Exhibition updates

The New English Art Club 2019 Annual Exhibition: Prize Winners

Castle by Joseph Ryan

Introducing the prize winners of the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2019.

This year's New English Art Club Annual Exhibition is swelling with talent from established members to new emerging artists. Last night, a series of covetable prizes were awarded to five painters at the Private View. The variety and range of works included in this list of winners is reflective of the adventurous and bold nature of the society, something which will no doubt continue to flourish under the leadership of Peter Brown PNEAC and Sarah Spencer VPNEAC. 

Castle by Joseph Ryan: Oil, 85 x 60 cm - £2,000

Joseph Ryan, winner of The Doreen McIntosh Prize (£5,000) and the NEAC Critics’ Prize (£250)

Both The Doreen McIntosh Prize and the NEAC Critics' Prize have been awarded to Joseph Ryan. ‘Castle’ depicts the artist’s wife, painted with oil on linen. Joseph has been exhibiting with the New English since 2015. A contemporary figurative artist, working in the modernist tradition, his work revolves around the themes of family, perception and the pursuit of an image.

The Doreen McIntosh Prize was set up by Sir Ronald McIntosh, an avid collector of the New English Art Club, in memory of his late wife. Both have since passed away. In their absence, Joseph was selected as the winner by their nieces.

Hackney by Julia Jackson NEAC: Mixed Media, 88 x 91 cm - £1,200

Julie Jackson NEAC, winner of The Bowyer Drawing Prize (£1,000)

As Peter Brown writes in the President's Foreword of this year's New English Art Club exhibition catalogue, the society is "underpinned by drawing", a point well illustrated by The Bowyer Drawing Prize. The prize was created in honour of William Bowyer RA RP PPNEAC, who passed away in 2015, by his sons Jason and Francis. Following the tragic passing of Jason earlier this year, the award now commemorates both Jason and his father.

“Drawing is crucial and always helps to restore my perception of space,” says winner Julie Jackson, who works from sketches which she creates through direct observation, developing them until they are “deeply felt”. 

Julie started painting with Jason Bowyer after she was awarded the first New English Scholarship. Since then, she has found that “being part of a group of artists is very important to me.”

Whitstable Sky and Seascape by Sarah Spencer VPNEAC: Oil, 86 x 99 cm - SOLD

Sarah Spencer VPNEAC, winner of The Peter Ashley Framing Prize (£500 of picture framing), presented by The Artistic Framing Company

The Peter Ashley Framing Prize was awarded to the society's Vice President, Sarah Spencer, for her painting of Whitstable. It’s no surprise that Spencer hails from Kent herself, given the zeal with which she captures a beacon of light peering through the foreboding clouds – evidence, perhaps, of a silver lining in the distance.

JMW Turner was famously drawn to Kent for the unique quality of light there and the atmosphere it gave his paintings – as is evident in this brooding yet luminescent painting by Spencer.

3/15/2018 by Sean Cunningham: Oil, 36 x 41 cm - SOLD

Sean Cunningham, winner of the Jackson’s Art Supplies Prize (£300)

Sean Cunningham has been awarded Jackson’s Art Supplies Prize for his work, '3/15/2018', made using acrylic on board. This painting was created in a day using the available daylight. The title, unsurprisingly, refers to the date it was painted. Cunningham previously exhibited at Mall Galleries with the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) in 2018.  

Mother & Child – South Downs by Robert E Wells: Oil, 33 x 33 cm - £1,200

Robert E Wells NEAC RBA, winner of The Dry Red Press Award (work published as a greeting card)

Robert E Wells NEAC RBA is one of the society's more recent members, joining in 2017. "It means a huge amount to me on a personal level," said Robert, "I see it as a fine tradition and heritage of which I am proud to say I am a part of."

On July 9, Robert will in the gallery to deliver a talk on “The Power of the Sketchbook”, examining its use as part of the creative process. Robert will provide a number of his own working books to demonstrate the process from initial drawings through to large studio paintings, and their use as a constant source of reference material. There will also be an opportunity for an informal portfolio review if artists wish to bring along their own sketchbooks for discussion. 



