Sir Tim Rice
In its 29th year and my ﬁrst year as Chair of Discerning Eye, I am delighted to report that the 2019 ING Discerning Eye Exhibition has again attracted a record-breaking number of entries.
My thanks therefore to all of the artists who submitted work from all parts of the UK.
Thanks also to this year's selectors; artists Gill Button and Charlotte Hodes; collectors Kwame Kwei-Armah and Sir Tim Rice; and critics John Penrose and Louis Wise for their enthusiasm and commitment in addressing the task of judging and selecting from so many pieces of art. You will see each selector's choice curated as a small exhibition within the whole, and within each selection a rare opportunity to see works by, as yet, lesser known artists alongside pieces by those who are internationally recognised.
In addition within the exhibition you will see a further small exhibition of the shortlisted pieces for the Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary, the recipient of which will be decided during the course of the exhibition.
I must also thank our sponsors, ING Wholesale Banking, without whose long-standing and generous support we could not stage this annual exhibition. In particular Małgorzata Kołakowska, CEO ING UK and Middle East and the team at ING in London who have led on their involvement with this year's exhibition.
Discerning Eye Chief Executive Tony Humphreys expresses our appreciation of ING's 21 year long partnership with The Discerning Eye elsewhere in this catalogue.
Thanks are also due to our outgoing Chair, John Penrose, who has chaired DE for the last 12 years; for that support of and commitment to the charity, for agreeing to be one of the selectors for this year's exhibition and ﬁnally for continuing to provide a purchase prize.
Finally I should like to thank Parker Harris, our exhibition organisers, whose hard work, skill and enthusiasm is matchless, staff at the Mall Galleries and all of the many and various supporters of The Discerning Eye.
The Discerning Eye
Welcome to the 2019 ING Discerning Eye Exhibition. This exhibition is the annual focal point of the charity's activities and serves as a springboard for our ambition to increase opportunities for artists.
We have mounted numerous initiatives since the Discerning Eye began, but we are particularly pleased that following this year's exhibition, some of the artists whose work will adorn the walls and plinths of the Mall Galleries will have the opportunity to show more of their work in New York in 2020.
This is because David C. Terry, Director and Curator at C24 Gallery in the Chelsea area of New York City, will be using his own discerning eye to invite a selection of artists to take part in a Discerning Eye featured group show from 30 January to 18 April 2020. You can read more about the C24 Gallery initiative in our Autumn newsletter.
Another new initiative is that this year we will start to publish a series of quick read educational papers, based on the writers' personal, and therefore, Discerning Eye perspective. You will be able to find copies of the first of these 'Discerning Eye Guides to…' and the latest Newsletter, at the main desk and at www.discerningeye.org.
Just as the exhibition is the focal point of our other activities, ING has become the foundation stone of the exhibition. This is the twenty ﬁrst year of ING's sponsorship and the fourteenth year of the exhibition carrying ING's name. Over this time, strong bonds have been made, so we thank ING and its enthusiastic and supportive staff for their continued interest.
Finally, I would like to welcome Sarah Hall, no stranger either to the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition, or to adding value to the boardroom, to her ﬁrst exhibition as Chair and offer my sincere thanks to former Chairman and 2019 selector, John Penrose, who will remain a director of the board.
Enjoy the exhibition and don't forget, if you like anything you see, all works are for sale!
The Discerning Eye
In the 2019 exhibition 75% of the artists and 47% of the works are from the open submission. Painting and drawing make up over 48% of the works, mixed media and sculpture about 41%, printmaking about 7%, and photography about 4%
ING Małgorzata Kołakowska introduces the 2019 Exhibition
ING is proud to support the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition for 21 years - making ours one of the longest-standing corporate arts sponsorships in the UK. As we celebrate the 'coming of age' of ING Discerning Eye, what comes to mind is the large number of artists for who this remarkable exhibition has helped give a platform.
ING's aim is to both inspire and support the change makers who are creating a positive impact by making the world better for everyone. It's our belief that progress is always possible and we empower people to realise their ambitions at the highest level - in art and in business.
Art and culture has always been important to many of our clients, as well as to our teams around the world. In recent years, the connection between business and the arts has strengthened and become more relevant. To stand out, we require creativity, forward thinking, imagination, innovation and art can play an important role. We see artists as true frontrunners. They transfer their often provocative and insightful views to their artworks, helping us to think about and reflect upon issues that matter.
This is why ING believes in the power of art to stimulate innovation and change. We also want to empower talented artists with a platform, network and expertise to help them develop their artistic careers.
