Exhibition updates

New English Art Club Annual Exhibition Prizes and Award Winners 2017

The New English Art Club awards several prizes and awards every year. This year's recipients were announced at the Private View by President Richard Pikesley.

This year's exhibition runs at Mall Galeries until 25 June. Works from the exhibition are available to Browse & Buy online.


Award Winners 2017 

 

The Doreen McIntosh Prize

Paul Gildea NEAC Night Watch


Contemporary Arts Trust Award

Alex Maczkowski Toil


The Peter Ashley Framing Prize

David Cobley NEAC, Marvellous Mr Hockney


The Woodhay Picture Gallery Prize

Arthur Neal NEAC, KT II


Jackson's Art Prize

Michael Collins Study for Birling Gap


The NEAC Critics' Prize

Peter Brown NEAC Absolutely Chucking It Down George Street, Bath


The Dry Red Press Award

Ann Shrager NEAC Diwali Elephant



View more work from the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition

Image credit

Paul Gildea Night Watch

New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2017 – In the Artists’ Words

Member artists of the New English Art Club reveal all about some of the works featured in this year’s Annual Exhibition…

It has been said about the New English Art Club, fairly, that, "the contents of its exhibitions ... include invented figurative painting, expressionism, satirical subjective painting and abstracted work along with observed objective painting which is the core of the New English tradition" (The New English Art Club Exhibitors 1886-2001, Volume 1, p. XVII). Here, several member artists tell us about some of the works in the New English’s Annual Exhibition 2017, which illustrate its varied contents well…

Neil Pittaway European Library

“My multimedia picture, European Library, celebrates the collective ideas and ideals of Europe and the EU, showcasing its rich heritage and cultural treasures in an imagined library ... The work is particularly poignant as Britain exists the European Union, and remains a reminder of what is great about our collective shared European identities.”


Diana Armfield Teatime in the Garden

“I grew up with the turquoise coloured shed on the edge of the New Forest, which housed chickens. It was dismantled and arrived in my London home with inherited furniture in 1956, then re-erected by my husband and fellow New English member Bernard Dunstan who, over the years, has kept it going turquoise - both useful and a feature at the end of the garden.”


 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Scott-Miller 2017 View of My Area of London

“This is a view near where I live in Islington. I had walked past the block of flats that it was painted from nearly every day for a few years and imagined that it must be a great view of the surrounding area, known as the Hillmarton Conservation Area and then the City and the east of London beyond that, and I longed to go up there and draw or paint it. Then, I became friends with a fellow dog owner in the nearby park and she told me that she lived on the estate and kindly introduced me to the caretaker, who gave me permission to paint on the landing of the tenth floor. I spent the whole of last winter there: every morning I would walk round carrying this (to me, at least) huge canvas and my easel and paints in a trolley. On the way there and back a lot of people would see me and shout words of encouragement as they saw the painting progress!”


Bridget Moore Evening Blue

Evening Blue was made from a trip to France – the sun was going down, the moon was up and there was a beautiful golden edge to the hills, and my skinny little nephew, Wilf, was playing statues in the garden.”


Caroline Frood Teasels Leaning

“The teasels were given to me by a friend at the end of last summer. They sat in the studio slowly turning golden and brown until I was able to focus my attention on them. I love the way they dance with their shadows.”


Richard Sorrell Brexit Camp

Brexit Camp is concerned with Brexit and its consequences, particularly the violent discussions leading up to the Referendum. The figures, from the left, show ignorant compliance, fierce self-interest, pedantry, and narrow defiance. The standing man is an ambitious manipulator; the family walking along the shore are the inheritors of the consequences.”


Michael Fairclough Lyme Bay - Golden Cap VI

“My paintings (including Lyme Bay – Golden Cap VI) are meditations on the passing of light into darkness, at sea or on the shoreline. The sea is used as a reflecting or contrasting surface, the land, a shore or a cliff, as a solid theatrical prop against liquid elements of sky and sea. Sunset can be a fast changing sequence of variations, the twilight that follows can be full of rich flashes and veils of colour.”


