Art attack – Saatchi-branded reality TV and photo auction for PhotoVoice charity

As if reality TV hadn’t already invaded every aspect of our lives, now we have an art school elimination contest, School of Saatchi. It wasn’t that long back when there was a photo reality competition Picture This, which was judged, as I remember, by photographer Martin Parr, Brett Rogers (director Photographers’ Gallery), Alex Proud (founder Proud galleries) with mentors Jonathan Olley (winner Observer Hodge Award, Young Photojournalist of the Year in 1995) and Joy Gregory (photographer).

In an article, Reality TV snappers fail to impress judge by David Smith (The Observer, Sunday 6 January 2008), Martin Parr told The Observer: ‘The people they ended up with, I was slightly surprised the quality wasn’t better. They [Picture This contestants] were further down the ability spectrum than you’d expect.’ Wonder if the new series can learn anything from Parr’s comments. It is especially interesting as the winner of that contest Lizz Gordon seems to have disappeared off the radar. The last time I heard of Gordon was at last year’s Brighton Photo Fringe, where the Blue Dog Gallery was selling a couple of her self-portraits. In fact, I will try and contact her and see how she has fared since taking part in the competition.

Seems that one of the judges Matthew Collings believes the show is not just about entertainment, but educates the public and allows contestants to progress as artists. We’ll have to see about that. I missed last night’s opening show of the four-part series which will see “thousands of wannabe superstar artists whittled down before one is awarded the ultimate prize: the inclusion in Saatchi’s next major exhibition at the Hermitage Gallery in St Petersburg and studio space for three years”. (Metro newspaper, Nov 23). The six ‘art starters’ chosen from an initial 12 are: Suki Chan, Matt Clark, Eugenie Scrase, Saad Qureshi, Matt Clark, Ben Lowe and Samuel Zealey. Six judges – Young British artist (YBA) Tracey Emin; art critic Matthew Collings; art collector Frank Cohen, and Barbican’s head of art, Kate Bush – will advise Charles Saatchi, who lends the weight of his name to the branding of the show and makes the final decision.

Art’s in the right place blog post, School of Saatchi gives a blow-by-blow account of last night’s programme: “Kate Bush announces the panel are looking for something original and we cut straightaway to a man who is recreating Francis Bacon (albeit with great technical skill). Clearly the editors are enjoying themselves as they then cut to a woman named Khana Evans who has veered in completely the opposite direction and apparently refuses to look at anyone else’s work in order to retain her originality. Unsurprisingly the panel (and I) think this is a terrible idea. “Your work is mundane” pronounces Tracey. Khana thinks this is “bollocks” and tells the camera that she stands for “good British art, not shite”. From what I can tell she is very skilled at reproducing a likeness but it doesn’t seem to evoke much of anything as a result.”

Ahead of PhotoVoice’s auction in London on 8 December, you may enjoy looking at some of the photographs which are up for sale. There are 92 prints featuring in 34 live auction and 56 silent auction lots. As far as guide prices go, PhotoVoice says: “Many of these photographs are rarely or never available for sale and so it is difficult to accurately predict their eventual prices. The pricing guide is intended to give a realistic point from which to start bidding and does not necessarily represent the full potential value of the photographs. A number of the images, including some of those which are particularly collectable, carry a reserve price and will be left unsold if this is not met.”

Expect a mix including images taken from the archives, including a Bert Hardy photograph from 1954 and a portrait of Twiggy by David Steen from 1967, as well as photographs by Tim Hetherington (Sleeping Soldiers), Stephen Gill and Rut Blees Luxemberg (whose work is included in the HotShoe Gallery Christmas show).


3 responses to “Art attack – Saatchi-branded reality TV and photo auction for PhotoVoice charity

  1. Pingback: Art attack – Saatchi-branded reality TV and photo auction for … | Reality TV News on Twitter

  2. I feel for all contestants. Facing the insecurity and jealousies of some self-proclaimed slick art experts. Even though the process and its panel is much annoying, the prize for the chosen one will be very real. The absurd indeed reached its climax when one of the jurors claimed: “Even I could have done that drawing much better” – but you didn’t !
    Very sad is, that nobody on the show obviously knows what art really is.

    If the young artists like to know what art is, I am happy to enlighten them any time. For the panel I am afraid it might be to late.

    Neon, London

    • Yes, this is interesting. One question may be, why would someone put themselves in this position on TV in an elimination contest around art? As you note, the prize “will be very real” but the price? I am also interested in your opinion of what art is, please comment more… thanks Miranda

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