Competition for a spot at a grand exhibition at the Mall Galleries. A former soldier and trained photographer is among those presenting work to the judges.
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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. 11 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.
This is really what I want to do with the rest of my life.
These artists could stand to make some serious cash.
But first they need the seal of approval
from three of the art world's toughest critics.
I don't like it.
Their hopes are in the hands of the Hanging Committee.
Ever the phrase, "Don't give up your day job."
If you can maintain this level of work,
you will be in every collection I can think of.
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 Hanging Committee in the hope
they would get the chance 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 have to get past three of the most demanding critics in the business.
Charlotte Mullins is a contemporary art specialist,
who's judged some of the most prestigious competitions in the industry.
Is technical ability important? Absolutely.
How a work is made is so vital to how an artist communicates
what they're trying to say.
David Lee is the bad boy of the art world
and is known for his brutally honest critiques.
Originality doesn't have to be loud and sensational.
It can be done subtly.
And Roy Bolton is an experienced art dealer.
Our resident money man,
he has an eye for art with commercial pulling power.
An emotional connection with the artist, through their art and directly to me,
smack dab in the middle of the eyes. That's what really counts.
These experts were the gatekeepers to our exhibition.
Thousands of hopeful artists applied,
-but only the very best would hang their work at The Mall Galleries.
Coming up on today's programme -
David gives a brutally honest appraisal.
I honestly think it would disgrace the walls of a community centre.
Things get emotional in the Hanging Committee.
You see, you've even got me going now.
I've got you going!
And Roy thinks he's discovered a rare talent.
I mean, I think you've got a gift.
Eltham Palace, South London.
One of the few surviving medieval royal palaces in England.
It was an awe-inspiring backdrop for our aspiring artists,
as one by one they faced the Hanging Committee in the magnificent Great Hall.
First up was 23-year-old Sian Griffiths, an art graduate
and part-time nursery school teacher from Northampton.
She graduated two years ago from Loughborough University
with a degree in Fine Art
and has high hopes of becoming a professional artist.
So you've got an art degree, right? Did you do well?
-I got a first, yeah.
-You can't get much better than that, can you?
No. Now you'd like to be a full-time artist?
-How close do you think you are?
I don't know.
I feel like I've done quite well so far, but I think
I probably have quite a long way to go still.
Now if you do get to the exhibition, and you take your art there
and it sells, what would you do with the money?
Well, my boyfriend and I just put an offer in for an apartment
the other day and I just heard today that our offer was accepted.
So it will go on making our house look really swanky.
The judges are awaiting you through that door.
OK, thank you. Bye.
Sian did well at university
but making it in the professional art world
is an entirely different matter.
She's about to appear before three highly knowledgeable art critics.
Will her colourful sculpture measure up?
Hello, Sian. Welcome to the Hanging Committee.
-Please tell us about your work.
This piece of work is called My Sculpture, My Rules.
Everything that you see on the piece,
I have found or was belonging to me and I've kind of altered it.
Basically what you see are some cocktail umbrellas.
There's the purple thing, which I found in a skip.
A paper doily and there's a frame from a handheld mirror.
So I took things that interested me
and I kind of just played around with them and see what they could do.
And what value do you place on this work?
The value for this piece, I would say, £450.
Right. Let's go and take a closer look.
Sian wants to make a living from her art,
so a place at the exhibition could be just the launch pad she needs.
To get there, she needs two yes votes from the judges
and they're looking for technical ability, emotional impact and originality.
And if she manages to sell her work,
she'll be able to furnish her swanky new pad.
Sian, am I right in taking it that this sculpture itself
has no particular meaning, other than the enjoyment
and vivacity of creating it?
Yeah, that's correct, yeah.
-Is it about nothing?
-It is about nothing
but then it's also about everything, because it's about objects.
If I were the public, I might be tempted to think,
"Instead of paying 450 quid for this, I'll go out
"and buy the raw ingredients and knock one up myself."
I don't know what to think.
I can't work out whether it's great fun and formally witty,
or actually if it's a waste of space.
Sian's work has certainly got the judges talking
but their debate seems to be, is it art or just a random collection of objects?
She's chosen how to put it together.
Well, of course.
And that's your choice in a formal way.
-And that's my choice.
-How the colours and the forms work together.
If you have an artistic eye, those colours, or those shapes,
or those textures can work together and that's why...
