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Our Lucy Kemp-Welch Open Call Shortlisted Artists Announced

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Earlier this year, the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum in Bournemouth announced an online open call in collaboration with their new exhibition: In Her Own Voice, The Art of Lucy Kemp-Welch. Artists were asked to respond and interpret the exhibition through their own chosen medium.

The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum has partnered with the National Horse Racing Museum to organise a major exhibition of works by equestrian female painter Lucy Kemp-Welch (1869-1958).  Lucy Kemp-Welch is one of Britain’s foremost equestrian painters in the tradition of British impressionism. She was an expert horsewoman with an innate understanding and love of her equine subjects, especially working horses. From the late 1890s to the mid-1920s she was one of the country’s best-known female artists. 

The themes were wildlife and animals (in particular horses and equine art) and Landscape (especially Bournemouth, Dorset and New Forest). 

The competition was running during the majority of the exhibition (competition running from 1 April – 31 August 2023) and you were able to enter as many times as you liked. The Russell-Cotes team were excited to receive just over 75 submissions to this competition and they took a long time with the judges to decided the 5 shortlisted artists.

  • Katie Scorgie
  • Helen Brett
  • Paul Mitchell
  • Elizabeth Parsons
  • David Russell

Round Bales, Oil on board by Katie Scorgie

Since graduating from Plymouth University in 2000 with a degree in Fine Art, I have been painting and drawing with my main subjects being equestrian, landscape and canine. I have enjoyed Lucy Kemp-Welch’s work for some years. Being born 100 years before me, a time when horses in every day life were common place, it would have been natural for her to draw them, spend time around them and, therefore, have a thorough knowledge of them. I have owned and ridden horses since I was young so I also have an instinctive feel for horses, which has given me an intuitive awareness when I am drawing or painting them. You wouldn’t necessarily term Kemp-Welch as an equestrian artist as she is a natural draughtsman and she treats everything in the composition with equal importance. This is something I have always strived to do, as everything is connected. Looking at Kemp-Welch’s paintings, you are also enjoying the texture of the paint in its own right and sense you could be standing there at that point in time – this is exactly how I hope the viewer feels whilst looking at my work. My greatest commission to date was being Artist in Residence to the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment between 2011-2012. I also welcome commissions.

Race horses at Longchamp, after Degas, Chalk Pastel on Paper by Helen Brett

I was born and raised in Bournemouth, after my A level Art I did a foundation course at the Bournemouth and Poole College of Art. I have recently rediscovered my love of Art from doing many online lessons during lockdown. The inspiration to paint this was because of a love of drawing horses as a child. I remember reading Black Beauty and going for riding lessons at the local stables. I was attracted by the colourful shirts of the jockeys and informal composition. Although the original is in oils, I wanted to develop the use of pastels to produce instant colour, the light of distant buildings and dark menacing sky. I enjoy using various media and am developing a passion for oil painting by copying the central chestnut horse from ‘Mixed Company at a Race Meeting ‘ 1905 by Lucy Kemp-Welch.

Ibsley Common Dawn, Photograph Print by Paul Mitchell

Equine studies were Lucy Kemp-Welch’s speciality. However, if you study her paintings, she was also a superb landscape painter. I myself am a landscape photographer and regularly gain inspiration, and am influenced, by painters and their paintings. Aside from Lucy Kemp-Welch’s superb artworks I am also drawn to other painters such as J.M.W. Turner, Paul Sanby and Albert Bierstadt. I do so admire their mastery of light, to be able to capture a fleeting moment in time using a brush and paint. It will therefore come as no surprise that I too try to capture those fleeting moments of light, but using a camera.

Born in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, I studied Graphic Design at Kingston upon Hull College of Art before embarking on on design career based in London. I then worked for various design agencies before founding his own design agency in 1990, specialising in packaging, corporate branding and book design. After 45 years in the design industry I retired in 2023 and now devote most of my time to photographing the New Forest and Dorset landscape, running photography workshops, lectures and selling prints of my work. I am also a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.

Standing in the Shade, Oil on Canvas by Elizabeth Parsons

Elizabeth Parsons was born in Gloucestershire and in 1980 she studied with Nerina Simi (1880 – 1986) for six years at her studio in Via Tripoli, Florence. This studio was opened as a small school in the 1880s by Nerina Simi’s father Filadelfio Simion. He had just returned from Paris where he had studied with the French Orientalist painter Jean Leon Gerome, who himself had studied under the French classical painter Dominique Ingres (1780 – 1867). Whilst in Florence Elizabeth painted portrait commissions. Her work has been exhibited in Florence.

‘I live in Dorset and ride everyday. I have a small livery yard and the horses and ponies are my models. I teach painting to small groups in my studio. I was taught to paint by Nerina Simi (1890-1987) in Florence whose father was taught by Jean-Leon Gerome (mentioned in the new book about Lucy Kemp-Welch) Lucy Kemp-Welsh has always been a heroine of mine and the exhibition of her work is wonderful.’

Ponies Passing the Allum Green Oak, Photograph Print by David Russell

Lucy Kemp-Welch was an artist that I knew little about, I had heard the name and I knew that there was an association with Bournemouth and Poole. Having since read about her and seeing some of her paintings I feel that she was an extremely remarkable woman and artist. Despite not supporting the suffragists she did much as a pioneering female artist and teacher to raise the status of women in the arts.

She was quoted as saying ‘The New Forest has a charm for me which is beyond all telling’, which matches my own feelings about it.  The New Forest of Lucy’s time, the late 19th and early 20th centuries, would have been a very different place to the New Forest of today but the quiet secret spots, the ancient trees, and the ponies are still the same.

I studied photography at Bournemouth College of Art and I have worked in that profession for almost all my working life. My photograph, ‘Ponies Passing The Allum Green Oak’ is part of a project ‘Ancient & Remarkable Trees of The New Forest’ which I have been working on with the support of The New Forest National Park Authority. 

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