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Britain's top artists make big money. Their works can go for millions.
Nine million five. Ten million. Ten million five. Eleven million.
Up and down the country, thousands of ordinary people
are also trying to get a piece of the action.
They're putting their necks on the block for the chance
to sell at the hottest exhibition in town.
To get something in London would be pretty special.
I want to be an artist. You know, I want to be successful at what I do.
The idea of having arrived somewhere and maybe getting other people
to look at what I've done is just unbelievable.
These artists could stand to make some serious cash.
This piece is £4,500.
But first, they need the seal of approval
from three of the art world's toughest critics.
Instead of paying 450 quid for this,
I'll go out and buy the raw ingredients and knock one up myself.
Their hopes are in the hands of the Hanging Committee.
I absolutely love it.
I'm going to say yes.
It's time to Show Me the Monet.
Hello and welcome to Show Me the Monet.
Over the past few months, ambitious artists,
both professional and amateur,
have been facing our rigorous judging panel,
the Hanging Committee.
Their aim, to be chosen to show and sell their work
at our prestigious London exhibition,
at the Mall Galleries, just down the road from Buckingham Palace.
But to get there,
they had to get past three of the toughest art critics.
As an auction house expert,
Roy Bolton knows there's more to great art
than just commercial value.
Emotion in art is what really matters. Art needs soul to be alive.
Outspoken critic David Lee has over two decades in the art world
and knows exactly what he wants.
Good technique through practice is essential.
Without it, they'll get nowhere.
And contemporary specialist Charlotte Mullins
has applied her critical eye
to some of the industry's most prestigious competitions.
I'm looking for originality.
Art works that make me see the world in a completely new way.
Coming up on today's programme, the title says it all...
So I've called this Sunset In Drag.
..and David's seen it all before.
It looks to me like the view you'd see staring back at you
from a high street photographer.
"Naff" is the word that springs to mind.
Eltham Palace was one of the most important royal palaces
in England in Tudor times.
And in the beautiful palace grounds, wealthy patrons of the arts,
Stephen and Virginia Courthauld,
built their opulent art deco mansion
alongside the magnificent great hall.
And it was here that artists braved the judges in the hope
of landing a place in the exhibition.
And the first artist up in front of the Hanging Committee
is 29-year-old business student, Viveka Hewman.
She's a completely self-taught artist
who's learned everything she knows about painting
from the internet and books.
For her, getting through to the exhibition
and selling her work would allow her to fulfil a big dream.
-Hi, Viveka. Welcome to Show Me the Monet.
If you do get to the exhibition, and you sold your piece...
-..what would you spend the money on?
I really want to learn the traditional way of painting.
And the only place, from what I've researched, is in Florence.
-I've never been to Florence,
and it's something you read about and think, I want to be there!
What a place to go and study. That would be incredible.
But you'll have to meet the judges.
There's one particular judge you're quite interested in meeting.
I'm terrified of... (David Lee.)
I'm terrified of David Lee, and that's just at lunch.
-What about you?
-He's very opinionated.
-He IS very opinionated.
That's exactly what I want as well, because my work has only been shown
to my circle of family and friends,
and this is the very first time somebody outside the circle
is going to see my work.
-The judges, including that horrible David Lee...
Horrible. And terrifying!
-He's in there!
Viveka's dream of getting the chance to study art
for the first time in her life
rests on this oil painting, entitled Rueben.
She's taken a big gamble,
as it's only the second oil painting she's ever done.
Would you introduce your work for us please?
This is a painting I did last year,
and it's a painting of my boyfriend's nephew.
He's got lovely, beautiful, gorgeous eyes,
and I thought, like, "I have to paint him".
I wanted to make the painting quite dark,
so I just wanted to make it a bit Rembrandt-ish!
Although the outcome is completely different.
It's my second oil painting,
but I'm actually pleased about the outcome, if I have to say so myself.
How much would it cost, this?