View the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 

The New English Art Club is on view at Mall Galleries from 14 June to 22 June.

Content Image

Castle by Joseph Ryan

Image credit

3/5/18 by Sean Cunningham

New English Art Club Annual Exhibition: Interactive Map

Michael Whittlesea Shoreditch New English Art Club Mall Galleries

Take a virtual trip around the world with our interactive map which plots a plethora of far-flung places across the globe, depicted by artists in this year's New English Art Club Annual Exhibition.

You might find yourself peeping at lovers in Venice or climbing the Swiss mountains of Martigny, taking in the morning mist of Toscana or admiring the architecture of Geneva cathedral. San Francisco doesn't take your fancy, how about a Himalayan Temple?

Or perhaps you’re more of a home bird, in which case, why not take an amble around London, through Michael Whittlesea's busy streets of Shoreditch, then stop to take in the view at Melissa Scott-Miller's Islington window and finally kick back with Ruth Stage’s serene depiction of the Thames at Richmond.

Image credit

Michael Whittlesea NEAC Shoreditch

Lillie Langtry and the Evolution of the Muse

Lillie Langtry - Title

With George Frederic Watts’ portrait of 1870s socialite Lillie Langtry currently exhibiting in the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition, we take a look at what it means to be a muse then and now.

Lillie Langtry was the quintessential muse. A British-American actress, producer and socialite, she captivated 1870s London with her charm, talent and good looks. Not only did she inspire writers like Oscar Wilde and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, she also sat for several established painters including Frank Miles, John Everett Millais, Edward Burne-Jones, William Powell Frith and George Frederic Watts, who was a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in the 1800s. Both Frank Miles and his friend Oscar Wilde idolised Langtry. “I with my pencil and Oscar with his pen will make you the most famous beauty of the age,” Miles told her.

"The Dean's Daughter [Lily Langtry]" (1879-80) by George Frederic Watts RP (1817-1904), Oil on canvas – NFS

Many women throughout art history have occupied the role of the muse. Emilie Louise Flöge appears throughout Gustav Klimt’s work, most famously in his 1908 magnum opus ‘The Kiss’. While Pablo Picasso, a notorious womanizer, had several muses throughout his career, including Dora Maar, a surrealist photographer and left-wing activist who is said to have influenced him to paint ‘Guernica’.

As glamorous as the role of the muse might seem on the surface, it has also been a tool of female oppression. Women have been largely written out of art history, often finding themselves relegated to the role of the muse, despite being talented creators in their own right. Even successful artists, such as Georgia O’Keeffe, who managed to break through were said to have done so because of the men in their lives. While it was seen as daring for Frida Kahlo to say, “I am my own muse.”

Historically, visual representations of women have been created predominantly by and for men. “Men look at women; women watch themselves being looked at,” said John Berger in his groundbreaking TV series Ways of Seeing (1972). Now known as “the male gaze”, this idea was originally theorised by Laura Mulvey in her landmark 1975 essay, ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ which laid claim to the fact that images of women are largely created to please a male viewer, positioning them as an “object” of heterosexual male desire.

Since the rise of the feminist movement, women have successfully challenged sexism in the art world and broken down barriers. Female artists like Judy Chicago, Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer were once scandalised and shunned as much as they are now celebrated and immortalised. And yet, gender imbalances remain steadfast. In 1989, the Guerilla Girls drew attention to the fact that less than 5% of the works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) were by female artists, while 85% of the nudes were female. Twenty years later, things have improved, but only marginally. In their latest 2015 campaign, the Guerilla Girls revealed that galleries that once showed 10% are only up to 20%, while New York museums that previously gave no women artists a solo exhibition, gave just one single woman a solo show in 2015.

