Friday, December 02, 2016

The only English painter of 'Loving Vincent'

Sarah Wimperis is the only English painter on the painting team who have created Loving Vincent - the world's first fully-painted feature film which brings to life the paintings and subjects of Vincent van Gogh - and Vincent himself.

Some 100+ members of the team have been painting 62,450 frames in oil paint - in the style of Vincent Van Gogh - over the last six years

The makers of the film claim that if all the paintings were laid on the ground they'd cover an area the size of London AND Manhattan!

Sarah is based in Cornwall and works full time as a professional artist and illustrator. She is represented by the Beside the Wave Gallery in Falmouth.

She signed on for a job in Poland which sounded intriguing and unique and which she thought would take five weeks. In the end it turned out that she was involved for five months during 2016.

The BBC recently made a film about the process used to create the film and their correspondent went to meet Sarah in Gdansk where the film was made.  

The BBC finds Sarah Wimperis at work on a painting for Loving Vincent
This short video is very much recommended viewing - the process (as explained by sarah) is absolutely fascinating.

You can also see on the website:

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Deanna Petherbridge on Drawing

Ten years ago, I went to a series of lectures by Deanna Petherbridge called Drawing towards Enquiry at the National Gallery in London in 2006. She is the only person I know who has been both Professor of Drawing at the Royal College of Art and the Arnolfini Professor of Drawing at both the University of the West of England, Bristol  and the University of London.

Tomorrow a new exhibition of her work Deanna Petherbridge opens to the public at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester (which is one I'm fond of as I used to pass it every day on my way home from school).  Dates are 2 December 2016 – 4 June 2017
Travelling extensively through Europe, India, the Middle East and Far East, her detailed monochrome drawings are inspired by diverse landscapes, cities and cultures: from mathematical patterns of Islamic design, to rustic Umbrian dwellings and Manchester’s industrial cast-iron structures. Detailed geometric studies or free inventions in brush and wash, her distinctive works deal with the impact of colonialism, industrialisation and warfare. Her passionate condemnation of present conflicts is expressed in the 2016 triptych 'The Destruction of the City of Homs'.
Cover of
Deanna Petherbridge: Drawing and Dialogue
A new book about drawing Deanna Petherbridge: Drawing and Dialogue has also been published by Circa Press and the launch is this evening.

Previously she has published
Her academic credentials are impressive:
  • 1995 to 2001 - Professor of Drawing at the Royal College of Art from where she launched the Centre for Drawing Research, the first doctoral programme in drawing in the UK and ran an extensive course of drawing workshops and open lectures for the whole college.
  • 2002 to 2006 - Arnolfini Professor of Drawing at the University of the West of England, Bristol
  • 2007 to 2009 - two year Research Professorship at the University of Lincoln 
  • 2009 to 2012 - Visiting Professor of Drawing at the University of the Arts London. 
Deanna Petherbridge CBE is an artist, writer and curator primarily concerned with drawing. (Her profile on her website)
Deanna Petherbridge in her Drawing Studio
This is a video about Deanna Petherbridge talking about Drawing. She's very articulate and intense and you need to concentrate to follow what she is saying. It's fascinating to hear her talking again ten years after I first heard her talking about drawing.

The Drawing towards Enquiry. Enquiry towards Drawing lectures in 2006 covered
  • The Poetics of Line
  • Expressive Bodies and Personal Identities
  • Playing with the Provisional: Sketching in Art & Design Practice - see my review Playing with the Provisional
  • Caricature, Crassness and Cruelty - see my review Crassness and Cruelty
  • Obsessive Drawing
  • Mickey Mouse and Manga: Drawing and Popular Culture.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

ING Discerning Eye 2016 - award winners and review

A total of 727 works - including paintings, prints, sculptures, drawings and photographs - by 405 artists are on show at the ING Discerning Eye exhibition from 17 - 27 November 2016 at the Mall Galleries in London.
The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition is a show of small works independently selected by six prominent figures from the art world: two artists, two collectors and two critics. 
Each of the selectors has curated an exhibition from works by artists they have personally invited to exhibit, as well as artworks submitted through the Open Call for Entries. The result is six smaller exhibitions within one, each with a very distinct personality.

