RWA Annual Open Exhibition

RWA Open Exhibition 163

RWA © Alice Hendy

The Royal West of England Academy in Bristol is currently preparing one of my favourite cultural events (Ta very much!) – the RWA Annual Open Exhibition.

Submissions are open until Monday 21st August at 5pm, so if you get a wriggle on you still have a chance of being part of it!

The exhibition will be open to the public from Sunday 1 October to Sunday 3 December 2017. Artists of all ages and experience are invited to submit.

Now in its 165th year, the exhibition is open to anyone with something to show, regardless of experience level and discipline choice. Last year 593 works by 387 artists made it into the final exhibition, which was a truly outstanding showcase of talent.

Tempted?

All applicants must apply online, submitting images using the new Online Exhibition Submission System (OESS).

Points to remember:

  • Submissions must be no more than three years old and must be for sale
  • A maximum of 3 works may be submitted per applicant (4 for Academicians)
  • Work cannot have been exhibited before at the RWA
  • All entries are subject to selection and a submission fee per work for entry applies

Find full details here: www.rwa.org.uk/whats-on/165-annual-open-exhibition. Good luck!

Breath after breath

Waterclour by Liz Butler RWS

Watercolour by Liz Butler RWS

If you visited RWA’s exhibition of The Power of the Sea in 2014, you’ll know how excellent their taste is in choosing works preoccupied solely with one particular element of nature.

This time around the remit was to seek out pieces that scrutinise a more intangible aspect of our surroundings – the very stuff we live in and breathe.

The Balloon over Calais by E. W. Cocks, 1840, oil on canvas, cr Science Museum: Science & Society Picture Library.

The Balloon over Calais by E. W. Cocks, 1840, oil on canvas, cr Science Museum: Science & Society Picture Library.

More than one artist on show creates a sense of substance through the presence of a balloon or several; for others, such as Jemma Grunion and her scattering of oils and resins layered on board, it’s the clouds that transform the unseen into the visible.

Paintings by Jemma Grundon and orbs by Polly Gould

Paintings by Jemma Grundon and sculptures by Polly Gould. Image by Alice Hendy.

You’ll see sculptures representing curls of sky and swooping birds, anamorphic landscapes by Polly Gould, clouds created on tracing paper through the art of rubbing out, a glass trombone and an avian flu molecule. There’s even a depiction by L.S. Lowry of early 20th century air pollution – it’s clear that air resonates with countless possible interpretations – from freedom to sound.

L. S. Lowry, A Manufacturing Town (1922), oil on panel, 43.2 x 53.3 cm. British Council Collection. Photo © Art Image Library LTD. © The Estate of L.S Lowry. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2017

L. S. Lowry, A Manufacturing Town (1922), oil on panel, 43.2 x 53.3 cm. British Council Collection. Photo © Art Image Library LTD. © The Estate of L.S Lowry. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2017

The exhibition itself is beautifully laid out, allowing space to meander and contemplate as light streams in through the main galleries’ lovely and very appropriate skylights. Through four centuries of work, there’s an overriding sense of humanity marvelling at the things that soar so high above us, and of the desire to enter, investigate and conquer this nebulous territory. Artworks focused on flight abound, and a colourful windbreak made from shredded plastic by artist Freya Gabie wafts gently in the breeze.

Windbreak made from shredded plastic by Freya Gabie. Image by Alice Hendy

Windbreak made from shredded plastic by Freya Gabie. Image by Alice Hendy

Other works offer an altogether more intimate examination of our relationship with air, not least in Capacity by Annie Cattrall, made in part using exhalations of human breath. Just knowing that gives me delighted chills.

Capacity by Annie Cattrell. Image by Alice Hendy

Capacity by Annie Cattrell. Image by Alice Hendy

For me, the sky has always seemed to be our very best art gallery, offering up colour studies, sunset silks and endlessly reconfigured sculptures.

To host an exhibition concentrated on this extraordinary theatre of the atmosphere is an act of audacity that I applaud.

Jeannette Kerr voyaging through the Arctic

Jeannette Kerr voyaging through the Arctic

As an added bonus, you’ll find Arctic Air, an exhibition by Janette Kerr PPRWA RSA (Hons), made in response to three weeks on a ship sailing up the coast of Svalbard, Norway. The works are compressed with layers of wonder, representing Janette’s awe at encountering icebergs and glaciers, and thinking of “the hundreds, even thousand, of years locked inside, suspended in tiny air bubbles.”

Ancient Air by Jeannette Kerr

Ancient Air by Janette Kerr

Just like the exhibition in the upstairs galleries, this is a contemplation of a part of our planet so otherworldly that it almost feels off-world…

And yet this element is what enters our body and fuels all our vital internal churnings. Without it we could not exist, let alone create and appreciate art.

