Hugo Barclay is the Director of the Affordable Art Fair and an expert judge on the panel for Jackson’s Painting Prize 2023. Read Hugo’s practical advice for entrants and what he will be looking for in the entries to the competition this year.
Above image: True Love, 2020, Karima Duchamp, Oil on stretched canvas, 114.3 x 78.74 cm | 45 x 31 in
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
Hugo: I am the Fair director for the Affordable Art Fairs, I run three art fairs in the UK a year and an online art advisory; www.artthou.co.uk. The art fair prides itself on being a fair for the people – whether you are a collector whose been visiting the fair for 20+ years or just dipping their toes in the art scene. We work hard on building an event that has an accessible energy for people to discover new art, to develop taste and find original art at a reasonable price point.
For artists and their respective galleries, the fair is a platform that supports living artists only, not only the next generation of talent, but mid-career artists too. Where the high street gallery footfall is a thing of the past, the art fair is the place to build a loyal client base.
What have been your exhibition highlights of 2022? Who are the artists or artworks you were most inspired by this past year?
Hugo: Ariane Jackson Marini is an artist I’ve been following for a while, lucky enough to do be my last studio visit of the year in Glasgow. Abroad, while I was visiting at the Affordable Art Fair in Hamburg I discovered the works by Karima Duchamp.
Amanda Seibaek who graduated from the Glasgow School of Art and was selected to show work at the Affordable Art Fair Recent Graduate Exhibition in October is also one to watch too.
How important do you think awards and competitions are for artists today?
Hugo: Very. The number of graduating visual artists outstrips the number of commercial galleries, advisories and platforms. Along with building consistent exhibition history, It’s important for the public to have parameters to assess artist credibility. Competitions are a great way to do this.
They are equally very useful for young artists who may not have a schedule of annual exhibitions lined up to take advantage of an initiative as a quarterly goal, to allow them to have something to work towards. Being the new year, committing to applying to a competition is a great way to establish focus and build momentum when the thought of going to a chilly studio to make work can be hard to stomach.
What will you be looking for in the entries submitted to the competition this year?
Hugo: Consistency and originality of artistic voice, a sound understanding of how subject matter of a practice is communicated visually. Maturity in mark making and composition.
Do you have any advice for artists out there thinking about entering Jackson’s Painting Prize this year?
Hugo: Get the date you are going to apply the diary today, make a plan and actually do it.
Don’t reinvent yourself, be you.
Apply with a consistent body of work, demonstrating clarity of your voice
Finally appreciate that evaluating artwork digitally can be challenging for us judges – make the effort to take well-lit images of your work.