Robbie Wraith RP
Lincoln Seligman’s design for the first ING Discerning Eye Award features the distinctive red dot that all artists covet – the acknowledgment that their work has been appreciated by another’s eye and, perhaps more importantly, that it has found a buyer. But Seligman's sculpture also highlights another significant aspect of the artist's work: the frame.
Throughout time artists have held strong views - not always followed - on how their work should be presented. JMW Turner framed his own work and dictated the colour of the walls on which his paintings should be hung (a view initially ignored at the Tate when it opened its Clore wing in 1987). Gauguin declared that his work be framed only in a simple white pine surround, again a stipulation now ignored. Waldemar Januszczak said he had scoured the world for his BBC documentary on the artist and had found only Gauguins in heavy gilded frames.
For many artists the frame remains as much part of their work as the image contained within it. Alan Brassington, artist in residence at the Royal Ascot Jockey Club and a former Discerning Eye exhibitor, mounts near life-size oils of racehorses in frames he himself creates from reclaimed oak floorboards. For others the frame is crucial to the work – PJ Crook and others paint over and around the frame. Some do not frame at all. John Bratby wrote on the back of his canvases that his work was not to be framed. Again, an instruction often ignored.
The care with which entrants to The Discerning Eye take with their frames has become increasingly obvious over recent years. We have noticed a trend towards more elaborate and innovative framing. Box frames, floating frames, Perspex frames. Fashions change: five years or so ago the interest was in wide, white chunky frames. These days we see a lot more black. The DE rule that stipulates that no submitted work should be larger than twenty inches (50.8cm) square, framed, means that some do not frame - so maximising the painted area - while others opt for substantial frames that increase the impact of smaller pictures.
Whatever the framing choices for this year's ING Discerning Eye show it is obvious that the quality of the exhibited work continues to improve. I believe this year's show is the best we have had. My thanks, therefore, go not only to our sponsors, ING Wholesale Banking, our organisers, Parker Harris, our selectors and our prize-givers (and, of course, the framers), but, most importantly, to all the artists who have been chosen to show their work.
This is the eleventh consecutive year of ING's sponsorship of The Discerning Eye Exhibition, which makes it one of the longest corporate sponsorships of its kind in the UK. Throughout this period, both the DE charity and the annual exhibition have gone from strength to strength, which is no coincidence. ING is a company that takes art seriously. Works from the wonderful ING collection in London adorn its office walls and temporary shows are mounted regularly by its own curator, at its own exhibition space, on the reception floor of its London HQ.
One such temporary show is the solo exhibition given by ING to the winner of the ING DE Purchase Prize, an honour for any artist. When there are no temporary shows, visitors and staff can see, as I did last week, a selection of former DE prizewinning works sitting proudly and comfortably alongside works by established masters. By hanging these works, ING is satisfying one of The Discerning Eye's main objectives: that of promoting new artists. This level of natural synergy combined with the importance that ING places on having art in the workplace shows why the ING/DE relationship is about more than the funding of or attendance at a single exhibition each year.
This also manifests itself in other ways. Now an annual tradition, ING's CEO hosts the DE Selectors' Lunch (attended by the DE board, exhibition organisers Parker Harris and the selectors) a month or so before the exhibition. Art is discussed and new ideas for the development of The Discerning Eye proposed. For example, it was at one of these lunches that the idea of the Discerning Eye Collection was first suggested. At the 2009 meal came the idea that we should perhaps offer some kind of physical trophy to prizewinners. One of the artist selectors at the lunch, Lincoln Seligman, immediately offered his services and I am pleased to say that this year for the first time we will be awarding a small trophy to each of the major prizewinners. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those artists who have offered to donate works to the DE Collection and also to Lincoln for the trophy concept and design. I also want to thank all of the individual prize-givers, from former selector Brenda Fenton who is our longest standing prize-giver to Carole Nicholl who is giving a purchase prize for the first time.
Notwithstanding ING's sponsorship of the exhibition and general support for The Discerning Eye, on the most basic level ING connect directly with at least one artist every year by giving a purchase prize. In so doing, the company thrills an artist and acquires a work that it then takes away to show to others. If on your visit to this exhibition you see something you like and can afford please buy it, take it home, enjoy it and make an artist very happy!