Air: Visualising the Invisible in British Art 1768-2017 is on at RWA in Bristol until 3rd September 2017. Find details at http://www.rwa.org.uk/whats-on/air-visualising-invisible-british-art-1768-2017. All images in this post have been supplied by RWA.

Art review – Drawn 2017

Ghost Nets of Hallsands (iii) by Frances Gynn, ink, crayon and charcoal_£2000

Ghost Nets of Hallsands (iii) by Frances Gynn, ink, crayon and charcoal

The Royal West of England Academy‘s biannual exhibition Drawn has returned, with a wealth of works that reveal the powerful possibilities offered by ink, pencil, paint and thread and more.

“Drawing is a means of communication and interpretation; it is a building block of creativity and a fundamental part of the creative process,” says  Gemma Brace, Head of Exhibitions.

Eighteen Occasions by Rebecca Swindell, pen on cork_£350

Eighteen Occasions by Rebecca Swindell, pen on cork

The variety of mediums was exceptional, including a selection of atmospheric etchings by invited artist Norman Ackroyd RA. My favourites among the others include Rebecca Swindell’s ink drawings on corks (shown above), titled Eighteen Occasions, Yurim Gough’s Shopaholic on ceramic, and Belinda Durrant’s corset titled Gilded Cage.

Terrain by Dail Behennah, paper and graphite_£3000

Terrain by Dail Behennah, paper and graphite

Dail Behennah’s elegant executed Terrain is a three-dimensional geometric landscape that drew me to my knees for an almost immersive view. In other cases, a few swipes with a stick of charcoal conjure an arresting portrait, while skilled artists such as Kevin Line capture scenes of uncanny realism with the same humble medium.

Bowed to the Wheel by Kevin Line

Bowed to the Wheel (cropped) by Kevin Line

In the adjoining gallery, dim-lighting and a sense of seclusion offers the backdrop to Lines in a Landscape: Drawings from the Royal Collection, a selection of works lent by Her Majesty The Queen.

Guercino, Detail from A Landscape with a three-arched bridge over a river, c.1625, Pen and ink (RCIN 902717), Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Guercino, Detail from A Landscape with a three-arched bridge over a river, c.1625, Pen and ink (RCIN 902717), Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Next door you’ll see examples plucked from the RWA’s own extensive collection for Beyond The Sketchpad, before emerging into the Drawing Lab with the option to create your own work.

In the speeches at the preview, Peter Randall-Page RA RWA swept us away with a reminder of all the ways in which the term drawn can be used: how we can draw curtains; draw people together; draw water from a well; draw swords; be drawn and quartered,  among others.

Even in language, it’s clear that drawing opens up a multitude of possibilities, but in this case it’s the paintings, etchings, sculptures and otherwise realised works that stopped me in my tracks.

The Hounds by Abigail Reed, Charcoal on paper_£950

The Hounds by Abigail Reed, charcoal on paper

Drawn and its accompanying exhibitions are on at the RWA until 4th June 2017.

To submit or suggest an art review, please send an email to Judy(at)socketcreative.com.

A creative voyage

Clipper by Judy DarleyI’ve just come to the end of an art course at the RWA in Bristol, and am already missing it immensely. The course, Illustration for Picture Books with Sam Church, offered the rare treat of devoting three hours each week for five weeks to playing with ink, paint, pencil and words.

We were each invited to devise or find a story or poem to illustrate. As you might imagine, I went in fully equipped with that side of things, keen to bring one of my short stories to life in new, visual ways.

It was energising to be in a room full of people who have such artistic talent. While I enjoyed figuring out perspective and thrilling with the success of painting a scene that made sense to me, there was just as much pleasure to be had in wandering the room at the end and seeing what my fellow students had been working on throughout the morning. Some produced works of utter beauty!

Boy and merhag by Judy Darley

For me, the biggest challenge was drawing and painting the face of my protagonist, and I’m still not satisfied with that. I think I need to try cartooning to get the character from my head to the page. It was magical, however, to discover I’m able to recreate some of the villains and accomplices from my tale, as well as the setting of the sea, sky and isle.

Evil crab by Judy Darley

The best part, however, was the chance to devote substantial chunks of time to exploring the artistic possibilities of my fiction under the gentle guidance of course leader Sam. It’s focused my growing passion for making as well as writing about art, and given me a new expressive outlet that fills me with joy.

Find upcoming RWA courses.