You see I don't think if you took the constituent parts of that
and laid them out and rearranged them and put them together again
in a different way, it would make the slightest bit of difference.
I have trained. I did Fine Art at university
and this didn't just occur overnight.
I painted originally, I studied composition and line and colour.
I've got to here because of all of that. It didn't just happen
and I don't think anyone could just do it.
Fighting talk from Sian,
standing her ground against quite an onslaught
but will it have earned her some respect.
I like the idea that everything is stripped out
except the fact that it has no meaning.
But in a way you're excluding the general public,
because it's very hard for someone without a great deal of art knowledge
to look at something that has almost nothing in it,
without seeing it as trivial.
I think the materials are slight.
What you've done with them is quite interesting, and in a formal way.
Technical ability is hard to judge really,
because you've put them together. they seem well put together,
and in terms of originality, children have fun
putting different materials together, and often in very exciting ways.
I can't imagine paying that much money for it,
or having it on my wall.
I'm sorry, I think it's artless.
I honestly think it would disgrace the walls of a community centre.
And I'd like to be able to say something positive to you about it.
But I can't think of anything.
David always speaks from his heart.
No prizes for guessing which way David's going to vote then.
But Charlotte did say she couldn't dismiss this piece outright
and Roy said he quite likes the fact that the sculpture has no meaning.
Will this be enough though to get Sian a place at the exhibition?
Sian, you're an artist at heart.
I just don't think you're showing it as well as you need to at this.
I'm afraid it's no.
I'm sorry, Sian. It is going to be three noes
but it's very kind of you to come and stand in front of us today
and I hope you take some constructive criticism and feedback from what we've said.
OK, thank you.
Thank you very much, Sian.
Disappointment then for Sian.
She's learnt the hard way that there's a world of difference
between an Art School classroom and a panel of demanding critics
choosing art for a public exhibition.
-Not good, no.
You said they'd either love it, or hate it.
And they hated it.
You're smiling and you're laughing. Did that hurt?
No, because I was expecting it. I was preparing myself for that.
What are you going to go away now and do?
Are you going to prove those three in there that they're wrong?
Or are you just going to change a little bit?
I think I'll go away and prove that they're wrong.
-That's what I want to hear. Sian, lovely to meet you.
-And good luck with your new place.
-Yeah. Thank you.
-Good luck. Lovely to meet you.
One by one, nervous artists arrived at the Hanging Committee,
all hoping their work had what it takes to earn them a place at our grand exhibition.
But only the select few were good enough.
Art teacher Ruth Corney was hoping to win over the judges
with her image of a woman who had just taken a swim.
She just seemed so comfortable and relaxed in her body.
It really reminded me of a classical painting.
Roy had issues with the composition.
I think possibly she came in too late
and you didn't rethink the focus on her.
That's a very... it's just a personal...
-Could I just argue that point?
I did actually take a straight-on portrait of her,
but for me this was the choice, because I really like the incline of her face.
And although Ruth defended her work well, it wasn't enough to earn her a place at the exhibition.
I just feel I need to see it in a bigger body of work.
I'm going to say no.
82-year-old former ballroom dancer Doreen Davison
wanted £150 for her painting of a secret meeting between two lovers.
She was a very young girl, going out with a married man
and I thought the red spelled the danger she was in,
but the colours were her feelings, you know.
Charlotte was impressed by the vibrant nature of the work.
There's a lot of energy in it and the colour is terrific.
But the couple's smouldering passion
was interpreted quite literally by David.
They look as though they're on fire to me.
But that fire was put out when it came to the vote.
Well, Doreen, I'm afraid it's three noes.
But it's been a pleasure to meet you and to hear your story.
Professional artist Marina Kim
presented her work of a family friend,
created using a specialist print-making technique.
She's got a lovely personality to her.
It's a combination of the outside beauty with the inner beauty.
Roy struggled with one particular aspect of her outer beauty.
The arm doesn't work at all for me.
If anything, it doesn't look like her arm.
It almost feels like something strangling her.
David however had no such problem.
I think that's quietly marvellous. Yes.
-But sadly for Marina,
David's was the only vote she managed to win.
Next up was intrepid photographer Paul Berrif,
who had battled the elements to capture his image
of a snow covered Yorkshire village, entitled Winter Morning.
The police had warned that there's heavy snow, don't go out.
Well that was a cue for me to go out with my camera.
And although Charlotte was initially impressed...
Paul, I would like to compliment you on how well this is presented
and what a beautiful image it is.
