6 Feb 2015

West Midlands Open:
Passing the Baton

The 2014 West Midlands Open is coming to a close and our artists have not only tasted success, they have savoured, relished and irrefutably devoured every memorable moment.

However, our successful artists are a very selfless and noble bunch, who are not going to confine their experiences to themselves. Indeed, they actually passionately want to pass on and share, with you, their personal learnings, their secrets, their visions and their insights to their success. They pass on these experiences so that you; our future victorious artists, can equally relish and revel in the same success and veneration as they have.

So my final question to our current 2014 West Midlands Open victors for this series of articles, was simply this; “What advice would you give to other ambitious and aspiring artists coveting creative credit?”

Every artist who conversed with me was bristling with excitement in imparting their inspiration but Nita Newman (‘Far above the clouds #1’) and Dan Auluk ("I am sorry to inform you…") had me cracking up when, as if a married couple, in unison cried out “APPLY, APPLY, APPLY!”

Nita Newman Far Above The Clouds
Far Above The Clouds by Nita Newman
Dan Auluk I Am Sorry To Inform You ...
I Am Sorry To Inform You... by Dan Auluk

Dan goes on to enlighten, that even though he is a firm believer that “rejection is great!” he urges artists not to get demotivated, “just keep on going.” Dan goes on to clarify that it’s prudent to do your research when submitting works for an exhibition. “Research where your work is being displayed and apply for the right reasons not just because it’s an exhibition” he rationalises. “Not all your work will be appropriate for every exhibition, even if it is good. It may simply not fit in with that particular exhibition theme.” “Apply only for exhibitions that fit with you and your art.” divulges Dan; reasoning reflected by David Symons (‘Blue Ghost’) who affirms “Don’t conceive your art to fit the competition criteria, find the right competitions to enter your artwork.”

Dave Symons Blue Ghost
Blue Ghost by Dave Symons

Ever the pragmatist, however, John Thirlwall (‘Rockface - N. Spain’) concurs with Dan who both emphatically advocate not to apply for every exhibition just for the sake of it, as it can be “time consuming and expensive.”

John Thirlwall Rockface N Spain1
Rockface N. Spain by John Thirlwall

Steve Evans (‘Shadows’) enthuses, “I take heart when I see artists getting their work selected, which suggests to me that I may not be far away from getting there.” Steve goes on to inform me, that during a talk at the Ikon Gallery, the curator explained how he would visit open exhibitions and subsequently approach various artists whose work he had seen in the shows. So by Steve’s experience, it suggests that getting your work out there in the ‘Opens’ can certainly help, ‘open’ doors.

Shadows Steve Evans
Shadows by Steve Evans

Robert Neil (‘John’) has his own advice to offer; “Some artists I have spoken to who are producing really good art don’t bring things to a finish. They don’t go through the process of exhibiting.” “It is a really important and crucial process for an artist to go through to complete process and exhibit their work.” Robert enthuses. Robert goes on to share with me that he successfully exhibited one of his works with the prestigious National Portrait Gallery that had previously been rejected from another exhibition just weeks before. “Just because your work has been rejected does not mean it is not good art.” The passion and inspiration you exude Robert epitomises you.

John By Robert Neil R56 A2542
John By Robert Neil

Elsa Houghton (‘Streetscene I’ & ‘Streetscene II’) further captivates me with her encouragement to “Keep entering your work for exhibitions.” “As long as you have the desire to create and enjoy doing it, just carry on regardless of whether it gets into exhibitions or not.” Elsa enlightens me further; “Of course, showing your work and getting feedback is important but this is not the main purpose. It is more about creating and believing in what you are doing, that is a reward like no other!” I am already weak at the knees but buckle when Elsa avows that “Being creative is a blessing, don't turn it into a chore.” What a wonderful protagonist you are Elsa!

Streetscene I And Ii By Elsa Houghton
Streetscene I & Streetscene II by Elsa Houghton

If this is not enough for my delicate disposition to cope with, I virtually become an emotional wreck when Barbara Gibson (‘Streets of my city #1’) extends her own advice; “Believe in what you do, follow your dreams and remember that there is always a place for passionate people!”

Barbara Gibson Streets Of My City #1
Streets Of My City #1 by Barbara Gibson

Finally, Conrad Pack (‘9 collages’) offers his own insights; “It’s not about being successful. Don’t worry about being successful. If you are aiming to be a success then you are aspiring for the wrong objective. Aim to make good art, not be successful.” I muse these inspirational reflections over with Conrad and we giggle when I attempt to be philosophical and encapsulate his values with; “Great art does not come from trying to be successful, success comes from creating great art.”

Conrad Pack 9 Collages (1)
9 Collages by Conrad Pack

All the artists I conversed with resolutely assure me they will be entering their works for future exhibitions, so it is now up to you to keep them on their toes.

So now it is time that the baton is truly passed over. It is time for you to have vision, to have faith, to have inspiration, to believe in yourselves and for you, the artists of the great West Midlands to put your works forward and continue to make memorable moments for yourselves and your admirers of your art.

I wish you the greatest of success to you all and I sincerely look forward to appreciating and admiring your future works of art, being captivated by your creativity and hopefully, if welcomed, once more being able to share in your astounding achievements.

Remember… “You can if you think you can…”

Contributing Artists Web Sites:

Dan Auluk -
Nita Newman -
David Symons -
John Thirlwall -
Steve Evans -
Robert Neil -
Elsa Houghton -
Barbara Gibson -