Sunday, January 21, 2018

#MeToo and The Art World

The art world continues to rock with yet more #MeToo accusations. Below I've commented and summarised in terms of:
  • Why we need more differentiation on #metoo
  • Accusations within the world of art - the artists
  • Offending artists from the past
  • Responses from artists
  • Changes in the art world
    • the art fairs
    • the galleries

The need for gradations of #metoo

The need for more precision?

I'm beginning to think that there needs to be gradations of the #MeToo labelling phenomenon in terms of the various "outings" of prominent people and others.

Something along the lines of:
  1. seriously not OK / inappropriate behaviour (unwelcome words not actions)
  2. crude, lewd and lascivious harassment (unwelcome / more than 1 and less than 2)
  3. sexual assault (actionable in law)
  4. rapist (re adults)
  5. paedophile (re under the age of consent)
This is because:

  • while I'm 100% in favour of calling people out on seriously unwelcome and inappropriate behaviour and worse, 
  • I ALSO really do think we need something which is rather less vague than #MeToo and rather more specific as to just how serious the accusation is.

Otherwise we are in serious danger of confusing an unwelcome pat on the knee or a bottom with the rape of a young teenager.

We also need to remember that
  • women can say 'No' or 'Stop It!' and walk out the door etc. just as others have done in the pat and will do in the future
  • AND that there's a fine line between speaking out and a witch hunt
  • AND that men have already killed themselves because of accusations being made...
  • it is at least possible, that some of the accusations are not true or do not accurately reflect what actually happened.
I'm saying this mindful that in reproducing links below I am channeling some of those accusations and allegations - and the simple truth is I don't KNOW what's happened and what has not. Nor do you. So we need to be circumspect to a degree. The question is what's the appropriate degree....

In summary:
  • I'm supportive of women who have been abused - including their right to speak out even if they're not bringing a legal action 
  • AND I'm not in favour of "witch hunts", hysteria or the type of person who likes to draw attention to themselves for all the wrong reasons.
Of one thing I am absolutely certain.

There is a LOT more abuse, both past and present, than many people realise 

Of itself, that is for me reason enough for the abuse issues within the art world - whether individual and personal or generic and institutional - to be discussed and debated.

Speaking personally, my small contribution is that I ALWAYS speak out and tell a gallery when I'm offended by a sexualised artwork they are showing - and explain why they should have a rethink (within the context of likely abuse) - not least because I'm aware of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (summary as PDF) - even if they are very obviously not!

Accusations within the world of art - the artists

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Works on Paper Fair

It's very nearly time for the Works on Paper Fair again. I went last year and will be going up Exhibition Road to the RGS again this year. (Do any of you have artwork in display?)

It's a really great fair for all those who like drawings, fine art prints and paintings on paper. There's lots to see in terms of artists from the past and present and a variety of art dealers attend the Fair.

You can see the list of exhibitors on the website

some of the exhibitors

There are a number of talks over the course of the fair as well. Grayson Perry is doing the Art Fund talk this year - which should be interesting - but it's sold out!

If you're interested....

Venue: Royal Geographical Society, Exhibition Road, SW7 (north of the Science Museum)
Dates: 31 January (preview) then 1st-4th February 2018
  • 3 pm - 9 pm - Wednesday (Opening Preview)
  • 11 am - 9 pm - Thursday 1
  • 11 am - 6 pm - Friday, Saturday and Sunday
This is how to get tickets. The site uses Eventbrite for ticketing and so last year I had my electronic ticket on my iPhone.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Review: Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 - Episode 1

I'm going to start doing a commentary on each of the episodes of  Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 - much as I've done for the BBC's Big Painting Challenge in the past.

That's because I have FINALLY worked out how to access the programme online (see yesterday's post - How to watch Sky Arts - Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 without subscribing to Sky!).

Top down view of sitter and artists

First a quick resume about the programme and what the prize is this year.

Portrait Artist of the Year 2018

This is a competition which ranks alongside the prestigious art competitions elsewhere on this blog.

