Thursday, March 05, 2009

Exhibition review: Wapping Group of Artists - 63rd Annual Exhibition

An overview of part of the East Gallery (top) and the contents of the display cabinet (bottom)
photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Yesterday I visited the Mall Galleries to see the annual exhibition by the Wapping Group of Artists.
The Wapping Group was formally founded in1946 and initially met to record the busy life of London's dockland. Since then, the range of locations has widened in response to the changes of The Thames – on any Wednesday between April and September members of the Group may now be found in any weather at a rendezvous anywhere from inland Henley and out to The Estuary. This companionable band of just 25 dedicated and capable painters maintains the original Group aims of fellowship and enthusiastic recording and interpretation of the River.
Wapping group website
The artists show 4 paintings each and all the paintings are of the river and/or places near to the river. I particularly liked the way the exhibition had been hung. The emphasis is very much on plein air paintings. Here are some of the places I saw in the titles of paintings: Marlow, Isleworth, Twickenham, Tollesbury, Custom House, Greenwich, Bugsbys Reach, Maldon, Medway, Faversham, St Osyth.
...the Group is proud to have remained exactly what it first set out to be: a small group of fellow-artists, appreciating each other's company while painting outdoors together in all weathers.

Almost incidentally, it has recorded the changing face of London and the river Thames for over sixty years.

The group includes renowned marine artists such as Trevor Chamberlain ROI, RSMA (who is a past President and organises the programme of outings) and Bert Wright PPRSMA, FRSA (the current President).

My personal preference is for the watercolours of Paul Banning RO, RSMA, AROI, although yesterday I was very impressed with the watercolours of Alan Runagell RSMA. You can see examples of their below.

Four paintings by (top) Paul Banning and (bottom) Alan Runagell

You can find out more about the history of the group from its website or the book which was produced to celebrate reaching 60!

a selection of paintings by members of the Wapping group of Artists

The exhibition is being held in the East Gallery of the Mall Galleries. It opened with a Private View on Sunday and closes at 4pm on Saturday 7th March. Details of further exhibitions later in the year are available on the website.

I avoid the Private View having been to one before. The reason why is a compliment really - because this group really knows how to look after its mailing list and collectors and has a loyal fan base and their PV is always completely packed out. This year it did well as usual and 16 pictures sold at the PV (and more since).

Many thanks to David Penny who is the principal organiser of the exhibition and wh0 gave me permission to photograph the exhibition over the phone while I was sat with my mobile phone in the Mall Galleries! Plus thanks to Alan Runagell for helping me out with queries.


For anybody who is interested people can apply to become candidates for membership by submitting work for assessment followed by a season painting with the Group before further consideration and election to full membership.

More to come

I actually saw three other exhibitions yesterday as well - of which more later!


  1. My first thought upon opening this post was how beautifully the show is hung.
    Trevor Chamberlain has long been one of my most favorite artists. His proficiency in both watercolor and oil just thrills me. His book Oil Painting Pure and Simple is a bible to me. All of these painters are right up there with him.

  2. How interesting to read about The Wapping Group of painters. I used to go out painting with Trevor when I lived in Hertfordshire, and had lots of lively debates on art afterwards in the pub. Good memories!


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