Ken Howard RA
Sir Roy Strong
Mary Rose Beaumont
On behalf of the Directors and Trustees I am delighted to welcome you to the tenth annual Discerning Eye exhibition. Our November show in the Mall Galleries is the centrepiece, and certainly the best known part, of the work done by the Charity. But Discerning Eye is not just an art exhibition.
During the past twelve months, we have continued to develop in a number of ways. Last year we announced the formation of an Educational Advisory Board, and the advice of its distinguished members has already begun to influence the direction of our work. We have introduced regional prizes to give further encouragement for artists working outside the London area to submit their work. A Discerning Eye Bursary has been established at the Frink School of Sculpture, to stimulate sculptors to submit work to our annual exhibition.
We are continuing to work closely with Arts & Business. This year Arts & Business is providing financial support for ING Barings Discerning Eye, Art in the Community. This is an outreach project designed to enable a wider range of art groups to benefit from Discerning Eye.
We are planning an exciting series of events that will be held at the London Wall offices of ING Barings throughout the coming months.
We coordinated a programme of Discerning Eye masterclasses, offering free tuition from established professional artists at the 2000 exhibition, to people who want to learn to paint, or learn to paint better. We will shortly be seeing the results from the time artist Johnny Jonas spent as "painter in residence" in the dealing room at ING Barings. Discerning Eye was able to sponsor the residency through the financial support of Arts & Business.
As a result of a number of suggestions we have received, we have inaugurated membership schemes for artists and for people who want to help Discerning Eye to continue to develop.
Purchasers of work from the annual exhibition will be made "Friends of Discerning Eye" and will be entitled to additional benefits. The benefits include admission to a private view - with a free catalogue and a glass of wine and copies of a new Discerning Eye newsletter to be launched in December. The Friends' private view this year will be held from 12 noon until 2 pm on Friday 16 November during which the launch of the ING Barings Art in the Community project will be announced. Those who have not bought work from one of our exhibitions can become a Friend of Discerning Eye, and enjoy all of the benefits, for an annual subscription of £10.
The annual Discerning Eye debate will take place on 15 November at 12.45 pm at the Mall Galleries. The topic for debate this year will be "The Value of Art Prizes", and the artists and critics leading the debate will no doubt have very different views on the subject. Admission to the debate is free and open to all. If previous Discerning Eye debates are any guide, it will be an interesting and informative hour or so.
Like all charities. Discerning Eye relies heavily on the support of a number of people and organisations. I have already mentioned the funding provided by Arts & Business for our outreach project.
The exhibition itself could not take place without the substantial help given by ING Barings. ING is a company that has a long standing interest in the arts, and encourages art and artists in many ways. We are grateful for their continued interest as well as their financial support.
The quality of the work you will see in this years exhibition demonstrates the widespread talent in the country. Choosing the work to be shown from the impressive submission is the task which has been completed by our six selectors. We offer sincere thanks to all the artists who submitted work and to our selectors for their interest and commitment.
We also enjoy the support of those people and organisations that provide the prizes, and whose names are listed elsewhere in this catalogue. Our thanks also go to GCI Financial, a company that has given generous financial support for the exhibition, and once again funded one of the major prizes.
The amount of work that I have been able to report in this introduction would not be possible without the unstinting commitment of my colleagues on the board of Discerning Eye.
Our board has been strengthened this year by the appointment of Malcolm Wright as Finance Director. The members of our Educational Advisory Board have given freely of their time and expertise. With their help, and with the hard work of all our supporters too numerous to mention individually, I am confident that Discerning Eye will continue to develop.
John Caine MBE Chairman
Over 1,500 submissions of superb quality were received from artists all over the UK. £75,000 of art was sold over the course of the exhibition. Over half the exhibition was formed of open submission artists, who proceeded to outsell the invited artists. The Discerning Eye debate provoked an interesting discussion on the monetary and personal value of prizes to artists along with the ethics of placing artists in a hierarchy.
The first work I ever bought was at a show very similar to this one. I didn't spend much money, £200 I think, but at the time it felt as if it was more than I could really afford. So did I regret it? Not for an instant: it was the best investment I ever made, as it has given me unending pleasure for years.