That's because the artists are competing to win a £10,000 commission to paint Kim Cattrall, the actress. The intention is that the finished portrait will be added to the permanent collection at The Walker Art Gallery in Kim's birth city of Liverpool.

For reference - for those interested in being part of this competition in future
A total of 30 famous performers will sit for the competitors.  The semi-finalists will also be joined by another 13 wild cards to compete for a place in the final.

The portrait paintings are judged by a 'heavyweight panel'. They are the same as for previous series:
  • award-winning portrait painter Tai Shan Schierenberg
  • independent curator and Chair of the Board of the Liverpool Biennial Kathleen Soriano (who also used to be the Head of Exhibitions & Collection at the National Portrait Gallery and Director of Exhibitions at the RA) and
  • British art historian, curator and arts broadcaster Kate Bryan.
The three Judges with Frank Skinner
The series is presented by Frank Skinner and Joan Bakewell.

They say some very sensible things as voiceovers. One cannot but help think these may have been scripted for them - but it makes for a more educational programme!

Episode 1

A portrait should represent a likeness, the personality and possibly the mood of the sitter
Joan Bakewell - quoting what the Tate has to say about a portrait
I settled down in front of my iPad last night to watch - and was very favourably impressed by the programme.

I also spotted my arm and part of my head during the opening credits - but that's by the by!

Each week I'm going to identify the portrait painters by name and see if I can find a link to their websites so you can see the sort of people who enter this competition. Plus I'll give a link to their Facebook PAGE if they have one.

I very much liked the fact that the programme identifies how long it had taken each artist to complete their self portrait which was part of their entry to the competition.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How to watch Sky Arts - Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 without subscribing to Sky!

I do like a good television art competition!

Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 started streaming last night with the first episode of this year's competition

Some of you may recall that I'm particularly interested this year as last April I got to attend (and photograph) one of this year's heats as it was being filmed. 
So naturally I'd like to see the programme and find out how everybody does.

I might even write commentaries as I do for the BBC's The Big Painting Challenge! :)

Plus it reminded me that in my post The Top 10 Art Blog Posts of 2017 - on Making A Mark that I had to do a special section for the The Top 10 'Art on TV' Blog Posts of 2017 because my posts about on TV are so very popular!

So with that in mind I quite naturally had a whinge on Facebook about how it was such a pity that you can't watch this competition online without subscribing to Sky TV - which I simply won't do because I really am NOT going to shell out £20 per month via a contract to watch one television programme!!
When are Sky TV going to wake up the notion there is an income stream to be gained from those who
* ONLY want to watch Sky Arts online and
* have zero interest in signing up for Sky TV?
In turn, there were lots of fellow whingers, all feeling exactly the same.

However one chap popped up and pointed out that you can watch Sky Arts via Now TV for £7.99 per month - with no contract.  Apparently what you do is buy a NOW TV Entertainments Pass and the show is part of the programmes they show.

So I looked at my television and I still have absolutely no idea at all how I get NOW TV on my television.

However I did find something in the Help Section which says How to watch NOW TV on a Mac

So now I'm going to investigate further. 

What are you going to do?

UPDATE:  I can now watch!  Here's what I did:
  • downloaded the Now TV App onto my iPhone (which has unlimited mobile data on my Three package)
  • bought a NOW TV entertainment pass (I bought one for three months at a discounted rated)
  • found (with a little difficulty) the Sky Portrait Artist of the Year programme - including the first episode of the new series.
  • I'll also be downloading it onto my iPad and iMac.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Exhibitions about Woods and Trees: art, illustrations and photography

Is this the year of the tree? 
Did a lot of people get together to create a lot of art exhibitions about trees? 
Or is it just a coincidence?

From the series Sonamu (pine tree) by Bae Bien-U

Apparently - according to the Art Fund, there has been a recent event of note worth commemorating
In 1217, Henry III signed the Charter of the Forest, opening up the royal forests for the use of the people. To mark the 800th anniversary of this act, in November 2017 The Woodland Trust launches a new charter to recognise and protect those rights.
This is a link to the National Library and The Charter of the Forest

Below is a listing of the art, photography and illustration exhibitions about trees which I know about.