John Dobbs Kawasaki Z900

“I ride KTMs and the motorbike shop I go to in Hemel Hempstead had this beautiful Kawasaki Z900 on display. Now when I was a teenager and growing up, this was one of the most iconic bikes of that era. It was incredibly fast, had a reputation for poor handling, but we all aspired to own one. With the dealer’s permission, I sat and drew the motorbike for a few hours. I was then able to go to print school at the Heatherley School of Fine Art in London and use these drawings to make this drypoint print with chine-collé.”


Tessa Coleman A Room of One’s Own

“The idea for my painting A Room of One’s Own was sparked by a small black and white photograph I came across of a rather elegant self-contained woman in a large floppy hat. She struck me as a dead ringer for my idea of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, so I used her to populate a painting about Virginia Woolf’s books. I included a still life set up in the foreground that contained references to some of her books, a Charleston style screen that I made up, and spent a while moving around the various elements in the picture to produce a composition that included the suggestion of an open door in the background to allude to the importance of a private space to work in that Woolf discusses in her book A Room of One’s Own.”



Browse the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition online now

Image credit

Neil Pittaway European Library

Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition Prizes and Award Winners 2017

David Cobley RP NEAC, Made to Measure

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters awards several major prizes at its Annual Exhibition every year. This year’s recipients were announced at the Private View by President Robin-Lee Hall and represent the best of contemporary portraiture.

This year’s Annual Exhibition runs at Mall Galleries until 19 May 2017 and includes over 200 portraits by more than 100 artists.


Award Winners 2017

 

The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture 

Shawn McGovern, James

The Ondaatje Prize is the Society’s major annual award to the painter of the most distinguished portrait of the year. The Prize takes the form of a £10,000 cheque in addition to the Society’s Gold Medal. 


The de Laszlo Foundation Award

Jamie Routley, Alex Liederman at 17

The de Laszlo Foundation Award – The de Laszlo Medal for Excellence, together with a cheque for £3,000 – is awarded to the artist aged thirty five or under, judged to have submitted the best portrait.


The Changing Faces Prize

Daphne Todd OBE PPRP, Professor Susan Smith, Mistress of Girton

The Changing Faces Prize is awarded to the artist whose portrait most powerfully conveys the energy of their subject, the directness of their gaze and an attitude that exudes openness and confidence. The Prize is a £2,000 commission to paint a portrait of a person who has a facial disfigurement for the Changing Faces Collection, which aims to ensure that people with unusual faces are well and fairly represented in modern-day portraiture.


The Prince of Wales's Award for Portrait Drawing

Bernadett Timko, Lucas 

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has lent his name to the Society’s prestigious award for portrait drawing for the last eighteen years. The Award – a framed certificate and cheque for £2,000 – highlights the importance of drawing within contemporary portraiture.


Burke's Peerage Foundation Award for Classically Inspired Portraiture

Andrew Festing RP, Portrait of Count Alexis Limburg-Stirum at Walzin 

The Burke’s Peerage Foundation Award for Classically Inspired Portraiture was instituted to celebrate the art of portraiture included in Burke’s Peerage since its foundation by John Burke in 1826. It is presented annually with a framed certificate and a cheque for £2,000.


The Smallwood Architects Prize for Contextual Portraiture

David Cobley RP NEAC, Made to Measure 

The Smallwood Architects Prize is an award for a portrait in which architectural or interior features play an important part in enhancing the human subject by creating energy and a sense of place, and giving insight into the subject’s life. 


Contemporary Arts Trust Alice Batkin Award

Vania Comoretti, Dual 

The Contemporary Arts Trust offers £1,000 to the most deserving artist in the exhibition. The Trust’s objective is to assist deserving artists who show promise … to encourage them to remain in the arts and continue on their creative journey.


