Visited Bradford Open exhibition, delighted to discover I had a special mention from one of the judges! Especially when it’s up on the gallery walls…
Of course, selecting works for the Bradford Open 2015 I had a certain ‘tick’ criteria, like any judge would. But I made my judgment on merit based on form, medium, colour and innovation.
It was an absolute pleasure to see a wealth of fantastic works from all media, rising above my own personal tastes as a curator and to think about the overall ‘look’ of the show. Consequently, what is less understandable is what constitutes ‘that special something’ when all the obvious criteria have been met. For every one of the judges there was undoubtedly an extra something, a quirk, a mood trigger, a certain something which swung their vote in favour of a Yes or No. It is this ‘something’ which is the mystery and which will probably always remain so but in my opinion as a curator in a multi-disciplinary arts venue, this year the Bradford Open will be an innovative and exciting exhibition
There are, however, a few definite ‘no no’s’ voiced by the panel regarding presentation. Although there are always the exceptions, it would be better for submitting artists to err on the side of caution regarding signatures, framing, titles and support methods. I’ve looked at so many artworks during the course of my career that I already know whether a piece a ‘good’ example of its kind is. There’s a body language about paintings and what I’m looking for is something which arrests you, something which registers, I definitely had this feeling with our winner Eva Mileusnic the quality of the print and found object spoke to me, the imagery, historical and political hit the mark.
I looked for something which is well executed but which also has an edge, a charm, a spark to it, and some kind of quirk. Ken Woods prints full filled this criteria, the use of the pochoir print technique in an innovative abstract way really spoke to me, the intense colour and geometric shapes made it one of my favorites. I looked for a work which is good of its type but also distinctive, whether it be abstract or painterly. I like an economy to the work but also an awareness, something which elicits an emotional response. You know it when you see it, it’s instinctive and intuitive. There were quite a few pieces that achieved this for me, Viv Owen’s portraits with their amplified colour really excelled.
One of my main criteria is whether I actually like the piece, whether it has a ‘sparkle’. A work might be brilliantly executed but it has got to have something more. It’s inevitable that there’s going to be an element of subjectivity in the decision making looking for something which catches my eye but exactly what does this varies enormously. I like a naive style but also an accomplished one, I like it when an artist plays with distortion, I like order but I sometimes I like a chaotic image, Zeus does this for me. Chandni Soren, hit this perfectly, the classical imagery executed beautifully on found objects, showed all the signs of a successful innovative piece of work.
In my years of experience as a curator, this show will be an exciting exhibition, it was a great honour to be chosen to be on the judging panel, I hope you agree with our selection.
David began his career in the visual arts as a practising artist and the in recent years established along with his then Project Director, Design Centre North, a gallery which programmed an exciting schedule of contemporary design and applied arts, initiating and delivering a strategic and consistent approach to audience development, working extensively with the Design Museum and the British Council.
In 2009, David secured the position of Curator in a new multi million pound purpose built arts venue which includes a gallery, work spaces and a performance space. Within this environment David has built a reputation for curating and exhibiting contemporary design and applied arts in the North of England. Working in partnership and in collaboration with other regional and National galleries is the key factor to deliver this ambitious project.
FLUX exhibition in February was a fantastic experience and I hope to be involved again soon. Interview and more details on the FLUX
Completely honoured! Martyn Ware now owns my painting of him ‘Connect’…
He even sent me a selfie with it on his wall! Thanks so much Martyn.
There’s more about this painting in my interview with Waave + Dada
Cards, prints and small paintings available online
Paintings in stock at Cupola Gallery and prints on demand
Daily Drawings continue:
or follow them each day on Flickr