The Arborealists: The Art of Trees 2017 

The Arborealists: The Art of Trees 2017 has just finished at Bermondsey Project Space, London, until 13 January - but will be moving to the John Davis Gallery in Moreton–in-Marsh, Gloucestershire in June 2018
The appearance of the Arborealists in 2013 is an extraordinary phenomenon within the pervading orthodoxy in an art world that values post modernist objects, film and popular culture. Where events, interventions and installations engage the viewer, what can ‘tree painters’ (the Arborealists are for the most part painters), offer a public that is understandably titillated by Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.
The associated book is still available - and indeed I bought The Arborealists: The Art of the Tree before I realised there was an exhibition!

Trees in Illustration 

Trees in Illustration is at the V&A until next week and finishes on Tuesday 23 January 2018.
This display shows a variety of illustrations celebrating trees, woods and landscapes. Featuring watercolours by Beatrix Potter and Arthur Rackham, alongside drawings by E. H. Shepard for A. A. Milne's Pooh stories and his verses in Now We Are Six. Also included are Eric Ravilious' charming wood engravings for an edition of Gilbert White's classic The Natural History of Selborne. Exhibited here for the first time are Rolf Brandt's witty pictures for Stephen McFarlane's Story of a Tree. 
The second exhibition at the V&A - Into the Woods: Trees in Photography - is currently on display until 22 April 2018.

I saw it last Friday and it has some  simply stunning images - see above for just one example.
Trees have long been a source of inspiration for artists. This display explores the diverse representation of trees in photography – as botanical subjects and poetic symbols, in the context of the natural and human worlds.
This is not part of the exhibition but is a short video on YouTube by Bae Bien-U the Korean photographer who produced the stunning image at the top of this post.  He has apparently been acclaimed for his treescapes - particularly ones of Korean Pines - for the last two decades.

I'll write more about the exhibition and the other marvellous images later in the week.

A Walk in the Woods: A Celebration of Trees in British Art 

Web page for A Walk in the Woods at Higgins Bedford

A Walk in the Woods: A Celebration of Trees in British Art is on at The Higgins Bedford - in Bedford - until 25 February 2018 (just over half an hour on the train from Central London - I've been checking train timetables!).

A trip to Bedford will also be rewarded with another exhibition of Edward Bawden and his Studio if you go before 28th January.
The Higgins Bedford pays homage to the tree with a new exhibition celebrating the role of trees and woodland in British landscape painting. Drawn from the world-famous Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Collection, some forty watercolours, drawings and prints from the past two centuries will be on show and will include works by John Constable, John Sell Cotman, Edward Lear, Samuel Palmer, Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland and Lucian Freud. The show will highlight the importance and enduring popularity of trees in art, and explore various themes which have evolved in artists’ depictions of nature: magical and dreaming trees, trees in the countryside, the pleasures of woods and the lure of the exotic.
There's also a A Walk in the Woods Study Day on Saturday 20th January 10.30am – 2.30pm (
£20 Including lunch and tea or coffee on arrival - Booking essential)

This study day brings together speakers to explore further the subject of trees in British art. The day will start at 10.30 with refreshments and registration followed by talks by
  • Christiana Payne, Professor of History of Art at Oxford Brookes University, author of ‘Silent Witnesses: Trees in British Art 1760-1870’ and co-curator of A Walk in the Woods; 
  • Fiona Stafford, Professor of English Language and Literature University of Oxford, presenter of The Meaning of Trees on BBC Radio 3, and author of the acclaimed ‘The Long Long Life of Trees’, a tribute to the diversity of trees. 
  • David Boyd Haycock, freelance writer, lecturer and curator specialising in British cultural history of the twentieth century. Author of ‘Paul Nash’ and ‘A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War’, David is currently writing a book called ‘A Grand Epoch: Young British Artists and the End of the Century’ for Tate Publishing.