Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review - 2013 Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters

I walked into the 2013 Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters to find some very colourful "come and look at me" paintings on the far walls of the West Gallery. It was quite clear that this was going to be a very different experience to the last exhibition I reviewed. (see Review: NEAC Annual Exhibition 2013). I can probably do no better than show you what some of the walls look like.

Look at the impact of the colour - in the West Gallery
More colour in the North Gallery

The Exhibition

The exhibition is being held at the Mall Galleries and finishes on Saturday at 1pm.  You can also see an excellent exhibition by Andrew Stock Past president of the Society of Wildlife Art in the Threadneedle Space. See below for more comments

This review is rather late because it opened last week when I was suffering from "booklag" (my sample passed - the book contract arrived today).

Paintings by (left) Peter Wileman PPROI and John Sprakes ROI
A very bright and colourful corner - these paintings carry right across the room to the entrance to the gallery
It contains 261 oil paintings in the main exhibition and 31 works in the Winsor & Newton Young Artists section - all of which are hung in the North Gallery - making 292 works in total in the West and North Galleries.

Paintings (left to right) by Roger Dellar ROI RI VPPS, David Pilgrim ROI and Nicholas Verrall ROI RBA
Works have also been available to Browse and Buy online at since 22nd November.

I'm not very clear how many paintings are being sold online as opposed to in the gallery.  It certainly worked for Haidee-Jo Summers whose painting sold before the exhibition even opened - so I assume that was via the online gallery. However I'm wondering if there might be more sales online if there was a clearer indication of both the event and the website "above the fold" on the home page of their website.  See below for more comment on the website.

A watery theme to small works by William Carney ROI RSMA
I liked the limited palette of these small works and the excellent draughtsman skills
Also I'd like to share some blog posts by those who attended the private view and who commented on the work of others - that way you get to see the work through their eyes as well as mine.  Plus it's worth noting that this also helps market the exhibition to readers of these blogs


In terms of who got which awards I found myself more in agreement with the paintings that won the W&N Young Artists Awards.

I guess I never ever completely agree with the judges on prizes. However in this instance I thought there were a number of excellent paintings in the show which I would have given a prize to - but they didn't win one.

Like this one - an excellent still life - beautifully modelled and painted in the spirit of Chardin but not so far as I'm aware a copy.  It's a neat mix of the pears from the pears and walnuts painting and a freshly hung game bird - but not one Chardin ever painted.

Homage to Chardin by Hayley Brown
(one of the Winsor & New Yong Artists)
oil, 60 x 50cm (3,000)
another artist who needs to get herself a proper website
(UPDATE: ...and she has - but it's very recent - and the link has now been amended.
Now all of you go and visit it!)
Paintings by Brian Ryder ROI - always a favourite of mine (and it would seem the buyers too!)
small paintings nicely framed and presented to suggest buying more than one might be nice...
it's a colour palette you either like a lot of hate
I'm going to refer you to the Mall Galleries Facebook Page for the winners as they have excellent images of all the paintings which won prizes. 

Winsor & Newton Young Artists under 35 Awards

Winsor & Newton Young Artist Prizewinners
top - Sasha by Ellen Tovey
bottom Reclining Figure, Evening by James Bland
  • First Prize: Reclining Figure, Evening - James Bland Oil, 40 x 55, £1,300 I liked this one - if it had been eligible to win a prize in the main show I'd have given it one!
  • Second Prize: Sasha by Ellen Tovey, Oil, 170 x 170, £5,800 - an excellent portrait
  • Third Prize:  Studio 6.13 - Stephanie Pijper, Oil, 104 x 84, £5,900

ROI website

I'm going to start making more of a point of commenting on the art society website which is online at the same time as the annual exhibitions.  That's because:
  • the website and any social media the society has are primary marketing tools for communicating with patrons, art collectors, prospective new members and those who aspire to be in the show next year. 
  • time and time again I see art societies missing a major opportunity to
    • "sell" their art group and artists and exhibition to prospective art collectors and patrons
    • tell me all I need to know about the exhibition - on the front page and above the fold (i.e. don't assume people scroll or click links - because most don't! I had to move from the Home Page to the Events page and then click the right tab to get to the next level down before I found out that the exhibition closes at 1pm on Saturday!  That's simply not good enough. ) 
    • it helps for aspiring artists to understand which art societies are on the ball, know how to market their art and artists and hence can be helpful to their career development.
History is always relevant but sales are what keep an art society in the black and underpin the career path of any professional artist!

My personal view is that the front page of the website is not the place to rehearse the history of a society.  That's because people typically SCAN websites to start with. In effect they're rather like press releases. You've two sentences to get people hooked and persuade them to read on.

Facts need to be brief and to the point.

What I look for is:
  • a brief summary about what an art society is about - for today's artists and within a contemporary context 
  • plus the latest news about the society
  • and brief details of all associated current events (For example - there was absolutely nothing on the website about any of the demonstrations or the art event meeting held on Tuesday night this week)
Exhibitions events, demonstrations and dates will be announced nearer the time.
ROI website Society Events & Exhibitions page
On this basis, the ROI website has some work to do.

[Note: The very important and prestigious history of the ROI is something which needs to enjoy its unique own web-page - which is DIFFERENT from the home page.  At present, if I click Home and I click History I see the same page! It looks to me as if this might be a website glitch.More to the point I can't click a tab for Annual Exhibition - because there isn't one!]

On a more positive note, the ROI does have an active Facebook Page. My criticism here  is that it's not making the most of its banner image to exhibit and rotate work by its members or show people what the exhibition looks like. Art societies need to be about images and not letterheads!

Not only but also - Andrew Stock

Andrew Stock - The call of the running wild
Exhibition in the Threadneedle Space, Mall Galleries
Also in the Mall Galleries this week is Andrew Stock RE PPSWLA's solo exhibition in the Threadneedle Space - The Call of the Running Tide -  at the Mall Galleries. It provides a different perspective on this gallery space when compared to the NEAC exhibition.

As of Tuesday night he had sold 20 paintings (valuation >£50k). However these are really good paintings by an excellent painter with a strong following in an extremely well hung exhibition with a good distribution between work of all sizes - ALL of which have been selling - including the very big one!

In addition, his website is bang up to date this is the first item on the home page
*NEW EXHIBITION *the call of the running tide December 10th - 21st
Plus he's got large images of his exhibition paintings on his website and has been in the gallery and available to discuss his work on five days during the exhibition - as detailed in the Mall Galleries description of the exhibition.

This is what it takes to sell artwork......