Saturday, October 20, 2012

Review: 2012 Exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists

The 67th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Painters is the exhibition to go to if you like painting the sea, tidal waters or anything living or inanimate connected to the sea.

Viewing the paintings hanging in the Threadneedle Space
It's got a good range of interests amongst its members and a variety of styles.  That said, I did notice this year that members' artwork leans heavily towards painting and there's not a lot of drawing or fine art prints unlike some other art societies.

The exhibition is held every year at the Mall Galleries in central London, opened last Wednesday which is when I went to see it and continues until Sunday 28 October 2012, 10am to 5pm (closes 1pm on final day).

Those thinking of entering their work for next year's exhibition might like to take a look at the award-winning works below and some of the prices being charged for paintings.

The artwork is predominantly paintings with a few drawings and sculptures.  Interestingly there are very few fine art prints.  This year for the first time I spotted a couple of works in coloured pencil by Pamela Preller SAA UKCPS who seems to like cold climate animals.

Plywood sails and paintings in the West Gallery
Work I liked included:

  • a couple of paintings by Alan Sims produced by mounting small paintings in a 4 x 4 grid
  • the birth plywood sails produced by Bill Prickett
  • Naomi Tydeman's suite of related watercolour paintings - as always

The Charles Pears Award for the best non-members work (£250) - Man Mending Sails, Mousehole by Tim Hall.  This is an unusual painting within the show and yet it shouldn't be given the nature of the ertnal task of keeping the sails in good order.  The man is plumb centre - which in theory breaks all the rules of composition.  He also wears a red T shirt and in theory this should be screaming at us but it doesn't.  In a way it's a painting which shouldn't work but it does and very well too because of the compositional devices used and the colour palette!  I was also really pleased to see this work in a frame which complemented the work and did not swamp it.

Man Mending Sails, Mousehole by Tim Hall
oil on canvas
The RSMA Worshipful Company of Shipwrights Young Marine Artists Award (£500) for work by artists aged 16-25 -  Fluke by Sonia Shomalzadeh. Do take a look at her website (link in the name) as she's producing some stunning work - and her blog  She also draws whales in the sand of North Cornwall!  Sonia completed an MA Art & Environment at University College, Falmouth in 2011.  She's been winning awards for a while.

Fluke by Sonia Shomalzadeh
The Conway Maritime Press Award (£500 worth of books) - for work celebrating sail in the broadest sense from historic ships to training ships to global yacht racing.  Any medium - Collecting the Dispatches - Geooffrey Huband

Collecting the Dispatches - Geoffrey Huband 
The ‘Classic Boat’ Prize (£250 + one year's subscription to Classic Boat) for work broadly celebrating the subject matter of Classic Boat magazine (in particular wooden boats and yachts or traditional craft association with them.  Any mediu,.  The winning work to be illustrated in Classic Boat -

Derek Gardner “Deep Seas” Award - Dry Dock by William Carney

Dry Dock by William Carney
£1,400 (sold)
The Sea Pictures Gallery 'Working Relationships' Award (£250) for work depicting the working side of the marine environment.  Any medium or sculpture.  I seem to have failed to spot this one so I'm not sure who won!

The Winsor & Newton Oil Prize (value £250 of materials) for the best oil painting - The abandonment by Michele del Campo who's not a marine painter usually but is a figurative painter - of figures.

The abandonment by Michele del Campo
oil on linen
The Russell and Chapple Prize (£250 worth of Russell and Chapple canvas supplies) - for the most outstanding work in oil or acrylic, featuring sails.  I think this prize must have been split as I spotted two winners - both oil paintings!

Action Stations! Cromer lifeboat on callout by Fred Beckett FROI, Hon RBA, Hon RI

  • Action Stations!, Cromer Lifeboat on callout by Fred Beckett FROI, Hon RBA, Hon RI which very much has a sense of a lifeboat hitting the water and generating a lot of spray
  • Fading light, Scarborough by Douglas Grey RSMA
Fading light, Scarborough by Douglas Grey RSMA
Two Rivers Watercolour Award (£250 worth of Two Rivers watercolour products) for the most outstanding watercolour in the exhibition - Royal Angelfish by Wendy Borello RSMA.  It's great to see some painting of life underwater and Wendy Borello's paintings were very colourful and great saturation.

Royal Angelfish by Wendy Borello RSMA
The RK Burt Canson and Arches Award (50 sheets of high-quality artist paper) for works on paper - Fishing Boats at Essaouira, Morocco by Brian Fleming  I was very taken by the overall composition of his artwork - below you can see about one third of the large gouache painting which won this award.

detail of Fishing Boats at Essaouira, Morocco by Brian Fleming
The remaining demonstrations next week are by:

  • Sunday 21 October, 2pm: John Lines RSMA RBSA RDAS KAG Oil demonstration
  • Wednesday 24 October, 11am Geoff Hunt PPRSMA Oil demonstration
  • Thursday 25 October, 2pm David Allen RSMA Pastel demonstration


  1. Looks like a good exhibition, Thanks for posting pics and links.
    Living at the ocean myself I have always had a great affinity for marine art.

    You provide better coverage than the Society does for seeing the art.
    I wish more societies/galleries/museums would show art on their sites when they are holding exhibitions.
    Often nothing or only a portion is shown online.
    This is true here in the U.S. too, a mistake IMHO.

    It is a visual business and it very well might generate more sales and visitors.
    It all seems rather odd to me... especially in light of most entries are done digitally these days so they would have the images to post.

    What do others think?

  2. I'm very much in agreement with you - and it's one of the reasons I started doing these reviews. I know many artists around the country who can't get to the exhibitions are appreciative of the chance to see the type of art that gets selected and wins awards - and it encourages participation and future entries!

  3. Yes, another reason, it encourages future participation.
    It stands in stark contrast to your previous post on the miniatures show.
    They do a good job of promoting their show and the participating artists.


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