Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Review: Society of Women Artists Annual Exhibition 2017

The Annual Exhibition of the Society of Women Artists have made enormous progress in the last few years under the Presidency of Sue Jelley. In fact, I remarked yesterday evening that they've moved further faster than any other national art society I know.

View of the Threadneedle Space

Changes made to the annual exhibition

Some of the changes:
  • The first impression from the top of the mezzanine is more "contemporary art gallery" than "parochial suburban art exhibition". Indeed when I walked in yesterday, the exhibition it reminded me of most was the Threadneedle! I revisited that reaction about an hour into my visit and decided that it definitely looked more Threadneedle than a trad. art society exhibition.
  • They've paid attention to my call to pay more attention to how many non-members get into the OPEN exhibition and this year aimed for 50:50 members and non-members. The much higher number of works by non-members in this open exhibition means that there is much more variety and diversity and it doesn't look like yet another rearrangement of last year's exhibition 
  • As a result they've got more innovation in this year's exhibition than I've seen in the exhibitions of other societies (with the exception of the SWLA who favour innovation). More of this in tomorrow's post.
  • They've opted to fill the entirety of the Mall Galleries - which makes a huge difference to the overall impact - and exhibit for a shorter timeframe. Mainly on the basis that the bulk of sales come at the Private View and in the first week
  • The hang is well designed and mixes members with non-members.  There are no traditional groups of four or five paintings by one member - and what a big difference it makes. The most I saw was three paintings hanging together or four split by others. As a result the exhibition is a lot more visually exciting to the eye
  • I like the way the views across the gallery have been designed - almost as theatre sets
  • There is some very fine draughtsmanship in the drawings prints and paintings in the exhibition - something I always value very highly when I see it.
  • It's also notable that the exhibition includes works by senior / prominent members of FBA Art societies who are honorary members of the SWA - e.g. I very quickly spotted works by Daphne Todd and Susan Ryder - plus paintings by former winners of top art prizes eg Susan Angharad Williams who won the ING Discerning Eye in 2007
Threadneedle Space

The rest of this review is going to be pics of the exhibition - followed by the Awards

Tomorrow I will post a video which will need some time to put together - plus pics of artwork which caught my eye - so come back and take a look round with me if you are unable to pay a visit.

The exhibition opened last night with an extremely well attended Special Review yesterday - with a particular focus on raising money for Young Artists.

Today is the Private View when Princess Michael of Kent presents the Awards (see below). The exhibition then opens to the public tomorrow (10am to 5pm. ) and closes at 3pm on Sunday 9th July.

Soraya French VPSWA, who will be taking over as President, is delivering a Contemporary Landscapes Workshop In the Threadneedle Space on Saturday the 8th July.

The Prints Wall


£2,000 SWA Special Fine Art Award for 2D/3D Work

Diana by Elaine Peto
ceramic (£900)

The first year of this award - worth £2,000 - it went to a sculpture, the next year to a painting and this year it's been awarded to a very dynamic ceramic work by
Elaine Peto who exhibits in galleries around the UK.

£1000 Derwent Special Award of Materials

Lisa - by Roxana Halls 
oil on panel (£895)

Personally, my only quibble with this is that this painting by Roxana Halls is small and yet hung high on the wall and difficult to see. I think I'd have rehung it after it was selected for an award. (PS Take a look at her studio on her website - it's huge and located in the disused bar of a 1930s London theatre, now a bingo hall!)

£500 Premium Art Brands Materials to a Young Artist

Remote by Anna Tveritnova YAA
(oil on linen) £1,400

£500 Great Art Materials for most innovative work

Sitting Pretty by Heather Meyerratken
(Edition 1 of 6 - five available) £1,200
I've never ever seen anything like this. Heather Meyerratken, who is Australian, has produced an acrylic screen print on wire mesh and then assembled it within a 3D grid to provide an intriguing mixed media perspective on a transformation of a photograph of a car from the 50s.

This work is the sort of thing I expect to see in the Threadneedle - not the SWA and is why I've been so impressed with this year's exhibition.

£500 SWA Fine Art Award for a Young Artist in any medium

Shadow Tree II by Maite Cascon 
Etching Aquatint and Drypoint Edition 2 of 30 (15 available) £250
These fine art prints by Maite Cascon, a Spanish student at the Royal College of Art, are exquisite. There are some Goya overtones mixed with something quite ethereal and magical - all rendered in very fine draughtsmanship and complete mastery of her chosen printing techniques.

A young artist to keep an eye on!

£300 Cavendish Venues Sculpture Award

Pegasus and Bellerophon Maquette by Amy Goodman
(Bronze on Hardwood Base) Edition 3 of 9 £6,500
This mythical piece by Amy Goodman is on the ledge in the Threadneedle Space. I applaud the decision not to overcrowd the ledge with sculpture! She has ridden all her life and unsurprisingly is an equestrian sculptor!

Rosemary & Co - £100 Brushes for any work on Canvas or Paper

Madonna Art by Eva Podles
(oil, Gilding, Paper Collage on wooden panel) £3,000
My photograph in no way renders the impact of this piece by Eva Podles within the exhibition. It is another example of innovation translating through into fine art.

Interestingly the focus of her website is on women, children and families

Artist’ Editor’s Choice Award for work to be used in an article in the Magazine

It's my fEUture by Lara Cobden
oil on wood £625
This work by Lara Cobden is at the top of the stairs as you walk in and captures your eye straight away. I suspect its title might have also helped with its choice for the prize!

HRH Princess Michael of Kent Watercolour Award – a signed Certificate

Half Pint Pot by Dianne Unwin
acrylic £650
Dianne Unwin SWA is a big fan of old master paintings.

President and Vice Presidents Award – a signed Certificate for an Up and Coming Artist/Sculptor

Urban Landscape by Kaija Bulbrook SWA
Acrylic oil and graphite £3,850

This is one of the finer large paintings in the exhibition which gets the feature spot on the end wall of the main gallery.

I commented last night that one niggle about the exhibition was the dearth of large paintings. I gather the problem was one of quality rather than submission.

Barbara Tate Memorial Award - Silver Ingot to an SWA Member

The Traveller by Jean Noble
Acrylic £2,850
Jean Noble is a member of the Royal Institute of Watercolours as well as the SWA

St. Cuthbert’s Paper Mill Award for any works on paper

Tulips and Plums by Liz Seward 
Mixed media £595
Liz Seward lives in Surrey and spent much of her professional art career teaching drawing, watercolours, and mixed media in adult education classes around for Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire County Councils.

Past posts

1 comment:

  1. Hello Katherine,

    I really enjoyed chatting with you at the opening and its always very interesting to get feedback In relation to my work and the materials used ands also how the work may fit in elsewhere.
    Many thanks and I do hope to meet you again soon.

    Your blog is a great read - very honest and informative.

    Many Thanks

    Heather Meyerratken :)


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