I have yet to come across a collector who is sorry they bought a work because it was too costly - it is always the one that got away that fills them with regret. That doesn't mean you should spend vast sums of cash ensuring you beat your opposition at auction, or that you should commit thousands after just glimpsing a work for fear of losing out. Art needs consideration, and there's nothing like the old maxim "buy in haste, repent at leisure" to keep you in check. Spend time with the work, and question yourself about it - does it grab you in your heart? Is it the best work by that artist that you want and can afford?
If your budget is limited, don't spend all your days looking for cheap, off-day paintings or unfinished sculptures - instead consider collecting artists' prints, which are surprisingly affordable (even for the modern masters), or work by young, emerging artists.
That brings us back to the Discerning Eye, which presents work by both printmakers and new talent alongside more senior artists, so there is a range of work to suit most tastes, and prices to suit most pockets. And above all, open exhibitions like this one are not intimidating in the way that galleries can be. So go on, give it a go.
You never know, you might like it...
ING BARINGS Charterhouse Securities
2001 has been a year of change for Charterhouse Securities and we are now safely integrated into the ING Group - one of the world's leading financial institutions. With offices in 90 countries we now benefit from being part of a truly global company. With over 110,000 employees and some £336bn assets under management, ING Group seeks to provide a full range of integrated financial services to personal, corporate and institutional clients through a variety of distribution channels. Our main focus continues to be the delivery of a specialist UK stockbroking service encompassing high quality equity research, respected sales and dealing teams together with market-making in selected stocks.
ING Barings Charterhouse Securities is delighted to sponsor the Discerning Eye Exhibition for the third consecutive year. The exhibition forms part of ING Group's broad commitment to the arts across the world and we are grateful for the recognition from Arts & Business New Partners who made us one of their award winners for the Discerning Eye 2000 Exhibition.
Discerning Eye continues to be one of the most important exhibitions in the UK and we very much appreciate the importance of its dedication to individuality and excellence - two of the key characteristics that we strive to deliver to our own clients.
Selector Profile: Ken Howard RA
Selecting The Discerning Eye was a uniquely enjoyable experience, unique because normally a selection committee is made up entirely of practising artists, whilst selecting alongside critics and collectors was both stimulating and revealing.
Revelation is what art should be about, revealing a particular way of seeing the world, through a particular language.
Although not having seen the hang at the time of writing, I can already see the languages to which each of the selectors responded. Each was as individual as the artists themselves and I know the exhibition will once again be, as it always is, the most varied and rewarding mixed exhibition of the year.
In his wonderful collection of writings 'A Free House!', Walter Sickert refers to "The main intention of artistic utility which is the decoration of rooms......".
The works in this exhibition are about many things but I know the visitor with a discerning eye will find many things which would both decorate their rooms and give them life long pleasure and stimulation.
Selector Profile: James Lloyd
In trying to give my section of the Discerning Eye the best quality I could, I relied on my specific painting background i.e. figurative. I felt with such a large number of works on display, being vaguely themed could give more unity to the show and make it look more obviously my choice.
The strength of the Discerning Eye lies in its own set limitations (the maximum scale). What could seem restrictive is the very thing which gives the exhibition its distinction.
Selector Profile: Robert Hiscox
The acceptance to be a selector for the Discerning Eye exhibition fell into my category of a distant elephant. Fine at a distance, but as it got closer, and I realised the full scope of the challenge, it became more and more worrying. Sleepless nights stuff. My recent commissions or purchases were substantial works; photographs were not allowed; artists don't like painting to order or painting small — the problems at three in the morning were endless.
In the event, some artist friends were incredibly kind and promised works. Forages into the West End found some old friends and some new artists to me which was a treat. Then we had the enormous fun of selecting works from the general submission. Choosing art in five seconds — or two tenths of a second if you knew one of the others would like it — was stimulating, to say the least. It was amazing how all six selectors would leap out of their chairs to get a closer look at certain works. Quentin had a similar eye to me, and sat nearer the door, so beating him to the draw required lightening instinct.