The unique nature of the ING Discerning Eye is that the exhibition looks very different every year - because both selectors and the way they like to hang their chosen works varies each year.

Unfortunately my osteoarthritis was playing up yet again (it's the timing - wet November evenings are never good for mobility!) and so I missed a lot of the Artists PV last Thursday - and went home before the prizes were announced as I can't stand without sitting for any length of time. However thanks are due to Parker Harris who let me photograph in the period between the end of the exhibition for that day and the opening of the PV. Which means I have photos which actually show you what the exhibition looks like rather than a lot of people's heads with paintings peeping out behind the heads!

This post will highlight:
  • something about each of the six mini exhibitions in the galleries
  • artwork I liked
  • who won which prize (and which curator chose the work!)
I'm going to do something I've not done before which is order the prizes by the selector who invited or picked the work. The link in the
  • name of the artist is to their website (or a gallery website) - where you can see more of their work
  • title is to the work on the ING Discerning Eye website.

Artist: Dan Coombs

artist and writer, currently visiting professor at Haute École d’art et de design in Geneva, 

An eclectic choice by Dan Coombs
I wasn't too sure about Dan Coombs wall to start with. It looked a lot more eclectic than most I've seen at the Discerning Eye before and without any obvious rhyme nor reason.  Some of the juxtapositions seemed very odd.

Louisa Crispin had to bend at the knee in order for me to get a photo of her
Decaying Eringium without it being swamped by the painting above!
Then I learned the story behind it.

Dan Coombs's approach to curating the exhibition:
  • he invited 60 individual artists to each select one work to submit to the exhibition - however he has no knowledge of what was arriving until he came to hang the exhibition.
  • He selected a further 78 works from the open entry and created what is possibly the biggest ever exhibition in the history of the ING Discerning Eye.
When it came to the hang he started with the orange in the middle and then connected paintings from there and worked out across the wall.

When I looked at his wall again with this in mind it made complete sense!

It makes me wonder whether each of the exhibitions should have a short narrative by the curator next to them commenting on how they selected works and hung them. I think visitors would find it very interesting.


Surge Tide, Saligo Bay (£1,750) by Chris Bushe

Artist: Chris Orr RA

Royal Academician Chris Orr RA.

He commented on the process of selection.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

R.I.P Andy Wood PRI, RBA (1947 - 2016)

I'm very sad to report that Andy Wood PRI RBA died yesterday morning. He had been seriously ill with cancer and I've been expecting this very sad news for a little while.

Andy Wood, President of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours
(photographed in 2014 following his appointment by Ted Sepple).
His daughter reported his death on Facebook yesterday
Sadly papa wood lost his fight with cancer earlier today, in the arms of his one true love. There's no words to express the pain and emptiness we're all feeling right now, shocked, heartbroken and speechless.
It was a great honour and privilege having him as a dad, I don't need express how much a legend this man was, as everyone knows.
Rest in peace father, see you again another day. As you'd always say 'Laters'
Some of the comments by fellow members of the RI give a very clear sense of the extent to which he will be missed by his fellow watercolour artists.
The world has lost someone special. I will miss him so much. Rosa Sepple Acting President RI

It was such a privilege to work with Andy...and just to know him. Sandra Walker RI

I loved every minute of the RI working with Andy and enjoying his company - he will be so missed by us all Lilias August RI

Some people come into your life and touch it in a very special way. Andy was one of those people and we will miss him terribly. David Parfitt RI