"Nude with a Book" by Anthony Connolly RP, Oil, 140 x 140 cm, NFS

Furthermore, sexualised images of women are still ubiquitous across media and society and thus an image of a naked female body remains “nothing but controversial” as academic and activist Dr. Victoria Bateman wrote in the Guardian. Whether it is Instagram’s selective banning of female anatomy parts (but not men's) or petitions against galleries (including the MET and Manchester Art Gallery) to remove “voyeuristic” works, the female nude remains a point of contention. “In modern society, a naked woman is associated with one thing alone: sex,” states Bateman. “This single-minded way of looking at nudity isn’t healthy – certainly not for women.”

A selection of works at this year’s Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition are challenging these notions. A nude portrait of Dr. Bateman by Anthony Connolly RP depicts the academic reclined in a relaxed pose reading. Bateman insists that, while it was painted by a man, it was she who initiated and commissioned the piece, and so, "the model took charge." With this work, Bateman aims to demonstrate that a nude woman can also be an intelligent one, not simply a sexual object. “It is intellectually elitist, hypocritical and unfair that women who monetise their brains are celebrated and looked up to, whilst women who do the same with their bodies are denigrated and spoken down to.” Bateman argues. “Feminism cannot seek to achieve equality for only one group of women.”

This is the second time that Bateman’s portrait has been exhibited at Mall Galleries. In 2014, she debuted a similar nude portrait by the same artist, which was met with much controversy. Since then, she has continued to carry out naked protests throughout the media, “to challenge the way women are judged, to fight for greater bodily autonomy for women (from birth control rights), and to protest Brexit.”

'Untitled (Portrait of My Girlfriend) by Sarah Jane Moon, Oil, 154 x 114 cm, £5,600

Elsewhere in the exhibition, Sarah Jane Moon’s portrait of her girlfriend is an ode to female power. This piece is part of an ongoing investigation by the artist to paint the female nude, “a genre loaded with patriarchal associations,” through a queer lens and in a way that is “commanding, self-possessed and unapologetic.” The subject is topless, but deliberately dressed in jeans – a traditionally masculine material – provoking the question, “is she half undressed or half dressed?” The pose was chosen to convey “strength and openness” and taken from a low vantage point to place the viewer in a less dominant position. Moon explains that the portrait is also a depiction of a same-sex relationship: “The attributes I find attractive in her and wanted to celebrate are strength, steadiness and openness rather than qualities that might have traditionally been associated with feminine beauty such as being passive, meek & delicate.”

In painting ‘Alicia’, one of Hannah Murray’s main concerns was challenging the voyeuristic potential within such imagery. “I strive for my subject to confront the viewer with a raw honesty and allow them to reflect on their feelings towards the female form, revealing flesh more as a matter of fact than an eroticised fantasy,” says Murray.

'Alicia' by Hannah Murray, Oil, 50 x 30 cm, £5,000

One of the most striking paintings in this year’s exhibition is a self-portrait by cancer survivor Leslie Watts in which the artist depicts herself post-mastectomy, bandaged with one breast. “Painting myself in this stance was meant to show that I still owned my body, despite the fact that it had broken down,” Leslie explains. “This is all I am: my body and my paintbrush. I have other scars too: Caesarean sections, mole excisions.” Cancer is a traumatic experience for the mind as much as the body, and yet the artist appears comfortable in her own skin. The cone highlights Watts's vulnerability, but her expression reveals that she is not owned by it. “It could be merely sad, but I decided to wear the veterinary collar to show that I could still laugh about it.”

This week, Facebook removed an image of Watts’ painting from our page deeming it inappropriate. Watts finds it bizarre that anyone would find this portrait in any way carnal: “If anyone looked at this and found it sexually provocative, I’d be amazed. I’m a post-menopausal woman with one breast. This is not about anything except dealing with a scary event in a very personal way: please take a good look. This is my reality.”

In the midst of #MeToo and a surging fourth wave of feminism, the idea of the muse is one that is being called into question. Is there such a thing as a “quintessential muse”? Who gets to be a muse in the 21st century? Join us for a panel discussion on Saturday, 18 May in which we will discuss these questions and much more. 

Lillie Langtry, Model and Muse will take place at 2pm on 18 May in the Main Gallery. 

