The Bigger Picture at Lauderdale House
The Bigger Picture is a group exhibition, showcasing works by the contestants of The Big Painting Challenge, which was recently aired by the BBC. Ten amateur artists were selected from 6500 applicants to complete weekly tasks within tight time frames, under the scrutiny of two judges. They have now put together a selection of their best efforts, which is not only an opportunity to see the paintings in real life, but also a chance to measure the artists’ progress since the filming of the show, as there are also new works on display.
The programme provided an intensive learning process through which they began to grow out of their amateur status; this exhibition is the first stepping stone launching them into the art scene. It’s interesting to examine a group of artists from a comparative perspective and see them tackle the same subjects using completely different approaches. Because of the nature of the show, the paintings displayed are of a varied sort and do not fit under one category or adhere to one style. Artists can sometimes develop a tendency to stick to the same subjects and limit themselves to the use of tried-and-tested materials, but a tour around the gallery is a reminder for amateur and professional artists alike of the benefits of broadening one’s creative horizons and testing one’s technical skills by tackling the unfamiliar.
What makes this exhibition stand out from the rest is that most visitors will be aware of the behind-the-scenes stories that brought each painting to life. The viewer can spot the mistakes discussed on the show and even see some of the works that the artists or judges were disappointed with. All is exposed and put forward for further judgement, but rather than instigating criticism, the witnessing of the development process actually allows the viewer to warm up to the paintings, because of an already established familiarity with their making. There is a significant shift in perception between seeing a finalised work of art without any knowledge of its story, and being let into the usually private thought processes, the doubts, the hesitation, the throwing out of a canvas and the restarting from scratch.
Seeing ordinary people immerse themselves in art and rapidly progress from week to week has likely inspired many viewers to take up painting themselves. This exhibition will further pique the interest of less experienced art lovers as it presents this undoubtedly difficult discipline as an approachable pursuit. On the whole, The Bigger Picture is a dynamic cocktail of works where passion is the main ingredient.
Photos: Rosie Yang
The Bigger Picture is at Lauderdale House from 15th until 26th April 2015, for further information visit here.