-Um, £20,000 is what I have marked it up as.
-OK, we'll have a close look at it.
Wow! For her second ever oil painting, that's quite a price.
I hope her work stands up under the judges' scrutiny.
Remember, it'll be judged on three criteria,
originality, technique and emotional impact.
-How long did it take you?
-Can I offer you some advice?
£20,000 is very unrealistic.
Maybe I'll think about the pricing, but if it does go for that price,
I'm hoping to kind of go to Florence,
because the place I really do want to go and study art
is Florence Academy.
-And you need a lot of money to go there.
-It's very, very expensive.
You won't make that money from this picture, I have to say.
The thing is, because I have no idea on how to evaluate paintings,
so it's just a number that I came up with.
And what a big number!
It's a huge price tag, but then again, Viveka needs that money
if she's to fund her dream of studying art.
Now, it's down to the nuts and bolts of her composition.
I can see why your starting point was the eyes
and you wanted to capture Rueben's eyes.
But the point of view, being obviously from a much taller person,
is that vulnerable look that only a parent,
or someone of immense trust, would ever get.
It's very much Oliver Twist,
"May I have some more please, sir", staring up.
-Why did you choose that pose rather than another?
-It is unusual.
I wanted to get it right, because that is a very difficult position.
I had to actually play a lot with the shoulders,
just to make sure it is actually right,
so I think the posture is very strong.
I'd like to interject. I don't see this as an intimate portrait
of someone you know well at all.
This is exactly the point you made about Oliver Twist,
"Can I have some more", it's looking at a person with authority,
you know, the, an adult, but not an adult you know well.
It looks to me like the view you'd see staring back at you
from a high street photographer.
You know, that kind of mawkish, cloying,
sentimental children's look.
"Naff" is the word that springs to mind.
Why didn't you choose something that was more subtle?
Hence I, that's why I didn't want to make,
that's why I did all the darkness,
and tried to get the whole light and dark of,
you know, of the painting, like I said, of like,
-to get Rembrandt's...
-Citations of Rembrandt
set you up against one of the great background painters,
but the background is so flat,
it's an amateur background,
and you are not an amateur painter of portraits.
We mustn't lose sight of the fact this is only your second oil painting.
It is remarkable. It's not consistent
and this is where it falls down for me.
So, Viveka wants to follow in Rembrandt's footsteps.
I'd say David hasn't been won over
and Charlotte feels the background's let her down.
But she has been praised for her very skilled technique,
so I wonder how she'll fare in the voting.
DAVID LEE: Roy?
Keep at it. No.
-On this time, no.
It's no from me I'm afraid, as well,
but we've had great fun looking at this.
And we've been edified by your intelligence. Thank you very much.
-Oh, thank you.
-Lovely to meet you.
Ah, that's a blow for Viveka.
The judges have recognised her talent,
but feel that she needs more time to develop as an artist,
and hopefully she'll find a way to fulfil her dream
of studying in Florence.
-You said you were looking forward to that experience.
-Yes, I was.
Was that better or worse that you thought?
I just took it as it came, and I did get a lot of good advice.
-A lot of good advice.
-A lot of good advice, yeah.
I think they're astonished this was your second ever oil painting.
Yeah. I mean, I was surprised that David was actually quite,
you know, supportive.
As soon as he said "naff image"...
I was like, I'm going to have to rescue her.
Ah, he's got his way of words.
What are you going to do right now?
-You're going to finish your MBA, and then what?
-We'll see how it goes.
-Mmm. I think Florence. I can almost smell Florence now.
-You've got to go there.
-You really think so?
Do you want to buy my painting for 20?
-Can I think about it, for about 20 years?
-It's been a real pleasure to meet you.
-Thank you so much.
-We wish you the best of luck.
To get to the exhibition,
we asked artists from all over the country to send us their work.
We received everything, from paintings and sculptures,
to drawings and photographs.
The standard of the art was incredibly high,
but not everybody made it through.
