Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Aesthetica Art Prize 2019

7 March – 14 July, York Art Gallery

Pleased that my painting 'Split Infinity' has been longlisted for the Aesthetica Art Prize 2019 (selected from some 4500 artists) and will be published in this year's Future Now anthology. This book showcases the work of 100 of the most exciting artists from around the world and is a dynamic guide to international contemporary art. 

My painting will also be part of the exhibition at York Art Gallery from 7 March - 14 July, where it will be exhibited digitally.

Split Infinity. 2017. 150 x 150 cm.Acrylic on canvas
© Julie Umerle 
"Umerle paints in series that are open-ended, exploring similarity, repetition and difference within each group of work. Split Infinity is geometric and hard-edged, but also contains free flowing areas where rivulets of paint cascade down the surface of the painting. The canvas is a divided field of blue and green." Aesthetica Magazine.

The Aesthetica Art Prize is an annual exhibition that invites audiences to explore, discover and engage with new ideas. The works on display cover a range of themes from technology, urbanisation and digitisation to population growth and ecological destruction and climate change. We are living in the Anthropocene. It’s the only time in history that human impact has had such a negative effect on the planet.

Great art can change lives. It reveals things we don’t know, encourages us to think differently and to see the world in a new way. Art is a way to convene, discuss and understand the world. There have been considerable shifts in civilisation in the Information Age – resulting in a change in the way we communicate, engage with and interact with each other. There has been a level of disconnect that has not been experienced before. The Digital Age has created a new way of seeing.

The pieces included this year’s exhibition draw on both personal and universal narratives, looking at how we are so connected to the internet and profiles, likes and shares that we are forgetting how to forget something and the wider impact this will have on culture. In the age of globalisation culture is becoming homogenised and identity is fluid. What does this mean for the individual?

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Made in Britain: 82 Painters of the 21st Century

Proud to be showing my work next year at The National Gallery of Poland, Gdansk, in an exhibition entitled 'Made in Britain: 82 Painters of the 21st Century'. My family roots are in Poland so, for me, it is very appropriate.

The exhibition features a selection of paintings from the Priseman Seabrook collection. It runs from 14 March - 2 June 2019.  The opening reception is on Thursday 14th March at 6pm. A panel disccussion will take place at 10am at the Gdansk Academy of Fine Arts on Friday 15th March, and there will be a finishing event on the 2nd June.

The show itself will take place over three floors at The Green Gate, which is one of the main tourist attractions in Gdansk.

I am sure there will be many installation views and photographs of the show which I will post here when the exhibition opens. Watch this space!

'Made in Britain: 82 Painters of the 21st Century' is curated by Robert Priseman, Anna McNay, Malgorzata Taraszkiewica-Kwolicka and Malgorzata Ruszkowska-Macur.

Artists:  David Ainley, Iain Andrews, Amanda Ansell, Louis Appleby, Richard Baker, Karl Bielik, Claudia Böse, John Brennan, Julian Brown, Simon Burton, Ruth Calland, Emma Cameron, Simon Carter, Maria Chevska, Jules Clarke, Wayne Clough, Ben Coode-Adams, Ben Cove, Lucy Cox, Andrew Crane, Pen Dalton, Alan Davie, Jeffrey Dennis, Lisa Denyer, Sam Douglas, Annabel Dover, Natalie Dowse, Fiona Eastwood, Nathan Eastwood, Tracey Emin, Geraint Evans, Paul Galyer, Pippa Gatty, Terry Greene, Susan Gunn, Susie Hamilton, Alex Hanna, David Hockney, Marguerite Horner, Barbara Howey, Phil Illingworth, Linda Ingham, Silvie Jacobi, Kelly Jayne, Matthew Krishanu, Bryan Lavelle, Andrew Litten, Cathy Lomax, Paula MacArthur, David Manley, Enzo Marra, Monica Metsers, Nicholas Middleton, Andrew Munoz, Keith Murdoch, Paul Newman, Stephen Newton, Gideon Pain, Andrew Parkinson, Mandy Payne, Charley Peters, Ruth Philo, Alison Pilkington, Narbi Price, Robert Priseman, Freya Purdue, James Quin, Greg Rook, Katherine Russell, Stephen Snoddy, Ben Snowden, David Sullivan, Harvey Taylor, Molly Thomson, Ehryn Torrell, Judith Tucker, Philip Tyler, Julie Umerle, Marius von Brasch, Mary Webb , Sean Williams and Fionn Wilson.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

'Talking Back' by bell hooks

In 1989, I had the honour of being commissioned by Sheba Feminist Pubishers to provide a book cover for bell hook's first UK publication of 'Talking Back'.

The image was chosen from a selection of slides I had deposited at the Women Artists Slide Library. Upon seeing the cover, bell wrote to the publishers:

"The cover is so absolutely beautiful. It has given me so much pleasure and delight this gray winter evening".

Such praise from an author I greatly admire, and excellent feedback for my project!

'Talking Back' has since been published in other formats in the UK and US, by other publishers and with different covers. But mine is the only copy of the book in this format that I have seen when searching for it online.

Whilst probably greatly sought after by book collectors, it is one thing I will never sell.

ISBN 0 907179 401

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Another World: Frieze Art Fair, London

I am one of the artists whose work will be exhibited in 'Another World', to be displayed in the Deutsche Bank Lounge at Frieze London this year.

