For the second year in a row, we are delighted to welcome Elizabeth Dellert to the expert judges panel for Jackson’s Painting Prize 2021. As the UK Director of the Affordable Art Fair, Elizabeth tells us about how the fair has adapted in the past year and shares some of the artworks in her personal collection and beyond, as well as her exhibition highlights of 2020.
Above image: At the opening of Billy Childish in residence at Cromwell Place, London, October, 2020.
Clare: It’s great to have you back on the expert judging panel again this year. How did you find the experience last year?
Elizabeth: It was hugely positive. I was astounded by the talent and the diversity of media across the various artists’ practices. It was so hard to make my selection and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this year!
Clare: Obviously there hasn’t been the possibility of hosting any of the scheduled fairs since March, including the Hampstead fair. How has the Affordable Art Fair adapted to this? Have there been any silver linings?
Elizabeth: Like most art fairs, we have pivoted online. Fortunately for us, we already have a thriving ecommerce marketplace, so the infrastructure was already in place. We augmented our platform with additional fair related programming and were able to offer even wider promotion for our galleries to our extensive global database. Another silver lining is that it’s given us time to reassess and make sure that we have put in place measures to ensure that when we open again ‘in real life’ we can do so in a way that our visitors and exhibitors alike can feel safe and comfortable.
Clare: Given the circumstances, what have been your exhibition highlights in 2020? Did you visit any 3D virtual galleries?
Elizabeth: During the summer months I visited the Royal Academy twice – for the Leon Spilliaert exhibition in August and the Summer Winter Exhibition in October. The institution has had to adapt, as we all have, and it was wonderful to see how they managed timed tickets and visitor flow to ensure they were able to get as many people in front of great art as they have.
Clare: Can you tell us about some of the artworks you have provided here? Are these from your personal collection?
Elizabeth: Happy to! And yes, they are recent additions to the household. Charming Baker’s Unidonkey (above) joined us care of Jealous Gallery during the Battersea Spring fair in March. The Spring fair saw the first instalment of our ‘Access’ section, where we focus on a particular medium. All the galleries in the Access section for the Spring fair focussed on prints and multiples – this gave us an opportunity to grow our audience’s knowledge and interest in the medium and the special focus led to really good sales, one of which was to me!
There is also the print by Keith Coventry entitled Aylesbury Estate. I turned a very ripe old age during lockdown and was given this by a gallerist friend of mine who knew I had been pining for it since it was issued. I am a sucker for graphic and abstract work, especially when it vibrates with energy and this orange arrangement really speaks to me.
Clare: How important do you think awards and competitions are for artists today?
Elizabeth: Very – especially now. When fairs are shifting online and opportunities for exposure are reducing, competitions provide a meaningful platform. Also, validation and credibility. There have been so many fantastic initiatives, like the #artistsupportpledge on Instagram, which have sprung up to support artists and especially now, anything we can do to help raise awareness is incredibly valuable.
Clare: What will you be looking for in the entries submitted to the competition this year?
Elizabeth: As always, I look for originality. Certainly, talent is important, but I am always blown away when an artist works in a new way and brings their own experience to bear.
Clare: Do you have any advice for artists out there thinking about entering Jackson’s Painting Prize this year?
Elizabeth: You do you. The art history lexicon is so full of fantastic models from which to build, but amplify your own voice. Don’t imitate, stretch the boundaries. Be brave. And it’ll pay off!
Clare: What can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
Elizabeth: At the moment, we are still finding our way, and looking forward to getting back to “normal”. We all miss human interaction and as fantastic as the online platforms are, we feel that personal connection is so important to what we do. So we’re trying very hard to bring the fairs back for 2021 in as vibrant and engaging (and safe!) a way as possible. Given the success of our pilot online fair, we’ll likely continue that as well as another string to the Affordable Art Fair bow – watch this space!
Submissions for Jackson’s Painting Prize 2021 will open on Tuesday 1st of December, 2020. Find out everything you need to know at our competition website and sign up to our competition newsletter and receive the latest updates about Jackson’s Painting Prize.