Andy Wood - a life in art

A timeline

  • 1947: Andy was born in Porlock in Somerset and was later brought up in Surrey. 
  • 1965/67 Croydon College of Art, Croydon, Surrey
  • 1967/70 Newport College of Art, Newport (Casnewydd-ar-Wysg), Monmouthshire (Sir Fynwy) - His degree was in Fine Art (Painting) and Film 
  • Andy didn't go straight into art after graduating. Instead he had many different jobs before settling down in one place and painting. These included: starting out as an assistant school caretaker; stage electrician at the London Palladium; designing posters and programmes for pop concerts while living in Snowdonia, North Wales; building a children's arts centre, teaching arts and crafts; working with a "Theatre in Education" drama group in Sussex. After which he moved back to London where he ran an arts centre and worked on adventure playgrounds in Hammersmith.
  • 1976: PGCE at Maria Grey College of Further Education (a teacher training college) in Twickenham
  • 1977: Moved to Charmouth in Dorset and began painting full time (and just to joined the Dorset Fire & Rescue Service as a Retained Firefighter and continued in the fire service until 2002.
  • 1989 - 1992 - He was an artist in residence in Dorset and Devon on three occasions - at
    the Honiton Festival and Devon Opera in Devon and at the Woodroffe School, Lyme Regis in Dorset.
  • 1996 He opened the Andy Wood Gallery in Lyme Regis. This showed his paintings and prints as well as the work of other artists and friends.  During this time he was also President of Lyme Regis Art Group for three years.
  • 2002: Andy closed the gallery and moved with his family to Rye in Kent

  • 2007-2009 - Served on the RI Council
  • 2009: Andy was elected Hon. Secretary of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours. I think this round about the time I began to get to know Andy better. We often had a discussion in the Mall Galleries about how the RI might change and move forward.
  • 2013 and 2014: Judge of the Shenzhen International Watercolor Biennial in 2013 in China (Facebook Page) reviewing 2,825 entries from 54 countries (2013) and 2,825 entries from 1,700 artists (2014)
  • 2014: Andy became the 15th President of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours. He started using the suffix PRI after his name and also became an honorary member of Royal Watercolour Society.  I remember he was a very proud wearer of his chain of office and performed his formal duties with professionalism and aplomb.

Andy Wood PRI presents Deborah Walker with her Turner Medal (2015)
  • 2015 Trustee of British Institution Fund 
  • 2015 Governor and Trustee of Federation of British Artists
  • 2015 Judge - Watercolor Salon II, Thessaloniki, Greece
This is his more detailed C.V.

Andy's art was international

His work was international - in terms of what he painted, where he exhibited and where his art collectors lived. His work featured in numerous exhibitions in England, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and the United States of America.

His paintings are alsoin the collections of His Majesty the Sultan of Oman, the Central Carolina Bank, the Chelsea Arts Club, the Lyme Regis Museum and Duke University.

He's also one of a very few painters in watercolour to have broken into and become acclaimed within the Chinese watercolour painting community. Last year Andy was one of the judges of the Shenzhen International Watercolor Biennial in 2013 (Facebook Page)

His paintings have also featured in articles in several publications including: ‘Artists and Illustrators’, ‘Leisure Painter’, ‘Watercolor Artist’, ‘Pratique des Arts’ (France), Art'issime (Canada), and L'Aquarelliste (Canada)

Andy also wrote about painting and being an artist on his blog Andy Wood - Picture This

Here are some of the paintings by Andy which have featured on my blog over the years. I liked both his talent for design and also his handling of colour, tone and brushwork.  He was a really good watercolour artist.

Winner of the Winsor & Newton Prize (2012)
Paintings by Andy Wood
Watercolour Paintings by Andy Wood PRI (2014)
Plus a comment about his paintings of snow (2011).
Andy Wood RI RBA's paintings of snow. From a distance they look photographic but get up close and they are very clearly paintings. Immaculate handling of tonalities and subtle colour changes and terrific attention to the colour of "cold". You can see a couple of them on the home page of his website.

The last time I saw Andy was at the Annual Exhibition in April of this year when he was as ebullient as ever.  Below is a picture of Andy conducting the President's Tour of the annual exhibition.

Andy Wood doing the President's Tour of the 2016 Annual Exhibition of the
 Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours

He talked to me about one of his paintings in the exhibition. It's called Last Chance. You can read the story of the painting on his blog in a post called Route 66 and all that
The bridge in this painting is the Lindsay C Warren Bridge across Alligator River heading out on Route 64 towards Nags Head. I was driving along with the cruise control set at 60mph - the speed limit was 55 but nobody stuck to that and the only time I was pulled over the highway police just passed the time of day asking dumb, dumber and even dumber questions just so they could listen to my 'British accent' – I was driving along, listening to the radio, minding my own business and wondering when the next gas station would be when a Rickie Lee Jones song came on the radio - “Last Chance Texaco” - and the gas station in the painting appeared in the distance. There was no thinking involved – I had to paint it.
Last Chance by Andy Wood (RI Annual Exhibition 2016)

I will truly miss Andy. He was one of life's gentlemen (in both senses of the word) - and an excellent watercolour artist whose paintings I will also miss very much.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Business of Arts Organisations

Should all arts organisations earn money from diverse activities within the private sector in addition to their prime function?