In celebration of the centenary of women's suffrage, Tracey Emin and her studio have curated an exhibition of works by female artists in the Deutsche Bank Collection to go on display in the Deutsche Bank Lounge at Frieze London and Frieze Masters. 

Emin has also initiated a sale of postcard-sized original artworks by living female artists who are part of the Deutsche Bank Collection, to raise money for charities that support vulnerable women.

Each original work is available to buy for £200 but one can only discover the artists identity after purchasing the work. 

This secret art postcard sale will be available online to the public between the public days of the fair, 5 - 7 October 2018, and the preview and preregistration is live now at:

Artists include: Carla Busuttil, Hannah CollinsMelanie Comber, Tracey Emin, Emel Geris, Katharina Grosse, Maggi Hambling, Susie Hamilton, Gwen Hardie, Mona Hatoum, Jenny Holzer, Lucy Jones, Liane Lang, Rut Blees Luxemburg, Elizabeth Magill, Beatriz Milhazes, Cathy de Monchaux, Selma Parlour, Liliana Porter, Laure Prouvost, Carol Robertson, Paula Rego, Amy Sillman, Jessica Stockholder, Kiki Smith, Rosemarie Trockel, Nicola Tyson, Julie Umerle, Carrie Mae Weems, Pae White, Rachel Whiteread and Catherine Yass.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Beyond the Surface: six abstract painters

'Beyond the Surface' at The Crypt, 2018
© Julie Umerle

           As a society we are losing the ability to look for a sustained length of time, our gaze now reduced to a glimpse. So accustomed are we to seeing images that they hardly register, perhaps pictures themselves are now losing their value.  In this regard digital media has a lot to answer for: over the course of the last decade, the quantity of images that we consume on a daily – or even hourly basis – has ballooned in direct proportion with the invasion of screens in our public and private personal space. According to a 2015 article in the New York Times, more than a trillion photos are taken every year. Where looking at an image was once a luxury to be savoured – think back to church paintings, engravings, even early photography – today an image barely makes a mark on our consciousness, so fleeting is it. As a result, our visual attention span is shortening: images have become a kind of constant enveloping feature of our habitat, always present but to which we now pay little attention.

Furthermore, the majority of images that bombard us in our pervasive digital lives are readily digestible, without the need for intellectual effort – in fact their success depends wholly upon their directness. Due to the vast quantity of images that vie with one another for our attention, the more direct the image the better the chances it has of registering in our minds. Consequently, we are losing our ability to look with depth at images, to see beyond the surface.

This therefore presents a serious challenge for those of us in the realm of painting. A painting asks us to spend time with it, the more time the better, and to reflect, investigate, imagine. But if visual audiences are now looking for just a fraction of a second, and expect immediacy of message, how do we counteract this?

The work in Beyond the Surface contains various geometrical elements: grids, doorways, blocks of colour, visual imageplay which perhaps hold our attention for longer than is customary. The underlying connection between the paintings is their internal structure, their sense of order and the way in which they work within the boundaries of the canvas. In an interview in The White Review in 2015, Rosalind Krauss stated that “the movement towards abstraction is a move towards the reflexive presentation of the material substrate of the work: the frame, the canvas.”  All of the paintings in this exhibition work within these reflections, and the exhibition as a whole reflects upon the length and the depth of the gaze in the digital world.    © Piers Veness, 2018

The exhibition BEYOND THE SURFACE: six abstract painters curated by Piers Veness, presents the work of six painters working with abstraction - Hanz Hancock, Patrick Morrissey, Marion Piper, Julie Umerle, Piers Veness and Simon Zabell.

Beyond the Surface is part of the Contemporary British Painting exhibition programme at The Crypt in St Marylebone Parish Church and organised by Square Art Projects.

28 March - 14 June 2018.

The Crypt, 17 Marylebone Road, St Marylebone Parish Church, London NW1 5LT

Open Mon - Fri 9am - 4pm, Sun closed

Occasionally The Crypt closes for private meetings, you can phone ahead to check times on 020 7935 7315 or 07809330592

Monday, 19 February 2018


Broken Symmetry II. Acrylic on canvas. 45 x 45 cm
© Julie Umerle
Colin Sheaf, Chairman UK and Asia at the international auction house Bonhams, will take to the rostrum at the Art4Grenfell charity auction at the RBS Headquarters in the City of London on Wednesday 21 February. 

The ticket-only event is being held to raise money for the homeless residents and survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. 100% of the funds raised will go to the families. I have donated a painting to the auction where more than 100 works donated by such well-known and respected names as Gilbert and George, Dame Zandra Rhodes, Andrew Logan and Boy George will be up for sale. 

Colin Sheaf said, "This will be an exhilarating art auction, with many acclaimed and noteworthy iconic artists from the UK and abroad kindly donating a painting or work of art to honor the victims of this tragic loss of life in London." 

The auction is open to all guests with admission by ticket only, and is being held on Wednesday 21 February at The Atrium, 3rd Floor, 250 Bishopsgate EC2M 2AA with the Preview and Reception from 6.00pm, followed by the Live Auction starting at 7.00pm. Admission is by pre-purchased ticket only, with all seated and standing tickets available for purchase online at:

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Studio photos

Here are some photos from my London studio to start the year. Paint brushes, paint pots, palette knife, canvas and spring flowers in January!