Pastel Society Open Exhibition 2019

Woohooo! After many years of trying1, a couple of my pictures have finally snuck past submission and into the Mall Galleries Pastel Society Open Exhibition (2019).

As you can see, after receiving this exciting news I comported myself with great dignity.

With only a smidgeon of ulterior motive2, I would definitely recommend going to see this awesome exhibition, held in Mall Galleries in central London…

  • Exhibition opens: Tuesday 5 February, 10am to 5pm
  • Exhibition closes: Saturday 16 February, 3pm

(And of course further details are given on the Mall Galleries website here).

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1As the diagram below illustrates, it is in fact not that many years, but it certainly *feels* long – aside from that one year I got the deadline wrong and missed it entirely…

pastelsoc entry timeline v3

2I wonder how many people I can now spam with invitations…?

You’ve been framed

Harpenden Arts Club is holding its annual exhibition next week1 and – for the first time – I have enough spare artwork floating around to participate.

You know what this means?

A framing nightmare.

Firstly, I have to remember to order the frames. This time, for a change, I remembered to order them but almost forgot to pick them up, culminating in a mad dash into town (followed by a very slow stagger back to the station). I’m sure each frame doesn’t actually weigh several tonnes, but somehow their awkward height – necessitating lifting to around ear level when walking – and their tendency to catch the breeze and passing pedestrians seem to make it so.

Once home and after sensation has returned to my hands, the framing starts.

Are the mounts the right size? Invariably no.

Some contrive to be too small, entailing brutal pruning of the artwork; occasionally more brutal than intended due to poor motor control and a pair of blunt scissors.

Almost worse, of course, is when the mount is just slightly too large, at which point vast quantities of card and tape are employed to try and disguise the fact. This never works, particularly at first.

… @____@…

Time to remove the backboard again, sore fingers quailing at each metal tag2, undo all the tape, redo part of the tape while lying on my back squinting up at two centimetres of mount projecting over the edge of the desk, realise I don’t have enough tape, dash out to buy some more tape, somehow get the new tape stuck on the wrong side of the artwork and spend several fraught minutes peeling it off and whimpering every time the delicate pastel threatens to fall off the desk onto my face, put everything back together again, realise the mount is in places now somehow at a lower level than the picture surface, take off the backboard again and break out the PVA glue…

In short, it ends up like an escapade of Uncle Podger’s in Jerome K Jerome’s ‘Three Men in a Boat’3.


  • Lesson i) Always leave a sizeable border between your actual image and the edge of the paper, because mounts hate everyone.
  • Lesson ii) Also always leave a good length of time – at least 2 weeks – between collecting the frames and having to hand them in for exhibiting, to allow for re-ordering anything (by which I mean mounts) that have gone wrong. Because they will have.
  • Lesson iii) Avoid framing stuff whenever humanly possible.

1Ooh, and one of my owls is in prime position on the slideshow advertising the exhibition ~^^~ #shamelessplug.

2If anyone knows of a painless way to bend back the metal tags holding the backboard in the frame (which does not result in a broken palette knife) please let me know…

3Well, perhaps not quite that entertaining: http://www.literaturepage.com/read/threemeninaboat-19.html