Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers - Annual Exhibition

Certain art collectors love miniatures. So much so that they have purchased 160 miniature works of art in three days at the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers. Speaking personally this is the most sales by any art society at any gallery that I have ever seen in very many years of visiting the exhibitions of national art societies and is certainly proof of the popularity of miniature art. I gather the level of sales is unprecedented and I hesitate to guess how many they will have sold by the time this exhibition finishes on Sunday 28th October.

I visited the Society's exhibition at The Mall Galleries in London towards the end of yesterday afternoon and was extremely fortunate to be given a guided tour around the exhibition by it President Elizabeth Meek PRMS, PPSWA, HS, FRSA.

The Society was founded in 1895 and is the oldest and most prestigious Miniature Art Society in the world. It is the world's premier showcase for miniature art and naturally the Society sets very high standards for the work displayed. What I saw was excellent of the genre and reinforces the notion that miniature art continues to be a very serious art form for lovers of realism on a very small scale. It was certainly clear to me in writing this blog piece and looking at various websites that many of the artists have degrees in fine art and/or have been working as professional artists for many years. You can see some examples of art produced by society members on their website (click an image to see yet more work) plus you can see more in the links to their own or associated websites showing art by the award winners (where possible) listed below.

Work by (top) Alison Griffin - The Watering Can, acrylic on board and
(bottom) Gina Morton - Catterick Beagles, watercolor on ivorine
in the exhibition catalogue

Members, Associate members and other artists submitting work have been honoured with the following awards:
  • The RMS Gold Memorial Bowl - Alison Griffin RMS - This is the most prestigious award for miniature art in the world. I gather Alison Griffin's domestic scenes in the country in acrylic and watercolour are extremely popular and sell very fast!
  • President's Special Commendation - Miniature Work - Bill Mundy RMS one of the world's leading miniature portrait painters. You can read his blog here.
  • RMS Group Award - Debby Faulkner Stevens RMS, SWA - my personal favourite I think of the works on show yesterday. This is an interview with her.
  • The Mundy Sovereign Portrait Award - Mike Button ARMS
  • The Bidder and Borne Sculptors and Gravers Award - Matthew Simmonds
  • Llewellyn Alexander Subject Miniature Award - Joyce Rowsell RMS - an artist who works in oil on stretched silk
  • Peter Charles Booth Memorial Award - Jenny Brooks RMS - her pencil portraits were excellent
  • Anita Emmerich Presentation Award - Irina Kouznetsova
  • Daler Rowney Choice Award - Helen C Jones
  • Country Club UK Award - Peter Griffiths
  • Anthony J Lester Award - Iain Gardiner. I think this must be the same Iain Gardiner wo was a BP Portrait Award finalist in 2006.
All manner of subjects are represented - portraits of people and donestic animals and wildlife, landscapes, streetscapes, interiors, florals and nature art and still life.

Other artists whose work I particularly liked included the light filled landscapes of Rosalind Pierson RMS, HS, MAA. The portrayal of hunting scenes by Gina Morton RMS HS SLm - including 'Catterick Beagle' above - were brilliant. She's a previous winner of the Gold Memorial Bowl. People who like classic still life work should check out the miniature masterpieces by Diana Branscombe RMS. Joyce Rogerson's paintings of small birds were also delightful. When I got home I was also able to admire more work by the President including the miniature she has painted of the Prince of Wales who is Patron of the Society.

All the miniatures were displayed in cabinets with glass lids which were set around the walls of the North Gallery. This is a huge improvement on the display last year when most were placed in the centre of the large West Gallery. In my opinion, the North Gallery is the space which has benefited most from the recent renovations and demonstrated very effectively with this arrangement what a suitable space it is for societies with smaller numbers of works or displaying small works. The lighting was really impeccable and showed all the works to best effect. I cannot but think that the level of sales has in part been due to the huge improvement in presentation and display in relation to both space and lighting - although I'm sure the very helpful memebrs also played their part. In my opinion, it also serves as a reminder to all those involved in art societies about just how important exhibition presentation really is.

The exhibition is free and continues until 1pm on 28th October. Details of how to find the Mall Galleries can be found here. Members of the Society are apparently doing demonstrations every day throughout the exhibition which are proving to be very popular. I think I met Pauline Denyer-Baker yesterday who had been doing that day's demonstration. (My apologies if I got that wrong as I ended up with masses of names on a piece of paper!)

As with a number of other UK art societies, entries for the show come from all round the world and this year included work by Russian and Polish artists.

Associate Membership of the Society is only through inspection of work submitted by candidates to the annual exhibition. Those interested in being a candidate or wanting to submitting miniature work to the 2008 exhibition will want to note all the submission requirements. Artwork is delivered to the Administrative Offices of the Mall Galleries in late August 2008. Detailed dates will be posted on the website when available.

Links: Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers