‘It is Duchamp who is to blame for the whole “is it art?” debate. As far as he was concerned the role in society of an artist was akin to that of a philosopher; it didn’t even matter if he or she could paint or draw. An artist’s job was not to give aesthetic pleasure – designers could do that; it was to step back from the world and attempt to make sense or comment on it through the presentation of ideas that had no functional purpose other than themselves.’ Will Gompertz
Tag Archives: art
So, the series has ended.
The artists came with clear agenda: to have their work exhibited at the Royal College of Art and exposure before a knowlegeable viewing audience; to receive constructive criticism, recognition and advice from a panel of respected experts; possibly to succeed in selling their work at the exhibition; and, as a bonus, to make a brief but potentially valuable appearance on TV.
To get their work exhibited artists had to gain ‘Yes’ votes from two of the three judges. Of the hundreds who applied, only thirty-five were successful. It is a measure of the subjective nature of judging that only on eleven occasions was the decision unanimous.
Selling work was equally difficult. There were only eleven successful sales at the exhibition, although several of the artists believed they had made important contacts.
The highest price paid, £3100, was for Katy Sullivan’s ‘In Another World’ – a portrait of her daughter. The judges heaped praise on this exquisite work, especially since this was only the fifth painting by the artist who had given up a medical career to pursue her passion for art. Had there have been such an award they would undoubtedly have made it ‘Best in Show’. As they so irritatingly repeated, it ‘ticked all the boxes’.
The aim of the series was to provide a platform, a launch pad, for the further development of artists’ careers regardless of their prior experience. This competition is the beginning of the journey not the end, and the logical next step on our behalf, the viewers, is a sequel – a ‘what happened next’.
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.