Friday, October 22, 2010

REVIEW: Royal Society of Marine Artists - 65th Annual Exhibition 2010

Paintings in the 65th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists
(left Paul Banning RI, RSMA, AROI; Top centre James Bartholomew RSMA)
Last week I visited the 2010 Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists but it was great fun to visit the Mall Galleries and review it again yesterday with artist Sarah Wimperis and her husband "Big Dave" given that both are committed 'boaters'.

I must confess I saw the exhibition with completely fresh eyes when Dave pointed out to me that:
  • he'd been in the safety boat following one of the boats in a very nice painting of a yacht race
  • his own boat in Cornwall was actually in two of the paintings!
Dave's boat
  • he knew a number of the buildings and boats in paintings of Porthleven (which is hardly surprising given he used to be the Mayor!)
  • and there were some incongruities in other paintings which he explained to me - of which more later
This year's exhibition will once more feature the work of some of best marine artists working today.  Both members and non-members will have been out on the water, under it, alongside it and scouring coastlines for new subjects that result in an exhibition of quality and variety, whilst all the time relating to the sea and tidal waters.
Mall Galleries
There are some 312 drawings and paintings in the show in all media.

Paintings on the north wall of the West Gallery
Awards and Prizes

First the prizes and who won them.  Thanks to Amelia at the Mall Galleries for providing a list - I knew I'd missed some of them as I went round and I don't like to leave anybody out!

Clearing Mist - Woodbridge by Peter Wileman PROI FRSA
Winner of The Charles Pears Memorial Award for the most promising work by a non member
copyright the artist
[Note: I'm very puzzled.  It's very often the case when I'm listing award winners that most have their own website.  Not so apparently with the marine artists.  Only a minority of those listed below have their own website.  Most are third party sites. Maybe marine art is very focused towards certain galleries which don't like artists to have their own websites?]

Gondolas on the Grande Canal (oil) by Keith Noble
Winner of the Winsor & Newton Prize for the best oil painting in the show
copyright the artist

Artists whose work Sarah and I both very much liked included:
  • James Bartholomew RSMA - who had produced large works with a watercolour underpainting and pastel on top.  I'd have happily contemplated hanging any of them on a wall.  I particularly liked Treen Cove II.  His other paintings were Treen Cove I and Off the point, Skye.  Here's a sample of what his work looks like up close.
  • Keith Noble RSMA whose works in both oil and watercolour attracted the eye and was persuasive in terms of the atmospheric effects 
  • Michel Brosseau - a Fench marine painter - of which more below
RSMA 2010: Paintings on the west wall of the West Gallery - including paintings by David Curtis on the right
As always it was delight to see paintings by artists like David Curtis RSMA, ROI

Now for the comments of a boater married to an artist! Dave's comments were as follows:
  • an exhibition like this would be really loved down in Cornwall (or anywhere which has a strong marine heritage)
  • he particularly enjoyed the paintings by people who understood and had properly observed the atmospherics of marine landscapes.  The weather was real - and not always sunny.
  • he also liked proper boats and boatyards depicted properly.  They do not have to be in anyway photographic - just the right shape.  He could spot some boats which were the wrong shape from the other side of the room.
  • he recognised all sorts of places which weren't in the least obvious to me.  People who know their harbours and coastlines will always spot the painting which is true to the place.  The corollary of this is that somebody who loves marine life will always spot the inaccuracies in a marine painting.  (Note:  The same could be said for all specialist genre - such as wildlife art and botanical art)
  • When looking at paintings, he could also tell who knew the sea from experience and observation and those who did not.   His favourite paintings had both atmosphere and movement - but both had to be credible.
  • He could always tell the difference between people who had painted from a photograph or 'created' paintings from various photographs and those who really knew the sea and had just used a photograph as one reference.
  • In relation to the latter, he showed me ways in which a painting was "not true" - including one rather prominent painting which had two sets of boats boats sailing in opposite directions - as if the wind were blowing in two different ways in the same place.  The painting looked most attractive on first viewing - but once you saw it through Dave's eyes it lost impact.
I also very nuch liked
  • Charles Hemming House Boat Afternoon top down painting of life on board four houseboats (although I must confess I did wonder about the tidal aspect of this one)
  • the work of Paul Banning RI RSMA AROI - whose boatyard interiors are invariably fascinating.  Thanks to Sarah for pointing out how he does his highlights in watercolour!
All Furled Up - Oil painting by Michel Brosseau
    The painter and paintings that we all found impressive - because of the nature of his paintings and his faithfulness to the world of the marine - was Michel Brosseau and his paintings of sails.  These were paintings of canvas on canvas and framing which used marine ply.

    Michel graduated in painting from Wimbledown in 2008.  He appears to be having few problems selling his paintings of big sails for big boats.  Last year he was the Royal Society of Marine Artists ‘Young Artist of the Year’ 2009.

    A corner of Michel Brosseau's "New Sail" (sold) 
    with canvas left unpainted and a marine ply frame.

    Over on The Art of the Landscape I have a post about Places to Paint - Marine Scenes which lists all the places I saw paintings of in the exhibition - plus it has more images from the exhibition.

    • Royal Society of Marine Artists - website
    • Marine Art - Resources for Artists  - This site provides information and advice from various websites for artists wanting to understand and draw and paint marine subjects, seascapes and waterscapes.


      1. Some lovely work there! Thanks for posting this, it was the one review of yours I knew would come and was looking forward to. Glad I didn't enter, though I was tempted. Still searching for a more inclusive marine show that isn't so entirely figurative and (sorry) old fashioned. (which doesn't mean the work isn't amazing) I get really torn between my love of the sea and boating (I grew up with/on boats too) and the fact that I take a more modern approach to the subject. If anyone has suggestions for another marine art society out with a broader range of styles there I'd love to know!

      2. On the contrary, I think you SHOULD enter as there was certainly work included which was less figurative and more 'contemporary'.

        I don't think you will ever find a marine art show which does not include figurative and traditional tall ships type art - because there is a huge market for that sort of art. However that doesn't mean to say it can't embrace all types of marine art.

        The other point is that it will never change and achieve a better balance until people like you do enter.

      3. This is always for me one of the best shows. Lots of good paintings. I'm always tempted to enter, till I go and see the high standard. perhaps one day I'll pluck up courage and enter.

        I'm surprised that you did not mention the Miniatures show which is also running at the Mall, or did you have a sperate entry which I missed.

      4. Thanks Bernie - the review was earlier this week - separate shows and separate reviews.


      5. A most interesting review and particularly enjoyed Big Dave's expert input! Often I can't get to the exhibitions in the Mall, so it's good to see photos of them on your blog.

      6. Thanks Katherine. :) I have entered in the past, and been in the show in the past. But I find the balance very disappointing and always feel my work would be an outsider. I love traditional seascapes too, but the show just always feels very heavily (nearly entirely) weighed in that direction and "old" to me. The range of contemporary non-figurative marine inspired work is vast in the UK yet I see very little representation of it at this society - which is why I wonder if there's others groups out there?

      7. I see what you mean. I still think it won't change until people take part.

        The same accusation could have been levied at other societies in the past and then more contemporary artists kept plugging away by entering stuff, the numbers grew - and they started selling so more joined etc etc.

        The only other place I've seen them has been at galleries associated with a specific area. There's stacks of contemporary marine down in Cornwall for example.

        You could always start one!


      COMMENTS HAVE BEEN CLOSED AGAIN because of too much spam.
      My blog posts are always posted to my Making A Mark Facebook Page and you can comment there if you wish.

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