Next up was 45-year-old Sarah Caswell.
Sarah was a high-powered businesswoman in London
at the top of her game.
But she's always had a burning desire to paint.
So eventually, she followed her heart
and gave up her job as a chartered company secretary,
and went to live in Norfolk with her sister so she could paint full time.
-I've been painting since I could run, kind of thing.
And, um, it suddenly...
started to grow and grow that I wanted to do this full time.
Now if you do get to the exhibition, what will that mean to you?
I am very keen on demystifying art and having things
that people genuinely want to look at on their walls.
I like to be demystified by art,
because it can be a mysterious world for us outside it.
-It doesn't need to be.
-Good, that's what I like to hear!
-What would you do with the cash?
-I need a bigger vehicle.
I need something big to take, for, things to...
So it's all going to go towards a car?
-Or a van.
-I don't know how big it is, but...
-I shall become the flower van woman!
-I love that! OK. And I wish you the best of luck.
-Thank you very much.
Lovely to meet you. The judges await and I'll keep my fingers crossed.
Thank you very much, Chris. Bye-bye.
Sarah's following her dream., but is she on the road to success?
Painting has become very important to me.
I'm now totally taken over by it.
Sarah's so passionate about painting flowers,
she says she's aiming for nothing less than world floral domination.
She's taken a huge risk,
ditching her high-flying career to paint full time,
and now she's about to hear from three of the best in the business
whether she's got what it takes to make it as a professional.
-Sarah. Hello and welcome to the Hanging Committee.
-Hello. Thank you.
Can you tell us about your work, please?
Um, well, I paint flowers.
And, um, the aim of my work
is to translate what I describe as the whoomph of emotion
when we see something in the real world
that moves us, that is remarkable.
So, this is called Pink Fireworks.
It is depicting dahlias.
What I was aiming to do with this piece was to...
I can't believe it. This confident, successful businesswoman's nerves
have got the better of her.
It just goes to show how much is riding on this for Sarah.
OK. So, where, what I'm aiming to do is to use flowers as a vehicle
to put across the emotional response that I get
when I see something very beautiful.
And the piece that you're seeing here is botanically correct.
I'm using, in this piece, dahlias,
because they are, they create a sort of nostalgia for many people.
I have a lot of people who come to see my work and they say,
"My granddad used to grow these, I love it, it takes me back."
Sarah's poured so much emotion into her work,
but will the judges be moved by her picture?
And will anyone want to buy it?
How much do you charge for a work like this?
That one would be about 950.
-We'll come and take a closer look.
Sarah's thrown herself into a very precarious existence
where every penny counts.
If she goes through and manages to sell for the £950 she wants,
she'll be able to buy that van,
so she can transport her huge canvasses to shows and sell them.
But will her flowers work their magic on the judges?
Is that all you paint?
Um, I have been focussing solely on flowers for the last,
maybe five or six years.
I think it's completely valid to try to specialise in something.
Bottles and tables don't do it for me like flowers do.
I'm kind of slightly worried this might be a trick.
Because if you were actually asked to paint a sort of proper,
full-bodied still life, you'd collapse.
Um, I might have to try that and let you know, come back to you.
Well, that was a quick-thinking answer from Sarah.
In part, from here, it's terrific
but when I got up close I was a bit disappointed.
I was disappointed, but for £950 I'm not at all disappointed.
In a way it doesn't matter about the price,
it matters about whether this is good enough for our exhibition.
You are celebrating the beauty and the raw power of a good flower
and, you know, hats off to you for doing that
but I feel I have seen works like this before.
It's lovely, commercial, well priced, you know what you're doing
but the main question is, "Will this sit properly with other works,
"which may have more emotional or intellectual content?"
I've not quite decided yet.
Well I think Sarah's been criticised and praised in equal measure.
I'm not sure how this vote will go for her.
-You're good, but it's not seductive enough for me, I'm afraid. No.