The RP Non-Member's Prize

Daniel Shadbolt NEAC, Nicholas 

The RP Non-Member’s Prize is a gift of £2,500, donated by The Patron’s Fund, which supports charitable organisations across the UK and Commonwealth for which Her Majesty The Queen acts as a Patron. 



The Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2017 is open at Mall Galleries 4 to 19 May. 

Browse and Buy works from the exhibition now

Image credit

David Cobley RP NEAC, Made to Measure (detail)

Winner of the Derwent Visitors’ Choice Award 2017

Whiting-Patricia-Jugs-and-Roses

Visitors to The Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2017 we asked to vote for their favourite work in the show to decide the winner of the first Derwent Visitors’ Choice Award. Derwent have been sponsoring The Pastel Society since 2016.

The work with the most votes was: Jugs and Roses by Patricia Whiting.

Whiting-Patricia-Jugs-and-Roses

This stunning work is done in Coloured Pencil.

Patsy Whiting was born in Bolton and studied in Loughborough and Manchester. After a period of working as an artist, whilst bringing up a family, she began a career in teaching art. This eventually led, through specialist training, to an Educational Audiology post in Bolton Sensory Service, working with deaf children aged 3-18.

Patsy continued to produce art throughout her career in deaf education, working in a variety of media, including print, sculpture and painting. During the course of her teaching she developed skills in visual presentation and digital animation which became her key expressive medium. However, a visit to the Picasso museum in Paris a few years ago inspired her to begin drawing again in earnest and to leave teaching. She now has a studio in Loughborough, Leicestershire.

Artist's statement

"My still lives and figures are drawn on a roughly textured pastel ground. The image is built up gradually in layers from detailed photographs, focussing on a small area at a time. It is the play of light which fascinates and challenges me. I love the process of taking away the black to make a form appear out of the shadow. "

Content Image

Whiting-Patricia-Jugs-and-Roses

Image credit

Patricia Whiting, Jugs and Roses

The Pastel Society: Persistence Pays

by Ken Gofton

Companion of The Pastel Society


That old motto, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again’ comes to mind, when considering the success of Steven King at this year’s Annual Exhibition of The Pastel Society.

Steven first entered for the exhibition in 2014, but without success. He tried again the following year, and had two paintings accepted in the pre-selection round, but neither was chosen to hang. Last year he submitted three works, and one made it into the show. This year, all six of his entries were approved at pre-selection, and he has three in the exhibition, which continues until 3pm on Saturday (4 March).

       

The Drunken Boat                                                 The Orangerie

Of the three The Co-Pilot is the star, winning not just The Pastel Society Catalogue Award (First Prize), but the £5,000 Alfred Teddy Smith and Zsuzsi Roboz Award for the best work by a young artist, aged 35 or under.

The Co-Pilot

Based in London, Steven is an artist who likes to travel. He spent a year in France after graduating, still goes there every year, and in 2016 he spent time in Guadeloupe and Belgium. The Co-Pilot was inspired by the view from his attic window in Brussels.

The last two or three years have brought him increasing recognition. A painting of his in the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) Annual Exhibition at Mall Galleries was acquired by the William Hogarth Museum, which subsequently invited him to participate in a mixed show with other artists, and then offered him a solo exhibition. He also had a painting selected for The Columbia Threadneedle Prize exhibition last year - a showcase of the finest contemporary Figurative Art Today.

Image credit

Steven King The Co-Pilot (detail)

The Pastel Society Annual Exhibition Prize Winners 2017

The Pastel Society's 118th Annual Exhibition opened at Mall Galleries on February 20.

Thank you to all the artists who exhibited this year and a special congratulations to all the prize and award winners.



Prizes and Awards



















View more highlights from the exhibition here

Image credit

Jennifer Thorpe Luminosity (detail)

By Popular Demand

Mall Galleries is currently exhibiting By Popular Demand showcasing work by winners of the Columbia Threadneedle Prize Visitors’ Choice Award spanning the eight years of the competition.

