North of England Art Club
incorporating the Newcastle Society of Artists 
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PROGRAMME The Club Activities Exhibitions Art On Show Membership © Membership Form 2022 Monthly Presentations Competition Feedback Competition Intro. Contact Links
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note: 2020-2021 when most of the club's activities were online only we invited outside 'judges', their comments are included here. However now that we're back to normal studio use we have kept the competition as an online activity but winner is decided by members emailed votes.
Members are emailed when the competition entry has closed and ready for votes. Please take part!

Please look at the Galleries to see entries as they are sent in.

The Competition for May-June was "A Sea Painting"
The winner was Ian Davison's "View from Ord, Isle of Skye"

The competition for February - March 2022 was "Food"
The Winner was Alan Dordoy's "Nine and a half million tons"

An Autumn competition ran along with the gradual reopening of the Life and Portrait sessions. The subject was "The Human Figure". Entries were displayed on the studio pin-board and voting was cast by members' emails.
The clear winning entry was by Frank Baker with this delicate life study.

We asked our club Chairperson Daisy Haggerty to be the judge for our last online competition in the series. 

The subject was ’Action Week’     May -June 2021
“I found it a very daunting prospect when I was asked to judge the current competition, as many of our members are experienced and successful artists. I need to stress that my comments and choice of winners is very much a personal one.
My choices, after a lot of agonising are:
1st ‘Gorse is Bursting out all over’ by Ian Hancock,

2nd ‘Return of the Wisteria, by Bruce McNiven, 3rd ‘ Awakening at Warren Mill’ by Joe Buggy
These images captured that fleeting moment in time as described in ‘Action week’ that we all recognise as ‘signposting’ spring and early summer.
‘Gorse is Bursting out all over’ This image sprang out of the screen with its glowing yellows against a background of sombre greens. The touches of purple in the shadows really make the golden gorse colours sing.
‘Return of the Wisteria’ I love this deceptively simple painting of the longed for Wisteria blossom when they finally appear in all their glory. They seem to come off the page in the way it is executed with layers of colour and light.
‘Awakening at Warren Mill’ This loosely sketched pastel conveys the image very effectively and I love the way the flashes of golden yellow throughout enhance the lilacs and blues in the undergrowth and unifies the painting.
‘Matfen opens up’ by Malcolm Yorke.  That moment when winter trees are still bare while the abundant flowering bulbs trumpet the arrival of spring is shown, I particularly liked the treatment of the sky and buildings and trees at the skyline. 
‘Tread carefully’ wild flowers by the sea. by Judy Appleby.  A limited colour palette gives a delicacy to the wild flowers painted with a lovely range of greens and white, it leaves a lasting image to savour.
‘Plum Blossom at the Allotment’ by Adrian Swales. The composition with the path leading into the allotment and the plum tree bursting into bloom against the wall is very effective. I like the way the skeletal structures can be seen that will later be clothed with vegetation and it reminds me of a trip to Alnwick Gardens in early spring.
‘Dance of the Tadpoles’ by Ian Davison. I particularly like this interpretation of the brief, the delicate drawing of the pondweed and the masses of tadpoles dancing among them is so well conceived as is the whole design.
‘Action in the Undergrowth’ by Kelsey Thornton. I like the good range of tones giving depth to the subject and the thought of the unseen ‘action’ in the undergrowth that will eventually burst into bloom is something to look forward to at this time of year.
‘May’ by Sandra Haney. Lovely loose rendition of the spring landscape in the muted colours of spring and early summer and I admire the economy of brushwork.
‘May Queen’ by Les Dix. It is a beautifully drawn face, particularly the glowing eyes, and an interesting take on the subject. The bold flowers in her hair are reminiscent of Freda Kahlo.
‘Beside the lake beneath the trees’ by Monica Shaw. The masses of white flowers with a touch of yellow beneath the trees really glow against the sombre background of ancient trees and is beautifully rendered.”

