Monday, 13 February 2017

The Big Painting Challenge Series Two Week One




















I have been living in a ‘Tender’ bubble for the past three weeks, ticking boxes, trying to understand procurement language and gathering up printed samples and electronic versions of my 2016 work – and all perhaps for nothing!

With work distracting me I had no idea there was a second series of The Great British Paint Off planned (the Radio Times has it listed as The Big Painting Challenge though so as I wouldn’t think it bore any resemblance to Bake Off). But swop the whisks, baking trays and ovens for paints, brushes and easels and it’s more or less the same politically correct hour long feast of sheer bliss. 

The 10 artists participating this year (click to enlarge)
I missed the first teatime edition so I had to watch it on iPlayer late at night. No Una Stubbs! No Richard Bacon! Well, that’s a plus! Rev Richard Coles??? I remember him from his Communards days with Jimmy Somerville in the 1980’s – and aside a few number one hit records I’m wondering what art kudos he has - would he not be better off presenting ’Songs of Praise’? I have always liked Mariella Frostrup - her mother was an artist and despite being Norwegian she grew up in Ireland so she’s OK! 

The very uninspiring still life (click to enlarge) 
The show was slightly different from the first series. I liked the introduction of tutors/mentors Marcel Anson and Diana Ali. They were on hand to give advice and encouragement to those struggling with the opening Still Life tasks and to dish out basic tips on perspective and negative space for the second task. There’s more of an educational twist to this second series. That’s good. Unfortunately judges Lachlan Goudie and Daphne Todd are still here after boring me silly first time around. The BBC in their wisdom have added a politically correct third judge – Dr David Dibosa who at least has a bit of charisma about him – even though he does come out with the most colourful load of praise-curdling tosh – “There’s a cinematic feel to what you’re doing here.” he says to Ruaridh, who looks at him slightly flummoxed thinking it’s only a teddy bear, a clarinet and some feathers, not a remake of Braveheart. Here’s a thought! Why didn’t the producers let them choose and arrange their own objects – surely that’s part of the task of knowing what makes a good picture. 

“There’s a cinematic feel to what you’re doing here.” 
(David to Ruaridh)
There are two tasks instead of three this time around – a two-hour Signature followed by a six-hour Showstopper. The artists are allowed to use any medium they wish - again an improvement as they’re not forced into unfamiliar territory. Another innovation is the public getting a vote… is that really a good idea after Brexit and Trump? That vote means they can issue an artist with an immunity card which ensures they can’t be sent home by the judges that week. Lisburn girl and abstract artist Jennifer is the beneficiary of the first one which is lucky for her as she struggled and was a surefire bet to be fired first! In Norn Iron (Northern Ireland) speak her wee blonde head was full of artsy-fartsy, wee sweetie mice. I have no problem with her being alternative and avant-garde but not to the point of completely ignoring the brief. To do it once and ignore Teddy and Co was forgiveable but to repeat her abstractness, add a few hair extensions for textural effect and then barely leave time to get the main objects into the Van Gogh bedroom scene in the Showstopper was really testing the patience of the judges. And am I really convinced the public voted to give her immunity or was that just a piece of BBC connivance worthy of Simon Cowell to keep a controversial artist in the programme for viewing figures?  

Jennifer's abstract work really disappointed me!
(click to enlarge)
That said the other nine hardly set the world alight with their brilliance. Lesley probably did deserve to go as she was the weakest link and it’s never a good idea to purposely ignore advice the tutor has given you. Naughty woman! The only one who showed any kind of outside-the-box thinking was Suman in her Lichenstein Showstopper. My favourites at the minute are three guys – David White, Jimmy Mackellar and Ruaridh Lever-Hogg but it’s probably far too early yet to establish just how talented/untalented these amateurs really are. But I will keep watching and hope the tasks are a little more interesting than that boring first still life. Anyway that’s my tuppence-worth for the first episode. Five more to go! 
Lesley had to leave
Question - can Jennifer paint the same abstract nothingness picture next week? 

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