By Popular Demand exhibits new work by winners of the Visitors’ Choice Award during the Columbia Threadneedle Prize. While each work is exceptional, Tim Shaw RA’s dancing Maenad figurines piqued my interest. His fantastic monograph, including artist interviews, is available to purchase in our bookshop, displaying a wide range of his dynamic, shocking and stunning ouvre.

Also particularly striking are Ben Johnson’s three large-scale architectural works, which exemplify the pinnacle of painterly skill and the mastery of intricacy. A postcard of Johnson’s winning Visitor’s Choice work, ‘Room of the Revolutionary’, is available in the shop, alongside his book ‘Spirit of Place’. This gorgeous monograph traces the progression of his unique style from 1969 to 2015, and provides the artist’s comments on his delicate technique and career thus far.

By Popular Demand (obviously) raises debate surrounding the difference in taste and opinion between the critics choice and the public award, which will be discussed on Saturday 14 January, in our panel discussion: ‘Who Decides?’ The only year to see a consensus reached between the judges and visitors was in 2016 when Lewis Hazelwood-Horner won both the Columbia Threadneedle Prize and the Visitors’ Choice Award for his painting ‘Salt In Tea’, which was also sold during the exhibition. To mark this unlikely feat, we have created this work into a greetings card, so you can take home a memento of this record-breaking piece, too.

FBA Futures and By Popular Demand will run from 10am to 5pm daily from 9 to 20 January. Free Entry.

Who Decides? will take place at 2pm on Saturday 14 January. £5 suggested Donation, Free for Friends of Mall Galleries.

Meet the three winners of the Winsor & Newton Young Artist Awards 2016

Meet the three winners of the Winsor & Newton Young Artist Awards 2016 (for artists aged 35 or under) at this year’s Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) Annual Exhibition.

Alice Boggis-Rolfe, Rob Pointon and Tom Stevenson were selected by the judges who felt that their respective works demonstrated both creativity and talent in their use of the Oil Colour Medium. Here they tell us about their winning works, techniques and upcoming plans.

 

Alice Boggis-Rolfe

Alice Boggis-Rolfe is a travelling landscape artist. Her work, Canoes on The Dordogne, has been awarded First Prize in the Winsor & Newton Young Artist Awards 2016. It was painted en plein air over three hours on a ‘very, very hot day’. Alice carries out most of her painting as such; on site and in similar time frames ‘as then it is as true to that moment as possible’. She prefers to paint on bright summer days, when the light does not vary too much. In terms of technique, Alice tends to use oil paint quite thinly, building up layers of colour without it going ‘muddy’. She paints onto homemade gesso boards for the same reason as they are really hard wearing and the surface is quite absorbent so the paint dries quickly. When asked about winning First Prize, Alice said, ‘I still can't believe I have won the prize, I am so, so pleased. I think when I look at my work I only ever seem to notice the mistakes so it’s always really exhilarating when someone else likes it’. Alice has spent the last year painting around the UK and France, but now plans to travel further afield to destinations that are out of her comfort zone to push her work in exciting new directions.

 

 

Rob Pointon

Second Prize was awarded to Rob Pointon for his painting, The Red Door, Montmartre. During a springtime trip to Paris, Tom and his troop of Yorkshire plein air artists based themselves in Montmartre close to the steps up to the Sacre Coeur. Rob enjoys playing with wide-angle perspectives, so the dramatic staircase and description of height and depth provided by the Parisian architecture proved good subject matter. His companions mainly work alla prima, which has influenced Rob’s technique and sped up his process. This painting was completed on location with three separate visits to the spot at similar times of day and with similar weather conditions. On winning Second Prize, Rob stated, ‘I am delighted to have won Second Prize in the Winsor & Newton Young Artist Awards this year. I have been entering the ROI for years now and this will be the fourth time I have been selected. It is an honour to be in the same room as some of the finest painters in the country; I relish the networking and last year enjoyed the ROI Paint Live competition and will give that another go this time.’ Next year Rob plans to continue his travels. He is currently International Artist in Residence with Manchester Airport Group, involving two month-long trips a year to different direct destinations to produce bodies of plein air work to be exhibited in the airport. So far Rob has painted Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific and Doha with Qatar Airways. ‘Working with an airline can be handy in getting large crates of paintings back into the country!’ 