So, I struggle with it...
..for its simplicity.
As I'm still struggling, I should say yes. Yes.
Sarah's fate is now in Charlotte's hands.
Oh, Sarah, I wish it hadn't come to me.
Oh, say yes!
Don't think I don't want to.
-I am sorry, I'm not trying to string this out.
-No, no, it's fine!
-It's a big decision.
-You're fine. I understand.
Look, if I'm sitting here and I'm thinking,
I could keep everyone here all day, I should give you a shot.
It's a yes.
Thank you all for your consideration. Thanks very much.
An agonising wait, but worth it for two yes's.
If she sells at the exhibition,
Sarah could soon be pushing her art sales far and wide,
behind the wheel of her very own van.
The Mall Galleries, London,
and flower-mad Sarah's painting of a dahlia
was blooming at the exhibition.
I spend the majority of my time painting,
pretty much, under a rock in north Norfolk.
Really this is a great opportunity
to be able to extend my world floral domination.
As the evening got into full swing,
Sarah was hoping to convert the crowd to her floral vision.
So, did she get any bids?
Any offers were made in secret
and subject to a 10% sales commission.
The results were handed to me in a sealed envelope
and only revealed when I opened it in front of the artist for the first time.
-OK, so how much did you want for this?
-£950. Everybody else think that seems a fair price?
-It's your favourite, isn't it? You like it a lot, 950?
£950. What were you going to spend the money on?
Well, this is actually one of the smallest pieces that I paint,
and so I need a bigger vehicle
to transport my paintings around to exhibitions.
Only simple needs, these artists, don't want anything too much!
It's quite practical. It's not very bohemian, but...
-Well, I have the envelope here.
Right, let's see if we've got some cash for you, Sarah.
-You wanted £950 for your painting.
We didn't get any offers.
Ohh! That's a shame.
Thank you very much, "Ahh," because we all feel exactly the same.
Because there was a lot of interest, wasn't there?
There was a lot of interest but you NEVER know.
It obviously wasn't the night for my flowers.
It'll have its day.
-It will have its day. Don't we agree?
She definitely agrees. Yes, yes. All right, well...
Up that lady's pocket money immediately!
-It has been a pleasure to meet you.
-Give her a round of applause!
'So, no sale but the great news is that, since the exhibition,
'Sarah has won the People's Choice Award
'at the Society of Botanical Artists
'and has had a successful solo exhibition
'at the Chelsea Flower Show.'
Artist after artist trooped in front of the Hanging Committee,
hoping they would impress the judges enough
to get a place in the exhibition - but only the best made it.
Photography student Jameson Kergozou presented an image
of a model of his grandfather's World War Two fighter plane...
It was a documentary series I did
and it was photographing different parts of my grandfather's house.
I like its nostalgia...
its celebration of brave people.
..but it was only a matter of time before battle lines were drawn.
I don't think there's sufficient drama in there to make me go,
"Wow! I wish I'd done that!"
I have to say, I disagree very much with David's point.
I think it's a very charming photograph because there are only three elements.
There's a wall, a toy plane and a cupboard it sits on.
It's a resounding yes from me.
Not quite enough, sorry. No.
-I have to say no.
-OK. Thank you.
Professional printmaker Jenny Gunning travelled from her hometown of Ironbridge
with her etching of the great bridge.
The piece of work, to me, is from my heart, from my soul.
The time when I was drawing it, I felt cold
and I was in a, actually, quite a bad place at the time.
Jenny's clearly poured a lot into this etching,
but Charlotte questioned whether a viewer would get the sentiment.
What I look for in a work is an emotional connection,
some kind of mystery within the work that I can navigate and explore, and every time I look,
it's different. I think every time I looked at this, it'd be the same.
-It would be a print of a place by a very accomplished printmaker.
Accomplished printmaker or not,
Jenny's etching just wasn't quite up to scratch.
It's marvellous in its way, but it's a no from me too.
