Be Smart About Art Tour | Young Masters Art Prize at the Royal Over-Seas League

Watch one of our partners and sponsors of the Be Smart About Art Prize, Susan Mumford, as she offers a virtual tour of the Young Master exhibition at the Royal Over-seas League.

Susan will be offering a talk at the Young Masters Exhibition in ROSL for emerging to mid-career art world professionals next tuesday. To book your ticket to the evening event hosted by Be Smart About Art, click here.

Date: Aug. 22, 2017, 6:30 p.m. – Aug. 22, 2017, 8:30 p.m. UK time (see time converter)

Location: Royal Over-Seas League | 5 Park Place | St James’s | London SW1A 1LR

Speakers: Susan Mumford

The Young Masters Exhibition at the Royal Over-Seas League is currently open to the public until the show closure on September 8th 2017.


Art and Lingerie: Award-winning Azita Moradkhani Discusses Her ‘Victorious Secrets’


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By Tara Biglari for Kayhan Life

Azita Moradkhani is an Iranian-born artist whose work draws inspiration from the great art of the past. She recently won the Young Masters Art Prize – awarded by the London-based Cynthia Corbett Gallery to contemporary artists who are inspired by Old Masters.

Azita’s art tastefully fuses elements of Western art, Iranian identity and modern life. She currently has a striking series on display in a group exhibition at the Royal Over-Seas League in St James’s, London (ending September 8). It’s called “Victorious Secrets” and her art is embedded in old-fashioned lingerie.

Kayhan Life caught up with Azita for a conversation about her work.


Where did you grow up, and what is your relationship with Iran?

I was born and raised in Tehran, and from childhood I was surrounded by beautiful, delicate Persian carpets and colorful textile designs in everything from my grandma’s dress to the curtains on the wall. I was also impressed by Persian miniatures, with their colorful details and the art of storytelling through images. And of course having a father who is an artist himself was a huge inspiration for me through[out] my life. I will definitely go back and forth to Iran to visit my family. I would love to experience art residencies in Iran, and possibly teach art in the future – have exhibitions there and be in touch with artists.

When and how did you decide to become an artist?

It’s a very difficult question for me, because there is a point at which you question [yourself] and have doubts and ask yourself ‘why’ and ‘how.’ These questions have continued from my childhood until now. As my father was an artist, I always did drawing and made art on his easel and with a big canvas of paint. Even now that I’m 30, I’m [asking] myself how I can have more impact on the world through the process of making art, through what I have a lot of passion [for].

Your most recent series, ‘Victorious Secrets,’ has as its base drawings of old-fashioned female undergarments. Can you explain why? Isn’t it an unexpected choice of subject coming from a young woman with Iranian origins?

The female body is central to my work – especially exposure to different social norms.
A series of recent drawings is based on my first impression of walking into a Victoria’s Secret store in the U.S. I was surprised to see such a large lingerie store in public, and it made me think about how these stores are such private, secret spaces in Iran. These drawings of lingerie emphasize the connection and tensions between sexual representation and national identity – between private and public.

My drawings of intimate lingerie, ‘Victorious Secrets,’ on paper and in color pencil, explore connected narratives of pain and pleasure through repeated abstract patterns and images based on photojournalism and iconography. I use an aesthetic of pleasure to shift the viewer’s focus to possibility, to hope. Yet when the viewer looks more closely at the lines that make up the drawing in the interior space of the panties, they are brought face to face with shadowy images of violence that signify the vulnerability of victims. The images intertwine in abstract patterns, traumas that repeat themselves.

Has the Young Masters Prize been helpful to you?

It has been an honor for me, and I’m very grateful for that. [In terms of] sales of my work, I have seen much more interest recently. I have been hearing about different collectors more, both in Boston and other cities.

How is your work inspired by art history?

I’m interested in returning beauty and realism to the world of contemporary art. But aesthetic pleasure is not enough. There has to be a conceptual dimension as well, and I want to challenge viewers to recognize the significance of both of these and how they work together.

