Making an exhibition – New Works from the Sea by Janette Kerr PRWA

As her new show goes on display today we caught up with President of the RWA Janette Kerr and asked her how she prepared for a big selling show like the one at the Cadogan Contemporary Gallery in London.

The work for my show started a year ago (well actually it started much longer ago if I consider all the travelling to Shetland and Norway since 2010).  Working for a solo show concentrates the mind. Galleries want to sell the work and I guess the artists also wants this, but the artist also want to make work that has integrity and that has taken their practice somewhere.  I do not want to continually re-gurgitate the same image no matter how much the gallery would like me to and I don’t want to paint in yellow just because a client would like a yellow painting (this was once asked of me by a gallery).

Drawing at Burra, Shetland

Drawing at Burra, Shetland

j in studio 1

Janette in her studio.

Making a piece of work takes time – sometimes the process involves getting lost, and allowing myself to be open to the experience of not knowing quite where I’m going or where I will arrive. It’s difficult to allow this – to inhabit uncertainty – when you have a gallery breathing down your neck demanding work. But it is part of the process of making work.

I have learnt that it is not a good idea to let a painting out of the gallery before it’s ready to leave (I don’t always get this right).  A visitor to my studio last week looked at a large painting I have been (and still am) working on and remarked that he thought it was finished…  but he doesn’t see what I see, or perhaps feel, about the work.  What the observer sees is never the same as the artist who sees the process, the layers, the intention and the ideas that have flowed in the process of making.  For me it wasn’t ready to leave, and is still in the studio. It won’t form part of this exhibition.

So, the work in my current show with Cadogan Contemporary has been made in my studios in Shetland and Somerset. It is the result of time spent walking on Shetland, observing the sea, travelling on the sea, making drawings and small plein air paintings, looking at the hills across from the Shetland studio  – moving between the painting and the landscape, watching the light and clouds shifting and trying to put that sense of movement and change onto the canvas.  The studios have been filled with paintings that I move between, sometimes one influencing the next.

Using deep canvases means that I do not have to frame the work, which is a relief as this would be yet another consideration (and expense). I simply paint the edges using a colour sympathetic to the painting.  Two weeks ago I started to put the D rings and cord on their backs, ready to wrap them for their departure. One of the last things I do is to title each work – this takes considerable time; I read poems, song lyrics, lines in books I’m reading, catch odd phrases on the radio, and I write them all down, and stare at the images I have made. Gradually their names emerge.  I write them on the reverse of paintings, and sign and date each (note to all artists – do not sign oil paintings with flamboyant signatures on the front – it can ruin a work!). Then I package them up; I now use Stiffy Bags and very large canvas bags that I have had made (another useful tip – write your name, address, email, and telephone number all over the bags so that the gallery won’t want to use them to give to their clients, and make sure you get them back – this is another expense that we artists incur).

It’s hard letting go of some of the paintings; they have been around for a year and now are leaving me. On the other hand they have been part of the studio too long and need to go. The next time I see them will be hanging on the wall of the gallery at the Private View and, as always, I will feel as though I’m hanging there with them, exposed to public scrutiny.

Now I have empty studios and am already thinking about the next drawing, the next painting…

Janette Kerr PRWA


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The #RWA162 Academician Candidates

Have you got acquainted with our #RWA162 Academician Candidates yet?

There work is on display in the Link Space and the Cube located on the Lower Ground Floor until 7 December.

The RWA can only ever have 150 full active Academicians at any one time, other Academician statuses such as Emeritus (retired) or Honorary (non elected) do not have such restrictions placed on them. Every year a number of artists are put forward to be considered for Academician Status at the time of the RWA Annual Open Exhibition. The RWA normally elects two or three new members each year, but this number is variable and it is possible that in any given year no new members are elected. The new Academicians are voted for by their peers the current Academicians.

Meet the Candidates:

Lucy Austin

My work is about drawing. In twenty years of development I have experimented with drawings, which have been room-filled sculptural installations made from paper such as Straw Towers (2001) and very large amounts of collected material such as The Carbon Sea (2003-6). I now find that making painting has released me from the boundaries of gravity and materials because I can paint whatever I want and the image will not
fall over.