Of the 447 works on show this year, 51% were from the open submission artists.
A total of 113 works were sold, of which 76 (67%) were by open submission artists.
Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary 2010
The Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary was launched in 2005 to provide an opportunity for artists to extend their practice by offering the financial support of a £1000 bursary.
Free to enter and open to any artist resident in the UK, artists are annually invited to submit up to three images and a short written proposal that demonstrates how the bursary will benefit their current practice. From this open submission up to six artists are then shortlisted and invited to exhibit up to three works each at the annual ING Discerning Exhibition. The winning artist receives £1,000 and each runner up receives £100. This year 220 applications were received and the announcement of the winner will be made at the Artists' Private View on the 11th November 2010.
The 2010 shortlisted artists were: Susan Aldworth, Sophie Charalambous, Esmé Clutterbuck, Lois Hopwood, Peter Matthews, and Rosalind Richards. The winner was Lois Hopwood.
Our grateful thanks go to each of the Discerning Eye Educational Advisory Board, particularly for their time and good judgement: Tom Coates PPNEAC, Anita Klein PPRE, James Lloyd and Nicholas Usherwood.
ING is delighted to be sponsoring the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition once again in 2010. We are pleased to continue our support for The Discerning Eye, a charity which creates opportunities for talented artists and encourages a wider interest in art.
We are particularly pleased that this relationship has continued despite the difficulties in the financial markets. Our business is now emerging from the recent turbulence, which has highlighted the many benefits that a sponsor can gain from the right partnership. During such times the staff engagement benefits of our sponsorship become increasingly important. Attendance by ING staff at the Discerning Eye Friends & Members evening has grown steadily over the years of the sponsorship, with staff enjoying the opportunity to see the exhibition and support talented artists, while also learning more about a specific aspect of art through the demonstrations which take place.
Over the years our permanent art collection and our sponsorship of The Discerning Eye have provided a platform for a variety of art-related employee projects in our London office. These include classes in drawing and sculpture, temporary exhibitions and, for the last two years, staff art competitions.
Just as our business environment is always changing and developing, so we are pleased to see this in The Discerning Eye. As long-standing sponsors we are particularly well placed to notice these initiatives. Of course the changing panel of selectors ensures some variety each year, but we have also seen developments such as the creation of the Discerning Eye collection and the growth of the Drawing Bursary. For the last couple of years, visitors to the ING Discerning Eye exhibition have also been able to view work by the artists shortlisted for the bursary, and thus see for themselves an aspect of the work The Discerning Eye undertakes with the money raised through the exhibition.
ING thanks the selectors, the artists, The Discerning Eye and the Parker Harris Partnership for all their efforts in preparing for the exhibition. All that remains is for me to wish the ING Discerning Eye 2010 Exhibition every success.
Gerlach Jacobs CEO
ING Commercial Banking UK, Ireland & Middle East
ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin, offering banking, investments, life insurance and retirement services to meet the needs of a broad customer base. ING Commercial Banking is responsible for providing a range of services to ING's corporate and institutional client base. In the UK, ING also provides retail banking services through ING Direct.
Selector Profile: Ishbel Myerscough
I have selected only a small part of a wave of work. Over 2000 pictures, every piece considered and assessed carefully. It is human nature to doubt. I have worried, and did worry, about my ability to retain a sure eye.
I made my selection on the basis of clarity of vision, not clarity of execution, but clarity of vision. What I identified as an effort, an ability to see beyond, to impress on the viewer a further thought, an intrigue, an extension of what is first seen.
Because of the obvious effort, love and intent, not to mention total belief that goes into each entry, it has been hard to select some paintings at the costs of not selecting others. My 'Discerning Eye' will be different from that of other selectors and different also to visitors to the exhibition. Each year will be different again.
Selector Profile: Robbie Wraith
It has been a privilege and a pleasure to be a guest selector for this year's ING Discerning Eye exhibition. I have chosen work from artists I have admired for many years, and others more recently discovered. I have tried to make a collection that reflects my passion for painting directly from life, as opposed to copying photographs or using projectors. The conscious moment inter-weaving with unconscious patterns, in the immediate context of the subject or at the behest of imagination, is to me what gives painting its significance. I believe the conceptual view to be a half-truth at best, but the painted moment is authentic.
