Monday, August 25, 2008

RWS/Sunday Times Watercolour Competition - prizewinners and selected artists

"David by the Window" by Jennifer McRae
winner of the RWS / Sunday Times Watercolour Prize (£15,000)

Yesterday in the Sunday Times, arts correspondent and juror Frank Whitford announced the prizewinners in the Royal Watercolour Society / Sunday Times Watercolour Competition.

I'm highlighting the winners first and then focusing on the artists selected for the exhibition in this post. There will be another post once I've seen the exhibition which opens on 10th September.
The most prestigious annual watercolour event (previously the Singer and Friedlander/Sunday Times Watercolour Competition) is one of the few remaining prizes to celebrate the diversity and beauty of the frequently undervalued medium of watercolour. The result is a visual feast of dynamic and challenging paintings.
Bankside Gallery
RWS/Sunday Times Watercolour Competition Prizes

You can see the work of the shortlisted artists on the RWS website. The prizewinners are as follows
  • 1st Prize (£15,000) - Jennifer McRae - David by the Window
  • 2nd prize (£7,000) - Cameron Galt - Late Sunday Morning
  • Penguin Classic Prize for Cover Art (£1,500 /win a commission) - David Firmstone for The Persistence of Memory
  • Young Artist aged under 30 on or before 01.09.08. (£1,500) - Peter Haslam Fox for Self Portrait with Tower
  • Highly commended / shortlisted artists are
    • June Berry RWS Nightwalker
    • Mick Davies Man U Fans
    • Michael Williams Island and Waterhole
    • Brian Woods Maelstrom
Artists selected for the Royal Watercolour Society / Sunday Times Watercolour Competition Exhibition
Bankside Gallery - Wednesday 10th September - Monday 21st september 2008

I missed the announcement back in July of the artists selected for the RWS/Sunday Times Watercolour Competition - but these are now listed below

You can also read Frank Whitford's review in the Sunday Times here RWS/Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition
The judges, confronted by so many outstanding paintings this year, decided they should introduce a Highly Commended category for the first time. Sadly, there is no money for the four artists whose entries were singled out in this way, but at least they now know who they are
Frank Whitford
Below I've noted something about their art after their names where this was clear from a relevant website (but please correct me if I've made any mistakes). Obviously I haven't got a clue what work has been picked for the exhibition. I've also noted if they have more than one work in the exhibition and exhibited in this competition before. Plus.....
  • A hyperlink to their name indicates a link to their website or the website of a dealer associated with the artist
  • a hyperlink to initials after their name indicates a link to their member page on an art society website
The selected artists are:
Roger Allen - Derbyshire artist, a realist who focuses on landscapes - particularly of the Peak District
Fay Ballard - (ARWS) a trained botanical artist who draws her inspiration from plants
June Berry RWS RE NEAC RWS (2 works) - a figurative artist who focuses on her nostalgic memories of things past - highly commended for Nightwalker
Varsha Bhatia - an architectural artist
Akash Bhatt RWS a representational artist aiming to make the ordinary extraordinary
David W Birch
Paul Birkbeck - a book illustrator
Antonia Black - a watercolourist who works loosely and calligraphically with a bright palette
Hugh Bredin
Ann Bridges - a painter printmaker based in Wales
Dawn Chandler
Frances Chapman
Richard P Cook
Eileen Cooper RA - teaches at the Royal College of art and Royal Academy School who paints imaginative narratives
Mick Davies - colourful and imaginative painter, regularly shows with national art societies - highly commended for Man U Fans
Chris Edwick - very colourful and exuberant abstract paintings
Pauline Ellison
Mark Elsmore RBSA - former winner of the Three Counties Art Exhibition

The winner of the new award,
the Penguin prize for cover art
David Firmstone VPRWS The Persistence of Memory

David Firmstone VPRWS MBE - Vice President of the RWS, a past winner of the Sunday Times Watercolour competition and a landscape painter

Brian Fleming

Cameron Galt (3 works) - Runner up
Late Saturday Morning. Contemporary figurative artist
Look also at the work of Cameron Galt. There are two of his paintings in this show. One is a small self portrait, a masterly work of great seriousness, the other a splendid modern still life of great strength.
Richard Sorell PRWS
Mathew Gibson (2 works) - a runner up in this competition in 2005
Robert Green
Peter Haslam Fox - winner of the Young Artist award, who doesn't have a website but does work for a gallery!