Many themes from Old Masters’ work emerge in my work. For example, in one of my drawings, I used the nearly touching hands [in the “Creation of Adam“,] the iconic image by Michelangelo [in the Sistine Chapel]. I challenge the story of Adam’s creation as an idealized representation of the physical birth of men. My piece points out the power of women’s bodies to give birth to humankind, even as we [women] are limited in our power to make decisions about our own bodies.

What are your next projects?

One of the projects I’m working on is at the printing workshop: the possibility of transferring drawings onto the actual fabric of the lingerie. Let’s see how it works.

And I’m working on my body casts too. It’s a mix of the patterns of lacy and luxury lingerie on the bodies with images from different resources. It’s like a tattooing of history and memory on the body for me, and it’s all colored pencil on paper clay – meaning a clay based on paper. But let’s see!

#azitamoradkhani #lingerie #art #youngmasters #prizewinner#victoriasecret#victorioussecrets #artwork #undergarments#cynthiacorbettgallery #modernart #persian#iranian #kayhanlife#londongallery


From self portraits to selfies: contemporary portraiture in London today

Portraiture has always been more than just a record. It has been used to depict beauty, power, virtue, importance, wealth and many other qualities of the sitter. Currently on show in London are two exhibitions exploring what portraiture means today – the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery and From Selfie to Self-Expression at Saatchi Gallery.

The BP Portrait Award is an annual competition that aims to represent the best in contemporary portrait painting, with works ranging from intimate studies of friends and family to bold representations of public figures. In an age where photography is arguably the most important and widespread medium for portraiture, the BP Portrait Award is committed to support the tradition of portrait painting by featuring a variety of styles and approaches to the contemporary painted portrait, while referencing portraiture’s centuries old history.

This year’s winning painting by Benjamin Sullivan, titled Breech!, depicts the artist’s wife Virginia breastfeeding their newborn baby. The tenderness of this mundane domestic scene evokes Madonna and Child paintings through the ages, while also putting forward a decidedly contemporary take on the age-old subject of maternal bond.

by Benjamin Sullivan, January 2017
Oil on canvas
820 x 400mm


Like Sullivan, Charles Moxon is a painter engaging with the question of where contemporary portraiture lies in relation to the Old Masters tradition. Moxon was shortlisted and highly commended for the Young Masters Art Prize in 2012. His portrait of MP Harriet Harman was selected for the BP Portrait award in 2016. He was previously shortlisted for the Final 300 in 2012 and 2013. Moxon’s work is grounded in reference to traditional techniques and processes of Dutch 17th century paintings, which he uses to create profoundly direct contemporary portraiture. Set against pitch-black backgrounds, his subjects are depicted in a way that is highly personal yet gracious. Created with painstaking attention to detail, Moxon’s portraits seek to engage with contemporary sitters as they are.


Harriet Harman MP
Charles Moxon
Oil on canvas, 60x45cm, 2015


Sarah in a Stage Curtain
Charles Moxon
Oil on Canvas, 40x30cm, 2015
This work is currently on display at Young Masters Tour exhibition at Royal Overseas League, Park Pl, St. James’s, London SW1A 1LR, until 8 Sep 2017

From Selfie to Self-Expression, currently on at Saatchi, is the world’s first exhibition exploring the history of the selfie from the 16th century to the present day, and celebrating the potential of a form of expression often dismissed for its inanity. The exhibition opens with some of the finest self-portraits ever created by Old and Modern Masters including Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Picasso, Frieda Kahlo, Warhol. Alongside those highly valuable works are spontaneous selfie portraits by contemporary cultural influencers such as Kim Kardashian and Barack Obama. The exhibition argues that what we think of as a selfie – taking our own picture with our own camera – is not entirely new, nor is it frivolous and inane. ‘The selfie is by far the most expansionist form of visual self-expression’ said gallery chief executive Nigel Hurst. ‘The art world cannot really afford to ignore it.’ Self-portraiture is as relevant as ever, and selfies provide artists with the opportunity to imaginatively and richly explore the notion of what the self might really be.

From Selfie To Self-Expression, Saatchi Gallery – Installation View


Dutch fine art photographer Isabelle Van Zeijl, whose works were Highly Commended for the inaugural Young Masters Emerging Woman Art prize in June 2017, is one of many contemporary artists placing self-portraiture at the core of her practice. Although inevitably individual in their nature, her self-portraits conjure a sense of awareness and ubiquity; her work is driven by the fascination with the female in all its guises and the pursuit of a universal, timeless beauty. Van Zeijl’s self-portraits evoke the work of the Flemish Primitives, Renaissance masters and Golden Age portraitists. During the Renaissance, the focus shifted to the individual, to ‘great’ men, distinguished and virtuous. Van Zeijl co-opts the cult of Renaissance masculine virtuosity by existing in her practice as both object and subject. Digitally composing her photographs like a painter by using techniques of the past, Van Zeijl reaches beyond the self to discover a timeless vision of female beauty, advancing the genre of self-portraiture in her own, distinctly contemporary manner.

Is That Her
Isabelle van Zeijl
2015, C-type print, 96.5 x 100cm (38 x 39.5in.), edition of 7

Laura Hospes is another Young Masters artist whose practice is premised on self-portraiture. Hospes was Highly Commended for the Young Masters Art Prize 2017. Her monochrome, high contrast self-portrait Braid received a great deal of praise. Unlike Van Zeijl, Hospes’s self-portraiture is intensely autobiographical, based on her understanding of the self and her personal battle with mental illness. The resulting image is intense and arresting, confronting the viewer with a direct, heavy gaze of a young woman dealing with depression and anxiety.  Inspired by the magical work of Francesca Woodman, the black and white portraits of Stephan Vanfleteren and the dark lights of Dutch painter Rembrandt she has developed her own visual language and voice.

By Zhiqin Zhang, Emmanuelle Gautier and Masha Ryabova

Young Masters at the Royal Overseas League continues until September 8th. Join us for our Summer Party on September 7th RSVP.

Featured Image: Laura Hospes, Braid, 2015, Archival Pigment Print, Edition of 7 + 2 AP, 60 x 40cm (23.5 x 15.7in.), courtesy Kahmann Gallery




‘It’s just the start of an adventure’: Whistles founder, 69, shares why it’s NEVER too late to reinvent yourself and start a new career

  • Lucille Lewin, 67, reveals how a trip to Hackney convinced her to study ceramics
  • The Whistles founder who is now an award winning potter discussed her empire
  • She spoke to Femail about her recovery from a non-cancerous brain tumour

When Lucille Lewin applied for a Masters degree, her first thought was: ‘Can I really do this?’  ‘I hadn’t actually done a BA before,’ she says. ‘And the elephant in the room was my age.’

A 67-year-old mother of two grown-up sons (‘one’s a doctor, one’s a lawyer’), she’d be some 40 years older than many of the students.

It’s rare to relish starting a new career just as your contemporaries are winding down. And going to art college in your mid-60s is clearly a challenge — from coping with the super-confident, young millennials, to completing mountains of coursework — but the change is particularly shocking if, like Lucille, you once ran a legendary fashion empire.

Lucille, now a tiny, vibrant 69-year-old, says she remains endlessly curious and in fact everything in her life has happened organically

With her husband Richard, Lucille founded Whistles in 1976 and turned it into one of the High Street’s biggest success stories.

Her own designs for the brand were sized for real women, and many of us are still wearing her jewelled knits, embroidered jackets and tailored suits 20 years on.

By the time the couple sold the business in 2002, to business partner Richard Caring, it had 40 stores across the country.

The funny thing is, she admits, none of her twentysomething fellow students knew about her history. ‘All the brownie points I got in fashion were worth absolutely nothing. It was a new world completely.’

Though, she adds, they did Google her half way through the course.

Lucille’s decision to completely reinvent herself eight years ago happened by chance.

‘I walked into an evening class in Hackney, East London, by mistake. A good friend was going, and I wanted to talk to her, so I said: “I’ll drop you off.”

‘I wandered into this little basement studio, where there were a few potters potting, and the smell of the clay hit me. I connected with it at once . . . it’s a very earthy smell.’

She signed up for part-time evening classes, then decided to study ceramics full-time.

Anyone thinking of retraining mid-life, after a career, might take inspiration from Lucille. Now a tiny, vibrant 69-year-old, she remains endlessly curious. In fact, she says everything in her life has happened organically.

She married Richard on her 21st birthday and went to America after he got a place at Harvard Business School.


In 1972, they moved to the UK. Richard had a job with menswear company Burtons and, to her amazement, she landed a job as an assistant to the merchandiser at Harvey Nichols.

‘I only had ripped jeans to wear, so I went out and bought this fabulous suit and a pair of stacked heels for the interview.’ She was later promoted to buyer, but was eventually fired for being too outspoken.

So, in 1976, she decided to open her own shop on George Street in Marylebone. ‘I wanted to occupy the space between designer and High Street.’

She filled the tiny, 250 sq ft shop with black and white clothes — and it sold out.

She believes the sale of Whistles may have been a trigger for one of the most traumatic episodes in her life. In 2009, she was diagnosed with a non-cancerous brain tumour known as an acoustic neuroma.

‘The takeover was a very difficult time for me,’ she admits. ‘The company was very much my baby.

‘It was a time of unbelievable, unrelenting shock and stress. I felt powerless, and that was one of the hardest things.’

 It’s art, yes, but also a business. You don’t make ceramics just to sit looking pretty in your garage — you do it to exhibit and sell the work – Lucille Lewin

The tumour was removed during a 12-and-a-half hour operation at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. Afterwards, she felt very weak for three months. She says: ‘I could not shop, cook or care for myself. I was so grateful I had my family around me.’

At first, smiling was impossible and eating was a challenge.

‘Many people retreat because they can’t cope with what’s happened to their faces.

‘You lose the ability to react, you lose your smile.’

Following an intensive rehabilitation programme, her condition is barely visible — except in photographs. Having recovered, she was determined to have more pleasure in her life. She took a two-year part-time diploma in fine art and ceramics at London’s City Lit college (2012–14), after which tutors urged her to apply for a two-year postgraduate degree at the prestigious Royal College of Art.

To her delight, she won a place. As a fashion guru, she had lectured at the Royal College. Now she was a mere student. ‘I’m quite a relaxed person, so I didn’t worry about status, thank goodness,’ she laughs.

Though she says wryly that young people master technology so much better, she made friends for life on the course.

At a time when the number of part-time and mature students has dropped significantly, because people are worried about running up debt, she’s keen to stress it’s not an indulgence.

 It’s exciting. I’ve got so many things I still want to say. And I think it’s just the start of this adventure – Lucille Lewin

The course cost £9,000 a year, but by selling her work, she can recoup the cost.

‘It’s art, yes, but also a business. You don’t make ceramics just to sit looking pretty in your garage — you do it to exhibit and sell the work.’

In fact, Lewin has more than held her own alongside her classmates. In June, she won the £1,500 Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize, after completing her MA in ceramics and glass.

The irony of being declared a ‘young master’ at the age of 69 isn’t lost on her. Since she won the prize, pretty much all of her exquisite white porcelain sculptures have sold. Now she’s preparing for an exhibition in November. Husband Richard grumbles good-naturedly that they can’t go on holiday.

‘I don’t blame him, I should be calming down a little bit,’ smiles Lucille. ‘But it’s exciting. I’ve got so many things I still want to say. And I think it’s just the start of this adventure.’

Lucille’s work is on show at The Cynthia Corbett Gallery / Young Masters Art Prize at the Royal Overseas League until September 8,,


Read more:


Young Masters Prize Giving Ceremony @ Gallery 8

Prize Giving Ceremony, on June 21st @ Gallery 8

On June 21st, Artists, Judges, Patrons, friends and family gathered at the Young Masters Art Prize Exhibition at Gallery 8 for the prize giving ceremony. Cynthia Corbett opened the ceremony by introducing the 2017 Young Masters and warmly thanked all those that helped the vision become a reality.

The chair of the judging panel Godfrey Barker announced the winner of the 2017 Young Masters Art Prize, Azita Moradkhani. Laura Hospes and Tamara Al-Mashouk were announced as Highly Commended artist for the Young Masters Art Prize. In his speech Godfrey discussed the importance of the Old Masters in the art world today.


Iranian artist Azita Moradkhani was announced as the winner of the Young Masters Art Prize and inaugural Young Masters Emerging Woman Art Prize, both generously supported by Dr. Chris Blatchley. Moradkhani was chosen from a shortlist of 18 international artists for her delicately crafted drawings. The female body is central to her work and she uses beauty as her weapon to address complex socio-political issues. Her use of traditional techniques, skill and delicacy connect her work aesthetically to the art of the past.

Azita Moradkhani’s delivered an acceptance speech from afar:


Dr. Chris Blatchley, Patron of The Young Masters Art Prize and The Young Masters Emerging Woman Art Prize, announced Isabelle van Zeijl and Katie Spragg as the two artists Highly Commended for the Emerging Woman Art Prize.


Lucille Lewin was announced by James Grand as the winner of the £1,500 Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize, which is supported by patron, collector and philanthropist Maylis Grand. Lauren Nauman was announced as Highly Commended for Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize.


Last but not least,  Katie Spragg was declared the winner of the Be Smart About Art award by Susan Mumford, the Founder of Be Smart About Art and Association of Women Art Dealers (AWAD).


See full details of our 2017 winners and prizes here.

Exhibition dates: 19 – 24 June
Location: Gallery 8
8 Duke Street St James’s, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6BN

Prize Giving Ceremony:
21st June, 2017


Young Masters Tour Exhibition @ Royal Over-Seas League


The Young Masters Tour Exhibition at Royal Over-Seas League celebrates artists who pay homage to the skill and traditions of the past. The not-for-profit ethos of the Young Masters Art Prize aligns with ROSLarts which also aims to support emerging talent and offers opportunities early into the careers of international, young creatives. Many entrants of the prize, past and present exhibit and boast variety in medium and subject as well as artists varying in age and experience.

Young Masters at Royal Over-Seas League

Sitting alongside these works is the work of more established talent represented by The Cynthia Corbett Gallery and exhibited internationally, further adding to the diversity of the work on the show. The exhibition offers new works of contemporary art that take inspiration from the past, displayed in the grand setting of the historic clubhouse that is open to all visitors to come and enjoy.

Exhibiting Artists:

Grant Aston | Lluís Barba | Sasha Bowles | Elisabeth Caren | Anne Francoise Couloumy | Lottie Davies | Tessa Eastman | Beatriz Elorza | Michal Fargo | Carole Freeman | Amartey Golding | Liron Kroll | Liane Lang | Sandro Miller | Azita Moradkhani | Charlie Moxon | Lauren Nauman | Mary O’Malley | Yigal Ozeri | Fabiano Parisi | John Phillips | David Piddock | Lars Reiffers | Sheila Rock | Red Saunders | Antoine Schneck | Stephen Snoddy | Christoph Steinmeyer | Eleanor Watson | Isabelle van Zeijl

Young Masters at Royal Over-Seas League v

Young Masters at Royal Over-Seas League iii

Young Masters at Royal Over-Seas League ii

Young Masters at Royal Over-Seas League i

Godfrey Barker and Cynthia Corbett

Young Masters at Royal Over-Seas League vi

Young Masters at Royal Over-Seas League xi

Young Masters: Talks | Unpacking Gender in the Contemporary Art World

Young Masters presented a panel discussion at the Royal Over-Seas League on Sunday 2nd July from 2 – 1.30pm. The talk was held in association with Mayfair Art Weekend. Click the link above for video and details.

