THE OLDIE IS STILL THE GOODIE!
At 93, Donald Zec is as old as the hills but his painting packs a whallop as he is declared the winner of the Oldie British Artists Award, launched by The Oldie magazine and Ecclesiastical fine art insurer.
Donald Zec the 93 year old winner of the Oldie British Artist Award 2012
Donald Zec's winning entry is simply called 'Untitled' and not his self portrait as expected
2, er, oldies, one awarding the other!
OLDEST ENTRANT TO THE OLDIE BRITISH ARTISTS AWARD DECLARED 2012 WINNER
Ninety-three-year-old Donald Zec is the winner of the inaugural Oldie British Artists Award (OBA), launched earlier this year by The Oldie magazine and Ecclesiastical, the specialist heritage and fine art insurer. The winner was announced at the award ceremony on Tuesday 16 October at the English Speaking Union in London.
Donald Zec's portrait of his grandfather was selected from over 300 figurative paintings submitted by artists from around the country, from the Shetland Islands to the
Isle of Wight.
Maggi Hambling, chair of the judging panel, said of the rabbinical
portrait: “This is the one for me. I really engage with him, alive and
full of feeling”. Of his portfolio: “His work has feeling and
originality. I don’t mind that it is slightly primitive. It is real rather than
some arty technique”. As the
winner of the OBA, Donald receives a cash prize of £5,000 and an opportunity to
exhibit at 's
prestigious Abbott and Holder Gallery. London
The Award was launched in March 2012 to celebrate the work of artists aged 60 and over, living in the
. The organisers’ intention
was to celebrate figurative art, which they feel has been neglected lately in a
rush for modernism and the need to shock, and to recognise the talent of older
artists in this country. This year also marks major anniversaries for the
founders of the Award, The Oldie's 20th and Ecclesiastical's
Donald Zec OBE is, as it happens, the oldest entrant for this Award. His winning entry is a charcoal drawing of his paternal grandfather who was among the huge exodus of refugees fleeing the pogroms of
more than a century ago. He settled in Poland and his son, Donald's father Simon Zecanovsky, became a tailor who also wrote short stories
in Yiddish. Few refugees ever talked about
their experiences and often only the odd sepia snapshot offers a clue to their
resilience. Donald says: “It was this combination of resignation and yet
dignity I tried to capture in this charcoal sketch of the 'pious patriarch' who
died before I was born. I wanted to leave my Kent-born granddaughter a
hint of her high cheek-boned ancestry.” London
A former journalist, Donald is an author whose work includes biographies of The Queen Mother, Sophia Loren and, most recently, his late brother, Philip Zec, the celebrated political cartoonist of the Second World War. Donald took up painting less than five years ago while grieving over the death of his wife Frances after a 66-year-long marriage. The outcome was cathartic. “The grief remained”, says Donald, “but the gloom receded while I pinned on the L-plates, discovered the fast-track delights of acrylics and the tactile thrill of splashing paint on canvas – only ruining two shirts and a pair of favourite corduroys in the process.”
Donald's journalistic career began in 1938, when he had a three-day trial on the Daily Mirror and ended up working there for 40 years. He spent six years during the war with the London Irish Rifles and then went back to the Mirror, first as a crime reporter and then as Royal correspondent. Later he was appointed the paper's film writer which meant that he interviewed all the great stars of the day including Brigitte Bardot, David Niven and the Beatles. In one week in
, he would see Gary Cooper, Spencer
Tracy, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando and Humphrey Bogart. Hollywood
The Award's judging panel was chaired by painter and sculptor Maggi Hambling CBE and also included Richard Ingrams, Editor of The Oldie, Huon Mallalieu, Arts Correspondent of Country Life, Philip Athill of Abbott and Holder Gallery, and Clare Pardy, Fine Art Underwriting Manager at Ecclesiastical.
Richard Ingrams, Editor of The Oldie, commented on this year's submissions: “The standard of the entries was amazing and the Award received 325 entries in the first year. And not a drop of formaldehyde in sight. An excellent response!”
Clare Pardy, Fine Art Underwriting Manager at Ecclesiastical, added: “Our thinking behind the Award was to shine a light on not only people who have painted all their lives but also those who have discovered painting in their later years. Gratifyingly, the competition has stimulated some very impressive examples from all sorts of artists which is thrilling.”
Shortlist of Finalists
Gerry Dudgeon, Beaminster, Dorset; Anny Evason, St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex; Mac Gregory, Boston, Lincolnshire; Henry Hagger, London; Adrian Hemming, London; Suzan Swale, London; Elizabeth Vibert, Bristol; Giles Winter, London; Sheila Wood, Claverton, Nottinghamshire; Marjorie Wrentmore, London.
About The Oldie
Launched in 1992, The Oldie is a monthly magazine with an emphasis on good writing, humour and quality illustration. Now in its 21st year, the magazine boasts a circulation of 42,000 and attracts some of the country’s best writers, illustrators and cartoonists as contributors every month. The magazine, edited by former Private Eye editor Richard Ingrams, offers its readers reviews of arts and books, great features, independent opinions and cartoons galore.
Ecclesiastical is a specialist insurer of heritage buildings and fine art, charities, the education, care and faith sectors. Founded in 1887 to provide insurance for the Anglican Church, it now offers a wide range of commercial insurances as well as home and travel insurance, selling through brokers and directly. Ecclesiastical also offers a range of ethically screened investment funds and has a team of Independent Financial Advisers.