'Self-Portrait with Tarnished Jug' by Leslie Watts, Egg tempera, 66 x 46 cm – NFS

 

Content Image

Lillie Langtry - Title

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters 2019 Exhibition: Award Winners

Dickinson, Title image

Introducing the award winners from this year's Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition.

There is a phenomenal level of skill and artistry to behold at this year's Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition, which boasts some 200 works of contemporary portraiture from an international roster of artists. Seven talented painters were awarded prizes today (8 May), announced at the Private View by the Society's President Richard Foster who applauded the winners' commitment and flair. Find out more about the commended artists below.

Joe with Tattoos by David Caldwell RP

David Caldwell RP, Winner of The Smallwood Architects Prize

Direct engagement with his sitters is a key component to Caldwell's work. “A portrait is not only about achieving a likeness but also about capturing the sitter’s individual energetic presence,” says the artist.

Through his paintings, he aims to translate his “experience of looking.” Caldwell explains, “I want my paintings to suggest the sensation of stereoscopic vision, as the camera lens cannot, and to amalgamate the layers of looking - indeed the layers of time - into one image. Ultimately I would like my work to express the sensation of having been there, of having stood in my shoes.”

 

The Engineer by Joshua Waterhouse

Joshua Waterhouse, Winner of The de Laszlo Foundation Award

Born in Newcastle in 1989, Waterhouse is a hyperrealist artist living and working in London. Despite the contemporary feel of his work, the artist draws much of his inspiration from artists of the Northern Renaissance. He paints with oil on wood panel in a highly meticulous fashion to create portraits with a heightened sense of realism.

Though the face remains the focus of his work, Waterhouse gives equal consideration to the environment of his sitter. The artist often amplifies the narrative of a subject’s life through still life elements in the composition, as seen here in this award-winning portrait of Jack Stanger, a retired aeronautical engineer. Commissioned by the Stanger family, the painting depicts its subject tinkering with a grasshopper escapement clock he made from scratch, surrounded by the paraphernalia of an engineer’s workshop. The unusual silhouette in the background is a nod to the engineer’s involvement in Concorde during his career. 

 

Rose at Houghton by Phoebe Dickinson 

Phoebe Dickinson, Winner of Burke's Peerage Foundation Award for Classically Inspired Portraiture

Born in 1984, Chelsea-based painter Phoebe Dickinson trained at London Fine Art Studios and was among the 48 selected to exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery for last year’s BP Portrait Award.

Dickinson’s lush painting depicts Rose Hanbury, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley wearing her antique Turkish kaftan in the opulent surroundings of Houghton Hall’s tapestry room. “I wanted to create a large predominantly dark portrait that showed off the scale and grandeur of the room but also the luminosity of her English rose skin,” Dickinson explains.

 

Preoccupied with Something by Yun Meng

Yun Meng, Winner of the Contemporary Arts Trust Award

Chinese artist Yun Meng is fascinated by the relationship between the skin, colour and the space of the sitter in a specific environment at that time – as demonstrated here in this multi-textured work. Through painting, the artist expresses the complex emotions and spiritual world of the characters.

Judith Kellerman, Trustee of the Contemporary Arts Trust said, "Yun Meng's painting revealed a lovely portrait of the subject which captured light, feeling and natural expression. Moreover, the skin tone and the figures were beautifully painted. The award, in memory of my daughter Alice Batkin, is given to convey how art appreciation and painting (and other mediums) can encourage expression and creativity in everyone.” 

 

Tom by James Hague RP

James Hague RP, Winner of The RP Award (on the theme of 'Skin')

Born in Nottingham in 1970, Hague studied Fine Art at The University of Northumbria at Newcastle and now lives between East London and Copenhagen. Hague paints his subjects in a luminescent, bug-eyed style that is reminiscent of some of Lucian Freud’s early work. The artist generally works from life, producing a series of drawings or photographs over 3 to 6 sittings which he later works on from his studio.

 

Executive Chef by Peter Kuhfeld RP NEAC

Peter Kuhfeld RP NEAC, Winner of The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture

Born in Cheltenham in 1952, Kuhfeld is the only child of a German prisoner of war and an English classical pianist. The painter studied art at Leicester Polytechnic followed by a brief period teaching at Rugby School of Art, before studying at the Royal Academy Schools under Peter Greenham RA.