The prize for the best submission by a young artist goes to Self Portrait with Tower by Peter Haslam Fox......Interestingly, from 2006 to 2007 Haslam Fox studied under McRae at Southwark Art Academy.
Frank Whitford
Emma Haworth - who observes and records scenes from metropolitan life
Alan Hepburn - who documents his travel in watercolour and mixed media
Wendy Hyams -
St Albans artist who produces miniature portraiture and still life illustration in watercolour.
Ian Cuthbert Imrie - a member of the American Society of Potrait Painters
Peter Jarvis
Nick Johnson - contemporary painter of the landscape and natural environment
Lucy Jones - contemporary painter
James Judge
Peter Kelly NEAC RBA -
Anita Klein - a painter whose humour finds favour with many people - she paints in acrylics and watercolours
Peter Knock - figurative painter
Lee, Sun-Don - a Taiwanese award-winning artist who exhibits internationally - exhibiting
Zen • Onenss of Emptiness and Existence
Kathy Lewis - an award winning artist working mainly in watercolours and oils. These are extracts from her sketchbook.
Dan Llywelyn Hall - intense paintings (which) unapologetically deal with the natural world. Won Young Artist of the Year in this competition in 2003 and has work in a number of corporate collections.
‘…Intriguing painting; in which a more or less coherent image gradually emerges from beneath a surface of scratches and splatters.’
Frank Whitford SUNDAY TIMES
Arthur Lockwood RBSA - paints industrial scenes of the Midlands
Alban Low
Margaret McMillan
Jennifer McRae - won the first prize. She is an Scottish award-winning artist who is one of my absolute favourite figurative painters. Studying the work on her website is an education for any aspiring artist. She's currently exhibiting a self-portrait in the Threadneedle Figurative Prize exhibition. She won second prize in this competition in 2002 and third prize in 2007 and judged it in 2003 and 2004. Currently painting Sir Tim Berners Lee for the Royal Society.

Watercolour in its purest form is painting with transparent washes and leaving the white of the paper as highlights. It is the most difficult of media. One must make decisions about drawing, colour, tone, composition as well as meaning and sentiment all at the same time. These feats of intellectual juggling with so many different elements would tax anyone, and when a painting made in such a way is successful, it is the cause for celebration and wonder. Such a painting is Jenny MacRae’s portrait of her husband. It is an amazing work, strong subtle and magnificent.
Richard Sorell PRWS
Robert Michell
Wladyslaw Mirecki - award-winning landscape artist
Wendy Murphy
John Newberry - training in architecture clarified his feeling for three dimensions, his scultptural sense, his awareness of space. The pictures are usually of 'abroad'.
Paul Newland
RWS, NEAC - winner of The Turner Watercolour Award 2008 and Turner Medal
Gavin OKeefe
Juliette Palmer RBA
Shanti Panchal - strong but subtle compositions with sometimes monumental figures
David Pearce
Michael Porter - experiments with landscape painting
David Prentice - past prizewinner and a painter I like a lot
Christopher Prewett -
Peter Quinn ARWS -well known for brightly coloured watercolours of interesting buildings, boats and street scenes.
Sue Read - paints delicate and luminous still lifes
Alan Robb - a figurative painter
Alden Roberts - a visual arts lecturer at Yeovil College who also got into this exhibition last year; this year her painting is a portrait of a part-time student. See article in thisiswells
Philip Rundall -
His work reflects his interest in colour and light through the exploration of still life - and latterly landscapes and portraiture. I'm a fan of his watercolours.
James Rushton RWS NEAC - paints in oil, gouache and watercolour; won a prize in this competition in 2004. I'm a big fan of his oil paintings.
Denis Ryan - a previous exhibitor with the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition.
Marcus Sandeman - has an interview about his work
“Breakfast at Tesco - The Morning After” in the South Wales Argus and a blog post about it here working on the RWS
Eileen Schaer - a self-taught, contemporary and non-traditional watercolour artist with a strong graphical approach
Rosa Sepple RI - self-taught figurative artist combining observation, memory and imagination
- and spontaneity
Stephen Shankland - Modern Scottish contemporary portrait artist. Winner of the 2004 BP Portrait Award. Specialist in figurative and portrait painting. (..with a succinct website description!)
T Shedley-Jordan - strives to create carefully observed, non-gimicky works that are full of light, depth and calm.
Ian Sidaway - author of popular art books
David Souter - British contemporary figurative artist
Nigel Swift - works mainly in acrylics
Simon Turvey SWLA - wildlife artist whose work is shown at national exhibitions
John Twinning - the only artist whose website announced the acceptance of a specific piece Low tide into this exhibition! (see news section on front page)
Tim Vyner - travels the world and records events as he sees them
James Faure Walker - researches how digital art blends with painting
Geoff Waterhouse
Terry Watts RBA - a finalist in a number of important competitions
Michael B White
Charles Williams ARWS, NEAC (2 works)
People are filthy, and beautiful, nasty and sublime, wicked and humane, evil and full of the most heartbreaking charity, and I want to paint it all. Sex, shopping, fear, love, television and sacrifice.
Charles Williams
Michael Williams - a highly commended artist
Lucy Willis - popular painter, printmaker, author and workshop teacher
Brian Woods (2 works)