Exhibition Location: Royal Overseas LeagueOver-Sea House, Park Pl, St. James’s, London SW1A 1LR

Exhibition runs: 28 June – 8 September 2017

Private View: Thursday 29 June, 6-8 pm

Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 11am-5.30pm & weekends by appointment


Young Masters Art Prize Exhibition @ Gallery 8, Duke Street

Introduction by Cynthia Corbett, Founder and Director of the Young Masters Art Prize

“The Young Masters Art Prize was founded in 2009 because I felt at the time it was important to not only nurture young artistic talent but to reflect upon the past in these uncertain economic and political times. Eight years later, this endeavour is even more crucial.


Our 2017 edition has proved to be the most successful Young Masters to date. The call for entries was answered by over 775 artists, by far a record! With the assistance of the dedicated team of judges and staff, we selected 18 artists and 10 ceramicists to exhibit their work in London, showcasing this incredible shortlist in the heart of London’s prestigious art district St James’s. This selection is extremely diverse; the artists come from the UK, Europe, USA, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The youngest artist is 24 and the oldest was born in 1948. A Young Master does not have to be of a young chronological age, and the initiative supports any artist, regardless of age, gender or nationality, providing they have the talent and the relationship with the past in their work. This means that Young Masters is unique.”

Young Masters Art Prize 2017 Exhibition Film

Music & Sound design by Edwin Hind / Concrete and Green. Video by Agnese Gutovska

Young Masters Art Prize Shortlist:

Amartey Golding | Antoine Schneck | Asya Reznikov | Azita MoradkhaniCarole FreemanDavid Piddock Isabelle van Zeijl | John PhillipsLars Reiffers | Laura Hospes | Liane LangLiron Kroll Lucy Beecher Nelson | Sasha Bowles Sheila Rock | Stephen Snoddy | Tamara Al Mashouk Yuehan Pan |

The Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize Shortlist:
Amber Zuber, Andrew CastoAntonie EikemansGrant AstonIrina Razumovskaya, Katie Spragg, Lauren Nauman, Lucille Lewin, Malene Hartmann Rasmussen, Tessa Eastman.

Guest Artist: Gordon Cheung


Dates: 19 – 24 June
Gallery 8
8 Duke Street, St James’s, London, SW1Y 6BN
Private View: Tuesday 20 June, 6.30 – 9.30pm
Prize Giving: Wednesday 21 June, 6.30 – 9pm

Supported by: Art Installation Services, Association of Women Art Dealers (AWAD), The Artist’s Collecting Society, Brownhill, Chris Blatchley, James and Maylis Grand, G4SI Logistics, Lamport Gilbert Ltd.


Young Masters: Talks | Unpacking Gender in the Contemporary Art World – Video

To coincide with the inaugural Young Masters Emerging Woman Art Prize we presented a talk to celebrate and discuss gender issues around art. The panel discussion was moderated by Susan Mumford, Founder, Association of Woman Art Dealers, and included Jean Wainwright, Art Historian, Critic and Professor of Contemporary Art and Photography at the University for the Creative Arts, Marine Tanguy, CEO MTART, Catherine Loewe, London-based curator and consultant and Cynthia Corbett, Gallerist and Founder of The Young Masters Art Prize.


Young Masters: Talks includes discussions hosted by speakers from:  Be Smart About Art, offering specialist, advice and support for artists and industry professionals; and Artists’ Collecting Society, the premium collecting society for the administration of the Artist’s Resale Right (ARR).


Discussions are led by Young Masters Art Prize Judges, including: Jean Wainwright, Art Historian, Critic and Professor of Contemporary Art and Photography at the University for the Creative Arts; and Melanie Gerlis, Art Market Columnist at the Financial Times and Editor-at-large at The Art Newspaper.

Where & When:
Royal Over-Seas League
Park Place
United Kingdom

Sunday, 2 July 2017 from 14:00 to 15:00 (BST)

Video and Photography Courtesy Cristina Schek