We asked Janet Davis to judge the March-April21 competition "The Things in my Cupboard"

"I was delighted to be asked to judge the competition this month. I’m based in the B.Box Studios (though working from home over the last year), and am a member of Northern Print. I studied Fine Art at Newcastle Polytechnic but emerged with an art history degree in 1984, and later graduated with an M Phil in Art History from Northumbria University in 2001. I currently concentrate on still life and landscape subjects.

A couple of examples of my own work:


Left:‘Postcard From A Friend: Bawden's The Blue Tractor Saffron Walden,’ water-soluble oils on canvas, 2019.

‘Small pleasures 1.0,’ screenprint in three colours on paper, 2020.

It was difficult to choose a winner among such strong entries but after much consideration, I chose No.4 “Something Seldom Used in 2020.” It is a very nicely observed still life of a golfing glove with golf ball and two red tees. The creases of the glove help to suggest how it has been worn a lot in the past. The volume of the empty glove records how it retains some of the shape of its owner’s hand, despite being scarcely used during the pandemic year. The ball’s dimples are nicely observed while the red tees bring a touch of colour to the mainly monochrome palette and balance the composition. The subtlety and coolness of the shadows place the golfing equipment firmly on the flat surface.

 "Something Seldom Used in 2020" by Trevor Lockey

No.1 “Skeletons…” is an amusing interpretation of the brief that made me smile. The colourful patterned runner contrasts well with the large green cupboard and helps keep the forms of the skeletons well-defined. The skeletons are depicted  with a nice balance between accuracy and liveliness. These skeletons are determined to make mischief now the cupboard door is open.

No.2 “Cupboard Still Life” shows an intriguing and unexpected selection of objects that keep one’s eyes moving around the picture. The grain of the wooden shelf is described in wonderfully flowing lines. Compositionally, this is wonderfully balanced with the contrasts between light and dark areas, colour and monochrome, pattern and plain. 

No.3 “Petanque balls” at first appears almost abstract in its minimalist subject matter of a small jack (or cochonnet) and shiny metal boule on a wooden shelf. The variation of colours in the wood, including the touches of wear and tear on the edges, are fluently painted. The reflected shapes and colours of the jack and room beyond are satisfyingly concise.

No.5 “Art Deco Coffee Pot and ‘Mondriaan’ Espresso Cups” is a bold and colourful still life that brings out the elegance of its subject matter. The colours and shapes describe the objects beautifully. Even the flattened depiction of the reflections on the coffee pot work really well and emphasise its distinctive Art Deco style. I had Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue playing in my head looking at this painting as it evoked specifically New York Art Deco for me.

No.6 “Secret Stash” is a lovely observation of one of the pandemic year’s issues: the Great Toilet Roll Shortage (caused, of course, by so many panic-buying initially). I liked the way in which brush marks enliven the painting so one almost expects the ends of the rolls to move at any moment in a draught. I also liked how the yellow and blue add colour which is reflected in touches on the rolls.

We asked Helen Burns to be judge for our "Childhood Memories" competition

"I’m Helen Burns and I have worked at Newcastle Arts Centre since 1996 when I graduated from Northumbria University with a degree in Graphic design and illustration. I am on the management team at the Arts Centre and a member of the board of trustees. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my work is to hang the exhibitions that we show. I find it really inspiring to work along-side an artist and hear their personal experiences of creating the artwork.  It is always exciting to unpack each piece for the first time and when I was asked to judge this competition I felt a similar anticipation. I was interested to read the brief as in conversations with my mum who is in her eighties she tells me just how vivid her childhood memories still are, especially her experiences during the war. I have a great interest in children’s literature and illustration as does my 8 year old daughter."

