Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Kathryn Maple wins Sunday Times Watercolour Competition for second time

The artists winning the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards in the 29th Sunday Times Watercolour Competition have been announced - and Kathryn Maple who won in 2014 has won again.
the competition aims to celebrate and reward excellence and originality in the medium of watercolour. 

You can:
  • see the images which won below
  • read about the artists and the paintings they created in this post
  • read more about the competition - the call for entries and selected artists - in my earlier blog posts which are referenced at the end of this post. My annual blog posts go back to 2008.
  • visit the exhibition in London, Cheltenham and Guildford in the next four months - information about venues at the end of the post.

At the end of this post I discuss whether this watercolour competition can still lay claim to the notion that it is the largest and most prestigious showcase of contemporary watercolour painting in the UK.

It certainly has the most valuable prizes for watercolour (apart from the Turner Medal) - but does it have the most paintings? I've done a count and have the answer....

First Place: £10,000 - Kathryn Maple

Winner of the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2016
Sandy Shoes by Kathryn Maple

110cmx92cm, watercolour

This is a painting of a space in the Southwest Indian Vypin Islands.  Maple says that she has
“… always been interested in interior/exterior places - and parts of India really feel like a green house waiting to explode. Sandy Shoes looks at the filtered shapes and vibrant colours I experienced in the Vypin Islands.” 
Vibrant is not a word which one always associates with watercolours and for that reason it has even more impact. However over and above vibrant, it continues to demonstrate Kathryn Maples predilection and talent for identifying and painting patterns in her surroundings.

She's excellent at recording a place so that you have a real sense of what it's like while at the same time translating it onto paper with her own particular sense of what is aesthetically pleasing - and that very definitely includes the scope for various methods of mark-making.

I said in 2014 that her work reminded me of Doig and I've not changed my mind - which suggests great things for her future career.
With a practice firmly rooted in drawing, Maple is obsessed with the possibilities of mark making and image-making. Her works combine areas of fine detail with those of minimalism, creating tapestries of paint and line that appear compact yet broadly simplistic. She holds a particular focus on areas in her surroundings that are in some way forgotten or neglected. Often, these scenes depict buildings surrounded and permeated by nature – trees thrusting upwards behind wrought iron fences, dense foliage almost merging into brickwork. Profile on Beers London Gallery (Works on Paper exhibition)
Education: BA in Fine Art Print Making at The University of Brighton followed by Postgraduate 'Drawing Year' Programme at the Royal Drawing School
Residencies: India 2014/2015, Dumfries House (January 2014) and The Muse Gallery (January- June 2012)
Competitions:  Won Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2014; selected for the Jerwood Drawing Prize and Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize
Website: http://kathrynmaple.com/ - do take a look at the watercolours and her paintings sketches and paintings of India
Gallery - none listed on her website - although she is exhibiting internationally in group shows.  Somebody out there ought to be making her an offer she can't refuse!

You'll also be able to see a painting of hers in "In England we Dream of Gardens" - an Art For Youth Event at the Mall Galleries 12th-15th September 2016

Read more about her painting which won two years ago in my post Kathryn Maple wins Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2014. Last time I met her she was just about to depart on her trip to India...

Kathryn Maple with her winning entry in the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition in 2014

You can see a video of her talking about her time drawing at the Drawing School

Second Place: £6,000 - Chloe Le Tissier

Second Prize - Never Alone (2016) by Chloe Le Tissier
watercolour (68 x 93cm - framed)

Never Alone by Chloe Le Tissier has won the £6,000 Second Prize.

Never Alone is painted upon Frisk graph paper and depicts the figure of a man standing over a pool against the backdrop of a villa luscious with tropical flora.  I'm sure I'm not alone in seeing echoes of Hockney and California swimming pools.

…I seek a moment where the paint takes over and something unexpected happens. I work from life as well as from photographs, fabric and the memory of a place. The process of painting and creating a composition is as important to me as the choice of subject matter. Delicately building a sense of depth, colour and light, I use the surprisingly robust nature of watercolour to create tension across the page, loading the brush and layering. This in turn reveals the imagery; the pulsating rhythm of a woodland or the flow of water leading to a man clothed only in shadows, on which our gaze falls.”

Education: The Slade School of Fine Art (graduated 2006) followed by Postgraduate Programme at the Royal Drawing School (2011)
Competitions: Threadneedle Prize Finalist 2012
Website: http://chloeletissier.com/
Gallery: none listed

The Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize of £1,500 - Janet Kenyon 

Winner of the Smith Williamson Cityscape Prize 2016
Gridlock (Manhattan) by Janet Kenyon
“… the capturing of natural & artificial light, in my paintings, and the way it interacts with the landscape, alongside the unexpected perspective and sense of space, that ignites my imagination.”

You can see more of her paintings of cityscapes on her website.

More about Janet Kenyon
  • lives and works in Carlisle 
  • studied for a BA in Graphic Design at Leeds Polytechnic where she began to experiment with the possibilities of watercolour. 
  • Her painting Northern Lights - a painting of Blackpool illuminations in the rain - won The Royal Watercolour Society/The Sunday Times/Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize, 2009. (see my blog post - Exhibition Review - Royal Watercolour Society / Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition
  • Published article ‘Revelations’ in ‘The Art of Watercolour’ magazine, March 2016, 22nd issue
Note: The competition is generously supported by Smith & Williamson, the accountancy, investment management and tax group who provide the cityscape prize and support the tour to two venues outside London.

Judging Panel

The 2016 judging panel were:


You can see the exhibition at the following venues. Admission is free.
  • 19 - 24 September 2016 - Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1. Monday - Saturday: 10am - 5pm. 
  • 24 - 29 October 2016 - Parabola Arts Centre, Parabola Road, Cheltenham GL50 3AA - 
  • Monday - Saturday: 10am - 4pm. 
  • 10 December 2016 - 28 January 2017 - Guildford House Gallery, 155 High Street, Guildford, Surrey GU1 3AJ. Monday – Saturday: 10am - 4.45pm. 

More about the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition

The website describes it as
the largest and most prestigious showcase of contemporary watercolour painting in the UK

It certainly has the biggest pot of prizemoney. However largest is debateable.

The number of works selected for Sunday Times Competition have been reducing over the last three years - as have the number of artists selected to have work in the exhibition (see figures below).

It also has competition - in terms of the number of paintings selected and hung in the open exhibitions of
  • the Royal Watercolour Society's competition (although I've not been a big fan of this in recent years - mainly due to the low level of watercolour paintings as opposed to acrylics!) - see Review of the 2016 RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition in which I note the competition seems to have turned a corner...  This had 126 paintings - many by the same painters as those selected for the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition.
  • the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour's open annual exhibition 

I think maybe in 2017, the organisers might need to think hard about precisely how they describe the competition in future!

2016 - 75 paintings by 66 artists were selected

2015 - 90 works by 80 artists were selected 

2014 - 93 works by 73 artists from across the UK



  1. It's interesting to note, following other comments you may about acrylics in watercolour competitions, that the current Society of East Anglian Watercolourists Selected Exhibition was won by a mixed media (water based) piece. Perhaps the titles of the competitions do need to be changed to reflect the mediums used? I'm very impressed with the winning works here - very inspiring.

  2. I think you have a point Jamie

    I'd have no problem with an open competition which stated it was a Water-based/soluble media competition. I guess the reason people like to stick with "watercolour" in the title is because "watercolours" in the traditional sense of the word is so popular!

    For me oils are oils and watercolours are watercolours - and acrylic is something else again. When are the people using acrylics going to get their act together to create a competition for acrylics?


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