Keep up to date with Rob on Instagram.


Tom Stevenson

Tom Stevenson won Third Prize for his painting Beer, Devon. Completed en plein air in a single sitting last summer, Tom explains that Beer is a great beach for painting; ‘the combination of bright beach furniture and the high cliffs allows you to bring a lot of light down into the bottom half of the painting and move some of the shadow higher up, disrupting the usual format of a landscape with light sky and darker ground. On this occasion I was lucky enough to have a large red parasol to paint, marking the edge of the beach where the pebbles drop away towards the shore.’ Tom uses a simple palette; two blues, two browns, cadmium yellow and red, alizarin crimson, yellow ochre, oxide of chromium and titanium white. Regarding his method, he covers the whole surface early on, then works progressively, moving the painting forward altogether. He is ‘absolutely thrilled to have won the W&N Third Prize; the materials it will cover will be gratefully appreciated. This is my second time exhibiting with the ROI. In 2014 I won (jointly) The Phyllis Roberts Award, so I felt a certain amount of pressure to be selected again. To win the Prize was an unexpected pleasure!’ 2016 was a busy year for Tom, who participated in several exhibitions. He is looking forward to keeping up the pace in 2017, returning to many favourite local spots which have lots more to offer. Desiring to paint some snow this winter, he is planning some trips up country for early 2017, as Devon is not known for its snowfall. Keep up to date with Tom’s plans via twitter and Instagram @tpstevensonart. ‘Also, if anyone happens to see me out and about painting, please do come and say hello!’

 

 

 

The Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition 2016 runs at Mall Galleries until Sunday 11 December, 1pm.

 

Image credit

Alice Boggis-Rolfe, Canoes on the Dordogne (detail)

Discerning Eye: Jack Sutherland and Henry Byrne, Part Two

In Part Two of Anna Preston's interview with Mall Galleries Duty Managers and ING Discerning Eye exhibitors, Jack Sutherland and Henry Byrne, we expand on Part One’s discussion of the exhibition to explore the practices and experiences of Jack and Henry as artists.



PART TWO: The Artists

As well as working at Mall Galleries, you've both exhibited in shows here before. Jack had works in ING Discerning Eye exhibitions in 2012 and 2014, and in the Mall Galleries’ staff show in 2015. Henry exhibited in the Lynn Painter Stainers Prize in 2015 and this year's Royal Society of Portrait Painters' Annual Exhibition. What is it like experiencing the Mall from an exhibitor's perspective having gotten to know the place ‘behind the scenes’, so to speak? Do you expect this exhibition to feel different to those in which you have participated in the past?

JS: Exhibiting in the 2012 ING Discerning Eye felt very different in comparison to 2014. The prior occurred at a time when the gallery was a fresh-faced façade, and the latter held with it the knowledge of the inner workings of the space. Working in the gallery has certainly changed my view of it, but only by giving me a greater appreciation of the vast levels of work that go into organising and hanging these exhibitions.

HB: Having exhibited at Mall Galleries twice before, from a personal perspective it is both reassuring and exciting to be selected by one's peers. I generally organise my own shows so it's a novel experience to perceive the work as a guest and view my work in a gallery setting.

Henry Bryne, Dirt on Whitechapel Road

 

It’ll be fun to see if you get recognised by fans of your pieces while working at the gallery desk! Tell us a little about the practical methods you employ to manifest your ideas as physical artworks.

HB: I work with oil on canvas. I have a studio in east London where I keep my practise, however I try to stay a month abroad each year. It’s a chance to catch up on admin and scrutinise my ideas. My work is project-based as I like a start and end point, and I try to exhibit as much as possible.  I use my camera phone to take the images I later paint from, allowing a lot of flexibility to capture interesting things quickly and without too much consideration. Later I paint and then analyse if they are successful or not. If so I will exhibit it in that state or rework it to a larger scale. I like to play with the colour and tone to give a more accurate description of what I saw and how I saw it.