Submit your art to the RWA’s Drawn exhibition

Sea Mark silver, Tania Kovats, 2015, image courtesy of Sidney Cooper Gallery and RWAThe Royal West of England Academy in Bristol is currently preparing for their Biannual drawing exhibition Drawn. The show aims to “explore the boundaries of drawing and celebrate it as both an autonomous discipline and an interdisciplinary tool.”

The image above is from the 2015 exhibition, and shows Sea Mark (silver), by Tania Kovats, and is provided courtesy of Sidney Cooper Gallery and the RWA.

Entries are invited from artists who draw or explore the concept of drawing in their work. Submissions are open until 5pm on 15th March 2017, so if you still have a chance of being part of it.

As well as the opportunity to have your work showcased in the exhibition, prizes for Drawn include the following:

  • The Theresa Knowles Travel Bursary which offers a bursary of £1,500 to go to Italy to make new work.
  • The Student Prize – a month long exhibition at Hidden
  • Work on Paper Prize – £400 of printing and framing courtesy of Niche Frames.

Tempted?

All applicants must apply online, submitting images using the Online Exhibition Submission System.

Find full details here: www.rwa.org.uk/artists/open-exhibitions/drawn-artist-information. Good luck!

Writing prompt – expectations

Grandmas Footsteps by Angela Lizon

Grandmas Footsteps by Angela Lizon

This eerie oil painting is Grandma’s Footsteps by Angela Lizon, and is one of my favourite artworks on show as part of the RWA exhibition Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter.

Resembling a black and white photo, it shows an obedient little girl apparently gazing at the camera with a worried expression on her face. And no wonder, because a vast grizzly bear lurks just behind her.

To me it encapsulates our parents’ and society’s expectations that we smile for the camera, regardless of what may be breathing down our neck.

This week, consider a situation where someone may be expected to act against their instincts. How might they respond? What might the outcome of their actions be?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Enter the mind of Angela Carter

The Misfits by Nicola Bealing

The Misfits by Nicola Bealing

Author Angela Carter put her own twist on many traditional fairytales, as well as dreaming up her own unsettling stories that hark from ancient fables. In celebration of her askew imagination, the RWA is hosting Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter, an exhibition of artworks inspired by her writing, as well as original cover art from her novels and more.

After The Masked Visitor by Lisa Wright

After The Masked Visitor by Lisa Wright

Eerie, beautiful, thought-provoking and discombobulating, the pieces on show include Marc Chagall, Paula Rego and some truly luscious works by Leonora Carrington, as well as plenty of others that seem selected to haunt your dreams and stir your imagination.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Marie Mulvey-Roberts of UWE, and the artist and writer Fiona Robinson. Among my favourites were works by the wonderfully macabre Heather Nevey (below), and an understatedly unnerving oil painting titled Grandma’s Footsteps by Angela Lizon.

The Murder 1 cr Heather Nevay

The Murder 1 cr Heather Nevay

Other highlights include the chance to see Angela Carter’s photos, pens and other artefacts. For me the best part of all, and the most alarming, was stepping through a curtain into a gallery populated by strange figures with outlandishly large egg-like heads, seated around a table where a naked, terrified man lay prostrate – an installation by Ana Maria Pacheco titled The Banquet.

Wonderfully, while some of these works were inspired by Carter’s fiction, others, such as Chagall’s work, helped to fuel her creativity, while others still sprang from similar ideas, proving what a rich conversation visual and written works can enjoy.

Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter is on at RWA, Queens Road, Bristol, BS8 1PX until 19th March 2017.

Jamaican rhythms

II Treez in a Forest by Ebony G Patterson

II Treez in a Forest by Ebony G Patterson

Fancy feeling the heat this summer? Until 11th September 2016, Bristol’s RWA Galleries will be awash with Jamaican art, culture and politics thanks to a special exhibition.

Jamaican Pulse: Art and Politics from Jamaica and the Diaspora will showcase the diversity present in Jamaican art today and yesterday, with contemporary works exhibited alongside more historic pieces.

Artists featured include Ebony G Patterson, Andrea Chung, Kimani Beckford and Di-Andre Caprice Davis. Expect vivid colours amid works simmering with energy and emotion.

My Little Island V1 by Di-Andre Caprice Davis

My Little Island V1 by Di-Andre Caprice Davis

“While exploring the roots of modern Jamaican art and suggesting new links between past and present, the exhibition also explores the artwork through a political lens and considers how global attitudes to body, gender, religion, class and sexuality have impacted this small island nation.”

Find out more about the exhibition and connected happenings at www.rwa.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/2016/06/jamaican-pulse.