Paul's picturesque scene wasn't what they were looking for.
I can see this in every tea shop from Whitby to Redcar.
It's perfect, but it is a postcard view
and I can't see it in an art exhibition. It's a no from me.
OK, thank you.
One of our successful applicants was 47-year-old Shona McMillan from Edinburgh.
She spent her working life promoting Scottish culture to holidaymakers
but for five years she's been dabbling in photography.
Now she has ambitions to become an artist.
So how did it all begin?
Hi, Shona. Lovely to meet you, welcome.
Pleased to meet you.
Now it says you are an events organiser.
-What does that mean? Parties? Anything?
Cultural festivals celebrating Highland culture
and this is kind of how this has all come about,
because my mum came from the fishing community and she said,
"You know, I'm very proud of what you were doing for your culture thing,
"but when you going to celebrate our ain culture?"
And I said that, "I'm not really a photographer."
And she says, "Well, do your best. Make a start."
-I like that. Mums do.
"I can't do that." "Oh, yes you can."
Yeah, exactly. You can't argue with your mum.
You cannot argue with your mum.
And that's kind of how the photography started.
What would it mean to you if you got to the exhibition?
If it's successful, the funding for that I would use to do another exhibition.
Oh, that would be wonderful. So there's a lot at stake today then?
-There's only one thing to say, good luck.
All right. The judges are through there.
-Thank you very much.
-Give as good as you get.
This is an important moment for Shona.
She's very much an amateur photographer and yet she's putting
her work before three highly experienced critics.
She submitted this photograph that she hopes is of the standard
they're looking for.
-Welcome to the Hanging Committee.
Please tell us about your photograph.
My photograph is taken of a fisherman.
I was doing a project, which I called People of the Sea,
but during that time the fuel crisis was really affecting
the Scottish fishing industry.
And very unfortunately, this person had just told me
that he was going to have to sell his boat,
and his family had been in fishing for 300 years.
For me, it's an incredibly emotional piece.
I come from a fishing family of many, many generations.
This was almost like going back to your roots.
About it's not all nicey, nicey.
This is real life and it's a whole culture that's changing.
Gosh. And what value do you put on this work?
Because it's 300 years of fishing coming to an end,
I thought £300, which is really nothing for 300 years.
-A neat figure!
We'll take a closer look now.
If Shona manages to sell her piece, any money will go towards
holding another exhibition of her fishing life photographs.
There's no doubting her personal connection to the work
but will the judges feel the same response from their closer look?
A place at the exhibition depends on it.
The story you invoke for the sitter, which is very moving
and, as I understand the story, I can see a lot of that story in his face.
His eyes are particularly expressive. However,
I wonder whether as part of a series of pictures,
whether that story could be told perfectly.
Can this one by itself do that job?
I think what it does is it asks a question.
But I think you look at it
and you know that there's a story there and you want to know more.
Shona, what instigated this project that led to this photograph?
What instigated the project for me
is my mum passed away with cancer,
and before she did she asked me would I do something to celebrate the fishing community.
I finally, with Mum's money, I bought a posh new camera
but didn't know how to work it.
It was, it was quite something.
What a wonderful legacy. Did she get to see any of these?
She never saw any of it, but by her birthday one year on,
12,000 people had seen the photographs.
-You see, you've even got me going now.
-I've got you going!
You're an incredible storyteller
and obviously you're starting to use that in your camera.
Are you saying before you started this you were a complete amateur?
I wish somebody had filmed the day I got my camera,
because I couldn't work out the focus
and there was an older bloke going out and I was saying to him, "Back, back."
Because I couldn't focus. And he says, "You're going to have me in the drink, woman!"
Shona's certainly got the gift of the gab, but she's going to need
more than that to get voted through to the exhibition.
Just take it as it is. Is that portrait eloquent?
Is it vivid?
Does it tell its own stories,
outside of the stories which we're supposed to get?
My view is that it does.
Shona, whether this is beginner's luck or not,
you have come up with a stunning photograph of this man.
I don't believe this is beginner's luck.
I think the stories you've told
show what a good ear you have for stories.
And the emotional impact is there in the eyes,
the weathered face, the sun-beaten cheeks,
the windswept hair, the sea behind it.
The simple fisherman's sweater. You tell that story beautifully.
My mum said, "I just want you to do your best".
And it feels like finally you've told me I've done my best.
Your mum could see something in you that you are now showing us.