Photography student Max Hearne produced a staged photograph
of an umbrella made up of lots of cocktail umbrellas
and it took no time at all for David to rain on Max's parade.
You took this photograph
because it was an umbrella made of a lot of cocktail umbrellas.
Is that really it?
Quite a few people will probably just look at the photograph
and think it's a nice photograph.
Whereas others could read it in an entirely different way.
I just wanted to experiment with colour.
But Max's explanation didn't wash with Charlotte.
You talked about wanting to experiment with colour,
then you've made this very muted but it does have the look of a fashion photograph,
and it sounds like that's the direction
you're quite keen to see yourself go in. No.
Next was photography student William Pearce,
whose photograph of the Norfolk coastline
charted the battle between man and sea.
It is looking at the effects of coastal erosion
and how we, as man, we're attempting to overcome this.
And the judges were unanimous in their decision...
-Yes, from me.
-Three yes's, we'll see you at the Mall Galleries.
..but would the 20-year-old succeed in selling his photograph?
It was time to discover the lie of the land.
You wanted £330...
..you had one offer and it was for...
-How do you feel?
-Great. Really happy.
-I can't believe it.
Give your mum a kiss, cos she's just stopped crying!
No, you're not!
-Go on! There you are.
-You all right?
Back at Eltham Palace, 58-year-old self-confessed hippy,
Syd Foster from Swansea, was next up.
He's had a varied career,
doing everything from fruit picking in Spain to working in call centres
but now he wants to make his mark on the art world.
-Syd, nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
-You are basically a collage of colour there.
Are you inspired by colour all the time?
Well, I am, yeah.
You know, I go to psychedelic dance festivals
and that is very inspirational.
So, I, kind of, like to represent it in the mundane streets, you know?
Bring a little bit of that inspiration back to the normal world!
OK, what are your ambitions? What would you...?
Would you like to be a full-time artist?
-..and selling your pieces of art?
Yeah, cos then I wouldn't have to go and work in a call centre
-or something, you know.
I mean, cos, you know, I am an artist, you know?
What would it mean to you, then,
to get to the Show Me the Monet exhibition?
Well, it would be the first time I'd ever experienced something like that,
-so it'd just be a great experience for me, you know?
So, if you manage to get to the exhibition and sell,
what would you do with the money?
I'm unemployed, so basically I'd have to be spending it on food, you know.
-Yeah, that helps an artist, apparently!
-Oh, my goodness!
-I wish you the best of luck.
-It's been lovely to meet you.
-The judges are awaiting through that door.
This could get your next meal!
Yes! Nice one.
Well, we've had lots of artists on the show hungry for recognition,
but for Syd, it's for food!
He sees himself as an artist
and he's hoping this photograph called Sunset in Drag
could launch his artistic career.
Now, I for one can't wait to see
what the judges will make of that title.
-Syd, would you like to introduce your artwork for us?
First, I'd like to say I'm a poet and I'm a conceptual artist,
I'm not a photographer, I just took a bunch of photographs
and this one I discovered amongst them.
The smeariness in the picture is because, you know, it was at sunset,
and the, you know, trying to hold the camera steady, you know, there's slight movement.
Which is why this one stood out for me,
I really like the way it has smeared a bit.
So I've called this Sunset in Drag.
Mmm, a feint smile from Charlotte. Has that struck a chord?
I just think that if the sunset itself were an entity
which were to come to life each time the sunset happens,
and it just became somehow a consciousness
that would like to dress up in the material world.
Can you tell us what price you put on this?
Well originally I put 300 quid but I've made it a light box
and the light box itself is so expensive,
I've put the price up now to 450.
-That's great. Well, we'll come and have a closer look.
Syd's work is inspired by psychedelic dance festivals
but will it move the judges?
It looks to me like Roy needs sunglasses.
Syd, I'm sure there are people who would look at this and say,
"This just looks like an out-of-focus photograph of flowers,"
what would you say to that?
