Show Me The Monet is an arts program from the BBC where artists submit their works to a panel of critics with the potential to have their work exhibited and sold at an Art Gallery.
You may not have heard of it outside of the UK and even if in the UK you may not have as it was a program hidden away in the schedules of daytime telly.
Anyway having finally got around to writing about it I discover this sorry message on the show’s production website.
What a pity.
Even if I did not enjoy the art being presented by the hopeful artists or care very much for the critics who they must first impress I would still watch this show purely because of the opportunity it presents for, in the main amateur, artists to show their works and get a wider audience. Even if the critics say no to the works we the audience may well say yes to them. Other opportunities may arise for them and their art because of all the TV Eyes upon it.
Sure for artists themselves there may be more effective routes in what is in effect a large-entry competition with a pyramid prize structure – a kind of X-Factor for Painters, Photographers and Sculptors.
The title of the show is an obvious pun on French Impressionist painter Claude Monet. In some parts of our country the show may be referred to as Show Us the Manet, phonetically punning after another French Impressionist (if more proto) painter Edward Manet – I just had to crow-bar this joke in!
With the decommissioning of the show the website itself has also given up the ghost. But there is still program information to be found on the BBC channel that broadcast it BBC 2.
The show’s Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh and Tulisa were Roy Bolton, David Lee and Charlotte Mullins. Their backgrounds as you might expect were in art history and criticism – Roy Bolton also is a dealer.
The Dermot O’Leary of the show (okay that’s enough over-working of the X-Factor comparison), the presenter was Chris Hollins whose background is in, well, presenting.
The show did manage 2 series and 25 episodes in total displaying therefore many works in the process.
And the real interest of the show was the artists and their art.
The image above is of former GP Katy Sullivan, with a portrait of her daughter titled ‘Disneyland’, standing expectantly before the judges at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, England. Incidentally the judges are referred as ‘the hanging committee’ – hopefully not as in ‘hanging them out to dry’!
As well as presenting their art to the judging panel they have to explain a little about it and put a price-tag on it, being asked how much they think their art is worth. What an impossible question to answer I would have thought.
They were very impressed with Katy Sullivan’s work and could not believe it was only her fifth ever oil-painting. Katy Sullivan has her own website with includes a portfolio which presents a better image of this work.
They voted it through to the Show Me The Monet Exhibition. It was also selected for the Holburne Portrait Prize courtesy of the Holbourne Museum in Bath, England where it won the People’s Choice Award.
I am not going to detail all the art featured as there is a great deal of it and it is better viewed on the BBC 2 program website itself. But I will display a few more to give you an idea of the type and standard of work featured.
This next is titled June by a London based artist Rebecca Fontaine-Wolf. It passed muster with the judges but remained unsold not meeting her guide price of £1800. One great thing about the web is that most artists will have if not their own website then their work hosted elsewhere to be seen alongside their other works providing further context. It can also provide an opportunity to see what the subsequent fate of a featured work on this show was.
Fontaine-Wolf has her own website and you can see her here stood before June and other of her work. Her work can be seen in higher resolution on her site too. And it transpires that ‘June’ was subsequently exhibited at the Royal College of Art’s Henry Moore Gallery.
I thought I should finish with a work where the judges voted No but which I would have voted Yes just to remind too of the subjective personal nature of art. However, on the website at least, all the work featured was either unanimously yes or at least majority yes. There were certainly works that were declined so clearly the website has spared those artist’s blushes being repeated.
So in this spirit of positivity to finish on a work the panel were unanimous about. This one is titled ‘Between ‘me’ and ‘you’ (1) – History Series’ by another London based artist Laura Jacobs. Her guide price was for £2000 and it sold close to it at £1750.
Show Me The Monet proved that not all daytime TV is created equally. And reminds that there is much artistic talent ever to be discovered.