That you have a gift.
There is so much bound up in this photograph for Shona
and she's passionate about showing the world
a way of life that is disappearing.
Now will the judges give her the chance to tell that story in their exhibition?
I'm going to start with Roy.
-Three yeses, Shona. We'll be seeing you at The Mall Galleries.
-Your mum would be proud.
-Thank you very, very much.
-I was going to shake your hands but since I've been crying...
-Oh, come on! You can do it.
She's done it. Three yeses.
Shona's photograph will hang at The Mall Galleries.
-Oh, lovely to meet you.
The Mall Galleries, London, and Shona's photograph took its place
at one of the hottest exhibitions of the year.
Open to the public, art dealers and collectors,
it was the perfect stage for Shona
to highlight the plight of the fishermen to an even larger audience.
I've done something for a community that I care about
and I just hope it makes a difference just even in giving respect to that community.
I would really like to use the money to actually do another exhibition.
But would anyone be interested in owning the piece?
Any offers on her work were made in secret
and subject to a 10% sales commission.
The results of the bidding were handed to me in a sealed envelope
and only revealed when I opened it in front of the artist for the first time.
-Remind me of his name.
His proper name is Robert Johnston, but his nickname is Bobo.
-So you've brought Bobo along.
-What did everybody think of him?
I think they were very impressed and I also think that they got
that the picture had a story to tell,
which for me I'm glad that they got that.
Good. That's what I'd like to hear.
So hopefully, does it smell like money in there? We'll have to wait and see.
How much did you want? I can't remember.
Well, I decided actually that I would do two exhibitions,
-so it's up to 850.
-£850 for this.
And this money will go into two more exhibitions, right.
Right, we'll see.
OK. So you wanted £850 to invest back into two exhibitions.
Well, sadly, you didn't get any offers on the night.
-None at all.
-None at all, I'm afraid.
Well, I think, as I say, it's a continuation of something
that's already started and I think it raises the profile of the people
of the sea and the fishing community. So, in a way, objective achieved.
Well, I definitely think you got the message, not only last night,
today, but definitely on Show Me the Monet.
It's been a pleasure meeting you. Commiserations. I'm going to give you a big hug.
No sale for Shona but she's now off to Canada,
to document British Columbia's fishing community.
We asked artists from all over the country to send us their work
and the response was overwhelming.
There were paintings, photographs, drawings and sculptures,
all of an incredibly high standard.
Next up was 18-year-old trainee chef, Peter Hayward.
He's one of the youngest artists to face the Hanging Committee.
He's set his sights on becoming a professional artist
but lacks any formal training.
I did a year of Art School, but I didn't enjoy it
and I left after... It was a two year course, I did the first year.
I've just been pursuing it in my own time, really.
And now you're cooking up a storm, are you?
Yeah, yeah. I'm just being trained to be a chef
and it's not really what I want to do, but I am enjoying it.
You say waiting to see what you really want to do, you mean the art world?
I want to be an artist.
You do want to be an artist, full time?
-If you did get to the exhibition,
what would it mean to you?
Well, I've never been in an exhibition before,
so I'd be thrilled to bits.
If you manage to sell your work,
you'll have a bit of cash in your hand.
-What are you going to do with it?
-I'd put it towards travelling.
-Where would you like to go?
-I think, to be honest,
I'm just going to throw a dart at a map and see where it lands
-and then go to there.
-I hope it's on land.
-Hopefully it doesn't land in the sea.
Peter's about to find out if he's made a big mistake dropping out of art college.
This detailed chalk drawing entitled Mother
is the piece he's selected to show off his skills.
But it's a long, lonely walk for such a young artist
and waiting for him are three very rigorous critics.
Peter, hello. Welcome to the Hanging Committee.
Please tell us about your work.
It's a drawing of my mum in graphite and white chalk.
Sorry, pretty nervous, sorry.
Do you want me to start again?
Take your time.
My mum told me to enter the exhibition
and I suppose she's done a lot for me in the past two years.
Sorry, actually, I'm really nervous.
Mind's gone blank, sorry.
Oh, dear. The nerves are really getting to Peter.
-Let's hope the judges go easy on him.
-Did your mum suggest...
She suggested the exhibition.
I thought I'd enter a picture of her and I suppose,
when I was drawing it, I spent a lot of time thinking about her
and I think maybe that reflects in the work a little bit.