Here are two examples of Helen's work "Waiting to Devour" Rotring Pen and watercolour and "On the Sofa with Dad" Rotring Pen:


"My first choice is ‘Carts and Comics’ (by Bruce McNiven)

A tale of boyhood, to create that precious go-cart from spare parts, playing in the street and sharing stories and jokes from each other’s comics. There is a boyish grubbiness to this scene and look at all those knees I bet there are a few bruises with tales to accompany them. I think the looseness of the technique appropriately represents the care free nature of the scene and the colours are very evocative of that era.  The figures are well proportioned and believable as individuals I imagine they knew each bump of those cobblestones.
My second choice is ‘A Sheffield Childhood Memory’ (by Malcolm Yorke)
The initial impact of this image is from the colours in the sky and the searchlights highlighting the planes, but I really enjoyed the detail of the little houses along the hill, the progression of tone and detail to show them receding into the night starkly illuminated by the drama in the sky.  The closeness and intimacy of the family watching from the relative safety of the shelter indicated by the warm light from within, for me this painting really tells a story and creates an emotional response. 
My third choice is ‘Bedtime Stories’ (by Walter Holmes)
There are some things we do with our children or grandchildren that are timeless and may take us back to our own experiences of childhood.  This image creates a real cosy moment of reading, learning and sharing together.  The expressions are well represented and the closeness of the faces creates a real feeling of intimacy, there is a nice colour harmony and the back lighting creates a softness in the shadows which are warm and reassuring."
Helen's comments on all the individual entries have been circulated by e-mail.

The Judge for our "Christmas Scene" competition was Stuart Jones.
Stuart Jones is an outdoor landscape painter living in Newcastle upon Tyne.  He gained an MA in Fine Art at Newcastle University in 2007. 
Stuart finds working directly from nature in the open air or ‘en plein air’ to be the most rewarding way to capture the light, atmosphere and 
conditions of the day.  His work can be seen in public at the North East Art Collective in Newcastle upon Tyne and Brightwater Gallery in 
Alnwick.  It can also be viewed online at

Images are Getting Ready for A Surf and Peaceful Dwellings at Low Hauxley

Here are Stuart's comments:

"Well done to all the art club members that have submitted work on the
theme of 'A Christmas Scene' and thank you for allowing me to cast my 
vote and choose the winners.  Each work represents an authentic 
interpretation and it's very exciting to see how each artist has 
creatively responded to such a special time of the year.

So without further a do here are the winners:

First Place (by Judy Appleby) : No. 3 'Christmas Lights on Alameda, Malaga'  I choose this 
scene as the overall winner as it had immediate impact with the subject 
and tradition of decorating trees with fairy lights.  The predominate 
primary colour palette is a real strength against the dark night sky. I 
also really enjoyed the composition with the figures gathering around, 
celebrating the season and dressed in their Winter clothes.

Second Place(by Joe Buggy): No. 7 'Christmas at The Kitchen'  This work came second as 
I really enjoyed the composition of the main figure and and the 
secondary focal area of the people lining up to enter the building.  The 
work speaks to the importance of helping those in need, kindness and 
respecting our fellow man.  This is made especially poignant by the main 
figure wearing a mask, a reminder of the indiscriminate virus that 
continues to hinder our day to day life.  Hope is ever present though 
with the colour and light that is so inviting.

Third Place by (Trevor Lockey): No. 10 'Food Glorious Food'  Third place goes to this entry 
with a Robin having braved the Winter conditions to find an abundance of 
berries laying in wait on the branches.  The composition, drawing 
element and subtle muted colours all combine to bring a wonderful 
observation of nature that we might be lucky to witness outdoors just 
for a moment.

I'd like to offer a comment on all the other entries that were a delight 
to view:

No. 1 'It Looks Like Snow Again'  A nice use of texture of the snow 
covered mountain peaks.
No. 2 'Your Number's Up!' You have to feel sorry for that Turkey, 
especially as he's so well constructed in collage materials.  Really 
nice result with suggestion of texture and pattern.
No. 4 'Nativity' A nice grouping of figures, with Joseph, Mary and Jesus 
overlooked by the Star of Bethlehem with circular and round shapes 
echoed throughout.
No. 5 'Christmas Dinner at The Black Bull'  Sums up Christmas perfectly 
with family members together and full plates of Christmas dinner. I do 
enjoy the sketch-like abstract quality to it.
No. 6 'A Christmas Walk'  This piece was a strong contender as I like 
how it incorporated the use of warm and cool colours.
No.8 'Santa visits the Terrace'  I really liked the view point of this 
work looking from above and the reindeer that are too busy eating to 
help Santa.
No.9 'Drifting Snow' Nice use of a complimentary colour palette that 
holds harmony throughout.
No.11 'The Angel of The North appears!'Art and Icons working hand in 
hand in this one, elevated to new heights, inventive idea'
No.12 'Nature's Baubles' A striking work that offers much in it's 
composition and colour work.
No.13 'Here's to Xmas 2020!' Some effective pen and wash techniques. 
Santa is bringing Punk back for 2020.

