The Pastel Society 125th annual exhibition (2024)

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The 125th Annual Exhibition of The Pastel Society has me very impressed this year.I’ve also heard many positive comments from visitors in recent days.

The Pastel Society Exhibition in the afternoon of Private View

It’s obvious to me that much effort has been put into making this an even better exhibition, marking yet another milestone in its history. It is the oldest pastel society on the planet, having held its first exhibit in 1899.

  • It was a slam. 1300 entries– of which 366 were hung (28%)
  • There were Private View yesterday had a great turnout 
Private View: Speeches begin in the evening
Sarah Bee’s vibrant artwork is behind the speaker
  • Both the content and the hanging of the exhibit is vastly superiorThe one I criticised last time. 
    • It’s This year’s colours are more vibrantThe result is a much more attractive and appealing design
    • Each wall is well-anchored by strong paintingsThe most obvious is the end wall of West Gallery, where Sarah BeeThe artworks of’s gallery are absolutely stunning.
    • Grouping artwork together is a very good idea – eg, a wall of scenery
A Wall of Landscapes by Members of the Pastel Society
    • There’sA wide variety of artwork is on displayFrom abstract to hyper-realistic
Malcolm Taylor’s abstracted landscapes on the left
Ian Rawlings, Hyperrealistic still-life by Ian Rawlings, in the centre of a wall
  • The PS Annual Exhibition will also be back in its “near beginning of the year slot” I think that the winter is a much better time to hold art exhibitions and sales, as there are no summer holidays or outdoor pursuits. 
    • But “last year” only happened in May, just 8 months ago 
    • The Society has also done a great job in putting on a second annual show within this short timeframe.
  • Although not all artworks were affected, the pricing on the wall suggests that many have reconsidered the price ranges that promote sales in this current climate. I was hoping to see evidence that artists are becoming more sensible, and this exhibition seems to be the first where pricing has changed. I still think the starting price should be £300. There’s still plenty of room for sales at the lower end of the range.
Richard ReesYesterday, the Pastel Society President told me that of the 1,300 entries, only a few hundred were accepted. 
  • A third were monochrome
  • A third of the images were portraits
I must say that neither is reflected in the same ratios in the actual exhibition – though there’s a great representation of both. This is something that those attending the next year’s show should keep in mind.

The competition to see who gets to display their work becomes more intense when there is a surplus of one type of art. This is why I think the monochromatic works are so strong in this exhibit. 

When the monochrome works are grouped together in the North Gallery it makes them look more imposing. It’s also easier to see how different media can be used and what kind of subjects work best with monochromatic techniques. I always think that the latter plays a big role in developing successful monochromatic art. 

This is a very good exhibition for anyone who loves their graphite pencils or charcoal.

North Gallery (middle chamber) features a large number of monochromatic paintings in different sizes.

I’ve highlighted the artwork I like in my photos I’ve posted on Facebook of the exhibition. 

How to visit the Exhibition

You can See the exhibition in person 

  • Mall Galleries
  • From 24th Jan to 10th Feb 2024 Next week, on Tuesday 6th of February, it will be closed.
If you are planning to travel by train to London, you should check the strike dates to make sure that there have been no changes. (see This page provides information about the website.). There are many problems between now and the 6th of February, but they vary by region each day.

You can also watch it onlineYou can also check out our other articles. 

  • You can Catalogue of this exhibition is available on Issuu as well as get a copy at the front desk. This includes:
    • Each member has submitted a piece of artwork.
    • Listing of all the artworks displayed with name of artist, title of artwork, media, and price
    • Prizes and information
    • Richard Rees addresses five myths about pastels in this general foreword / commentary of the President. He also encourages young artists.
    • Articles about former members, notably Tom Coates, a past president
  • You can see it on Mall Galleries has a new website– which lacks any option to group ALL the artworks of a specific artist in a specific show. This is a MAJOR omission, in my opinion. 
  • I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU Visit the Pastel Society Website if you’d like to see all the art by an artist grouped by artist surname in A-Z order. (None of this laziness that orders people by first name!). 
    • For example, those who can only view online can view the six really outstanding artworks by Michele Ashby PS 
    • Plus, if you visit the exhibition, you can see them all hung up together with the impact that this provides – check out the photo BELOW
    • You can also view Great images of theseHer website displays them vertically. It’s a great example of how to best display artwork.
Six still life paintings by Michele Ashby PS

Five works by Michele Ashby – hung on the Mezzanine Wall in a row.
  • You can get a good idea of what the art is like by ordering it this way. 
    • How many non members had their artwork selected? 
    • How many of each artist’s works they selected. Unless you want to impress the members, they will usually choose two or more.
  • What’s also great about the Pastel Society site is that This exhibition also includes artworks from past exhibits. This is a GREAT resource for those who want to submit art to a future exhibit.I’d even go as far to say that the Pastel Society does very well when it comes to entries from younger artists, who prefer dry media.

2024 Pastel Society Sealed Bids

You may be able to get a good deal!

Events and demonstrations

The Exhibition also has Many events and demonstrationsThere is a lot to do between now and the end. 

  • You can learn more about them at the Events ProgrammeMall Galleries Website
  • Tomorrow (31stt January) is the themed Art Event evening from 6pm to 8:30pm This brings together two models for a themed drawing and painting session with Pastel Society members, including Roger Dellar, Jenny Halstead, Richard Rees and Simon Hodges.
Unless otherwise stated, all exhibition events will be held in the East Gallery “Studio”, unless otherwise stated.

Prizes and prizewinners

The prizegiving took place in the evening and I left before it began so I don’t remember who won what. The usual Mall Galleries news item has not appeared on the website. Maybe someone forgot? 

This year, there are two new awards. These are:

THE TOM COATES MEMORIAL PRIZE of £2,000

  • In memory of an ex-Pastel Society President who died last year 
  • The award is given to the best work by a non-member in the exhibition. 
  • to be selected and presented by Tom’s wife, the artist Mary Jackson NEAC RWS.

THE PRESIDENTS PRIZE of £500

  • For the best work by an under-35 artist. 
I was shown by the President who won the second round. Thomas GaleThe following is a list of the most popular ways to contact us A large image of Crystal Back AlleyOn this website. He focuses primarily on the urban environment, and how the natural world seeps into the spaces when allowed. His use is a little over-the-top and somewhat arresting.
The Pastel Society’s President’s Award 2024
Crystal Back AlleyBy: Thomas Gale

These prizes are on top of all the regular prizes we offer every year, which come from our many generous sponsors

Candidates for Membership

Candidates for Membership Wall


I bumped into Curtis, who was arriving just as I was about leave. We had a quick conversation and exchanged pictures in front of his art! 

Curtis Holder
Two coloured pencil drawings by the artist
“The Costume Prop Maker” and “The Puppet Maker” in the East Gallery 

The diversity of styles was a good thing to see amongst those submitting themselves for membership.. It is always interesting to have new members that do not use pastels like the current members!

I was particularly impressed with the colourful landscapes that candidate Jayne Perkins. Her website indicates that she began using pastels after experimenting with oils and watercolours. It is interesting to see how that influences her landscapes.

Landscapes by Jayne Perkins

REFERENCE

The Society accepts all types of pastel, chalk or crayon including soft pastels, hard pastels, oil pastels, ink pastels, water-based pastels, conté crayons or sticks, sanguine, and similar dry mediums including charcoal and pencil. Mixed media works that use pastel or another dry medium as the primary medium are welcome.

You can view my archive of previous posts about Pastel Society Exhibitions.As you can see, I’ve reviewed the exhibition every year since 2006.

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