I’m back from SMC with lots of pictures, and I’m sure they’re more interesting than anything I have to say to most of you, so here they are. Apologies for the quality, but the lighting was exceptionally harsh, so a lot of pics are quite washed out. You’ll just have to go to a show to see them yourselves.
I’ve also singled a few out for extra attention, and they get especially large pics. You can see them full size if you open out the thumbnails. First up, what I think are pretty obvious choices for extra attention: the best in shows that I remembered to get pictures of:
The really obvious piece by Chris Clayton, an amazing diorama (I believe it won one of the Best of Show prizes at Monte San Savino last year) and a frankly ridiculous boat:
And finally some pieces by Marijn van Gils that were on display. I think a lot of people probably didn’t notice them, but they’re some of the best works I’ve ever seen and still stand up today. I first saw them at the World Expo in Montreux, and I believe they were a few years old even then. The statue piece may well be the best piece I’ve ever seen (no offence to the people above, of course).
And now I get to my usual waffle and some thoughts on the show.
First off, SMC is one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. While it wasn’t quite up there with the World Expo in Stresa, that’s a difficult bar to reach because of the location in sunny northern Italy (a place I’d actually wanted to go to for a couple of decades), the sheer size and the fact that I got engaged there – which all makes it a very difficult act to follow.
Regardless, the show was brilliant. Always lots to do and to see, a really excellent range of traders, and, of course, the quality of the entries, which you can see is top notch. The only issue I really have with it is that it’s sort of in the middle of nowhere. I always feel that multi-day shows should be somewhere that you can leave – wander off to have drinks in a cafe with other painters, look at a castle or wander around gardens. That sort of thing. This isn’t the sort of show I’d bring my wife to – she enjoys the hobby and supports me going to these places, but she’d get bored pretty quickly and wouldn’t really enjoy being stuck at a convention centre 30 minutes’ bus-ride from town.
I’ll be back next year, and I’ll try to get a room in the convention centre itself or in Veldhoven. Our hotel in Eindhoven was ridiculously good, but no one else was around and we had to be constantly aware of the bus timetable.
The judging at the show was quite an eye-opener, too, as it set a considerably higher bar than other competitions I’ve been to. Most shows I usually expect 50% or more to get highly commended or a medal. It sounds generous, but these shows are self-selecting: people who aren’t really interested in getting to the next level in quality don’t usually attend, so 50% is usually still a reasonable standard. SMC, meanwhile, gave out 18% medals, and I guess maybe the same again in highly commended.
While I did get highly commended in historical masters for my Murmillo gladiator, I’m not too bummed about missing out in fantasy masters – there was a lot of stuff that was a lot better than mine that also got nothing, and I would’ve felt like the judges had cocked up if I did get something.
At the end of the day, I’m not terribly competitive anyway. I use shows as a way of benchmarking where I am in the hobby (which increasingly feels like a process of playing catch-up – seriously, look at the stuff above) and seeing where it is I can improve, what other people are doing to push boundaries, and so on. For me, that’s pretty much the best part of shows – that, and meeting up with painting friends for beers. And shopping.
With that, I’ll be back to talking about my own painting for the next few months. Next show will likely be Duke of Bavaria in April next year.