Stephen Farthing RA
Loyd Grossman OBE
Estelle Lovatt FRSA
The Discerning Eye selection process is unique among open submission art exhibitions. Works are chosen for display not by a committee, as is the norm for other shows, but by six individuals, each an expert from their own field of the arts.
The deliberation and judgement of the selectors - two artists, two critics and two collectors - results in six personal shows within each ING Discerning Eye Exhibition.
This, along with another unique Discerning Eye feature - the selectors are invited to show established artists they support and wish to promote - means that the individual taste of the selector is revealed.
But one element remains constant: outstanding work, no matter the medium, technique or style, wins through. Notable work brings all the selectors to their feet the moment it appears in the viewing room. There is always one expert who immediately claims a work - this year it was Loyd Grossman - followed by fellow selectors. There is disappointment on the part of some that they have not reacted faster. There are attempts at trading paintings. Competition for the better works is often fierce.
The standard of work submitted for this year's show - selectors were shown some 2000-plus works over two days - was as high as ever. The commitment of the selectors was also outstanding.
So, my thanks to them and all who make the ING Discerning Eye exhibition the success it has become. To the exhibition organisers, Parker Harris, the staff at the Mall Galleries and ING Commercial Banking, without whose support this exhibition would not be possible.
As you know, for the past couple of years we have been flirting with franchising the format of the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition overseas, in order to offer artists in other countries the same opportunities that our annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries provides UK based artists. We are also ambitious to eventually establish an international network of like-minded organisations which will ultimately lead to increased exposure for a greater number of artists.
We have had discussions with interested parties in Japan and those of you who attended either the 2012 ING Private View or Artists' Private View may recall that we had guests over from the New York Festival of Arts (NYFA), who were looking at the UK event with a view to possibly establishing the DE for artists in its region of the three US States around New York City.
Whenever we speak with potential partners about our now well established format, the same questions arise time and time again. Does it have to be six selectors and does it always have to be two artists, two critics and two collectors? Why does there have to be a size limit of 20 x 20 inches; can't it be larger? Over the course of our twenty one previous exhibitions, we have asked ourselves these same questions many times and therefore are confident in our answer. We always try to make improvements wherever possible, but the individual elements that make up the unique format that is the Discerning Eye have survived the test of time because they offer something different to what already exists and the recipe actually works!
In the end, whilst the executives of NYFA who came to see the UK exhibition loved it and wanted to adopt the format for New York, the committee behind the organisation couldn't find consensus on a number of points and so decided not to progress. This was disappointing at the time but the experience clarified our reasons for wanting to do it in the first place and left us even more convinced it will work in other countries.
It also pointed the way to doing it ourselves, so I am happy to report that we are in the process of setting up a not for profit company in the USA and that the New York office of ING has agreed in principle to support our efforts to mount a national competition and exhibition in New York City in 2015. I had been hoping to report that our first exhibition in the USA would be in the Spring of 2014. This was looking possible until very recently when we discovered that the gallery we had intended to use was to close for refurbishment on our preferred dates. I am pleased to say that we are now following up other leads kindly introduced to us by one of this year's selectors, Stephen Farthing RA, who worked in New York for a number of years as executive director at the New York Academy of Art.
In the meantime, the Discerning Eye continues to be noticed overseas and this year I am pleased to welcome as first time visitors to the exhibition, Didier Vesse, Directeur of Art Up, Foire D'Art Contemporain and Anne-Cecile Herve, Events Manager from the Grand Palais in Lille, which is where the Art Up exhibition is held every February. They are here to see what possible links may be made between our two organisations. More can be read about Art Up in the latest DE newsletter.
As you can see, we are very keen to explore new boundaries for DE artists but can only do that because of the strength of what has been established here at the Mall Galleries over the past twenty one exhibitions. The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition in London is and will always remain the engine room for any future journeys, so as we go from strength to strength I would like to thank everybody connected to the DE and of course our committed sponsor, ING, for making this possible.
As always, if you see a work you like and can afford it, please buy it! That is what the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition is all about!
The 2013 exhibition includes 475 works by 180 artists
60% of the artists and 40% of the works were selected from the open submission
ING is delighted to be sponsoring the Discerning Eye Exhibition once again in 2013. It was my great pleasure and privilege to be a selector at last year's exhibition and it is with all the more curiosity that I look forward to viewing this year's show.