I also think, because the eyes are closed,
it leaves it open to your imagination
about what you can perceive from the actual drawing.
It could mean anything. She's looking down into a blank space.
It's just a portrait, really, of my mum.
What price would you put on this?
If someone values it, I'm happy to accept anything
from £50 to whatever, really.
-£50 would be too little.
-I know, I'm not sure.
I've never sold anything, well, I've sold one thing before.
-What was that?
-It was a drawing of a dog.
-How much did you get for that?
-From the owner of the dog?
-Can we come and have a closer look?
-Go for it.
A modest valuation from Peter but if he wants to keep
his travelling dream alive, every little helps.
First, the judges need to see something special
if he wants that place at the exhibition.
Peter, you dropped out of art college.
Just because I didn't feel it was for me, really.
I never used to really get to draw anything. Well, I did draw a bit.
I always wanted to be a portrait painter so I suppose
it's good for some people but it wasn't good for me.
So you're effectively self-taught as a draftsman?
What do you think?
It's unusual to see a small portrait
that has a composition that's so defined.
It's mature, isn't it?
It's confident in terms of choosing not to paint any chest, any neck.
It's confident in the assertiveness of the marks you make as well.
There doesn't seem to be very much hesitancy there.
-You really get stuck in.
-I do work quite fast.
You seem to know exactly where you want the mark
better than you'd expect from somebody who is 18.
Yes, absolutely. I was really surprised when you walked through the door
because it's very mature.
The judges seem impressed by 18-year-old Peter's drawing.
So far, so good.
I mean, it's a really lovely study but it's a study, in my mind.
-It's quite obvious in a way.
-It's naive, I agree with you.
It's right in the middle. It's looking down.
-Not naive but obvious.
-Yeah, all right.
I see exactly what you mean
but some studies can be far superior to so-called finished works.
-I think you've got a gift
but all gifts still need hard work behind them.
It seems a shame to me you don't get to spend more hours
working on this sort of thing.
This one is going to the wire.
There is no doubting Peter's natural ability
but will his lack of training cost him when it comes to the vote?
-Roy, yes or no?
I'm going to say no.
I'm going to have to say no, Peter.
I don't think there's enough there yet but come back again. Please do.
-They are both wrong.
-Thank you. Thank you very much.
So close for Peter. He is definitely one to watch for the future
but will he take the judges' advice and go back to school?
-No worries, really.
I'm absolutely gutted for you, actually.
-How are you feeling?
-I respect the decision, really.
I think they are right, in their own way.
But they all said, without fail,
please think about going back to college.
-Will you think about it?
-I don't think I will, to be fair.
I'm quite confident that I'm going to do what I want to do
at the end of the day. I'm going to pursue it, obviously.
Please don't give up and think about, I don't know,
constructing a career now because I think you've got something.
-It's been an honour meeting you.
Good luck and make sure your mum knows that we loved her portrait.
-Good luck in the future.
-Cheers, see you later.
Next to face the Hanging Committee
was 39-year-old professional photographer Victoria White.
She's exhibited across Europe for the last 10 years
but hopes to use our exhibition to attract new London clients to work.
I'm looking down here.
-You are a full-time professional artist, aren't you?
-I am, yes.
-How long have you been professional full-time?
-12 years now.
-Things are going quite well?
-Up and down.
I've had my moments and I've had my moments.
But on the whole, quite well indeed, yes, for sure.
For someone who has been at galleries and exhibitions elsewhere,
what would it mean to you to make the Show Me The Monet exhibition?
I would be delighted. Absolutely thrilled.
-The judges are waiting through that door there.
This is a brave move for Victoria.
She is an established artist so if things go badly,
her reputation is at stake.
She submitted this photograph which she hopes will win her
three rather credible fans.
-Would you introduce your piece to us please?
It is a picture called Moon Fleet.
It's actually a photograph of a boat in Cannes in France.
It's a boat reflection, obviously.
It was taken with a film camera and that's it.
-It's printed on watercolour paper.
OK. I'll have a close look now.
Now Victoria can only stand back
and hold her nerve as the judges scrutinise her nautical piece.
If she wants to end her place at the exhibition, this needs to go well.
It's very, very colourful, as you are.
My question is, is it about more than the boat in the photograph?
-Is there another meaning to it that you intended?
-Not really, no.
I think if I see it and it works, that's it.
Aesthetically, I love everything that's colourful and beautiful, I suppose.