I hope you all enjoy Christmas as much as is possible this year and lets 
hope 2021 brings us closer to life as we remember it.  Keep on making 
art and putting your energies into the things that bring most happiness 
and enjoyment.

Corrymella Scott was our judge for the "Harvest competition" 
Corrymella set up her gallery in 1987 specialising in exhibiting works of art and sculpture by Scottish artists, firstly from her home in Jesmond and from 2001 in a variety of locations including Sage Gateshead, Jesmond and London. 

Here are her recommendations. 
"I have greatly enjoyed looking online at the competition, and hope that my choices and observations are acceptable to one and all!" 


No. 14  “Late Summer near Aberdeen”  by Les Dix
             A wonderful evocation of a harvest scene. The strong perspective leads the viewer from the yellow cornfield to the tonal greens of the         woodland trees beyond.  Lovely thick blocks of colour in the trees.

No. 7   “Harvest landscape” by Sandra Haney

 Lovely subtle tones of blues and lavender colours in the foreground taking the eye through the grasses to the fields and hills beyond. Good perspective.

No. 3   “Harvest moon’ by Judy Appleby

            The horizontal separation works well, there is a degree of mystery in the picture which leaves much to the viewer’s imagination.

I would also commend “Wheatsheaf” by Kelsey Thornton - for its detailed brushwork and explosion of colour.

Mick Oxley, Northumberland artist, was judge for the Northumberland Coast competition, 

Mick works from his studio/gallery in Craster, Northumberland. His work is inspired by the sight, sound and smell of the sea, and the dancing patterns on the water due to rapid changes in light. Most of his work is either textured acrylics or watercolour sea studies, here are a couple of examples, and you can see his latest work at


Here are Mick's comments:

The winner was Adrian Swales

‘The Last Flowers of Summer’

Carole Thirlaway Chair of Nework Artists North East was the judge, here are her comments and some examples of her work (you can see more of her work on Network Artists website.

"Thank you for asking me to judge this excellent exhibition, it is an honour.

I am a printmaker who enjoys experimenting with texture and colour. I use Wood Engravings and Collagraphs as the main focus of my work. I find the contrast between the controlled discipline of wood block engraving and the freer unexpected results from Collagraphs both interesting and exciting. 

The Oak and the Broom (Wordswoth Poem) Old Walls and Sky

I would like to say, before I reveal the competition winners, that the entries were a real delight. It certainly cheered up these last days of Summer for me. I enjoyed the breadth of styles and differing approaches to the subject. When looking at the entries there was a perfusion of colour which was uplifting. My artist journey began with paint and I was reminded of how rewarding and versatile a medium it is. I found singling out winners extremely difficult as this implies losers of which there are none!

In first place I selected No.6, ‘Fading Lily Pads’ by Geoff Stables

I found this reminiscent of my visit at this time of year to Monet’s garden at Giverny. I loved the quiet stillness of the scene after the business of Summer and before the calming down of Autumn. The colours reflect this peacefulness. The painting is quite abstracted with the stylised trees and lily pads. I felt a certain sadness in the piece, once again speaking of the passing of Summer. Delightful.

In second place I was torn between several entries but in the end settled upon No 18, ‘September Garden, 2020’ (Pauline Hughes)

This painting is a truly a perfusion of colour. It is nature giving us the last burst of energy before retreating to conserve itself for a period of rest until the summer of a different year. It is a painting of hope. How lovely to look at this during the darker days ahead and remember that life regenerates and the colour of this garden will be back. It seems a metaphor for our current situation.