JS: My process is still fairly fractured, which is something I'm still learning to accept. Ideally, I would like to make a painting or a series of paintings from sketches or sets of ideas that I'm currently interested in. However, most of the time I'll sit down to make the painting or start the series and something will happen during the making that sets me down a different path. The materials might behave in a way that I was expecting, or a mistake gets left in and surpasses the initial idea.

For example, something happened in between the making of 'Cut Tooth' (2015) and 'Small German Painting I' (2016) that led me from the former to to latter. If I had to pin it down, I think it would be to do with my concerns and continuing acceptance of the materiality of paint. 'Cut Tooth' was made with acrylic and spray paint, and aimed to achieve a surface which simultaneously dealt with flatness and depth. 'Small German Painting I' still employs the use of spray paint, but most of it is covered up with a pleasingly slapdash coating of oil paint, into which crude shapes have been cut. The immediacy and unforgiving nature of painting black lines wet-on-wet into white oil excited me, and I found something utterly intriguing about the shapes I was depicting. It still toyed with illusionistic depth, but in a way that was less interested in a perfect surface and more interested in the primitive crudity of paint.

I'm still trying to pare down my interests and realise that simplicity can be the goal. It's a painting. Made from paint. To accept that is my goal.

 

Jack Sutherland, Tooth Root

Jack, I've always been intrigued by how you go about titling your paintings. What relationship does title have to form, and how do you think titles influence - or even manipulate - the viewing experience of your work?

JS: I have a love/hate relationship with titling my works. I think it can be a gloriously playful way to extend the meaning of the painting and give the viewer some access to a dialogue with the work. Sometimes, in my studio, I draw from pages of phrases and garbled words that I have collected and seem to fit in some way to a painting that needs a title. Very occasionally, I will have a phrase or a set of words that I enjoy so much that I feel compelled to make a painting that fits.

Normally the title would follow the painting; ‘Cut Tooth’ was taken from the title of the aforementioned diptych ‘Tooth Root’, which in turn was taken from the method in which the diptych was displayed. One painting would sit above the other and act as the visible tooth, and the second would act as the bloody root of the tooth. The digraph ‘oo’ found in both words also served to please me.

As for ‘Small German Painting I’, the title followed the colours and forms found within the painting. I felt that the loose gathering of shapes was fairly German in form and presentation (i.e. paintings of Thomas Scheibitz), and the colours are that of the German flag. I also liked the self-deprecating nature of the title, and its inherent failures to represent all of German painting. Fairly tongue-in-cheek, like a lot of my titles. It is of course worth noting that the German flag is in fact black-red-yellow from top to bottom, whereas my painting follows the flag of Tegelen, a former independent municipality in the Netherlands. So a non-apocryphal title would be ‘Small Tegelen Painting I’, although I cannot say I’m familiar with the Tegelen style…

Jack Sutherland, Small German Painting

 

Henry, both works you have in the show reference London's urban landscape. I see you very much as a London artist, and thereby your work as site-specific.  Would you say that environment and locality play a crucial role in your creative process?

HB: Yes I would. I'm interested in the change in atmosphere of places over different times of day and night, specifically the range of colours that are generated. Urban settings allow for this this due to the prevalence of artificial light. That constant creates a focus on an area that is quite unnatural, the works are almost like 'Still Lives' in of themselves. It is my intention that the works are open to multiple interpretations.

 

 

Chaps, I'd like to thank you for being so gracious throughout this interview and providing some super answers. You’ve certainly whet my appetite for Discerning Eye, and I’m sure the same can be said of our readers. Finally, what is next for both of you creatively?

HB: Regarding the future I have a couple of upcoming shows revolving around light and locality, so keep an eye on my website and social media pages for information about those. I’m currently on a residency in Trelex in Switzerland for a few weeks, which is taking my process and work in exciting new directions...watch this space.

