Monday, September 14, 2009

Exhibition Review - Royal Watercolour Society / Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition

Front and back covers of the catalogue for exhibition of works in
the RWS / Sunday Times Watercolour Competition

The work which won the £12,000 First Prize in the RWS Sunday Times Watercolour Competition is Monte Carlo (see right) by Jonathan Pike (Jonathan Pike Paintings) . You can also see it on his blog here. If you click the images you can get a much better sense of the quality of work which won first prize.

Monte Carlo by Jonathan Pike
painting copyright the artist/
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Jonathan Pike is a well regarded painters of architectural subjects. Born in 1949, he studied at the Central School of Art and Design and at Falmouth School of Art where he was taught by Francis Hewlett and Robert Organ. He now lives and works in South London and his interest in architectural subjects and the urban landscape began when he first moved to Deptford, London in 1972.

In recent years, apart from his regular visits to Italy, he has travelled to paint in Sri Lanka, USA, Portugal, Spain, France, Holland and Belgium and several times to Cuba which has been the source of much of his recent works.

The Shopkeeper is another of his works which is also in the exhibition (and on his blog - click the link).

Other prizewinners

The other prizewinners are:
  • 2nd Prize £7,000 - Camper van and car, Falmouth bay (the middle picture on the right) by Danny Marky RWA (b.1965). This is very simple and has obviously been painted plein air. It made me think it might be a bit of a pun on "white van man" whose normal haunt is east of Falmouth.
For me painting and the choice of subject is impulsive. However I do avoid the picturesque and look at the unregarded yet common aspects of the world around me. In the end what matters is what you make of it in paint but I seem to need to find a place, a landscape to get me going and the little epiphenies that trigger ideas for my paintings can occur in the most ordinary settings.
  • Young Artist £1,500 - Starting to miss Blighty by Edward Morgan. I can't find any information about Mr Morgan on the internet.
I absord the world around me. I draw patterns, buildings, animals and miniscule heaving crowds. Starting to miss Blighty originates in visual chaos.
  • A new prize - Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize £1,500 - generated a lot of interest. As a result, there are a lot cityscapes on display. The winner was Janet Kenyon's Northern Lights - a painting of Blackpool illuminations in the rain. How true! Any small child taken to see the illuminations will tell you that Blackpool illuminations are always seen at night and in the rain!
It’s a watercolour that actually looks like one. The light on the rainy tramway and the glare in the sky are especially well done.
Frank Whitford - Sunday Times
  • Penguin Classics Prize for Cover Art £500 was won by Park by Jonathan Huxley. I'm afraid I give up on websites which don't work too well.
Works which were Highly Commended are:
  • Bella Easton's Dream on dream home - and you can see a very similar painting on the online website for the Threadneedle Exhibition - where she is also exhibiting what appears to be an almost identical painting - but this time in oil.
  • Malcolm Hopper works a relief sub-postmaster in the north of England and paints part-time. Urban landscapes absorb him and this is reflected in Urbania

Other work I liked
  • As always I adore the work of Paul Banning RI, RSMA. The Bonfire, Queen's View, Ewshot showed a masterly employment of glazes in muted colours. I do recommend a visit to his website for all those who love watercolour which emplys glazes.
  • I loved David Forster's You will fish long enough before you catch anything (Peebles) which looks like a very conventional watercolour from a distance and as you close in on the mark-making reveals a very painterly touch to the brushwork. You can see more of his work on his website - however the size of images available do not highlight the quality of his work well enough. He won 2nd prize in the 2005 Singer and Friedlander / Sunday Times Watercolour Competition in 2005.
  • Peter Kelly NEAC RBA has two works in the exhibition - I really liked University Square, Istanbul which demonstrates a great appreciation of evening light and the ability to paint it. You can see more of his work here.
  • Sue Read's very plain and simple Knitting pattern bowl was a winner for me - it gave an apparent sense of 'less is more' and yet looking at it one knows there's a bit more to it than that! You can see more of her work here
  • Robert Bates Kites over Clun Allotments was delightful.
  • Warren Baldwin's lady who won him the Jerwood Drawing Prize, got his work into the Lynn Painter Stainers last year and the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy this year (I think - need to check that one!) this time turns up in watercolour form as Study for a Portrait (in the middle of the group of paintings below). I'm at a loss to know why he isn't already a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters - I can only assume a bias towards oil!
Portraits in the RWS / Sunday times Watercolour Exhibition

The Royal Watercolour Society / Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition

Overall I thought there was a very high standard of work in the exhibition and I enjoyed the work selected by the panel as much for its variety as its quality. There was a nice balance between the very contemporary and the more traditional approches to watercolour.

It seems to me as if the RWS/Sunday Times competition hasn't embraced acrylic in quite the same way as the RWS. There are many more conventional watercolours - in terms of media rather than style - than I am now used to seeing in an RWS show. This sort of show is much more the sort I prefer - simply because I enjoy lookingf at paintings produced by people who know what they're doing when using a very challenging medium.

The Royal Watercolour Society / Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition continues at the Bankside Gallery until Sunday 20th September 2009.

What could be improved for next year

Regrettably, none of the works can be viewed online. The catalogue - which cost me £4 - neither provides basic information about size, media or support nor supplies an image of each work in the exhibition. It achieves a rating from me of "needs to try a LOT harder".

I do wish exhibition organisers would get to grips with the digital paperless world that we now live in! This is a major prize of interest to watercolour artists all over the country - however only some will be able to travel to London to see it. Over at the Mall galleries is the Theadneedle Prize exhibition - which managed to get all its entries published in an online exhibition BEFORE the gallery exhibition even opened. Maybe the sponsors and the organisers would like to consider how many more visitors they might get, how many works they might sell and how many more entrants they might get next year if they commissioned a microsite of images of the works in the exhibition each year.

I'm very sure all the artists would appreciate it since this benefits all the artists whose work is in the show - not just the prizewinners!

The works which won prizes are hung together - and this photo shows the sort of size of the winning works - except for the one which came second which is obscured by the person's head. Safe to say it was small. I'd be guessing but I'd say 10" x 8" max.

Exhibition visitor looking at the wall of prizewinning paintings
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Making a Mark reviews......

1 comment:

  1. thank you for sharing all this great material. Can't wait to go see it, but the rain is just too much to take on the bike


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