Converse, watercolour on paper


Stack, watercolour on paper

I make imaginary pictures inspired by what I see around me. The drawings have their own internal logic and are entirely made up. I work in watercolour on paper, make prints, (etchings, using aquatint and sugar-lift) and I make painted books.

I analyse what I see using drawing as my thinking method. I boil objects and structures down to their essence. I don’t make straightforward pictures of objects, I can use a camera for that. I might begin that way in my sketchbook, but these stay in the sketchbook and I use them as beginnings for the imaginative work to grow.

My recent series Tender Machines was inspired by two different places. One was the Museum of Rural Life in Glastonbury and the other was Cumberland Basin in Bristol.

I went to both places and looked, made drawings in my sketchbook and took lots of photographs. I was inspired by the structures I saw there such as old agricultural machinery. At the time I was thinking about TS Eliot’s poem The Wasteland. The name for the series came from the inspiration of machinery, and the word tender is about the way they are painted, because the paint is used wet into wet and blurred with the colour literally bleeding from one into another, making soft edges with occasional blooms of colour.

I use these objects as metaphors for the body, its joints, moving parts, its different processes of digestion and also it’s curious behaviours such as transmitting, receiving, full or empty, and the processing of emotions. Each Tender Machine appears to be an individual character-full ‘personage’, (after Miro); some are funny, some are relentless, some are at a loss, all are different and separate.

The colour I use in the series is very particular. The range is limited and it has the effect of linking the series together visually very clearly. I have also played with the transparency of the watercolour paint with the opaque qualities of gouache, which behaves differently as it is thicker and contains Gum Arabic.

The work has relationships and conversations between the ‘personages’. Sometimes the works are placed in groups like Pylon and Jelly, where each drawing is separate from the other. Now I’m working on drawings, which have several ‘personages’ in each picture, which seem to be like a strange still life. This has led me to look at paintings by Morandi and Cezanne again.

Sometimes the drawings appear wobbly, vulnerable and spongy, like they might not be able to stand up. I think this is brave of them, presenting themselves in this way because they appear somewhat incorrect technically. I think they are about something emotional and childlike, hopefully there is a rawness captured there which an immaculate technical drawing cannot hold.

In this way the drawings communicate a feeling, which is about something tender and something emotional concerning the human condition.

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The spooky, uncanny and macabre from the Permanent Collection

The spooky, uncanny and macabre from the Permanent Collection

As we embark on the spookiest day of the year, the staff have been rummaging around in the permanent collection (whilst wearing white gloves and abiding by our art handling training, of course) and we have come up with the Top Ten spooky, sinister, uncanny, eerie and macabre artworks to get you in a ghoulish mood:

1. Undergrowth with Skulls by Charles Andrew, Oil on Canvas.

A cache of scary skulls lying in the undergrowth has caused us to ask, what has happened here?  The skulls with their pointy teeth look to have been dangerous animals in their own right, begging the question what type of man or beast has done away with these creatures?

(c) Royal West of England Academy; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

2. The Little Mirror by Anne Redpath RWA, Oil on Canvas.

The cold, dark colours in this painting conjure a spooky scene, and the little doll-like figures adorning the bottom of the mirror really give the painting an uncanny feeling, like the dolls are trapped, bound to the mirror. Forever.

(c) BRIDGEMAN; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

3. Nude by Anthony Fry RWA, Oil on canvas.

The white nebulous background of this image reminds us of ectoplasm and that is before we even begin to question what has happened to the arms and legs of this poor female nude.

(c) Anthony Fry; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

4. Mother and Daughter II by Anthony Whishaw RWA, Acrylic & ink on paper.

We love this slightly Picasso-esque picture by Anthony Whishaw. Whishaw is known for his unexpected figurative hybrids and there is something bird-like about the mother depicted on the right of the painting. The blue sweeping objects remind us of tail feathers, reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror film, The Birds.

(c) Anthony Whishaw RA; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation


5. Strata Shadows by John Eaves RWA, Oil on canvas.

The title of this piece tipped us off to its sinister undertones. Strata - an archaeological term meaning layers – refers to earth and stone built up over centuries, and the mysteries concealed beneath.

(c) John Eaves; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

6. Masque by Douglas Portway, Oil & collage on paper.

The over-sized features and hollowed eyes of the decapitated head which looms in from the left of this painting resemble a strange spectre. The background is made up of a combination of shadows and peculiar apparitions.

(c) Simeon Portway (son); Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation


7. Ophelia by James Martin RWA, Oil on board.

From the famous Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet, Ophelia goes mad and climbs a tree, before drowning in a brook when the branch she is sitting on breaks, plunging her to her death in the dark waters below.  The large waterbirds and fish in this image serve to highlight the horrors of Ophelia’s watery end. Presenting the image from above allows the viewer to imagine they are seeing her laid in a grave, and the claustrophobic composition is suggestive of the confines of a coffin.

(c) Royal West of England Academy; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation


8. Psyche Dipping Her Pitcher in the River Styx by Paul Ayshford Methuen, Oil on canvas.

Another literary reference, here we have Psyche being plagued by monsters. These scary, serpentine dragons are enough to give you the creeps, but scarier still - they have been sent with a foreboding warning for Psyche too ‘Stay away! Stay away’.

(c) James Methuen-Campbell; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

9. Steam Engine by Julian Trevelyan RA, Oil on board.

Known for his surrealist work, Julian Trevelyan enrolled at Atelier Dix-Sept engraving school, where he learned etching. He worked alongside artists including Max Ernst, Oskar Kokoschka, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso. At first glance one might be mistaken in thinking this was cheery colourful scene, without malice or ill content. However, the driver, as if under a spell or possessed by a spirit, has little regard for safety charging his engine into the harbour.



10.  Pizza Hut by Danny Markey RWA, Oil on board.

For those of you who have been to a Pizza Hut on an evening in Half Term you will know why this image is scary!

(c) Royal West of England Academy; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

We hope you’ve enjoyed our spooky selection tonight. Happy Halloween from all at the RWA!


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Jamaica Street Artists at the RWA

Participating Artists

The RWA are delighted to introduce the stunning work of Jamaica Street Artists to the shop. 11 of Jamaica Street’s Artists have contributed prints for sale in the shop during the 162nd Annual Open. The work ranges from the colourful watercolour vistas of Bristol from Abigail McDougall, to the macarbe childlike imagery depicted in the works of Romina Berenice Canet.

JSA 5JSA Romina Berenice Canet JSA Adrian Sykes JSA Dan Parry Jones

Emma Dibben

Emma Dibben specialises in food illustration, she has worked for a wide range of clients including Waitrose, The Guardian, Hodder&Stoughton, Penguin and Time Out. Her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines and on juice cartons, book covers, greetings cards, ceramics, jam jars, and a bottle of gin. Her work is enhanced by her love of all things natural, and her inspiration comes from time spent on her allotment growing fruit, vegetables, flowers and frogs

Emma also works on larger scale mixed media pieces incorporating oil paint, graphite, and screen print. Her inspiration and subject matter is again the natural world, she combines detailed drawings of cell structures of plants and insects with intuitive mark making and layers of paint.

Romina Berenice Canet

Romina Berenice Canet is a freelance illustrator and fine artist born in Argentina who is now based in Bristol.
She graduated in Fine Arts after specialising in Painting and Printmaking and also studied Music, Drama and Trapeze.
In Argentina she published a book with her poems and lithographs called “Resabio de las Fiestas” and for many years she worked as an Art and English teacher, illustrated for poetry magazines, coordinated artistic events, painted murals and regularly exhibited her work.  In 2008 she worked at Santa Cruz Palace in Madrid restoring furniture and paintings and in 2010 she moved to England where she joined Drawn in Bristol.
Using a wide range of techniques she works in both colour and black and white, sometimes using her own photographic practice and poetry as inspiration, as well as research into theoretical areas such as carnival, the unconscious, the uncanny and the abject.
Romina’s themes and characters usually whisper with unusual, disorienting and disturbing connotations and reflect her interest in humour, sensuality, playfulness, irony, literature and the circus.

Diana Beltran Herrera

Diana Beltran Herrera is a designer and artist, working over the past few years with paper as the primary medium in the production of her work. After graduating from her BA degree in industrial Design at the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University in 2010, Herrera realised that she wasn’t interested in pursuing a design practice as a life career, as she was more interested in the theories of understanding of nature and material as an element that exist around us and is present in an everyday routine. For Herrera, there is a considerable distance in the relationship between human and nature, and throughout her work, she aims to repair this relation by producing elements that are constantly removed, altered and forgotten. Her work is presented as a resistance where those sculptures remain in an ideal state and act like a model of representation of a reality that doesn’t suffer any change.
Trough her practice in sculpture, Herrera has is been representing corporality in movement trough her extensive work with birds. Herrera has exhibited in her country as well as participating in solo and group shows in Europe, Asia and USA. She has been cooperating with artists as well as organisations and private clients as 215mmcann, Olivari Olive Oil, Volevatch, Longwood gardens US, ENI, Marina Rinaldi, Lebeau- Courally, and many others.

Dan Parry Jones

Bristol based artist Dan Parry Jones initially trained in Illustration and Graphic Design, before turning to paint in 2008. Working from Bristol’s Jamaica Street Studios, Dan produces expressive mixed media paintings of landscapes, taking inspiration from the gritty urban surroundings of the city, as well as the beauty of the south-west coastline. His paintings are constructed with a heavily impasto background in acrylic, with added typography, collage and silkscreen elements. His work has been widely exhibited at major art fairs in London, Bristol, New York, Brussels, Singapore and Hong Kong

Adrian Sykes

Adrian Sykes is an award-winning artist and also the flautist & founding member of Bristol’s Gypsy-Jazz band Sheelanagig.
Recent accolades include winning “The Bath Art Prize” twice, “The Bristol Art Prize”, finalist in the “Young Masters Art Prize” and overall winner of the “Sustainable Art Prize”. Adrian regularly exhibits across the UK and internationally. He has just finished an Artist’s Residency in Bern, Switzerland.
His extensive portfolio of work covers a wide range of form and images, from explorations of light and dark in the intricately detailed black and white cityscapes, to the fascinating land of the imagination where he transports the viewer in his figurative landscapes. His paintings often pay homage to the beauty and diversity of the varied areas in which he has lived and traveled, including the great landscapes of France, Italy, Switzerland and the cityscapes of Bristol, Bath & London.

Serena Curmi

Serena Curmi was brought up on a sailboat, travelling extensively with her family to many corners of the world.
Her education was varied, consisting of both home and conventional schooling in the Isle of Man, Spain, the US and Malta.
The environment in which Serena was brought up has had a profound affect on her. She has always felt humbled by vast, wide open spaces, and this is reflected in her uncluttered, minimalist paintings.
Through her use of composition and muted colours, Serena’s work evokes a sense of stillness and quiet melancholy. Solitary human figures are often coupled with animals, suggesting an affection and affinity towards each other, or at times provoking a feeling of unease or apprehension.
Serena practiced as an illustrator for many years and has worked for renowned clients including the BBC, Houghton Mifflin, Boden Clothing, Simon & Schuster and Pearson Education.
She now works as a full time painter from her studio at Jamaica Street Studios in Bristol, and has recently participated in shows at the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol Museum and St George’s Bristol.

Kate Evans

Using delicate line drawings and watercolour washes set against large areas of negative space, Kate Evans produces images that reflect the richness of their subject matter.
In her most recent ‘Wilderness Series’ she paints desolate farms in remote areas of America, Scandinavia and Europe. Her work creates a feeling of isolation and space, ultimately depicting the sheer wilderness of these locations.
The process of mark-making and experimentation with colour are important elements within Kate’s practice. She works in mixed media; using a combination of watercolour, pencil and sometimes oil. This allows her the freedom to produce different effects, playing with the transparency of the medium creating deep and layered imagery.

Rose Vickers

Rose trained in applied arts at the university of Derby and on finishing my degree worked mainly in three dimensions using primarily wood and stone for large scale public and private commissions. After making several series of work using light boxes ,paper cutting seemed to just emerge as the appropriate technique to carry the pieces forward, and I still feel inspired by the transformative effect that light has on what is essentially a flat object. I very much like that a paper cut is something which involves not only the elements of drawing but also those of making, requiring a certain kind of discipline, skill and process in its’ creation.

 Jessa Fairbrother

Most of Jessa’s work is about how what she sees goes on to inform my own behaviour. She is very interested in performance, and the translation of this into the physical activity of making in photography.

Familiar memories that haunt and repeat themselves form the basis of her practice. Her work always starts from the personal, even if it ends up being photographs of someone she doesn’t know.

This sense of performing her own identity is central to her practice, and she often presents isolated physical gestures in order to define and give form to it.

She sometimes uses long-exposure enactments for film cameras, or embellishment / destruction of prints after they have been made.

Jessa studied English Literature at Durham University and was a journalist while developing her photographic career, contributing to a range of publications including The Guardian and Blown Magazine. IJessa completed an MA in Photographic Studies at the University of Westminster in 2010.

Jessa also lectures in both higher and further education.

Abigail McDougall

Abigail McDougall was born in Oxford and grew up in Canada, Italy and Dorset. She graduated from Falmouth College of Art in 2005 and has since been based in Bristol, working from the renowned Jamaica Street Studios. Abigail’s art career took off with her “Bristol in a Different Light” series. The series won her many commissions, including large paintings for Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel and for the new Ernst and Young offices. Her work has been selected for the Royal West of England Academy Autumn Show several times and has been sold at the Bristol and London Affordable Art Fairs. In 2010 her work was short listed for the Urbis Prize. In 2012 she was selected as an Artist Member of the RWA and as a Rise Art Selected Artist. Her last solo show “Art for Sustainable Transport” in March 2011 was held at the Royal West of England Academy in support of the Sustainable Transport Charity Sustrans.  She recently set up her online gallery “Bristol Contemporary”, making her work and the work of fellow artists more widely available across the country and abroad.

 Helen Williams

Helen Williams lives and works in Bristol. Colour and pattern are very important factors in her work and Helen loves putting combinations together to create characterful and unique creatures. Each one is different and she uses a variety of fabrics in her work ranging from vintage and recycled to new. Some of the animals are purely for decoration, to brighten a shelf or workspace and some can be used for specific functions e.g doorstops and draught excluders.

Studio info

Jamaica Street Artists is a large long-established studio group in the centre of Bristol. The studio is housed in a grade II listed former carriageworks, an iconic landmark in Stokes Croft.

The Studio is home to a diverse collective of cutting-edge practitioners. Each year they hold an Open Studios event which, over the past 21 years, has become increasingly popular, attracting over 1500 visitors.

Recent high-profile exhibitions, including at the RWA and Bristol City Museum, have confirmed the group’s position as one of the country’s most exiting and ambitious artist-led communities.

The Studio’s ethos is to recruit new graduates alongside professional artists ensuring that JSA supports emerging creative talent from the region. The success of this environment can be demonstrated through our artists’ diverse achievements, with individuals regularly exhibiting across the UK and abroad, achieving success in national competitions and prizes, and winning exciting new commissions and clients.

We encourage studio holders to become involved in the Studio as an organisation, and become part of the Studio culture. There is a vibrant energy at JSA ensuring that support and success is infectious, a quality which JSA are eager to maintain.

“The positive effect of artists on our cities is too often underestimated… Led by their artists, Stokes Croft and Jamaica Street undoubtedly have the potential to become the liveliest community in Bristol. Jamaica Street Artists are housed in one of Bristol’s most elegant industrial buildings, are at the heart of a vibrant community and should become exemplar self-run artists’ studios that relates strongly to its inner city community.”
George Fergusson CBE, Mayor Bristol



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Half Term Week at the RWA

We have some fabulous workshops planned for Half Term Week.

Secret Portraits With Katie May Green


Tuesday October 28. £10 per child.
A portrait workshop with a difference. Create your own double
sided self-portraits, capturing your best and worst sides!

Make your own Marvellous, Monstrous Characters with Sarah Smith.

Wednesday 29 October. £10 per child.
10.30am – 12.30pm
Through drawing games you will create characters, developing
them into a final illustration, using a range of art materials.

Let’s Make Art workshops for children With Alice Hendy & Karen Davies.

Thursday 30 October. £5 per child.
10:30am – 12 noon (ages 3-5 years)
1:30pm – 3.30pm (ages 6+ years)
Create a bold, colourful sculpture in the style of Girard.

Booking and information : 0117 973 5129

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THE RWA 162 Award Winners!

Have you seen the #RWA162 Award Winners yet?
Here are some images from the show but there is nothing like seeing them first hand. A perfect collection of painting, photography, resin and mixed media.
Ben Rowe
Winning artist’s work featured in an article in Evolver Magazine
Jan-Feb 2015 issue
WINNER: Ben Rowe
Unified Control
Valchromat, Butyrate Tube, Varnish
Winning artist’s work featured on the front cover of Evolver Magazine
Jan-Feb 2015 issue
WINNER: Rose Vickers
Dreams don’t work unless you do
Old wooden rulers
WINNER: Andrew Hardwick RWA
Mixed Media
Kate Williamson
£240 worth of creative consulting with New Creations Coaching
WINNER: Kate Williamson
Porcelain Resin

Mandy Wiliams
Selection of six art books published by Sansom & Co / Redcliffe Press
WINNER: Mandy Williams
Riverbed Stories
Pine Feroda
20 sheets of Saunders Waterford 300gsm worth £75
WINNER: Pine Feroda
January Storm
Richard Dalkins
Second Prize £150
WINNER: Richard Dalkins
High Jump
Brian Smith
First Prize £250
WINNER: Brian Smith
Fighting the Elements
WINNER: Gordon Ward RWA
Catalan Landscape
Don’t forget you can still have your say by voting for the Affordable Art Fair People’s Choice Award in the galleries now.

A huge thank you to all our sponsors, Evolver, Redcliffe Press, Consumer Intelligence, Clifton Arts Club, New Creations Coaching and the Affordable Art Fair.

(9 photos)

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The New Creations Coaching

This year New Creations Coaching donated a prize of creative coaching sessions to the winner of their prize.

Here one of their pupils, Catherine talks about the impact the coaching had on her and her practice.

The New Creations coaching prize came at the right time for me. I had just completed my final year at UWE studying MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking and wondering how to approach continuing with my art practice without the structure and routine of University.

The meetings with Alex really helped me to define what my goals were and how I could achieve them. In our chats we discussed a whole range of things; my motivations as an artist, which opportunities would be right for me to who buys my work. These were all questions that helped to consider how I could progress after University.

Catherine at work

Catherine at work

In the short term, time to make work was my main concern.  Lithographic printmaking requires specialist equipment and luckily this equipment is available in the Cardiff Print Workshop studio (CPW). I changed my work routine to part-time in order to allow me to continue using the printmaking studio facilities and leading workshops at CPW. I had previously been leading printmaking workshops at CPW prior to and during my degree, but really wanted to get some Lithography classes underway to offer another discipline to members and other artists in the surrounding area who want to try the process to inform their own art practice. Leading workshops has really helped my own development in technical terms. I feel I have learned a great deal from looking at the process from the perspective of another artist’s aims and concerns.

In the year since graduating I have adapted my weekly routine and been able to continue my art practice and teaching. My recent exhibitions include Neo:Print Prize at the Neo Gallery in Bolton and National Original Print Exhibition at the Bankside Gallery in London where I was awarded the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers prize.

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