If someone were to say to you,
"I've got holiday snaps like this as well where I've noticed how nice the water is,
"why should we be treating what you've done as more than that?"
I will go on what people have said to me about my work before,
is that they've just often said, "This is extraordinary."
"This is wonderful." Yes, it's a reflection.
Anybody can take a photograph of a reflection but it's the composure,
it's the colour, it's the structure and it's the impact that it has.
I also believe that an image speaks beyond the image, so to speak,
and it's something perhaps more emotional.
That is individual and unique to me
and, you know, that's what I'm offering, I suppose.
It's competently done, it's a choice you've made.
This isn't just a holiday snap.
Every boat owner who has a boat in Cannes
or anywhere warm and sunny would love this.
OK, this is interesting.
We know there is a market for Victoria's work
but our resident photography buff David doesn't seem impressed.
The big question now is, can her work make the leap
from commercial success to the fine art world?
I don't want to sound damning but I just feel that this image,
successful as it is and lots of people would love to own,
it just doesn't fit with what we are looking for.
Victoria, technical skill I think is obviously there.
The colours are so vibrant.
There's a lot to be said for the image,
I don't even think we need to discuss the image.
It's a beautiful image. In some cases that may be enough
but for me, in this case, it isn't, I'm afraid.
Yeah, it seems OK. You've got a clear image.
It doesn't tell me you're a great photographer that,
by any stretch of the imagination.
-No, no, it's fine. Absolutely fine.
I think what we will do is reflect and then have a vote,
see if we'll include it in the show.
She seems really taken aback by those comments
and I have a feeling she could be going down with a sinking ship here.
-Victoria. A beautiful picture. Just not for me.
Not for me, sorry.
Thanks very much for showing it to us.
-Lovely to meet you.
-You too, thank you.
-That was quite tough, wasn't it?
-It was pretty full on, wasn't it?
-How do you feel about it?
I'm disappointed, obviously.
But what I got from the panel just now was,
this very much is an art exhibition and that's really important to them,
so on that basis, I think standing as a photographer is probably
a little bit more challenging than if I'd been up there with a painting.
-So, yeah, interesting. Surprising.
-Right, Victoria, lovely to meet you.
-We'll see you next time, hopefully.
For many aspiring artists,
the Hanging Committee was the chance of a lifetime.
They all arrived with the same dream
but only a select few would leave with a spot at our exhibition.
Next in line was 29-year-old Toby Smith from London.
He is a trained photographer
but he also has a degree in environmental science.
He's on a mission to spread the eco word,
and he's hoping the judges give him the chance to do just that.
-Hi, Toby. Welcome. It says here, former soldier?
-Yeah, that's right.
I joined the infantry straight out of school before coming round
to the idea of civilian life more than the military.
-The soldier life is behind you and now you're a full-time photographer?
-That's right, yeah.
If you do manage to get to the exhibition, what would it mean to you?
It would mean that I could bring another new audience to the subject matter and photography that I do.
If you do get to the exhibition and you sell,
what would you do with the money?
I've been renovating a 4x4 pickup truck
with a live-in cabin and a heater on the back.
I use it for my shoots as an expedition vehicle
but I've never taken it that far.
I really want to go to Georgia and the Caspian Sea.
Fantastic. I wish you the best of luck. The judges await you.
Well, if Toby wants to drive to Georgia,
he's really going to need some cash to fund that trip
so a place at the exhibition would get him the perfect opportunity.
Toby's hoping that his large photograph of a power station
has got what it takes to get him there.
Toby, would you introduce your photograph for us?
OK, the photo's entitled Ratcliff-on-Soar.
It's from a series called Light After Dark
whereby I photographed every single power station in Britain at night.
There is no postproduction so the colours, the content
is as per the scene.
What shaped the project and also my own interests ongoing
is trying to basically inspire debate on the subject matter
to do with power generation, sustainability, etc.
-Can we have a closer look?
Toby is also hoping his picture will inspire debate among our judges.
It could be key to winning him a spot at our exhibition
and the chance to explain his work to a much wider audience.
Toby, there are actually two of us with an emotional attachment
to power stations because I too am working
on exactly the same thing as you.
-Of which this one, by pure coincidence, is at the centre.
What are the chances of starting the same project as one of the judges?
Is that going to help or hinder Toby?
This is a political image.
In what sense?
It's almost as though you're saying, if we keep using lots of fossil fuel,
burning it and filling the atmosphere with CO2,
we are going to come into this post-apocalyptic scene
which reverts us all to the Stone Age.