As we celebrate everyone involved in this ING Discerning Eye Exhibition, the shared commitment of ING and Discerning Eye of encouraging emerging talent and making arts accessible to new audiences is at the fore. We will be adding an additional item to our ING UK Art Collection again this year from the show, bringing the total number of ING Purchase Prize recipients to 21.
ING thanks the selectors, the artists, The Discerning Eye and the Parker Harris Partnership for all their eforts in preparing for the exhibition.
Please join me in wishing the ING Discerning Eye 2019 Exhibition every success.
CEO, ING UK and Middle East
ING is a global ﬁnancial institution with a strong European base, offering banking services through its operating company ING Bank. The purpose of ING Bank is empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business. ING Bank's more than 51,000 employees offer retail and wholesale banking services to customers in over 40 countries.Sustainability forms an integral part of ING's strategy, evidenced by ING's ranking as a leader in the banks industry group by Sustainalytics. ING Group shares are included in the FTSE4Good index and in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Europe and World), where ING is also among the leaders in the banks industry group.
Selector Profile: Gill Button
To be the other side of the fence has been such a joyous and insightful experience.
Having the opportunity to select artists, peers, I have long since admired was a real privilege. It has been truly delightful and enriching to liaise with these artists, in some cases visiting their studios to discuss pieces for the show. Many pieces on display were created specifically for the exhibition. I had total faith, but my expectations were surpassed every time; receiving files and having those ‘wow' moments has been absolutely magical.
I would like to thank all of my eleven selected artists, not only for their talent and beautiful work, but for their diligence, enthusiasm and professionalism throughout the process; my respect for my fellow artists has reached a whole other level.
One of the aspects I found so incredible and liberating about the open submissions process was the anonymity of it; that we were choosing artworks with no knowledge of the artists credentials. With such a level playing field, we were totally reliant on our pure reaction to the work, which was extremely special. There were so many stunning and accomplished pieces of work it was tough to narrow the selection down, so the pieces I chose were the ones that just shone out and touched me on a more emotional level, and I'm really excited to discover more about these artists.
I'm beyond thrilled with all of the pieces I have selected, and proud to be presenting them.
Selector Profile: Charlotte Hodes
I was delighted to be invited to be a selector for the ING Discerning Eye exhibition. In the first instance, I selected a Victorian Tinsel Picture as my starting point. I inherited one from my grandmother having been enchanted by it since seeing it in her apartment as a child. In it I recognised qualities that I sought in my own practice; the costumed character depicting an illusionary world; the ornate, tactile surface created through the intricate juxtapositions and layering of cut fragments of paper, cloth, and jewel-like metal.
It represents a small-scale constructed world of theatre - an equivalent reality to the one that we occupy, into which we can, for a short time, escape.
I am also interested in the way we give value to things. We live in a world where monetary value seems to wield so much power and impact. And if things or actions cannot, or do not have a monetary value attributed, then they are in danger of extinction or cease to have agency. Although rather obscure, the modest Tinsel Picture for toy theatres that in their day sold cheaply in huge quantities, remains for me an important image beyond its price. Artists are capable of alerting us to aspects of the world that we may not have noticed or that we have considered of little consequence. They challenge hierarchies and pre-conceived notions of value.
It was through this lens that I invited eight artists, emerging, early career and established, to create new artworks for this exhibition and I am delighted that they all accepted. During the open submission selection, it was with some difficulty that I had to let go of many strong and compelling artworks but I hope that what I have chosen, reflects aspects of art practice that I value, however obscure it might appear.
Selector Profile: Kwame Kwei-Armah
I'm not sure I can define my taste when it comes to art. Particularly with regard to the art I buy for my home and the art I choose to invest time in. I simply see, feel, react and choose.
The selection day was a day of double consciousness. On one level, I was acutely aware of the weeks, months and years artists devote to conceptualising and creating a piece of work that will be analysed in mere moments. I saw so much brilliant work go past my eyes which I would have been truly honoured to include as part of my selection, as we, the judging panel, sat and discussed and contemplated the meaning of the art and the way that it struck us.
On another level, I was delighted to be able to dedicate the time to engage with such an extraordinary and varied spectrum of artists. If they are a temperature gauge of the art world at the moment, it is an incredibly exciting place to be. I feel an overwhelming sense of joy that I belong to the artistic community; that art is part of the thing we do as human beings, part of the way that we express ourselves, part of the way that we are remembered.
Each one of the pieces I selected moved me profoundly and each in a unique way. They tested my sense of curatorial expertise, they tested whether I really knew what I wanted and they tested my understanding of why certain pieces spoke to me.
