Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Exhibition review: "21st Century Watercolour" at the Bankside Gallery

I went to see the Royal Watercolour Society's 21st Century Watercolour exhibition at the Bankside Gallery last Friday.

Paintings by exhibitors
(including Julian Bray top left and Helen Slater's prizwinning work bottom right)
works copyright the artists /
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

It seemed a very different sort of show this year which I can only assume is due to either a change in selectors or the type of work being submitted. I did spot what I thought were a few gems of which more below.

It's a great pity that the RWS website does not have images of works in the exhibition as it usually does - I can only assume a technical glitch is in the works somewhere.

However, as usual, I had permission from the Gallery to photograph the exhibition for this review and I hope these give you a flavour of what is on show.

In general, I saw many more larger pieces than usual and not many small works. I thought fewer paintings than usual really exploited the unique properties of watercolour although there was some exceptionally good work on show. There also seemed to be much less use of watercolour inks and mixed media than in previous shows and I missed that. I also noted this year that a number of artists seemed to be were trying to paint in the manner of established members of the RWS. I seem to recall this is not usually recommended as a receipe for being invited to become an Associate!

Groups of paintings in watercolour
works copyright the artists / all photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The work is mostly figurative/representational but this year there was a very attractive group of abstract works in different styles in the middle ofthe south wall which, surprisingly for me, I think I liked the best of all the groupings of different works (see below - excuse the reflections!) It was stimulating in a quiet way, controlled and yet very peaceful.

A group of abstract paintings in watercolour
works copyright the artists / photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

21st Century Watercolour Prizewinners

Prizewinners were as follows:
  • David Gluck Award (£1,000) - Games we play by Jo Fox. This painting appeared to be a varitaion on collage. It was difficult to work out whether the paper went down without colour and then was painted or whether the collage involved the use of painted papers
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deriner Purchase Prize (800) - From Labworth Cafe Steps, Canvey Island by Helen Slater
  • Royal Watercolour Society Award (£500) - Riddlehamhope by Paul Strangelove. It's a picture of the view from a window painted from within a dark interior. The artist displayed very fine control over painting the values and working with dark colours.
  • Winsor and Newton Prizes (prize is art materials)
  • St Cuthbert's Mill
    • 1st Prize (£350) The House, Holly Walk by David W Birch
    • 2nd prize (£250) Still Life with Striped Jug by Phillip Rundall - who also featured in the RWS/Sunday Times watercolour competition exhibition last year
    • 3rd prize (£150) The Reflections Are All by Marjorie Collins (I remember thinking that this looked like the vivid, full on, graphic, reflection filled still life paintings beloved by some American artists - having now found her website I was not wrong!)
  • "The Artist" Prize - an article in a future edition of the Artist magazine: Medics Awaiting the Incoming Wounded by J Nicholas Beadle
  • Daler Rowney Prize (Artist watercolour set) Marker Buoys, Kings Lynn by Ian Sidaway (he's the author of lots of books about painting but apparently has no website)
People whose work I liked

Here's my note about people I liked
  • I loved Helen Slater's skies and I'd very much like to see more examples of her work - however sadly she doesn't appear to have a website
  • I loved Kate Bentley's October Memory Val D'Orcia Valley. This displayed a wonderful use of wet in wet and a vivid pleasure in the mixture of different pigments plus great calligraphic marks in the paint which created a lovely sense of the movement and flow of the land. (As an aside, for those who read my post about artist's statements recently, she is also somebody who is very capable of writing an accessible statement about her art on her website!)
  • I liked Stephen J Bragg's painting of fire escapes in Soho NY - in the corner of this view of works on display (see below - the view of marker buoys is Ian Sidaway's prizewinning painting)
A group of paintings in watercolour
works copyright the artists /
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

  • Julian Bray's painting of Watson Fothergill Newspaper Offices, Nottingham was also very striking and displayed what is for me the sort of technique watercolour painting that I like to see. Check out his architecture paintings on his website to see what I mean.
  • I really liked the three abstract works by Julie Collins - and I'm not usually a fan of abstract work but these three appealed to me.
  • Rose Sepple's work - Footballers Wives and Girly Night was great fun - it's certainly the first time ever I've seen 'watercolour and glitter' listed as the medium in use!
  • I wasn't expecting Betty Bib's fairies but they were fun and nicely executed (plus she also has a fun website - click the star on the end of the wand for access!)
  • Finally, I can't fail to mention the lovely painterly watercolour Tooley Street (London Bridge side) by my fellow London art blogger Adebanji Alade. It's always so nice to see completed works 'up close and personal'
The exhibition continues at the Bankside Gallery until Sunday 15th March 2009. Details of how to get there and opening hours are on the Bankside Gallery website.


Greg said...

Katherine, Thank you for covering the RWS show. As usual you have shone your lamp and brought to light a corner of the Art-world I may not be able to see on my own. I particularly liked Mr. Brays' architecture work. Thanks, Greg Marquez

adebanji said...

Thanks very much for this post and the mention! Highly appreciated, also I enjoyed the links to the sites of many other exhibitors, stuff I just would never get down to do.

Post a Comment

COMMENTS HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED AGAIN due to very silly ignorant people who leave spam comments without realising they have no benefit for them.

Please feel free to comment on my Facebook Page as my blog posts are always posted there (but please note anonymous comments are not published and I block and report spammers to Google and on Facebook)

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.