I try and be a little bit neutral
but obviously it's no secret that burning coal to provide electricity
is not a sustainable option for society.
Do we think this is anything more than a nice postcard
for the environmental movement?
I think this is terrific.
I'm struggling to find it to be more than that.
Effectively, whether it's done as you're shooting it or postproduction later,
it's still not a view anybody could possibly see.
What do you mean by that? What do you mean that people can't see?
Obviously what I mean is that you cannot see this bright red, pink, yellow.
For me, this is a really powerful image.
It's a powerful image but it's not a real image.
I'm not sure if I mentioned it
but the frame is a five-hour exposure which gives that...
-Ah, right. Five hours.
-Gives that luminosity to the sky.
It was actually pitch black in camera when I was there.
-So it's actually a time shot rather than a still.
We've all seen skies which look spectacular but this isn't that.
You're missing the point.
Number one is that art doesn't have to be realistic
and as you said, it doesn't matter if it's been touched up or not.
Art in general or talking about this photograph here?
This, I think the fact that you have used a very common place
and make us look at it again and find something in it,
you have the message and the after-effect there,
I can see all that in that image.
-That's so childishly simplistic about energy and...
-No, it's not.
It seems to me to be a facile oversimplification of a very complicated issue.
Toby's certainly achieved his ambition.
His work has provoked a heated debate.
I think we can move to a vote now.
But is it a debate that will be continued at The Mall Galleries.
We're about to find out.
-An absolute yes from me.
-This photograph, it's a no.
I am torn by this. I do love this place.
-Yes, I'll vote for it.
-Cool. Thank you.
I couldn't tell all the way through which way you were going to go.
-David probably couldn't either.
-Thank you for your time. Cheers.
It's relief for Toby.
He's won his place at the exhibition but will he make a sale?
Well done, David.
The Mall Galleries, London.
The exhibition was the talk of the town
and Toby's vibrant photograph took its place amongst the select few.
As the room filled up, there seemed no end of admirers for Toby's work.
He was hoping to attract a buyer to help raise money for that trip to Georgia.
I've just had a good conversation with a gentleman
and I think his wife is smitten with my work
and I'm hoping they've put a bid in.
She wants me to buy the cooling towers.
Where the hell I'd put it, I don't know.
Anyone hoping to buy the work could make a secret sealed bid
to an independent agent who would take a 10% commission of the final sale.
The results of the bidding were handed to me in a sealed envelope
and only revealed to the artist at the end of the exhibition.
-Did you enjoy last night?
I did, I had a really good time. It was a great exhibition and a great turnout.
I saw you with your girlfriend, is that right?
She seemed to be enjoying herself.
Was it because she thought,
I'm going to go on that lovely trip to Georgia.
-That's what you promised her.
-I hope so, yeah.
If the piece sells, I'm putting it towards a trip to Georgia
I'm planning in my truck sometime in the late summer.
Right, so the truck, a trip to Georgia is all at stake right now.
-£1,200 is what you wanted, right?
-That's the asking price.
I noticed your girlfriend's not here.
-What's her name?
-Alexa is not here
so she's not going to find out.
She's going to get a phone call straight after this, though.
OK, here we go then. Open up the envelope.
The guide price £1,200.
-But you've only had one offer.
And it was for £1,395.95.
-Sold, ding! Well done, mate. Congratulations.
I'm pleased for you and I'm pleased for the girlfriend
because she is off to Georgia on a trip you promised her.
-Two of us, I'll let you know how it goes.
-Go and make that call.
What a result for Toby. He sells his work for nearly £200 over the asking price.
He's now off to Georgia with a pocketful of cash.
Join us again next time
when more hopeful artists face the Hanging Committee.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Among those presenting their work to the Hanging Committee is Shona, 47, from Edinburgh. She has spent her working life promoting Scottish culture to holidaymakers, but for the last five years she has been trying her hand at photography. Now she is set on becoming an artist, and hopes her elegant black and white portrait of a fisherman is enough to make the judges take the bait.
Next in line is former soldier Toby from London - a trained photographer who also has a degree in environmental science and is on a mission to spread the eco word. If he were able to sell his print, he would use the cash to fund a road trip to Georgia and the Caspian Sea in the 4x4 pick-up he has renovated. Will his photo of a power station inspire debate among the Hanging Committee and get him through to the exhibition?