This is a gathering of impulses and a joyful celebration of some truly wonderful talent. I hope that all who dance with the work - momentarily, or even by welcoming a piece into their home - will also partake in that joy.
Selector Profile: Sir Tim Rice
My good fortune in theatre has led me to good fortune in art. I have had enormous fun over the past fifty years constructing an eclectic (to put it mildly) collection of pictures and objects, and have made many good friends en route. In that time I suppose I have learned a little about art, starting from a position of Philistine incomprehension, having dedicated my teen and early twenty-something years to more downmarket pursuits such as being lead singer of the Aardvarks and writing unsuccessful musicals with Andrew Lloyd Webber.
In due course the musicals began to do a little better and I was advised to invest the proceeds. Stocks and shares and (of course) tax avoidance schemes held minimal appeal. My old school friend Ian Bennett lured me into galleries, auctions and even artists' homes. Thus began a new cultural adventure for me.
I have never specialised in one particular theme, style, era or artist, until I began to collect portraits of Kings and Queens of England (and the odd relative) around twenty years ago. I am still slowly pursuing a contemporary painting or sculpture of every monarch since Henry VIII, but I am still open to extending my collection in many other directions.
I have sold a few paintings over the years and nearly always regretted it. But I have hung onto many more. Now I have ventured into a new area of artistic endeavour - that of curating the work of some of my favourite contemporary artists for the admirable ING Discerning Eye project. I cannot say what common denominator links my choices; they are all highly talented, determined individuals and their success, gifts and creativity are idiosyncratic and separate. Long may they all continue to prosper.
Selector Profile: John Penrose
I felt immediately at home on my first visit to the Discerning Eye exhibition some fifteen years ago. The mix and variety of the work on show appealed enormously. Later, when I became Discerning Eye Chairman, I wrote that what I found so special about the exhibition was that it presented the work of artists, both unknown and the established, working in every discipline, in all styles and at varying levels of execution, to the widest of audiences. That remains true today. The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition has maintained and built on its founding principles under the leadership of CEO Tony Humphreys and the DE Board and the generous sponsorship of ING. It continues to attract the interest of artists around the country - this year the highest ever number of entries was recorded - and the thousands of art-lovers who have visited the Mall Galleries over the years.
Since becoming DE Chairman in 2007 I have awarded an annual prize to the artist I considered my best in show. To underscore my appreciation, they are my invited artists for my ING Discerning Eye Exhibition selection this year.
My years of association with ING Discerning Eye have given me great satisfaction and have led to a much-loved collection of Discerning Eye art which now hangs on the walls of my home and in the homes of family and friends.
I wish the best to Sarah Hall who is succeeding me and hope she enjoys her time in the Chair as much as I did.
Selector Profile: Louis Wise
It was very nice to be asked to take part in Discerning Eye, until the inevitable doubts crept in. Do I actually have an 'Eye'? And more to the point, is it 'Discerning'? When I think of the proliferation of images I see every day, on my phone, on the street, and yes, even sometimes in galleries and museums, I do wonder: Discerning Eye, or Gluttonous Eye, Stuffed Eye, basically Diabetic? Perhaps I should follow government advice, and focus on five virtuous things a day. And yet, as I type this at my desk in my
home, I can see five postcards, three posters, a framed map and a vintage magazine that needs framing; a patterned tablecloth, a painted jug and innumerable books. My eye go on a diet? Fat chance.
I hope that my selections for the show reflect the good side of this appetite. One artist did ask me halfway through if I was setting a theme. I did toy with one: my much-loved grandmother died in May, and since she was a huge William Morris fan, I considered suggesting two quotes by him. One was: 'Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.' The other was: 'The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.'
This is a red herring, though, because I didn't go any further with it, and didn't tell anyone. I didn't want to be prescriptive to the artists - I was simply happy they were taking part. However, I suppose the quotes come through somehow, because I think everyone I've included has some interest in beauty, and in all the details - even the smallest, or most unusual ones - of daily life. Actually, when I was emailing with that artist, I did loosely circle three things that I know I like: colour, sensuality and wit. But those are all things which fail as soon as you try to force them.
I shrink from analysing my taste further. I know that good taste all the time is dull and asphyxiating, and to fall back on bad taste too much is boring, or cowardly. Maybe I'd benefit from trying to put my taste through the wringer or, yes, my eye on diet, but I don't have the courage. Exercise is hard enough for the rest of my body. I simply hope everyone else gains as much pleasure from my selection as I have.