If I've got anybody's links wrong please do let me know and I'll make an immediate correction.

Artists's backgrounds, categories and descriptions

This turned into a bit of a marathon in terms of finding links - and I'm still a bit concerned whether they are 100% accurate. However, it's been a very interesting exercise and what I found particularly noteworthy is that the artists selected seem to fall into one of three groups
  • RWS people - members and associate members - but there's not as many of these as would have expected. I wonder if RWS members enter competitions?
  • members of other national art societies and/or people who regularly enter and get into national art competitions - quite a lot of these, but it's possible I've missed some.
  • everybody else - including well known and award-winning artists.
A few have no organised presence or statement about their work online and/or lucid statements about why they work in watercolour. There's no requirement for this of course but I find more and more that people winning top prizes have good quality websites...........

Take note! For some artists, it was amazing how difficult it was to say what an artist is about in one line from information provided on website. For all artists reading this - do you think I could produce a one line resume about you if you had entered a national competition? (I know I'm going to be checking my website after writing this post and I'm almost certain mine needs to be revised in the light of this exercise!!!)

For information - the RWS/Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2008 Judges were
I've also only just 'twigged' that the Royal Watercolour Society seems to have got itself a new website. Check it out here - Royal Watercolour Society



  1. Seeing Jennifer Macrae's work in the National Gallery made me an instant fan and now I see she does amazing drawings too. Shame there isn't a bio. One of the websites (still going through them!) has a link for a bio and yet it's a list of art colleges etc. There is an amazing variation in styles when writing bios - Jeremy Clarkson would have a field day methinks! I'm just making a website for myself and have to admit it is very hard to write about oneself, but I do wish the successful would write more about themselves and in such a way that tells us something! I love Ian Sidaway's style too and yet he has no website at all.

  2. Terry Watts is a very dear friend of mine! Hoorah Terry! (tho I never doubt he'll get in) I haven't spoken to him in a few weeks so glad to see the news here first. Now I can phone and make him wonder how I knew. ;)

    Wish I could have entered this one again, but they limited the accepted surfaces more this year. Can't wait to go see it though.

  3. Sorry to be so pedantic but Jennifer Macrae didn't win second prize in 2007 at the Singer Friedlander competition. Jennifer won third prize (behind me):

    She won first prize this year so she wont mind me bumping her! well done again, Jennifer.

  4. Angus - I'm ever so sorry. I'm not quite sure how that happened - and I'll go and revise the blog post straight away!

    Maybe you saw my other post in May this year where I featured you as second prizewinner and also referenced your blog? See RWS/Sunday Times Watercolour Competition - call for entries

  5. Katherine, I am now feeling very sheepish!! I hadn't been aware of your blog until recently when I was searching for this years winners. I didn't try this year as I am frantically trying to put a one man show together. I was also delighted to see "Cammy" Galt getting second prize this year. He was a year below me at art school and always had a special talent. I thought (and still think) that your blog is great and I shall definately stop in every now and again to see what your up to. Thanks for the mention and sorry I am so blinkin' pedantic I had to say something:-)

  6. Angus - that's absolutely fine! This particular post was a bit of a challenge to put together because of trying to track down all the various URLs for artists' websites (and believe me that's much easier said than done!)

    I know I knew you had won second prize (hence the ref to the prevous post) and I obviously got mixed up at some point between the two years when Jennifer had won a prize on previous occasions.


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