In 2012, Kuhfeld was commissioned by HRH The Prince of Wales to paint the royal wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Prince Charles has been a patron of his and Kuhfeld painted portraits of Prince William and Prince Harry in 1986.

Esther by Robbie Wraith RP

Robbie Wraith RP, Winner of The Prince of Wales's Award for Portrait Drawing

Wraith left school at 16 to study painting in Florence at the invitation of Pietro Annigoni, an Italian portrait and fresco painter, best known for his portraits of Queen Elizabeth II. Over the course of his career, he has had over thirty exhibitions across Britain, Europe, America and China. Wraith has painted a long list of distinguished portrait sitters, including everyone from HM The Queen to Nelson Mandela. He has work in the private collection of HM The Queen, HRH The Prince of Wales, the Royal Collection Windsor, The Vatican, Oxford and Cambridge Universities and many more. 

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition is on view at Mall Galleries, 9-24 May. 

 

Content Image

Dickinson, Title image

Image credit

The Engineer by Joshua Waterhouse

In the Bookshop: Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2019

RP bookshop cover

We have a range of new and exciting products available in the bookshop curated especially for the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition.

As we prepare the gallery for another busy exhibition with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (RP), our bookshop is being stocked up with a range of inspired gifts. This year's limited edition greetings card is a painting by Sandra Kuck, ‘My Dear Angus’. Kuck has exhibited with the RP in previous shows and is recognised for her intricate attention to detail and delicate use of lighting.

Visitors to the show will also have the opportunity to see an original work by 19th century painter and sculptor, G.F. Watts. His portrait of Lillie Langtry will be on loan from the Watts Gallery for the exhibition and their curator Nicolas Tromas has written a book about the artist’s life and works, The Art of G.F. Watts, which is also available in store.

New in the bookshop

For those feeling inspired and wanting to try their hand at portraiture, How to Draw Portraits in Charcoal by Nathan Fowkes covers everything from the materials you’ll need to get started, composition and use of light and shade to the common mistakes budding artists make (and how to avoid them!) It’s no surprise that this comprehensive guide is one of the bookshop’s bestsellers and will be available while stocks last.

Another of our most sought after items is artist and environmentalist, Kurt Jackson’s, Botanical Landscape which features a series of works by the artist in a variety of different mediums, such as painting, printmaking and sculpture. Each of these works are Jackson’s expressive response to the diversity of the natural world around us and his determination to preserve and protect it.

Like Jackson, we’re environmentally conscious and seek like-minded brands to work with, such as Art Angels and Arthouse Unlimited. Both groups not only produce a range of beautifully illustrated cards and gifts, such as the ‘Dancers’ greeting card and ‘Portrait’ dark chocolate, but also print and assemble their products in the UK using recycled or FSC certified materials for added bonus. It’s also important to note that Arthouse Unlimited are a registered charity supporting adults with complex learning and physical disabilities who create all the artwork seen on their products. 100% of sales support the enterprise meaning you can overindulge on chocolate completely guilt-free! Almost.

Royal Society of Portrait Painters Catalogue 2019, £8 (including UK P&P)

To tempt you further we’re introducing a brand new collection of silver jewellery from Just Trade. Each piece has been handmade using crochet tools and traditional techniques by women from the ‘Hope Jewellery Project’ in Lima, Peru. Proceeds support these women by providing them with an income to sustain themselves and their families.

You can discover this collection and more during your visit to the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Exhibition, opening Thursday 9th May.