Monet was losing his eyesight when he painted the Water Lilies
and the camera's been used more like a paintbrush than like a camera.
Mmm, so no backing down there, from Syd,
on his experimental use of a camera.
What's the difference between this
and one of those moving pictures you see on a curry house wall,
-of waterfalls trickling down?
-Well, it's not moving!
-It feels like it's moving.
-Well that's good, isn't it?
Well that's why I ask, what's the difference?
What's the different? I've no idea.
Well, Roy clearly likes his art on terra firma.
But is Charlotte up for a little movement in art?
I'm sorry, Syd, with respect,
I don't think this photograph is any good.
It's blurry, it's out-of-focus.
I don't think it's serving you well enough
for what you want it to say through the title.
You just can't put a photograph on a light box
and, because it's on a light box, expect it to be taken as art.
It's not enough.
The reason it's on a light box
is because I know that if it was printed, it would just be too dark!
Well, you've gotta love Syd for his honesty,
but I get a sinking feeling
that Syd's attempt to capture the psychedelic experience
has passed our judges by.
-I'm sorry, Syd. No.
-Thanks for the opportunity.
-It's been a joy to meet you.
-Thanks a lot.
-It's the end of the road for Syd.
His Sunset in Drag won't be casting its rosy glow in the Mall Galleries
and I for one would have loved to see his outfit on our opening night.
So is there anything that you'll take away,
next time you are constructing, creating,
that you'll take away from today's meeting with our judges
and you'll say, "Do you know what? I'm going to take in what David..."
-Because my idea is not to pander to fine art critics
but to create an experience for a person who interacts with it.
-Well, it has been great fun meeting you.
-Yeah, all right.
-Keep on creating and I'm sorry you didn't make our exhibition.
-But you've certainly lit up our day.
Next up was 55-year-old Alison Holt from Shropshire.
Alison got a degree in fine art and textiles in the 1970s.
Since then she's been creating machine-embroidered pictures
and she's an acknowledged expert in that field.
She's written five books on the subject and teaches private courses.
You must be mad to come on television because you've got it all to lose.
Well, I'm really interested to know what they're going to say
because it's 30 years since I left art school
and I imagine it's that long since I've had somebody actually critique my work.
And so that should be, that should be quite a moment.
-"Quite a moment," she's says...
-I'm just, I hope I can cope!
I know, what am I doing here?
What would it mean, then, to get to our exhibition?
I mean, to have the opportunity to exhibit alongside other people
who have also been...you know, recognised as strong in their field,
I would feel that was a real accomplishment.
-I would be excited by that.
-OK, well I wish you the very best of luck.
-I'm sure they'll love you.
-I hope so.
-I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
-Thank you. Good, that'll help.
-We'll hope we're celebrating in a minute.
-That'd be great.
-They await just through that door.
Alison's taken a big risk coming here today.
She's made quite a name for herself in her niche field.
And she has a reputation to lose.
She is desperate to get her work shown in conventional art galleries.
If the judges rate her and put her through,
she could be looking at a big new market for her work.
-Welcome to the Hanging Committee, Alison.
-Please introduce your piece.
-This is my piece of textile work.
It's called the Clifftop Walk
and it's a scene in Anglesey, North Wales.
I work mostly from photographs which I take when I'm out walking
and this is freehand machine embroidery which is a creative use
of a very old electric sewing machine.
It's the way I've been working for many years.
I consider myself a painter that uses threads and each thread is laid down
very much like a brushstroke or a line made with a coloured pencil.
-I paint with stitches.
-Thank you very much. We'll have a look.
That's a pretty high price.
I think Alison is going to have some explaining to do.
Her chance to break into the fine art market rests on this moment.
Her embroidered piece is certainly unusual,
so hopefully she'll score highly in the originality stakes,
but will it have the emotional impact the judges are after?
From this distance, it looks exactly like a painting.
£2,400 for a small painting this size,
we would think was rather high.
