Thursday, March 15, 2012

200th Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours

On Tuesday I went to the Private View for the 200th Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours which opened to the public today at the Mall Galleries and runs until 25th March.  I attended the Private View yesterday and saw a lot of excellent paintings in watercolour and acrylics.

This review looks at the exhibition in general and highlights
  • the artists whose work I liked
  • the artists who won the awards - and there's a very positive message for all those coming through the Open Submission
See also my separate posts about the RI on the occasion of its 200th exhibition:
English watercolours expert and gallery owner Chris Beetles gave a very entertaining speech as the guest opening the exhibition.  I made a note of one or two of the things he had to say 
I've been looking for the 27 contre jour views of St Marks Venice and there's not one here today!
I'm amazed by the quality - a show of great flair and originality 
This is the premier exhibition society in London - it's got richness, vitality and gets better every year.  It's well presented and well hung, but has slightly too many white frames for my taste
Ronald Maddox, the President, made reference to the fact that this year there had been intense competition for space on the walls - which was limited due to the East Gallery being unavailable due to the renovation.

378 pictures were selected for the exhibition.  This is a significant reduction on previous years but good use had been made of the space which was available.

The room at the far end of the North Gallery had a very attractive wall of small paintings by members - which seemed to be selling well.  I liked this and wish that room was used more like the Small Weston Room during the RA's Summer Exhibition at Burlington House.  You can cram small paintings on the wall and they don't diminish one another so long as they're decently framed.

Small Paintings by RI Members in the North Gallery

Artists I liked

There was a lot to like.  This is an exhibition where members makes a point of submitting a coherent series of works which makes for some attractive views within the exhibition.

For some reason there were an awful lot of paintings of the sea and water generally - which were also some of the most impressive paintings in the exhibition.  I gather there was some thought given to hanging them together but in the end they've been split up and distributed around the galleries.

Below are some of the artists I liked.  Click the links to their websites or galleries in their names to see more of their work
  • Nick Orsborn RI has a style of painting which is not my particular taste but it's fun, contemporary and refreshing.  You can see better images of his work on his gallery website than the photograph I took!
  • Antonia Black's very colourful and animated pointillist painting in gouache grabbed my attention as soon as I walked through to the North Gallery.  Antonia told me it took 4 months to paint.
The river bank, Vernon, France by Antonia Black
Paintings by David Poxon RI
  • I like Martin Caulkin RI ARCA RBSA's paintings of Venice - mainly because they don't look like anybody else's paintings of Venice.  They're the same motifs but they manage to look 'different'.

paintings of Venice by Martin Caulkin
  • I love Anne McCormack RI SWA's acrylic paintings every time I see them.  Her design sense, colour vision and use of painterly brushwork and mark-making make her paintings a delight to look at
paintings by Anne McCormack
Prizes and Awards

All those submitting work to art societies should note that this is a Society which does not keep all of its awards for members!  The majority of the awards went to paintings which came through the open submission.

Winner of the Turner Award
Paintings by Robert King RI
The Turner Watercolour award (£2,000 plus medal) - Robert King RI RSMA HH These are small paintings of Djbouti, Petra, Aquaba and Tivoli.  I felt the artist has accurately captured the colours of these places.  So often we see paintings of abroad painted using the same palette that artists use for the UK.  I liked the sketchy feel to them - they looked to me like paintings done plein air.  let's not forget Turner did a lot of travelling and painting!

The Winsor and Newton/RI Award (£500) for a group of paintings by a member of the RI - Andy Wood RI (Andy Wood - Picture This)

The Debra Manifold Memorial Award presented by Linda Blackstone Gallery for an outstanding watercolour - Eva Tomkins (Eva Tomkins Sketchblog)  I highly recommend reading Eva's blog - she does lots of explanations about works in progress and has a very nice line in panoramic paintings.

Victoria Station by Eva Tomkins
The Rowland Hilder Award (£250) presented by Lincoln Joyce Gallery for an outstanding traditional watercolour - John Glover

Winner of the Rowland Hilder Award
Mrs McLeod by John Glover
The Frank Herring Award (an easel) to the most outstanding work in the exhibition - Linda Zelin

Winner of the Frank Herring Award
Seascape III by Linda Zelin
Prizewinning work by
(top) Jonathan Taylor and
(bottom) Sue Howells
The Matt Bruce RI Memorial Award (£500) for the most outstanding use of light and colour ina watercolour - Jonathan Taylor (who's a current candidate for membership). 

The Donald Blake Award (£250) presented by Lincoln Joyce Gallery for an outstanding onnovative watercolour - Sue Howells

The Neal Meacher RI Sketchbook Award - awarded for the best sketchbook by an RI member - David Parfitt RI

The GreatArt Award (material to value of £500) - Maggie Cumming

Next year, I'm assuming things will be back to normal and larger numbers of paintings will be selected from the Open Entry. Keep an eye on the Call for Entry details on the Mall Galleries website - submissions are due towards the end of the year

It's also worth noting that this is traditionally one of the FBA art societies which achieves the most sales - only being beaten in recent years by the SWA.

Links to posts in previous years about this exhibition are below - I've been every year except when I couldn't walk!


  1. Thanks for another informative review - great to have had a preview before I go along next week.

  2. You always do such a great write up of the RI exhibition, many thanks.

  3. Great write up on this years R.I.Expo Katherine -you do this so well ! thanks for your enthusiasm and positive service for all artlovers - well done again!


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.