Every month The Circles of Art newsletter features an artist who has captured our attention. Members vote for our annual award recognising the artist whose work they find most outstanding.
Emily Gillbanks, February 2023 – Artist
Emily paints portraits using traditional techniques underpinned by technology – in her Essex studio she enlarges photographs of her subjects to life-size and builds up the image in oil. Her novel vision has won her awards, including the de Laszlo Medal for Excellence in painting from the Mall Galleries in 2021. Since her graduation from the Royal College of Art in 2022 she has documented in paint encounters on the Circle Line, on show at J D Malat in Mayfair in March 2023. Inevitably many of her subjects hold mobile phones, while she asks, ‘What does it mean to really look?’
Alan Latter, January 2023 – Artist
Alan Latter has an all-consuming passion for paint. His Suffolk attic is part studio, and part “museum” for his vast collection of both new and vintage tubes. Many burst with rich pigments unobtainable today – perfect for his nostalgic works inspired by photographs from the 1950s and 60s. Family scenes and still lifes are among Latter’s favourite subjects, especially those that conjure up holidays in his beloved France. He’s also a keen portraitist who aims to “place the right face in the right setting”.
Tessa Pearson, December 2022 – Artist
Having trained in printed textiles at the Royal College of Art, Tessa Pearson ran a studio in Fulham in the early 1980s selling hand-painted silks. She later returned to working on paper, creating prints, then her move with her husband to the Surrey Hills 10 years ago inspired her to paint watercolours of the borders she had planted. Pictured is Stars of Heaven. Sketchbooks are key to her art; she paints from life and translates her sensations onto paper: ‘I see patterns,’ she says. ‘Spots and stripes – and colour.’ Gardens remain the artistic focus of the sketchbook painting holidays she leads in Morocco and she is represented at Kevis House Gallery in Petworth, West Sussex.
Wesley George, November 2022 – Artist
Wesley George’s portraits pop with dazzling colour – but that’s just one of the qualities that sear his work into your mind. This self-taught artist of Vincentian-English heritage has a mission to convey the character and experience of Londoners with similar African diaspora backgrounds to his own. Dynamic urban youth culture fires his work. His mission is “to focus on the complexity of Black British identity – to dismantle traditional racial narratives and bring out every person’s individuality and emotional scope.” wesleyggeorge.com
Daisy Denning, October 2022 – Portrait artist
Having shown an early interest in portrait painting, Daisy Denning cemented her skill at the Charles H. Cecil Studios in Florence, which keeps traditional oil portraiture alive. Painting from life in controlled natural light in studios in London and Kent, she is inspired by such artists as Velasquez, Renaissance and 18th-century British masters and Sargent, wishing ‘to create a world within the canvas’. That she has exhibited at the Society of Women Artists and the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers and returns to Florence every year as a tutor reflects her exceptional talent. daisydenning.com
Nadia Attura, September 2022 – Mixed media artist
Nadia Attura’s evocative artworks invite the viewer to step through layers of different materials and into magical environments. These intricate compositions start as photographs, but she then superimposes further images and overlays paint, gold leaf, chalk or ink. The original subjects are transformed into a complex collage. Fuelled by Attura’s extensive travels, many of these works conjure up exotic, idealised scenarios: the jungles of Laos, the moonlit Sahara sands, the palm-fringed California coast or Norway’s sapphire-blue fjords. As Attura says, she aims to create a realm “of nature and harmony, of endless possibilities”. nadiaatturaart.com
Emma Witter, August 2022 – Bone artist
Emma Witter’s degree in Performance Design and Practice at Central St Martins led her, through her love of cooking and food, to an unusual career as a creator of fabulous objects in bone. Recognising its sculptural beauty, whether tiny chicken feet or oxtail, she collects and prepares her finds to create wall hangings, floral bouquets and abstract shapes in her Fulham Road studio. She loves to experiment – she has made 3-D printed versions of her sculptures (In Bloom is pictured), learned to electroform, covering her sculptures in copper, and to mix ground bone with glass powder to make shimmering shapes. Her creativity knows no bounds.
Londonna Evans, July 2022 – Artist
Ever since she studied art at school, Londonna Evans has been exceptionally attuned to the appearance of the people she meets. She says: “I’m a detail person. I’m constantly noticing how a person’s hair falls, the texture of cloth, the shape of a face”. This forensic eye prompted her to study portraiture at London’s Heatherley School of Fine Art. Before she graduated in 2021, she took part in the Sky Arts television programme Portrait Artist of the Year. She is fascinated by the current vogue for selfies which she describes as “the modern self-portrait” and is currently working on a series that interprets this contemporary obsession in paint.
Nicola Stratton Tyler, May 2022 – Artist
Artist of The Year runner up 2020/2021
When Nicola Stratton Tyler takes her oil paints and heads for the coast, her mission is to capture not just the extraordinary landscape but also the sounds of the sea. The thunder of breakers pounding on Cornish cliffs or wind whispering through Suffolk reed beds is as integral to her work as the dramatic interplay of scenery, sea and sky. “I aim to give an immediate sense of being outside, of natural forms, the play of light, the rumble of the waves” she says. Her vibrant paintings convey pure delight in the contrasting countryside around her low-lying East Anglian home, with its vast skies, and the rugged West Country, where she regularly holidays.
Joseph Black, August 2021 – Artist
Artist of The Year 2020/2021
Joseph says of his precision-honed paintings: “the relationship between people and nature, and in particular between animals and their depictions in art, has always been the main focus of my work”. The musculature of horses and myriad colours of trees fuel his passion “to explore the finest details and bring them to life”. This Kent-based Courtauld Institute graduate recently had a solo show at the Jonathan Cooper Gallery, where his equine works were centre stage.
Tim Gilpin, April 2021 – Painter
Artist of The Year 2019/2020
Tim Gilpin’s paintings not only capture the eye but envelop you within the lush surroundings of their canvas. He chooses the slow-drying intense medium of an oil palette to bind together the brilliant colours he loves. Working initially from a photograph of a room or hotel interior, Gilpin draws a composition of lines and shapes that he then manipulates and scales onto large, square-format canvases.
Emily Wilson , August 2020 – Painter
Artist of The Year runner up 2019/2020
Portrait artist Emily Wilson captures the elusive essence of childhood with her iridescent watercolour paintings. The arrival of her first-born son rekindled her artistic creativity and she has progressed from depicting him to taking photo-to-portrait commissions. Her passion for painting and drawing, conveying a child’s pure joy for life, appears in every piece.