle, but it’s also part of the process.’

Find out more about the artists and work in The Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2019