Whether your organisation is large or small, state-funded or entirely voluntary, there's scope to learn from what's being happening in the last three years to organisations which receive public funding.

Sir Peter Bazalgette
Sir Peter Bazelgette - currently Chair of Arts Council England (and the man responsible for bringing 'Big Brother' to the UK plus 'Ready Steady Cook' and 'Changing Rooms')  and who is about to become Chair of ITV in early 2017 - spoke recently at an event Sir Peter Bazalgette on the Business of the Arts - organised by the Creative Industries Federation
The businessman with a passion for the sector will examine questions including what makes successful arts organisations and creative businesses tick.
He expressed his personal views last week on why and how arts organisations can earn money privately - in addition to getting grants from public funding and raising funds through primary activities (eg selling tickets).

Apparently following cuts in funding arts organisations have had to become entrepreneurs.
arts organisations had revealed their “entrepreneurial flair” as he announced figures showing that supplementary income for the largest 600 organisations it funds — revenue generated by activities such as café and restaurant sales and merchandising — had risen by three-quarters between 2012-13 and 2015-16. Financial Times

This is the speech he made (pdf) I've summarised its important key points below and added in my own comments in places.

These are the articles by the proper journalists. Guess which one skimmed the release of the speech.


Context: Historical Funding Model

One of the Arts Councils strategic goals was that
Arts organisations and museums have increased the share of their income that comes from a wider range of contributed or earned income sources
The context was
  • mixed funding model - public investment, earned income and charitable donations using the analogy of a three-legged stool. You need all three legs, or you fall over.

[There's a YouTube video about the Arts Council Funding Ecology - although it is rather more about how it distributes the funds it gets rather than how it actually creates a strategy which reflects the robustness of assumptions made about all sources of income over time.]

Three Key Objectives for each source of funding

  • PUBLIC investment - stabilise funding levels by articulating value of investment
  • CONTRIBUTIONS of charitable donations - increase giving by raising the charitable profile of arts organisations
  • EARNED income - broaden and boost their earned income, beyond ticket sales to include educational activity and ‘supplementary’ income from commercial activities and other revenue streams – cafes, restaurants, car parks, merchandise, services and skills.
    I stressed how critical it was to diversify revenues.

    Real Changes in Funding

    • Between 2012/13 and 2015/16, TOTAL overall income of the National Portfolio (600 larger, publicly funded arts organisations) rose more than 20% to £1.75 Billion.
    • In percentage terms: 
      • PUBLIC funding distributed by the Arts Council via Grant in Aid and Lottery funds remained largely the same, at 22%. Local Authority funding has declined to just over 6% 
      • CONTRIBUTIONS - personal giving plus gifts from trusts and foundations have increased their share of overall income up by 1.5%. 
      • EARNED income has grown from just over three quarters of a billon to more than £1 billion - up by more than 25%. 

    Earned Income - The Story to Date

    • Earned income is ticket sales, hospitality, merchandising and other commercial revenues.
    • Commercial income now accounts for more than 50% of the total funding
      • Income from ticket sales and educational activity has declined slightly
      • income from supplementary activity has grown by 75%.
      • the trends are not uniform across the country as rural areas pose challenges for businesses of all sorts. In the rural South West supplementary income actually declined by 60% over 4 years but was offset by ticket sales and other core activities increasing by just over 50%.
    • Examples of ventures earning commercial income include:
      • major improvements to catering operations
      • making space available for hire
      • charity shops in places where there are tourists
      • sale of branded goods by those with strong visual brands
      • bed and breakfast or hostel spaces run as part of the arts space
      • ticketing in car parks
      • promotion of venues and localities for film locations
      • recording music for commercial ventures
    It shows that arts organisations are increasingly run by business-minded leaders who understand that when you run a great business, it’s a lot easier to make great art.

    It's a good story - but what does this have to do with the Arts Council?
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