Plan your visit now



All products featured above are available to purchase in our bookshop:

  • 'My Dear Angus' Sandra Kuck Greetings Card, £2.95
  • 'Dancers' 3D card by Art Angels, £5
  • The Art of G.F Watts, by Nicolas Tromans, £17.95
  • Portraits Dark Chocolate by Arthouse Unlimited, £4.95
  • Botanical Landscape by Kurt Jackson £35.00
  • How to Draw Portraits in Charcoal by Nathan Fowkes, £23.99
  • Marisol Jewellery Collection by Just Trade; Earrings: £40.00, Pendant: £48.00, Statement Necklace: £120.00
  • Royal Society of Portrait Painters Catalogue 2019, £8 (including UK P&P)

 

Content Image

RP bookshop cover

Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2019

Broken Egg by Michael Hedge

Caroline Kenyon, Founder of the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year, discusses the unifying power of food photography in troubled times.

Food is full of contradictions. Of course, we need it to survive, but it can also hold greater meaning whether it be political, religious, aspirational or symbolic. It offers a portal into the rituals, celebrations and struggles of others. Food tells stories about the way we live.

From the communal and the spiritual to the political and the commercial, it’s all here at the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2019. For Caroline Kenyon, Founder of the Awards, it is the unifying power of food that is most important. "We all know we are living in a fractious, angry world at the moment, when public discourse is aggressive and divisive, seeking to set groups of people against each other," says Kenyon. "These awards set their face against that divisiveness and this year, we have shown that to a degree that makes me so proud.”

'Cauldron Noodles' by Jianhui Liao, Winner of the Food for Celebration Category

The idea to create the awards first came to Kenyon some eight years ago in the middle of the night, though it was a culmination of experiences which led to that point: “It was the coming together of years of a love for photography, editing a travel magazine, photographer’s portfolio, running a PR agency specialising in food, commissioning food photographers and my son, then aged 12, becoming passionate about photography.” She was particularly inspired by a visit to Wildlife Photographer of the Year, which presented a model of how such an exhibition might work, “in terms of scale, range and subject matter.”

'Always Have A Camera In My Hands' by Lily-Mae Franklin, Winner of the Young 15-17-year-olds Category

Kenyon ascertains that diversity amongst the judges is crucial to achieving such a balance. “I always look for a real range of experience, from top chefs who produce their own cookery books to creative directors, food retailers, people who are embroiled with food and photography on a daily basis.” This year’s panel, chaired by food photographer David Loftus, includes Claire Hyman, British Photography – The Hyman Collection, culinary superstar Alice Waters, Lucy Pike, Head of Pictures at WeTransfer, His Excellency Ali Bin Thalith and Secretary General, HIPA.

'Bonda Tribe' by Sanghamitra Sarkar (India), Winner of the Food for the Family Category

With over 9,000 images entered from 77 countries, the judges had a huge pool of talent to choose from and the result is a truly multicultural show. Walking through the gallery one can take a trip across the world, stumbling upon a lunar celebration in China, a Bangladeshi woman collecting water or a tribal family in India preparing food in a clay pot. "Wherever we live, whoever we are, rich or poor, urban or rural, powerful or powerless," says Kenyon, "we are united by food, by the need to eat, by food as community, as celebration. These pictures show that as an inescapable, powerful truth – ultimately, we are all the same."

'Harvesting Gold' by Kazi Mushfiq, Winner of Bring Home the Harvest Category

Find out more about the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year here

 

Content Image

A Taste of the New English Art Club's Upcoming Annual Exhibition

With the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year exhibition launching this week (1 to 5 May) and the New England Art Club’s Annual Exhibition right around the corner (14 to 22 June), we felt it fitting to bring the two together by compiling a selection of gastronomical works from the upcoming NEAC show.

There are fewer elements of human life more deeply embedded in the fabric of society than food. And so examining the ways different cultures use it offers a unique glimpse into the ritualistic nature of communities around the world. A central tenet of human survival, the gastronomic has been a constant presence throughout the canon of art history, from Vermeer's milkmaid and Van Gogh's potato eaters to Andy Warhol's soup cans. Now to enjoy this selection of food-related paintings from the New English Art Club.