Real and Imagined

Long Shore Drift-Low Tide  by Lydia Halcrow-photo by Alice Hendry

Long Shore Drift (Low Tide) by Lydia Halcrow, photo by Alice Hendy

I’m drawn to the idea of imagined landscapes. A sense of place is vital to my writing, and often I take inspiration from real places, but alter them to suit my own preferences and needs. In the RWA‘s Imagined Landscapes exhibition, on at the galleries in Bristol until 12th June 2016, artists have create works from places they’ve known and dreamt.

Severn Waterscape for Owain Jones by Iain Biggs

Severn Waterscape for Owain Jones by Iain Biggs

 

One of my favourites, Severn Waterscape (for Owain Jones) by Iain Biggs, melds digital photos and ‘cancelled’ maps with the artist’s own marks to explore a tidal landscape. I’m a hit-and-miss map readers, but a lover of maps for their own beauty, and feel that Biggs has imbued his diptych with both a hint of his own personality and a sense of the energy of the place it represents.

SomeWhen by Jethro Brice and Seila Fenandez Arconada

Some:When by Jethro Brice and Seila Fenandez Arconada

Other strong pieces include Some:When by Jethro Brice and Seila Fenandez Arconada, a collaborative art project that responded to the severe flooding of the Somerset Moors and Levels. The piece on show takes the shape of a handmade boat called a Flatner, built from reclaimed and new materials.

Imagine Landscapes, photo by Alice Hendry

Imagined Landscapes, photo by Alice Hendy

In the adjoining galleries you’ll find Inquisitive Eyes: Sade Painters in Edwardian Wessex, 1900-1914. This exhibition offers a rich insight into the lives and delights of some of England’s best loved painters, including John Everett and Augustus John.

The Blue Pool by Augustus John

The Blue Pool by Augustus John

The final gallery holds a more modern interpretation of our surroundings, as Simon Quadrat explores the social awkwardness and built beauty of cafes, buses, and greenhouses. While not every painting features figures, their presence is always suggested, and most that do appear look decidedly at odds with the place they inhabit. In Cafe Garden, only the waitress seems relaxed – every other person present is apparently on the brink of bickering.

Quadrat’s paintings wriggle with narrative, making them ideal writing prompts. I urge you to visit the RWA, soak up some inspiration, and see what tales emerge.

Simon Quadrat exhibition at the RWA

Simon Quadrat exhibition at the RWA

The three exhibitions seem to flow into one another, each capturing the atmosphere rather than the mirror image of a place, and creating an impression of setting that’s all the more evocative for that.

Imagined Landscapes, Inquisitive Eyes and Simon Quadrat PPRWA are at the RWA until 12th June 2016. Ticket prices apply. Find out more at www.rwa.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/.

A quality of stillness

Swimming Dog by Stephen Jacobson

Swimming Dog by Stephen Jacobson

There’s an enticing quality of light in the work of artist Stephen Jacobson. He describes his main interest as “translating the stillness to be found in landscapes and interiors,” which explains at least in part the serenity exuded by his work.

I discovered Stephen through a painting currently on show as part of the RWA’s annual open exhibition.

Boxers by Stephen Jacobson

Boxers by Stephen Jacobson

Unlike many of his work, this piece features two figures, sparring partners, though the impression of early peace remains unbroken. It’s possible that rabbits graze nearby, unperturbed by the concentration of the two men atop the hillside, bathed in the first rays of the sun.

Stephen says that this tranquil scene betwixt night and day appeals to “something deep in my subconscious – I seek images that I find are able to convey this slightly other-worldly atmosphere. My first pictures were more overtly surreal but I realised this atmosphere, without the psychological overtones, can be found around us in the everyday world.”

Tree of Birds by Stephen Jacobson

Tree of Birds by Stephen Jacobson

It’s an entrancing thought, and one enhanced by Stephen’s careful choice of what to depict, and what to omit from his work. “I edit highly and select only the parts that will convey the feeling I want to create,” he says. “I’m concerned with the timelessness of the images I choose and you will notice there is no evidence aging or decay in any of my pictures.

Seaside Cafe by Stephen Jacobson

Seaside Cafe by Stephen Jacobson

Stephen loves the fact that being an artist is not a job you work from nine till five, then step away from.

“It’s with you constantly and even when you’re not physically making work it pervades your life and world is constantly full of wonder.”

Field of Crows by Stephen Jacobson

Field of Crows by Stephen Jacobson

To see more of Stephen’s work, visit his website, www.stephenjacobson.co.uk, head over to the RWA before 29th November, or visit Sladers Yard Gallery in West Bay, Dorset, where Stephen has work in the current exhibition, aptly named Dream Visions.

Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Give me a shout at judy(at)socketcreative.com.