AP: Watch this locality!

JS: Thank you very much for the questions, Anna. I’m planning on making some larger scale works based around the ideas in ‘Small German Painting I’, and am very much looking forward to seeing them come to fruition. This would be greatly helped by someone buying one of my paintings in the exhibition, so I urge the viewing public to do so as it is a matter of national cultural significance. I’m also involved with the DIY Art Market in Oval Space on Saturday 10 December so if you need some wondrous works on paper in your life, do come and say hello.



ING Discerning Eye runs from 17 to 27 November at Mall Galleries

 

Admission free

Find out more at: discerningeye.org

See more of Jack’s work here: jacksutherland.co.uk

See more of Henry’s work here: henrybyrne.com and here: byrne-art.com

 

Image credit

Jack Suterland, Small German Painting

Discerning Eye: Jack Sutherland and Henry Byrne, Part One

Henry Byrne, Marian Court

Mall Galleries' regulars will know Jack Sutherland and Henry Byrne as our brilliant bespectacled Duty Managers. However, some of you may not know that they are both fantastic painters. This year's upcoming ING Discerning Eye exhibition features two works each by Henry and Jack. In this two-part interview Anna Preston, Mall Galleries Bookshop Assistant, spoke with her talented colleagues to discuss their thoughts on this year’s exhibition. Part One focuses on the exhibition itself and Part Two expands on the discussion to explore the enigmas of Jack and Henry’s artistic practices and experiences.



PART ONE: The Exhibition

Hi guys, can you introduce us to the works you will have in the show?

Jack Sutherland: Cut Tooth and Small German Painting are the two paintings I have in this year’s ING Discerning Eye exhibition. Cut Tooth is actually one half of a sometimes diptych called Tooth Root. Two paintings that were made at similar times in my studio gravitated towards each other and I enjoyed hanging them as a pair, but this exhibition will only see one half.

Henry Byrne: My two pictures, Rubbish on Whitechapel Road and Marian Court are small oil paintings depicting narrative nocturnal scenes. My oeuvre is mainly portraiture, so it’s interesting to be exhibiting works which are figurative but not of people. It is possible to say that I have approached the objects from the position of a portrait painter.

Jack Sutherland, Small German Painting

Tantalizing! Discerning Eye is made up of six distinct shows selected by six judges. There are 727 pieces by 405 artists on show in total, which seems an enormous scale for any exhibition. All works are, however, small-scale. What are your thoughts regarding both the scale of the works and the scale of the exhibition?

HB: I have been working on the 25/30cm format for some time. I enjoy the immediacy of the application and completion. As a result I tend to paint ideas as soon as they materialise without too much cognition. Upon reflection I take the ones I like and rework them or increase the scale. For me, smaller paintings reduce an idea to its most basic elements. Scale restriction in the show is a compelling concept, I am interested to see how others work with that scale.

JS: In regard to the size of the show, it really can be quite intimidating as a viewer. To come into the exhibition and be faced with a mass of similar sized works can immediately cause some people to glaze over, to skim across the surface of all the works in one fell swoop, and never really give each piece the time it might deserve. However, viewing it as six exhibitions in one space makes the task of taking it all in a little less daunting. It also gives the viewers the opportunity to create their own selection out of all the works on display. As for the scale of the work, I tend to lean towards works of that size, and feel comfortable working on a smaller scale. It certainly makes them easier to transport.

Jack Sutherland, Cut Tooth

 

Discerning Eye champions artistic diversity, with the judges selecting work using wildly ranging criteria. Henry, your painting Marian Court was selected by Chris Orr RA, whose criteria valued figurative and narrative work which can 'confirm and develop human experience'. How does your creative process enable you to tell a story with paint?