Selector Profile: Tim Barber
I feel tremendously privileged to have been a selector for this year's ING Discerning Eye show. Having written about the exhibition for the past few years, I've come to see its importance both to artists and to those who acquire their work, City A.M. readers among them. The work Discerning Eye (the charity) does to stimulate the conversation about art, and to help terrifically talented people in all corners of the country keep working and reaching buyers, is invaluable.
I didn't go into the selection process with any great agenda or overriding themes in mind. I simply looked very hard for work that spoke to me on some instinctive level, that made me want to come back for a second, third and fourth look. I love the way the show emphasises such subjective choice - there is no call for consensus or compromise among selectors, no sense of having to champion what is fashionable or established or else of deliberately doing the opposite. The crucial restrictions - the size of the works, the quickfire, trust-your-gut responses required of selectors in the open submission when over 2,000 works are considered in a day, and the anonymity of that procedure - are in fact liberating.
The joy of the show is the giddy swirl of styles, techniques, ideas and interpretations it produces. I have no real idea what my selection will look like when hung, nor what it will collectively say about me or my eye for art, but I'm thrilled at the prospect of finding out. Most importantly, I hope at least a few of the artists from my selection find new buyers and supporters as a result.
Selector Profile: Mark Rappolt
Selecting works for ING's Discerning Eye show is both an honour and a lot of fun. Most of the latter involving me. At the end of the selection, when you look through the works of art that form your exhibition it's fascinating to trace your own thinking (and any person who writes about art, if they are being really honest, will admit that they are always writing about themselves.)
The reasons why something sticks in your mind or doesn't can be entirely random - sometimes you think you have a particular understanding of a work of art and at other times you can be just as attracted to another object because you don't understand it at all. But that's not to say that the whole selection is an unfathomable mess; or that you sit there looking at your web of decisions wondering how some of them could possibly have seemed like a good idea at the time. Rather, given that (other than the artists I invited) I had encountered none of the artists before I met their works, there's a real opportunity to project yourself into the selection - and then to reflect on what that says about who you are and how you relate to the world. Which is the kind of reflective experience that only art can bring about.
So even though this little text is all about me, me, me, it's also a way of thanking the artists (nearly all of whom I've still never met) for giving me that moment. Yes, it's a perverse way of expressing my gratitude, but no less perverse than the process of submission and selection through which this show came about.
Selector Profile: Nina Campbell
I was delighted to be asked to be a part of the selection process for The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition and privileged to sit with such august fellow judges. It seemed a daunting process at first, with such a large number of talented artists, but I was surprised how my first reaction to a painting usually stayed with me and those artists survived the selection process.
Selector Profile: Judith Collins
A phone call from John Penrose and I agree to be a judge for the 2010 ING Discerning Eye exhibition. I find 2200 works of the right dimensions neatly stacked in piles, with six helpful art handlers (all arts graduates themselves) ready to hold up each work for a nod of acceptance or a rejection shake of the head. I was advised to choose up to forty works from the open submission to accompany the fifty or so from my invited artists. Their works impress me with their deftness of touch and singular way of responding to that which lies within them and without.
As to the open submission, was there an overriding theme or subject lurking there? There were many atmospheric skyscapes, but then we are in the wake of Constable and Turner, and Britain does have gloriously changeable weather conditions. I expected nudes and portraits, but not many appeared, and these were outnumbered by arrangements of vegetables and fruit. Such works did not provide me with the energy and inventiveness I sought. No. When I surveyed the range of my chosen works, I found I had picked a bestiary. There were three dogs, a snail, a fox, a bull, a harlequin beetle, several rats, a tired rabbit, a horse and rider, and a herd of goats.
From the time of Aesop and his Fables, writers and artists have employed anthropomorphic animals to illuminate aspects of human behaviour, and this approach still has its power.
I looked up the word discerning to see whether I have this kind of eye, and discover that the word has a wide range - clear-sighted, discriminating, penetrating, and so on, enough to confirm that I fit one or another of the meanings. I had assumed I would be judging the art of others, but what I was surprised to find was that I learnt much about myself that day.