Art is close to the heart of ING Group. It is displayed at 900 ING offices across the globe - in corridors, meeting rooms and cafeterias, enlivening the working environment and stimulating the imagination.
Here in the UK we are fortunate to enjoy one of the finest art collections in the City of London featuring works by artists such as L S Lowry, Sir Stanley Spencer and Samuel Palmer. Our core collection is enriched by a selection of contemporary pieces acquired through our sponsorship of the Discerning Eye. Last year, the ING Purchase Prize was won for the first time by a three-dimensional work. Owen Bullett's Divided Self IV is now a familiar yet distinctive feature of our client reception area.
Regular temporary exhibitions complement and contrast with our permanent collection. Earlier this year, our staff and visitors were treated to a flamboyant display of textile works by Betty Fraser Myerscough. Betty's Barbican was the winner of last year's ING Staff Purchase Prize. Chosen by a group of ING staff, the winner of this purchase prize is donated to Paintings in Hospitals, a charity that seeks to uplift healthcare environments through the loan of works of art.
In 2013, we have continued to engage new audiences with our collection; a number of art interest groups have been welcomed to our offices and loans have been made to public galleries. Most recently, Frederick Nash's View of the Louvre from the River Seine featured in the Wallace Collection's elegant watercolour exhibition, 'The Discovery of Paris'. What is more, we are delighted to see that Mrs Henry Baring & Her Children by Sir Thomas Lawrence now occupies a prominent position in the newly renovated Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
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 2013 Exhibition every success.
CEO, ING Commercial Banking UK, Ireland and 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.
Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary 2013
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 bursary.
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 shortlisted and invited to exhibit their work at the annual ING Discerning Eye Exhibition.
This years shortlist is: Richard Cross, Jill Evans, Tom Flint, Steven Maclver, Fraser Scarfe and David Watkins. The winning artist will receive £1,500 and each runner-up receives £150. The winner will be announced at the Artists' Private View on 14 November 2013.
Our grateful thanks go to each member 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.
Selector Profile: Stephen Farthing RA
Like this - Or Like That? An exhibition of small things. Their size doesn't make them insignificant, in fact, quite the opposite it makes them to my mind, more intense. That is because they are made close up, in a space, where the hands, eyes, tools and media, physically and emotionally fuse, in a space where air and distractions cannot dilute the work. Proximity gives them an intimacy that their larger scale relatives often struggle to embody.
These are small things made to test big ideas, not telling the world the way It - Is, but working in the conditional, it could be like this, or this - or that! Made to test ideas, images worth recording, images that should be made concrete or, if it turns out that way - simply left as an idea.
Selector Profile: Eileen Hogan
I have always loved the eclecticism of the annual ING Discerning Eye exhibition with its combination of curated and open submission elements. I have tried to honour that diversity in my selection whilst reflecting my own preoccupations - light; mark making; painting, drawing, photography and the relationship between them. Retrospectively, I realised that there was an odd symmetry in my curated choice: two painters, two critics, two photographers, two printmakers, two people who draw... a Noah's Ark of pairings. I soon realised, though, that my printmakers might exhibit paintings, my painters could show drawings, my critics contribution was unforeseeable (the person selected is invited to choose which work to exhibit) so my rationale is a mix that means something to me.
This year, I'm in the unusual role of being invited to exhibit by fellow selector Liz Anderson as well as being a judge, which means that visitors can see my work at the same time as what I've liked in other people's, an extremely revealing position to find myself in. The whole process has been delightful, and I learnt a lot making decisions during the open section. I discovered depths of competitiveness that I didn't know I had when all my fellow selectors seemed intent on choosing work I coveted; I hadn't realised quite how detrimental certain frames can be to appreciating work swiftly in a 'conveyer-belt' system of presentation. I regret and still think about certain pieces I didn't choose or that other selectors claimed before me, but I have enjoyed the whole process enormously.