Having chosen around 80 works, the last challenge will be to hang them in some coherent collage. I hope it works and that you enjoy my efforts.
Selector Profile: Quentin Willson
Once, when excitedly showing a Hockney sketch to a macho mate, I rashly confided to him that some of my best friends were pictures. He arched an eyebrow and suggested that I really should get out more. Telling someone who wears his Aston Villa shirt to bed that collecting pictures is compelling, narcotic and exciting was like explaining my hobbies to a pillar-box. He couldn't understand why an otherwise normal, red-blooded male, could possibly be a card-carrying, 22 carat, Ronsealed, art junkie. And that's why, when The Discerning Eye kindly asked if I'd be prepared to choose my favourites from 1300 works of art, I hesitated for an entire nanosecond. The experience was like being hand-fed with warm chocolate eclairs. I spent a blissful day enjoying, admiring and considering hundreds upon hundreds of oils, watercolours, sketches and sculptures.
A compulsive collector, my walls strobe with strident Warhols, Lichtensteins, Hepworths, Rileys and Rauschenbergs, and that's probably why so much of my selection is abstract. Challenging or obscure images are more fun because they ask more of you. But before I end up in pseuds corner, I must admit I'm no expert, far from it.
What little I know about art, I've gleaned from galleries, auctions, books and talking to dealers. And that's the great thing about art, its much more accessible than most people think.
We're all art critics it's just that only a few of us write our thoughts down. Everybody has the innate ability to judge a work of art, but most people don't because they're afraid of getting it wrong. But there's no wrong or right to judging art, it's entirely personal and subjective. It's the act of simply looking that's important. Which is why The Discerning Eye is such a good thing. Most of the artists are total unknowns, so you won't have to worry about any baggage from art critics. Just look at the image and see if it moves you.
I hope you enjoy my selection and take a little time to think about the less conventional works. Better still why not buy one, or even two? I'm certain a few of the gems I've chosen will, in time, double, triple and even quadruple in value. And that's another bounty of being able to appreciate and collect art. Pictures can make great pensions. My macho friend may have sniggered at my fascination for art, but ten years on he's no longer laughing. You see, my little Hockney sketch is now worth the price of a shiny new Jag.
Selector Profile: Sir Roy Strong
What a privilege in this anti-elitist age to be a Discerning Eye! In this exhibition you will be afflicted with none of the horrors of committee-speak or political correction.
There are no quotas of artist from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland or England. From the disabled, ethnic minorities, women, the gay community and heaven alone knows who else. There is not as much as a flicker of positive discrimination. The Discerning Eye recognises that some of us have been blessed with such an attribute, just as others can speak languages or play football superbly. It allows the judges to use their eye in an idiosyncratic manner as they think fit. What struck me most about the judges is that each recognised that the other had a particular vision, not one shared but all equally respected. I recall also the deadly silence which greeted work which, regardless of style or idiom, fell short. Mercifully the quest for excellence is not yet dead.
Selector Profile: Mary Rose Beaumont
The pleasure of being invited to be a selector for the Discerning Eye is mitigated by the agony of choice. There are many artists whose work I admire and would like to have chosen, but finally, after much thought, I decided to divide my selection into two parts. One half consists of recently graduated students from City & Guilds School of Art, where I happily teach in the Humanities Department, and have consequently watched with interest the burgeoning careers of several young artists, in all of whom I have immense confidence. I have also selected one of my fellow tutors at City & Guilds who has been responsible for the progress of these students and ex-students. The other half of my selection is more varied, and consists of artists whose work I have been aware of and enjoyed over the years. This section is equally divided between abstract and figurative work, quality, as perceived by myself, and my pleasure in it, being the only criterion.
The open selection was a real challenge, and being limited to approximately one hundred works in total with a submission of some fifteen hundred from all over the United Kingdom, both wall pieces and free-standing sculpture, and having about thirty seconds in which to make up one's mind, was scary. I tried to make a coherent choice, my yardstick being a certain delicacy of touch, a materiality to which I responded, with perhaps a touch of the surreal. There is a wild card in every hand and I have at least one in mine! My only regrets are for the ones I was unable to select, some of which still resonate in my memory.