Henry Byrne, Marian Court

HB: My works focuses on, what I believe, are often overlooked areas. These areas are common and do not generally get much attention. Marian Court is evocative of a stage waiting for an event to occur. Colour is very important here as it creates the anticipatory mood. The painting's focus is such that with a little simplification it could be an abstract work. The intention of the work is to echo past experience.

 

Jack, Small German Painting I was chosen by the artist Dan Coombs who cites Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's 'polyvalent rhizome' as his basis for selection. For those who are - forgivably - unfamiliar with Post-Structuralist thought, a rhizome is a botanical root structure which Deleuze and Guattari used as an illustrative metaphor to argue that infinite ideas or objects could be connected through an infinite web of possibilities which has no central or focal point. This means that the viewer has the responsibility to connect each individual work to the others. Do you consciously employ a methodology or concept while creating your work, and do you think Dan Coombs' use of post-structuralism will affect how you perceive Small German Painting I?

JS: I think the concept of the polyvalent rhizome is an exceedingly applicable method upon which to base a selection, and I do believe that my own practice relates to that method of selection. Not all of my paintings are thematically linked, they don’t all employ the same processes in their making, and my interests and influences change and develop with each painting made. Though, when viewed as one body of work, I think that they are all connected and have all been pushed through the procedure of being made by my hand.

Looking at the two paintings I have in the exhibition, a viewer could be forgiven for thinking that they were made by two different people. However, they are both very much interested in the ideas of surface, texture, materiality, and optical depth. They are two nodes in the rhizome.

 

Perhaps we can perceive the whole exhibition rhizomatically. I find it interesting that as artists you represent very different genres of contemporary painting, and yet the poet and critic Michael Glover selected both Cut Tooth and Rubbish on Whitechapel Road. His theme is 'The Helplessness of the Winners' - how do you think your works relate to each other within this brief?

JS: Looking at Michael’s specification, I do not envy the task of being a judge and having to go through the selection process. Everyone who comes into the exhibition will judge your selection, and I feel you would have to have a strong belief in the choices you make. You can enter the selection process with a rough concept, but would surely have to resort to fairly instinctual choices that have been influenced by decades of decisions that have formed your tastes and opinions.

HB: The object of Rubbish on Whitechapel Road is actually rubbish, specifically a box belonging to a 60 inch television discarded on the street. It is a broad statement on the pressures of consumerism. Lifestyle expectations become symbols of cultural tribes. The works focus is on the residue, the waste that is produced. It is an Allegory. I also thought the shapes resembled industrial structures (which Stanley Spencer painted so well). I liked the fact that in appearance it echoed our industrial past without current industry consumerism.

JS:Cut Tooth and Rubbish on Whitechapel Road could have been chosen because Michael Glover is interested in painting that pushes objects towards the surface and away from it. Or it could be because he enjoys the rough assembly or form that is played with in both paintings. Looking at his specification would suggest to us that they were both brazen and full-in-the-face, and spoke to him on that day.

Henry Byrne, Rubbish on Whitechapel Road

 

Are you familiar with the work of the judges who selected your pieces, and if so do you have any inkling insights into why they identify with your paintings?

HB: The subject matter of my work tends to focus on common, everyday objects. For instance the works in the show depict a London street and some rubbish bags - producing work based on relatable ideas is an important personal, artistic objective. I am very pleased to have been selected by two different judges.

JS: I was introduced to Dan Coombs' work via some meetings held under the banner of Abstract Critical, and have since viewed his painting with great interest. His Instagram offers wonderful views into the process behind his paintings and the influences he draws on. He also acted as a tutor to a friend (Emma Cousin) who is also in this year’s exhibition. Sadly, my knowledge of poetry is puddle-deep, but I am tremendously appreciative of Michael Glover for selecting one of my paintings.



 

ING Discerning Eye runs from 17 to 27 November at Mall Galleries

Admission free

Find out more at: discerningeye.org

See more of Jack’s work here: jacksutherland.co.uk

See more of Henry’s work here: henrybyrne.com and at byrne-art.com

Image credit

Henry Byrne, Marian Court (detail)