Last night we could watch the final of Sky Landscape Artist of the Year. This is a painting competition on Sky Arts tv. In the first rounds artists had to battle the weather and were exposed to the most amazing scenery to take inspiration from. Many familiar and not-so familiar names popped up and did well. It was great to watch how each artists has their own style and approach to a landscape and the program (and it’s equivalent Portrait Artist of the Year) is wonderful tv.
In the final the three artists were positioned on top of a cold hill in Greenwich, London, overlooking the wonderful Greenwich park. Their view was towards Queens House (designed by the enigmatic Inigo Jones in the very early 17th century and one of the earliest examples of the Italian classical style in Britain) and the Old Royal Naval College (a masterpiece by Sir Christopher Wren - the guy from St Paul’s Cathedral - and Nicholas Hawksmoor), with in the distance Canary Wharf; London’s hyper modern business centre. What a great location: surrounded by my favourite architects!
The three finalists Greg Mason, Allan Martin, and Jen Gash all took a very different approach. The judges had really chosen three very diverse artists and it would have been hard to compare! But I was delighted to learn they crowned Jen the winner of Sky Landscape Artist of the Year 2018!
Jen and I go back nearly 10 years. When our kids started primary school we met and realised we were both artists. It clicked straight away and we’ve been friends ever since. Our painting styles could not be more different but I love the poetry she puts in her work, her crazy yet hugely down to earth personality and her warmth. To see her go through the Landscape Artist of the Year process was absolutely fantastic, although every time she cried on tv, she set me off too!
Her prize was a commission from the Imperial War Museum: she was sent to Macedonia to paint the battlefields from the first world war. The documentary that Sky made about this was touching and interesting and I love the integrity and authenticity that Jen showed in her approach. This was by no means an easy commission to fulfill: Jen clearly felt the responsibility to honour the dead, the families, the landscape itself. Her painting, which will be hanging in the Imperial War Museum in Manchester from 11 December, shows off her fabulous sense of composition, colour and mood.
She was so kind to join me on my sofa and do an interview. We talked about her triple life as a mother, artist and therapist, women in the arts, creativity and of course the competition. So here is the exclusive and first winner’s interview with Sky Landscape of the Year WINNER JEN GASH!
(drum roll and fireworks please)
If you don’t subscribe to Sky, you can also watch Sky Artist of the Year on Now TV - I took out a monthly subscription just to watch all this!