A former Premier League footballer, a pop star and a high-flying curator walk into an art gallery… No, this is not the launch of The Art Newspaper’s Christmas joke collection but the set-up for the latest edition of the ING Discerning Eye exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London (until 26 November). This year's edition has seen Ian “H” Watkins from the pop group Steps and the former Arsenal defender Tony Adams turn their hand to curation, organising a section each at the show. The selection panel also included the artist Chris Levine, sculptor Julian Wild, the Gagosian curator Péjú Oshin and the Government Art Collection director Eliza Gluckman.
The judges had plenty of art to choose from, whittling down 6,500 entries to 628, all of which are on display in the mammoth show (all works are for sale incidentally, starting at £100).
“I've always painted. I must have been five when I got my first set of watercolours and started trying to paint like Monet and Turner,” H told The Art Newspaper. “It's what I always wanted to do but life took a different direction.”
Adams, meanwhile, explains to The Art Newspaper that “In prison [for drink driving] in 1990, I used to draw Ninja Turtles—with time I'm not bad.” He's inherited and collected some interesting work, too. “I think we've got the first ever Hockney, that he sold when he was in art school.” Does he see a second life as a curator? “Bring it on!” We're onside.