Friday, April 07, 2017

RI Annual Exhibition 2017 - Candidates and Awards

How to become a member of a national art society and then how to be recognised via an award are two of the questions which perplex artists who want to progress their careers. 

Both are of course welcome additions to any artist's CV whether aspiring or already established!

They're also the sort of indicators that art galleries take very seriously. They like to have extra independent accreditation for you and your work when selling it - and what better than an art society which starts with the word 'Royal'!

Which is how this blog post comes to focus on those who aspire and those who have achieved.

Candidates for membership of the RI

"Candidates for membership" are people who have asked for their work to be considered for membership.
Election to membership of the RI is by democratic vote of the full membership, which happens at the Annual General Meeting following the Annual Exhibition.
The only criterion for applying to join the RI is to have exhibited at the RI Annual Exhibition on at least two previous occasions.
This is the page on the RI website which tells you How to Join. Once accepted as a Candidate, the Candidate then has three years to persuade the Council of the value of electing the Candidate to Full Membership of the RI. In effect, it's a bit like what other art societies call Associate Membership.

I was particularly pleased to see meet three women artists who each had four paintings being exhibited with the strapline "candidate for membership". The group of three included people who have been painting for a long time, like Varshia Bhatiaand younger artists like Elizabeth Nast.

I don't have a note of the names of all the candidates for membership as I forgot to make a note (which was very silly!). However, you can see their work on the wall on the right as you go down the stairs into the Threadneedle Space.

Varshia Bhatia - Candidate for membership of the RI
She specialises in detailed architectural paintings. 
In the exhibition are her paintings of (top left clockwise) 
Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral,
the Natural History Museum and Peers Entrance to the Houses of Parliament
I've seen Varsha Bhatia in very many open exhibitions and art competitions. She won the St Cuthberts Mill Award at the RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2016 and the Schmincke Award at the RI Exhibition 2015. Interestingly she's chosen to apply to the RI rather than RWS for membership which I think is a wise move given the nature of her paintings.
Since 2001, she has exhibited in London with major art societies, namely the RI, RWS, RBA and SWA in their open exhibitions. She has had her work selected for the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition for twelve years. (website)
She has no real competition because, although there are others who produce extremely good paintings of buildings (I'm thinking of people like Deniz Roxby Bott RWS), nobody works the same size as Varshia does on a routine basis.  Do take a look at her website.  I'm amazed that Varshia has not got membership of an art society before now. She certainly deserves to be a member.

She told me that she paints on 300lb NOT watercolour paper by Saunders Waterford - because it's the only paper that suits her way of working and it doesn't cockle. (This only comes in the High White colour). She's recently been filming at St Cuthbert's Mill (along with David Parfitt and in connection with another watercolour exhibition and I'm guessing we're going to see Varsha on video very shortly.

Elizabeth Nast - Candidate for membership of the RI
Elizabeth (Liz) Nast was very pleased to meet me. Apparently, she's been following Making A Mark forever and I've previously highlighted her on my blog four times!

Elizabeth is a past winner of the RI's Young Artist Award for painters under 30 (now known as the Leathersellers Award) in 2008. She has also been selected for the ING Discerning Eye in 2015 and the Lynn Painter Stainer in 2017.  She's been selected from the Open Entry for the RI Annual Exhibition of a number of occasions (2008-2011; 2013-2017) and the Pastel Society (2013; 2015-2017) and the Society of Women Artists (2013-2015).

This is what's known as building a track record!

Kate Morgan - Candidate for membership of the RI
Awarded The Leathersellers Prize
for her group of paintings
Kate Morgan's website is as colourful as her exhibit which was very impressive - and her dress! Her work is
inspired by natural history, global wildlife and imagined worlds.
It reminded me somewhat of a brighter, fun version of the French Post- Impressionist painter Henri Rousseau who painted in a naive manner. She says on her website
For me, jungles give so much scope for my imagination with its abundance of life and natural richness. Although a lot of research into animals and specific places takes place before I even put brush to paper, once I feel I have an understanding of the subject, I enjoy where my imagination can take me.
What I liked about it is that she demonstrates the skill of being able to handle both intense and saturated colour but also to take a watercolour brush loaded/saturated with watercolour paint and put down a mark precisely in the right place in the right way, while at the same time producing complex paintings which are in no way muddled or murky.

She was awarded the Leathersellers' Prize for a young artist under the age of 30 at the RI Annual Exhibition 2017.  Previously her Solo Show at the Mall Galleries clearly demonstrated her capacity to produce a body of work in a consistent style which people like - and enough for an exhibition!

In terms of art education, Kate has a first degree in fine art, and then studied at postgraduate level at both  Glasgow School of Art and Falmouth University where she was awarded her Masters degree.

I think there's a big clue in the fact that two of the candidates have previously impressed the RI with the quality of their work before the age of 30. So if you want to impress, make sure you get those submissions in sooner rather than later!

Nigel Priddy is also a Candidate for Membership and also won a prize although I didn't get to meet him.
Doubtless somebody can tell me who else is a candidate for membership.


These are the awards which were presented at the Private View on Wednesday.

The Matt Bruce RI Memorial Award 
for the most outstanding use of light and colour in a watercolour
Geoff Butterworth – ‘Running On Time’, (No 49)

The Cass Art Prize 
– for a work demonstrating the most innovative use of colour
Nigel Priddey – ‘North Hill, Malvern (No 273)

Dry Red Press Award 
winning work to be published as a greetings card
Lillias August RI – ‘Four Palette Knives’, (No 13)

The Escoda Barcelona Award
for an outstanding landscape painting
Robin Hazlewood RI – for ‘That Line of Turquoise Blue, Evening, Camber’, (No 141)

The Megan Fitzoliver Award 
to an RI Member whose work inspires a connection with the natural world
Paul Banning RI, RSMA – ‘Winter Light, Queens View, Ewshot’, (No 18)

The James Fletcher-Watson RI Award
for an outstanding pure watercolour
Julian Bray – ‘Welbeck Terrace’, (No 46)

The Frank Herring Easel Award 
– for an outstanding work 
Mark Elsmore – for ‘Walkway, Kings Cross’, (No 95)

The Leathersellers’ Prize 
awarded to an artist aged 30 years or under
Kate Morgan – for her group of paintings, (No 211 – 214)

Anthony J. Lester Art Critic Award – for an outstanding work
Matthew Phinn – for ‘London Shootfighters Kyokushin Karate Team, (No 254)

Matthew regularly exhibits with various watercolour societies and is a permanent member of the Japanese National Watercolour Society

The Neil Meacher RI Watercolour Award 
– for an outstanding watercolour
David Thomas – ‘Spoleto’, (No 337)

The Debra Manifold Memorial Award 
for the most innovative work in the exhibition
Claire Sparkes – ‘Threads’, (No 324)

Below is a photo of me and Claire looking at her painting.

The John Purcell Paper Prize 
for an outstanding work
Richard Thorne – ‘Autumn Chiaroscuro’, (No 339)

Schminke Award 
to an outstanding work
Martin Caulkin RI – ‘One Samuel Sixteen, Verse Seven’, (No 60)

The Winsor & Newton Award 
– for an outstanding group of paintings by a member
Shirley Trevena RI – her group of paintings, (No 341 – 345)

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