Show Me the Walker

Article Featured Image
Two male and one female competition judges

The three judges take a break.


I’m looking forward to BBC 2 screening Show Me the Monet from this Monday after organising and supervising the marathon filming sessions over a January weekend.


A film crew filled three of our galleries at the rear of the Walker Art Gallery to film this competition show being screened at 5.15 pm every weekday night from Monday 9 May to Friday 20 May.


In a nutshell it involves artists being grilled about their artworks by three critics – David Lee, Charlotte Mullins and Roy Bolton (pictured left to right). The aim is to be included in an exclusive exhibition at the Royal College of Art, next to London’s Albert Hall.


The show is hosted by Chris Hollins, perhaps better known as a BBC sports presenter and winner of Strictly Come Dancing.


A total of 32 largely unknown but talented artists came to the Walker over the two days. They were first interviewed by Chris before going to the judges with their artworks. After several excruciating minutes of objective criticism the judges gave their verdicts.


Most contestants were philosophical but at least one burst into floods of tears. Ten were successful in getting through to the exhibition.


As I told the critics during a break in filming, this show breaks taboos. Many artists believe passionately that their art should speak for itself.


When we hold the prestigious John Moores exhibition the judges are not even given the artists’ names - the art is judged purely on its merits.


Show Me the Monet also publicises the Walker’s collections. Chris was filmed taking about some of the stunning exhibits including Simone Martini’s Christ Discovered in the Temple and a tiny votive picture painted by a very young Raphael.


Another feature is the artists being interviewed separately in galleries filled with masterpieces.


I went to the private view at the Royal College of Art in March and was impressed by the exhibition of about 30 works. They were still filming - the series starts at the exhibition with Chris describing how it all came together.


Other sequences were shot in galleries in London and Glasgow - most of the exhibited works were for sale.


This was a great experience for all concerned and hopefully none of the artists were too disappointed about not being included. I predict that this will be a big hit and should go to another series.


It gives a totally new slant on TV’s approach to art – I know of no other show where artists face their critics so directly. It blows away the preciousness and mystique that surrounds some art programmes today.


It also allows the viewer to get into the mind of the artist and see how and why they create works.