Do you sell a lot of these things for 2,400 quid?
-The most expensive piece I've sold was 3,300.
-Does this sort of thing sell through galleries?
It's interesting because, if I approach galleries,
there's always this dilemma that I'm a textile artist
and they don't handle textiles, they only deal with fine art.
When you look at it, it's fascinating as an embroidery,
but when it comes down to it, I'm struggling to find a purpose
for doing this in embroidery over paint or another medium.
You've got to admit that Alison's use of thread is very impressive,
but I get the feeling that Alison's piece has taken the judges
out of their comfort zone.
The texture is quite amazing. The first thing I wanted to do was touch it. Especially the heather.
It looks soft and sponge-like.
There is three-dimensionality in this that you won't get in a painting,
but... This is the "but" part.
That's the only thing I thought that gives it a reason for being.
-Can I say something?
From my point of view, there's a clarity and vibrancy
and a level of detail on this scale
that I think would be nigh on impossible in paint.
Well done, Alison, for fighting your corner.
But will that defence be a stitch in time
and win this highly experienced textile artist a place in the exhibition?
-The subject matter itself is too limiting for me so it is no.
Hats off to your skill, Alison.
But, for this exhibition, it's a no, I'm afraid.
-That's OK. Thank you.
-Brilliant, Alison, but it's no from me as well.
Thanks very much for showing it. It's something quite unique.
Thanks for your time and comments. A pleasure to meet you.
Thank you for showing it to us.
Alison's exceptional skill and talent have been recognised
and she has been very gracious in the face of defeat,
but I'm afraid it's back to square one on the gallery front for her.
-It's fine. It's fine.
Genuinely. They were lovely.
They were very complimentary and I think the key thing
they said was that it's not right for this exhibition.
I looked at the things they said.
It's not often someone says, "brilliant," "unique",
"amazing technique," but no.
It's a stupid question because I already know the answer,
-but are you going to change?
Are you going to take things on board
and maybe go in a totally different avenue?
I don't think I can do that.
I'm firmly fixed as a textile artist now.
Artists from all corners of the UK came before the hanging committee
in the hope of making it through, but only the best made the grade.
Next in line was Trish Spence.
She's a 53-year-old clothes designer turned ceramicist from Cardiff.
When her two sons left home,
Trish decided it was time to do something for herself, so
she went to university to study for a Bachelors and Masters in ceramics.
She's now a ceramicist in residence at Harrow School.
Her initial interest in clay came about from her sons' school in Somerset.
I had an opportunity at my boys' school. They ran a session
for parents and I thought, "Great, pottery.
"I'd love to go along and try my hand." I just loved it.
-Bit of an evening class and...
Look at you now! University, you're now working at a school. What next?
What are your ambitions?
I'm aiming at having my own practice
and I'm trying to get my work into as many galleries as possible.
You're going in to see some judges now
-that could place you in an exhibition.
It's a prestigious exhibition in a fantastic gallery in London.
I carried this banner.
I'm always trying to get ceramics into art galleries.
I'm trying to push to have ceramics accepted on an equal footing
as paintings and other fine art.
You've got your work cut out. These judges are experienced.
-They know what they want.
-Are you ready for this experience?
No, not really, but there we go! It's always self-confidence.
You always think bravely, but it's getting rejected -
I don't want to do it. Especially if all the boys are watching!
All the boys will admire your courage for coming on television.
If you get through and you sell, what would you spend your money on?
Definitely a weekend away to the north of Spain.
That sounds wonderful. I wish you the best of luck
-The judges await. It won't be that bad, I promise you.
After working hard for her degrees, Trish is longing for a break.
If she gets through to the exhibition
and manages to sell her piece, she will want to
head off for a wine-tasting trip in the Rioja region of Spain.
She's going to have to work hard to convince the judges
that her ceramic sculpture belongs in an art exhibition.
In this country,
ceramics are traditionally seen as craft rather than fine art.