Small Blue Plums’ by Diana Calvert NEAC: Oil, 30 x 41 cm – £575

 

'Quince' by Pamela Kay NEAC, RBA: Oil, 23 x 28 cm – £1,850

 

'Dining Table with French Lamp' by Susan Ryder RP NEAC: Oil, 69 x 94 cm – £4,800

 

'Papaya and Limes' by Felicity House PS: Oil, 36 x 38 cm – £850

 

'Still Life' by Daniel Shadbolt NEAC: Oil, 69 x 79 cm – £900

 

'Pomegranate Tree' by Charlotte Sorapure NEAC: Oil, 48 x 34 cm – £1,800


Discover the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition - available to browse and buy now

 

Image credit

Pamela Kay Quince (detail)

Estelle Lovatt FRSA: 'Art Expert' in Residence

Estelle Lovatt - RI Exhibition

Artist and art critic Estelle Lovatt FRSA shares her thoughts on the instinctive nature of watercolours.

Being 'Art Expert in Residence' at the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) 207th Exhibition was wonderful. I was there to talk about the watercolours, share market insights and answer questions on all things art. I met such interesting people, from gallery visitors to the exhibiting artists, whom I heard gallery-goers praise and describe their skilled artwork “incredible…innovative… haunting…beautiful…stunning…astonishing…expressive…great quality.” Many congratulations to the incredible prize winners, and indeed all the magnificent artists.

I enjoy the capriciousness of watercolour.  From how it is shaped as much by the wetness of the medium and the way that weighty, broad washes, relax into the furrows of the paper (often without much control!), to how tiny, subtle, brushstrokes build up layers of transparent effects, adding 3D volume and depth of perspective.

Watercolour has a life of its own, its magical luminosity and instinctive freedom rapidly seizing an impression, reminds me of a quote by Pablo Picasso who said, “There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun.” And on the cold bleak London day I was there, the jewel-like colours – Prussian blue beside Indian yellow, carmine and burnt sienna by Hooker's green, Payne’s grey and emerald – felt especially gorgeous.

Estelle Lovatt at the Royal Insitute of Water Colours 207th Exhibition

The beginnings of the RI dates back to 1807 and it continues to promote watercolour today. His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, has written the foreword of RI: Then and Now, a coffee-table book accompanying the exhibition, which traces the history of the institute. Prince Charles himself had two landscapes exhibited; he favours watercolour for painting ‘en plein air’, outdoor studies, of landscapes and forests of trees, rooted in the scrutiny of nature, since water scenes fit the clear flowing characteristics of the medium.

I was also lucky to eavesdrop on some free events as part of the exhibition including Jean Noble RI hosting portfolio reviews, Robin Hazelwood RI giving an exhibition tour and Rosa Sepple PRI talking to visitors.

Elli Koumousi, Head of Education and Cultural Strategy at Mall Galleries said staff thought of me as their “in-house art therapist.” Someone I was chatting to called me the “Art Doctor”. I won’t forget observing pictorial effects with one gallery-goer who looked at me surprised after I explained how I use salt and clingfilm to apply added texture when I paint. Anything goes in the medium loved by some of the greatest British artists from traditional masters including J.M.W Turner and William Blake to contemporary giants Anish Kapoor and Tracey Emin.

Estelle Lovatt FRSA


Work from the Royal Insitute of Water Colours 207th Exhibition is available to view online.

 

In the Bookshop: The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours

Mall Galleries Bookshop

The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 207th Exhibition features an accompanying selection of gifts and souvenirs from our bookshop.

The latest arrival in the bookshop is a brand new publication written by Anthony J Lester, Hon. RMS, FRBA, FRSA. RI: Then and Now is a celebration of the Institute's rich history and its member artists of both past and present.

The book includes biographies of the society's current members along with examples of their work, and a preface written by first female president Rosa Sepple who has also signed copies of the book.

Further new arrivals include a collection of fine bone china mugs by Lillias August RI each depicting a charming collection of items painted by the artist: Nests, Lightbulbs, Paintbrushes and Scissors.

Naomi Tydeman RI’s work Marsh Moon (on view in the exhibition) is this year's limited edition greetings card and notecard sets of Ann Blockley RI’s chilling 'Wintry Hawthorn' are also available

Shirley Trevena RI’s signature style of loose and dynamic watercolours are firm visitors favourite and her selection of greetings cards and book are unsurprisingly among our bestsellers.

