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.
Melissa Perold, December 2023 – Artist
Finance professional and entrepreneur Melissa Perold was casually surfing the web one day when she signed up “on a whim” for a three-day drawing course. One sketch led to another and eventually she swapped the City for diploma studies at Heatherley’s School of Fine Art. Perold now creates powerful portraits that have won her many commissions and awards. Judges have cited her intensity of observation, paint handling and emotional connection. Of her new career she says: “What I do now is entirely me. It’s who I am.”
Eloise Dethier-Eaton, November 2023 – Artist
Working in watercolour on paper, Eloise Dethier-Eaton is a multi-disciplinary artist drawn to still life, telling the stories behind the objects she depicts. She used decorative techniques for her recently completed MA at the City & Guilds of London Art School to focus on the poor ethics behind fast fashion, illustrated in her thought-provoking trompe l’oeil painting of a jumpsuit that ripped when first worn. She has been exploring the properties of paper and will apply skills from a paper-marbling apprenticeship for a fellowship she was recently awarded by the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers.
Emma Jamison, October 2023 – Landscape Artist
Wedded to the outdoors from an early age, Emma Jamison expresses her love of the Sussex landscape in her abstract oils on canvas. From the studio on her family’s farm she composes vivid landscapes that evoke the ancient magic of the Downs. Her first solo show, staged in London by Petworth’s Kevis House Gallery, combined to spectacular effect these works with contrasting paintings inspired by a recent trip to Iceland.
Kimi Zoet, September 2023 – Artist
Kimi Zoet embraces visual expression in its widest definition—not as simply painting and sculpture, but also as enfolding music, writing and other creative forms. Her current themes explore the natural world, water and the night sky. Increasingly, she is focusing on salvage sculpture based on discarded furniture. Weaving many strands together, she sums up her work by saying: “I’m a storyteller”.
Ruby Hagan, August 2023 – Artist
Winner of The Circles of Art prize for an artist under the age of 26 at the 2023 Society of Women Artists exhibition, Ruby Hagan exudes passion, originality and talent. (Her prize-winning work, The Council of Abi, is shown on our home page.) Aged 18, she has loved expanding her artistic horizons, doing life drawing, and exploring the grotesque for her Art A Level before heading from The Wirral to London to start her degree course.
Brad Kenny, July 2023 – Artist
When you buy a painting by artist Brad Kenny you can also commission him to create a custom-made frame. After his Fine Art MA at the University of Chichester, London-based Kenny has specialised in portraiture for the past eight years. Now, however, he is expanding his horizons to encompass dramatic, vibrant plants and landscape art. “There are limitless subjects that I want to explore,” he says. “I feel a duty to keep pushing myself forward on this journey.”
Toby Wiggins, June 2023 – Artist
Last month Toby Wiggins won the gold medal and Ondaatje prize for the most distinguished portrait in the Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ annual exhibition. His work has been shown in the National Portrait Gallery and subsequently in his solo exhibition ‘Wessex Land, Wessex People’ at Dorset County Museum. He believes in drawing from life wherever possible. ‘From life you can really see the person, come nearer the essential,’ he explains.
Clark Broadwood-Smith, May 2023 – Sculptor
Sculptor Clark Broadwood-Smith’s chosen medium is the native oaks found around his Suffolk studio. He began his career as a self-described journeyman, working alongside master thatchers and other local craftspeople. Now, following sculpture residencies that took him from the Inner Hebrides to India, he creates works that speak of ancient rituals and recondite cultures, yet are resolutely innovative and contemporary. “They require your imagination, he says. “Each piece is up for interpretation.”
Alison Pullen, April 2023 – Collage Artist
The spirit of a place is the key component in Alison Pullen’s atmospheric collage paintings. Her skill at collage, honed at the Royal College of Art, has led her to a career depicting interiors of livery halls, stately homes, greenhouses and – a prestigious commission – the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace. She pastes down magazine interiors pages as a backdrop, then cuts out and sticks down shapes for the detail in a room, before painting with acrylic and coloured pencils. She works quickly, in situ, to capture the light. Her work is represented at the Sarah Wiseman Gallery in Oxford, and will appear in a solo exhibition at Coombe Gallery in Dartmouth in early summer 2023.
Charles Horsfield, March 2023 – Ceramics Artist
Where do studio ceramics meet pygmy goats, glamping, floristry and yoga? They’re all thriving among the glorious gardens and distant hills of Woodlands Farm Wales. Here, Charles Horsfield has swapped his 30-year legal career in London’s City for rural hospitality and a potter’s wheel. Horsfield’s work focuses on highly tactile stoneware studio ceramics. His latest creations are torn and twisted forms, their parched crusts split into contrasting bands of crazing suggestive of destruction. But the power of nature, too, fuels his vision: the texture of silver birch bark or a bursting seed pod. Each piece starts at the wheel. “It’s my place of quiet contemplation, my happy space,” he explains.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.