Selector Profile: LLoyd Grossman OBE
The selection process was surprisingly tense and competitive as judges sought the 'best' for their walls and plinths. The most immediately alluring works were pounced on as soon as they were presented. Such quick fire reactions actually stood up to further, more deliberate, scrutiny at the end of the longish day. But there were some works that only revealed themselves slowly and sometimes only appealed to one or two judges. Was there ever a flicker of self-doubt when only one judge thought a work had any appeal? For me the answer is 'je ne regrette rien', well almost rien.
There was in general a great deal of consensus about the selection. I learned a few things: There is a great reservoir of talent out there. Abstraction is bloody difficult. Beach scenes, kittens and flowers are losing their appeal as subject matter.
Selector Profile: Deborah Swallow
When invited to be a selector for ING Discerning Eye I struggled initially to think how I would even begin to make a selection of artists, so rich is the range of possibilities. But as I mulled, I felt increasingly that I wanted my focus to be on emerging artists. As the head of a higher education institution, I am deeply aware that young people generally and artists in particular have many obstacles to surmount to succeed in developing any sort of viable career. ING Discerning Eye could be a valuable and positive stage in a process.
The range of artistic activity today is inspiring and its range so broad that it is impossible to grasp in its totality. So I decided to allow myself to respond instinctively selecting artists whose work spoke directly to me without initially thinking about how the selected group might emerge as an entity. In doing this, I deliberately took a stance that was very different to my experience as a curator of historical material, where selection of material to be displayed had to be made in the context of a mixture of intellectual, even narrative, and aesthetic choices. My confident hope is that the final display will give others some of the great pleasure that the process of selection and display has given me.
Selector Profile: Liz Anderson
I was surprised but delighted to be asked to select works for the Discerning Eye exhibition. It was the next best thing to being given a wodge of money and told to spend, spend, spend on whatever artworks I wanted. Admittedly, the ones I have chosen won't come home with me but seeing them displayed on 'my wall' in the Mall Galleries is a bearable alternative.
Many hours were spent drawing up lists of artists, whose work I admired. And when looking at pieces from the open submission - more than 2000 artworks were paraded in front of us - I soon learnt to be quick and decisive if I wanted to beat a fellow selector to a particular picture or sculpture. No fighting broke out. Is there a common thread running through my selection? Not really. I just chose artworks that I liked. I hope you like them too.
Selector Profile: Estelle Lovatt FRSA
Being a Discerning Eye selector was a privilege. An honour. Nerve-wracking too!
I had no preconceptions about being a selector. Only that I was lucky enough to be one, because it was a fun and inspiring opportunity. An experience I won't forget, least because it was the same day that Van Gogh's canvas 'Sunset at Montmajour' was discovered and made the news headlines.
My individually invited artists are those whose work I liked - much before I even began to understand just how extremely good their art really was. Then I chose my open submission artists. What connects all my artists is the way that they describe what the art world is all about, today.
I am treating curating my art exhibition like a garden. Except my garden is more like a park - a theme-park, with a variety of art so diverse, that excellent artists of all ages, and technical abilities, working in all mediums, and styles, come together. All my artists are 'of' today, making artworks that I like looking at. They cheer me up. And they exhilarate me. My plot reaps of a visual harvest with different tastes and styles ensuring surprises. I love what they do, and hope that you do too.
You, here as a lover of art, will inevitably/hopefully be(come) a collector of art too. Given that this exhibition is an opportunity open to all artists, whether professional or new-to-be discovered, starting here is your chance to follow the careers of (future) artists. There is the mutual 'getting-to-know-each-other' period that occurs when you first spot the artwork you'll fall in love with. It's a bit like a first date; the bioengineering of it all is ever-so-personal. Though do remember, that even though glazed in love, a picture of a beautiful girl that is badly painted is not as pictorially stunning as a picture of an ugly girl that is beautifully painted. All in all, I've chosen artworks so alive, I'm sure they breathe.
As the ING Discerning Eye stitches its thread into Contemporary Art's net, there is a bucket-load of brilliant art worth discovering in a visual voyage of fresh, new, unique art that is exciting, upbeat and totally accessible. Like your favourite soft armchair, or carbohydrates for the eyes, this is how best to experience art.
Being an art critic, all that you, dear reader, really want to know from me, is, do I think that this exhibition is any good and would I want to see it myself? And the answer is, most definitely … yes!