Would you introduce us to your ceramic, please?
This piece of ceramic sculpture is called This Way Up.
I spent many months trying to develop a way of getting
expression into a ceramic object.
Not applying it but actually using the material itself to make
-How much does this work go for?
-I'm asking £900.
-OK. We'll have a close look at it.
Trish has made a bold move coming here today.
She's showing her work to three of the toughest critics in the business
and she's hoping to challenge their perceptions of what constitutes art.
Not to mention the ribbing she'll face from the boys at school
if she doesn't get through.
Trish, when I first saw this, and looked at the title,
I was drawn into a surfing reference.
It felt like This Way Up and you're in the vortex of the washing machine
and you're stuck and you come off.
Every wave breaks on you and you can't get out of this cycle of water.
It was actually the sea and really bad grey weather that inspired me.
People have likened it to lots of different things,
but you're the first person that has said water.
I'm quite pleased about that.
Hmm, never had Roy down as a secret surfer.
It's a good start for Trish. She's managed to convey exactly what
she was intending to at least one of the judges.
There is a lovely sense of through-ness to this.
Not just us looking through the ceramic sculpture,
but also through the sides of it which lightens it.
Trish, I had no idea this was about the sea when I looked at it.
I don't get any of this inner space stuff.
I just walk past and think, "What the hell's that?!"
No prizes for guessing which way David's going to vote.
It's a no from me. I'm sorry. It just looks like that.
Trish's attempt to catch a feeling of the sea in
her sculpture hasn't won David over,
but do the other two judges like her piece enough to put her through?
Trish, I feel I have been led somewhere new today
and that's a very nice feeling.
-Thank you for that, so it's a yes.
-Great, thank you.
If I can't make my mind up, Trish,
let's give you the benefit of the doubt. It's a yes.
-You're in. Well done and thanks for showing it to us.
-We'll see you then.
-Thank you very much. Bye.
-It's a great result for Trish.
Not only has she got herself a place at the exhibition,
she's managed to convince the judges that ceramics can count as fine art.
Well, two of the judges, at least.
It's a badly made wastepaper basket as far as I can see.
You can take the man out of the North, but you can't take the north out of the man.
The Mall Galleries, London. And the exhibition was a huge draw.
I think it's really interesting, I'm amazed,
actually, at the diversity.
And Trish's sculpture took pride of place.
I think it's time ceramics did break into the art world.
I'm hopeful that someone has room
-and a space for a fragile piece of ceramic.
-The question was, though,
did anyone want to take Trish's sculpture home?
Any offers were made in secret and subject to a 10% sales commission.
The results were kept under wraps and only revealed when I opened
the sealed envelope in front of the artist for the first time.
Just remind me, how much did you want for this?
I was asking 600.
What were you going to do with the money?
I just thought a nice weekend away somewhere.
It's very frivolous and I shouldn't be spending it on that,
-but I thought that'd be great.
-On your own, or does he come along?
With my partner, because he's almost my PA now,
so, and I feel sorry for him at times, I really do.
-Right, the dogsbody, are you?
-So there could be a lovely trip away, anywhere particular?
-Rioja in Spain.
Fingers crossed everybody. Ready? Trish, here we go.
Now Trish, you wanted £600, hopefully for a trip to Spain?
-We didn't get any offers.
-No. I'm not surprised.
It's a very difficult piece of work, well, all my ceramics are difficult.
But as I say,
I think I've just really got to use as it as a springboard, you know?
-And just take a leap. Push the work.
Well, promise us something,
that you will use this as a springboard.
-We think you've got something special.
The judges think you've got something special.
-Give her a round of applause.
And give her a hug! Give her a hug!
So no bids for Trish's sculpture. But she at least achieved her goal of getting her work
included in a fine art exhibition.
Well, that's it from us
from the Mall Galleries, but join us next time on Show Me The Monet
when the judges will be meeting more artists in search of success.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd