OFF TO BRISTOL
Some nineteen of us climbed on our coach at Wincanton or Castle Cary for an exciting if slightly extended sat nav lead journey to the Royal West of England Academy Open Exhibition where we proudly recognised three BAS members were exhibiting. Here we have Will Vaughan’s Report:
The 164 Annual Open of the RWA, 2016
As it is the major open exhibition of the region, The RWA Open attracts a huge number of submissions. This year over 1000 artists sent in 2300 works, of which 575 made it to the walls. In their selection procedure, the RWA operates a broad church. Works ranged from traditional naturalistic painting to explorations in computer technology. Encompassing such a variety naturally presents its problems, and it takes most visitors a little time to ‘get their eye in’ to cope with the extent of what is on offer. Once this is done, however, there are delights of many kinds to find.
A fine painterly tradition is maintained by former RWA President Janette Kerr, with her powerful stormy seascapes. These are counterbalanced by the more tranquil and consummately executed views and interiors by one of the RWA’s most distinguished honorary members, Ken Howard. A welcome sight amongst the traditional canvasses was the highly accomplished Lagan by Anthony Connolly (see below). This deservedly won the drawing award, as it included much exquisite draughtsmanship. It was good to see some fine contributions by members of the Bruton Art Society, including Annie Fry’s Dream the Soft Look, (see below) and Clive Melbourne’s Still Life with Fruit and Lace (see below).
I personally have a soft spot for works that exploit a sense of the naieve. A favourite for me this year was Susan Caines’ Boat Ride (see below) a painterly and poetic piece showing a horse crossing water in a somewhat disconcertingly slender vessel. A very different effect was created by Stacey Guthries’ powerful Woman with Soiled Non-Stick Iron (see below) in which dismay at a domestic mishap seems about to erupt into a call to arms.
There were also many intriguing curiosities. Top of my list for offbeat virtuosity was Vincent Bowen’s Plasticine Self-Portrait (see below). Yes, it really is done with plasticine, though from a distance you would swear it was an oil. Nearby is an attractively portrait of a young lady with a cheeky sideways look -– Judith Cummings Looking East (see below).
Printmaking has a strong presence. Particularly impressive was a large woodcut, somewhat in the Japanese tradition, Pine Feroda’s Morning Light (see below) A well selected ‘black and white’ room within the exhibition contained a large number of excellent prints. There were also some large scale monochrome drawings. Particularly impressive was a vast head, Tabula Rasa (see below) by Ruth Wallace and a large study of trees. Laurie Steen Silence and Light.
Many sculptures were interspersed throughout the show. There were some serious-minded abstract forms, but most prevalent were figurative works that drew on naive or comic effects with great success. Particularly notable amongst these was Gordon Elmore’s Homage to le Baon Rouge (see below) showing a small dog covered in sacking holding a string in its mouth, which led upwards to a red balloon floating way above the crowd. There was also a highly entertaining metal construction showing a parakeet on a perch; Fuelling Up (see below) by Jason Lane. Closer inspection showed the bird was constructed from an old petrol pump handle. Lane is an avid collector of scrap metal, which he uses to fashion all sorts of marvellous beings.
Computer animation made a subtle appearance in three large screen displays by Terry Flaxton. Entitled Venice re-imagined, it consisted of a collage of shots of the famous Italian city, some of which would break into motion, one after the other. The effect was pleasantly calming. There were also some video displays of small art films. These show that the RWA is certainly determined to keep up to date and to continue to accommodate as much as possible of the new while still supporting the old.
As ever, the RWA Annual Open offer a rich experience and is well worth visiting.
We spent some hours examining the exhibits and for some of us joining a well conducted staff lead tour. I took the following images. These have been cropped but not straightened and include frames. Essentially they are my subjective selection of those works I thought have the WOW! factor. A few of Will’s selection I am afraid I missed. Note several are fine photographs, a medium some in our society still distrust. Also included a few I did not choose – to illustrate the exhibition’s balance. Have fun looking. Again remember – since they all come up more or less the same size on our site – scale is not shown – and often that is important.