In third place I selected No.14, ‘Allotment Sketchbook’. (Alan Dordoy)

I have a real love of sketchbooks. I always promise myself that I will be more diligent about filling my own but often fail. As a result, I really appreciate the sketchbooks of other artists and find it a real treat if I visit exhibitions where they are on display. I guess its like being able to read famous people’s diaries. It speaks a lot about the person. I was delighted to see this entry from a sketchbook. The colours are lovely, and each sketch tells us that it is the end of Summer. Beautifully drawn and painted. I would guess this artist’s sketchbook is full of treats, especially from the allotment.

Well that is the end of my selection. Art appreciation is very much subjective, but I did find so much in this exhibition that delighted me and would love any in my home! I would like to congratulate you all and would love to see future exhibitions of your work, hopefully one day soon in reality.

These are some other observations regarding the remaining entries.

I loved ‘Carol in the Sweet Peas’(Monica Shaw) I was actually successful this year with sweet peas (for a change) and as I am Carole this could be me!  Lovely use of colour and a fun painting.

I thought No15, ‘Bouquet for Katheen’ (Harry Bell) a particularly pleasing composition. It kept drawing me back. I liked the background contrast and the contemporary approach to the vase and table.

All the still life entries are very well composed and painted.

I enjoyed the iPad entries.

No.1 ‘Frilly Poppies and Seedheads’ (Judy Appleby) was another favourite. I like the use of aluminium as a base. I think that gave the painting luminosity. Having never worked on aluminium, however, I am only guessing at this.

No.9 ‘Iris, Victoria Falls’ (Josie McLaughlin) is a beautiful painting. I love the delicacy of the flowers and it is so accurate in its interpretation.

All were a delight to see and consider. The colours reflected the remit for the competition and the compositions very evocative interpretations.Thank you once again for inviting me and congratulations to you all."

Judge for the July-August competition “I’d rather be in….” was Carmen Gordon
“What an honour to be asked to judge this months' competition! I feel my main qualification is enjoying trying to create, and looking at interesting paintings. I'm a previous inmate of the Biscuit Tin Studios and before that a North of England Art Club member. I now have a studio at home in Thropton, where I'm chasing elusive abstractions of the natural world. Here are two examples of my recent work:"

Competition  I’d rather be in…..

Winner: No. 4 …a deserted Bedouin village. The whole is almost abstract with interesting composition, wonderful textures and great use of colour evoking the hot glow of sunset.  
Painted by Susan Lonergan


Runner up: No. 6 …In the swimming pool with my grandson… I enjoyed the abstracted treatment of the ripples contrasted with the gentle realistic treatment of the face. A difficult subject so well done that it made me want to jump in too!
Painted by Ian Davison

And feedback for the other entries which were all so enjoyable:

….Byker baths. I really enjoyed the free drawing style and, best of all, putting it on the front of the Baltic!
….Kathmandu. Lovely attention to detail which invites lots of visual exploration.
….an Octopus’s Garden in the Shade. This is so much playful fun! Lots to explore visually with interesting textures, composition and well used text.
….The sunshine. Yes, I would like to be beside the seaside! Lovely use of colour as a whole, but especially in the groyne and the trees.
Mahico. A relaxed colour palette with an evocative sky inviting me to be there with a G&T...
….River Torrans. Enlivening vibrant use of colour in this abstracted composition.
….Kyoto. A lovely peaceful scene that invites you to be there with the soft use of colour.
….Jesmond Dene. Plenty of light and dark contrast with attention to leaf and branch detail.
….Many a time and oft. Lovely loose drawing and an evocative palette... perhaps a glass of chilled rose this time...
….the Alcazar garden, Cordoba. Beautifully painted with a sunny warm cohesive romantic glow throughout.