For those feeling inspired and keen to get painting the first thing every artist needs is a good sketchbook and a travel set of paints followed perhaps by a guide book (or two) with some helpful tips and hints. Thankfully our bookshop has an entire range of instructional titles but two we’d like to highlight were both written by Hazel Soan. Light and Shade in Watercolor offers a comprehensive introduction focusing on the use of shadows and highlights to create depth and atmospheric effects.

However, if you’re new to watercolours and eager to dive straight in and get painting in the great outdoors as soon as possible then our bestselling 10-Minute Watercolours is the perfect pocket-sized guide to carry around with you. This mini edition is full of handy 10-minute step-by-step exercises for the budding artist whose time is limited but passion for painting isn’t.

The Royal Insitute of Painters in Water Colours 207th Exhibition continues at Mall Galleries until Thursday 18 March. 

Plan your visit now



All of the products featured are available to purchase in our bookshop:

  • RI: Then & Now book, £34.99 
  • Lillias August mugs, £15.00
  • Naomi Tydeman, 'Marsh Moon' greetings card (limited edition), £2.95
  • Shirley Trevena Watercolours, £25.00
  • 10-Minute Watercolours, (Collins Mini) £5.99
  • Light and Shade in Watercolour, Hazel Soan, £19.99
  • Watercolour paint disc sets, £8.50
  • Seawhite sketchbook, £9.95
  • Ann Blockley card packs, £6.99 (or 2 for £12.00)

'Art Expert in Residence' Estelle Lovatt FRSA on Pastels

Goodman-Sheila-Avon Meadows

Artist and art critic Estelle Lovatt FRSA shares her thoughts on pastels, and the peculiar exercise of appreciating art.


My second day as Mall Galleries ‘Art Expert in Residence’ was at the Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2019.  It was a great privilege to be there, talking to gallery visitors about all things art, and looking at the superb pastels, which were of a very high standard.

Visitors asked me questions, some in whispers, others boldly requesting art world information at decibels that enabled those nearby to listen in. Whatever questions popped into people's heads, they asked. Titbits of advice were required in answer to questions like how can I sell my work? How much should I sell it for? What framing is best? Are there rules about mounts? Should pastels be behind glass? What type of glass?

Someone asked me simply to talk about a pastel they admired from the exhibition, and we discussed how art doesn't demand to be understood to be appreciated. You don't need expertise to understand art, to do it, or to experience it. When I listen to birdsong I don't know its meaning, but I enjoy it very much.

Just as important as knowing what you like is knowing what you dislike. We talked about the subjective versus the objective in art. We talked about rejection, and how the Impressionists, Fauvists and Cubists were initially rejected and considered madmen, before becoming much-loved favourites.

The love of art and ideas, emotions, feelings and imagination is what it’s all about. It was inspiring to hear pastel enthusiasts talk about their love for the medium and their struggles with their art: 'how can we make whites whiter and at the same time have more colour?' 'Can our greens be as wide-ranging as Constable?'

We nattered about what sort of paper to use, whether to use fixative, and how fixative might darken as it seals the pigment (so use a good quality fixative). This led on to talks about becoming friends with staff at a good art shop. The famous pastel artist Edgar Degas made an appearance; we discussed how he might apply a layer of paint to his card, for the pastel to grip it another way, or apply pastel to tracing paper. I directed one visitor to the National Gallery across the road to examine the Degas there.

I talked about good mixing techniques, like hatching and crosshatching, to ensure colours stay light and unified. I also encouraged visitors not to worry too much about technique. My motto is 'if you can dust you can draw!' Drawing is all about moving your hand, wrist and arm, up and down and side to side.  And, hey, you’re making marks, and marks equal drawing.

So until we meet again, I’d like to thank everyone for their ideas and questions. Happy drawing! My next event in the gallery will be on 10 and 11 April from 12 noon to 1.30pm. This is during the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 207th Exhibition.

Estelle Lovatt FRSA

Image credit

Sheila Goodman PS, Avon Meadows