This series of ten TV programmes comprises a pleasing balance of enjoyment, education and entertainment. In each programme artists (amateur and professional, young and not so young) who have yet to establish themselves, strive to get their work accepted for a prestigious exhibition at the Royal College of Art. Those attending the exhibition will include buyers, collectors, gallery owners and agents.
To achieve their goal artists have to satisfy a ‘hanging committee’ comprised of three respected and experienced art critics, including David Lee (the supposed Simon Cowell of the group!). Each entry is assessed against three criteria: originality; technique; emotional impact.
Several factors contribute to the appeal of the series:
- The diverse range of backgrounds from which the artists are drawn is surprising. For example, we have seen a retired female wrestler, a shop assistant, a retired lawyer, a council maintenance worker, students of all ages and levels of experience, professional artists etc. The value they have placed on their work has varied from £8 to a hopeful £100000. Artistic talent is being revealed in most unlikely characters and circumstances.
- The contribution of the judges is wholly positive. Their criticism is consistently constructive and is related to the artwork, not the artist. The artist as a person is respected, does not feel under attack or threatened and is able to appreciate the advice offered.
- The judges think aloud, so the contestants know the basis for the comments made. This is an extremely valuable teaching strategy.
- The artists are not competing with each other but with a standard of entry required for the exhibition, thus there is an absence of aggro.
- Almost without exception the artists express gratitude for the constructive appreciation of their work by people whose judgement they value.
The producers of most other talent shows could learn a great deal from this excellent series.