You can now see all the artists' names in the Previous Competition Gallery. Winner and runner up are on the home page slide show

We asked Nicola Stevenson, curator of our Alnwick Playhouse exhibitions, to judge our Still Life competition July 2020

Nicola Stevenson graduated in Art & Design from the University of Ulster in 1993 before moving to Newcastle-upon-Tyne to complete a Post graduate in Computer Applications in Art & Design. She worked for many years as Computer Graphics Technician in Durham before settling in Shilbottle to work at Alnwick Playhouse where she now manages the Playhouse Gallery. Nicola has been developing her painting over the past few years, exhibiting regularly locally, and now is a resident artist at The Old Bath House, a recently converted miners bath house in Northumberland, with her own studio & gallery space there allowing her to continue her work on a larger scale.

Here are some examples of these recent larger paintings:


Nicola's choices for the competition placings are:

First: No 4 'Horchata For Two' by Harry Bell
Great textures and interesting areas of text kept my eye busy and instantly pulled me in. A pleasing composition with great use of colour and tone.


Second: No 6 'Strawberry' By Sandra Haney
Capturing the very essence of the strawberry, beautifully placed and sublime use of colour. The flecks of white bring it to life and the use of light makes it good enough to eat.

Third:  No 18 'Mandarin orange in water' By Susan Lonergan
A confident bold painting. Great use of the monochrome with that pop of orange from the mandarin then reflected through on to the saucer adds to the interest. Fantastic composition, I would love to see this one on a much larger scale.

Also a mention for 'Through the Greenhouse Window' by Ian Hancock:  Interesting aspect and and lovely use of colour and tone.


Our portrait competition June2020 was judged by Gerard Durkan, a retired art teacher and accomplished portrait artist. Gerard’s portraits are are frequently full length studies that portray the subject in a setting or pose that provides a narrative about interests or personality. There are two examples of his work, one showing an unusual back lit portrait with strong contrasts, and the other with the subject seated at a table and the artist seen in a mirror on the table.


There were nineteen entries in the competition and a high standard. Gerard commented on several and noted that No. 1 (self portrait in orange hat by Harry Bell) has a pleasing composition and has dealt well with the challenging view of the face. Vincentish use of paint particularly on the hat is well applied. However, his selections were:

1st: No3 “Self Portrait”. By Malcolm Yorke    An arresting pose which invites engagement with the subject’s personality. Confidently drawn with assured application of paint and selection of colour and tone. 

2nd: No6 “woman”. by Joe Buggy Beautiful sense of form and manipulation of media. ( I would have liked to have seen other views). The subject communicates a quiet and demure assurance. The scribed marks enhance the modelling and are aptly reminiscent of African tribal markings.

3rd: No 18. by Adrian Swales  An exciting use of strong lines and complimentary colours to successfully establish the composition; indicate place and frame the figure. A lovely use of reflected light illuminates the hand and face with confidently placed colours and tones.


Winner "Self Portrait" by Malcolm Yorke


Honorary member Tony Montague was the judge for "Bird or Birds" here are his comments.

Tony added a useful list which he used as a basis for judging. You can see/print the list by clicking here

"The standard is very high and selection for me has been difficult because I know little about the subject. However I have judged the works mainly on artistic merit using a checklist of 12 criteria (attached) . These were used by students in the past to help them with their painting compositions. I think the comment at the end is probably the most useful part of the list.
I have picked out 3 works for comment and then my selection for first, second and third.

Bird 9  - beautifully painted pastel and strong highlight in the central section of yellow birds against dark background.
Bird 7 (Waxwing) - well painted pastel good centralised image.
Bird 3 (Ostrich Chick) - A very original idea very well executed.

Third Position - Bird 4 Black Swan - (by Bruce McNiven) Interesting head on shot of the bird , well executed watercolour with good graded wash background

Second Position - Bird 5 Bul Bul - (by Judy Appleby) excellent use of mixed media creating a lively and interesting background.

First Position - Bird 2 Collage of Crows -  (by Ian Hancock) Excellent use of mixed media . Good texture on the birds and an interesting pattern of negative shapes  between ground and birds.


Winner: "Collage of Crows by Ian Hancock"