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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Selection Day for the Royal West of England Academy’s Annual Open Exhibition will keep you guessing right up to the very last hopeful entry.

At 5pm today the results of the South West’s largest Open Exhibition are announced. On 27th September Volunteer Nadia Nuami was lucky enough to sit in on Selection Day and get a behind the canvases look at the Selection Day process. Her article is a must for all hopeful artists wanting to get selected for the RWA Annual Open.

There are certain ‘tick’ criteria which are no surprise when listed by this year’s judges – a diverse group picked to reflect a broad range of expertise and taste: Janette Kerr, RWA President; Stephen Jacobson, RWA Vice President; David Alston, Arts Director Arts Council Wales; Julia Carver, Curator Bristol Museum; Will Maw, Academician; Jason Lane, Academician; Lisa Wright, Academician and lecturer; and Lucy MacDonald from Hauser and Wirth Somerset . All the panelists were in agreement that, as the hundreds of artworks were paraded in front of them in rapid succession, they were making judgements based on form, medium and colour.

The Selection Panel - Image Courtesy of Richard Broomhall/

The Selection Panel – Image Courtesy of Richard Broomhall/

However, the real mystery lies in the non-quantifiable aspect of their judgement. All the panelists are sufficiently experienced to recognise whether a work is well executed, a ‘good’ example of its genre. They also all emphasised – and demonstrated – their desire to rise above their own personal tastes and to think about the overall ‘look’ of the show. Consequently, decisions to include a particular genre of sculptural work, for example, when such a genre is under-represented, is perfectly understandable.

Academician Jason Lane examining a fine bronze piece. Image Courtesy of Richard Broomhall/

Academician Jason Lane examining a fine bronze piece. Image Courtesy of Richard Broomhall/

What is less understandable is what constitutes ‘that special something’ when all the obvious criteria have been met. For every one of the judges there was undoubtedly an extra something, a quirk, a mood trigger, a certain something which swung their vote in favour of a yeah or nay. It is this ‘something’ which is the mystery and which will probably always remain so, since a great part of the explanation lies in the idiosyncrasies of the panellists.

There are, however, a few definite ‘no no’s’ voiced by a large number of the panel regarding presentation. Although there are always the exceptions, it would be better for submitting artists to err on the side of caution regarding signatures, framing, titles and support methods. In general, large signatures scrawled prominently over the canvas were found to be off-putting, as were frames which were deemed to be inappropriate for the enveloped artwork. Plinths and supportive fixtures or required methods of presentation (such as hanging or illumination) could also work to the detriment of the artwork.

There are, of course, no hard and fast rules. If this were so then the excitement, surprise and mystery of the selection process would be completely lost. It is that very element of ‘luck’ which often determines whether an artist is successful this year or next year or never. What is certain is that visitors to the 2014 Annual Open Exhibition will be treated to a stunning diversity of artworks.

Over 500 works, including sculptures, on display from 12 October will reflect the hours and hours of painstaking work carried out by both the artists and the panelists who chose them. Arguably, the selection day process could merit a category in its own right.

David Alston

  • I’ve looked at so many artworks during the course of my career that I already know whether a piece is a ‘good’ example of its kind. There’s a body language about paintings and what I’m looking for is something which arrests you, something which registers.

Janette Kerr

  • I’m looking for something which is well executed but which also has an edge, a charm, a spark to it, some kind of quirk.
  • Sometimes the framing is completely disastrous and the signatures are so ridiculously large that for me they kill off the work.
  • I also need to think about the show as a whole and how all the pieces will work together.

Lisa Wright

  • I’m looking for a work which is good of its type but also distinctive, whether it be abstract or painterly. I like an economy to the work but also an awareness, something which elicits an emotional response. You know it when you see it, it’s instinctive and intuitive.
  • I find framing and signatures to be a problem in some instances and strongly advise any artist not to sign on the front of the work. Appropriateness of scale can also be an issue for me, as can the discrepancy you sometimes get between what you see in a digital image and then what you see when the actual work is paraded before you on selection day. For example, the colour key may be too high on screen and so the piece can look underworked in real life.

 Stephen Jacobson

  • One of my main criteria is whether I actually like the piece, whether it has a ‘sparkle’.
  • We have tried to mix up the panel so we get a fair representation of tastes and expertise.

Will Maw

  • A work might be brilliantly executed but it has got to have something more.
  • It’s inevitable that there’s going to be an element of subjectivity in the decision making process but I try very hard to keep an open mind and look beyond my person taste. I am aware of the responsibility I have to think of the show as a whole and to be fair to all the works brought before us.

 Jason Lane

  • I’m looking for something which catches my eye but exactly what does this varies enormously. I like a naive style but also an accomplished one, I like perspective but I also like it when an artist plays with distortion, I like order but I sometimes like a chaotic image – it’s very complicated.

 Julia Carver

  • I think we’re all looking at form, medium and colour but I’m particularly interested in why an artist has chosen a specific medium or form and whether, as a result, the work is innovative.

Article by Nadia Nuami – RWA Volunteer. If you would like to volunteer and get involved with events such as this please contact Beckie Upton

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Autumn Art Party

You are invited to the RWA’s Autumn Art Party on 23rd October at 7:30pm.

Hair_at_58_RWA_084 (1024x683)

If the amazing Secret Postcard Auction in July was anything to go by, the RWA’s Autumn Art Party looks set to be the hottest art ticket in Bristol this month.  Set in the RWA’s spectacular galleries, with the 162nd Annual Open Exhibition as a backdrop, guests can mingle with the likes of Sir Peter Blake RA, RWA (Hon), who is this year’s guest artist.  Most famous as the creator of the Sgt. Pepper album cover for the Beetles, Blake remains one of Britain’s foremost artists.

USA Series - James Dean, signed limited edition of 100 silkscreen with collaged elements, glitter and glazes, Peter Blake, 2014 © Peter Blake and CCA Galleries

USA Series – James Dean, signed limited edition of 100 silkscreen with collaged elements, glitter and glazes, Peter Blake, 2014 © Peter Blake and CCA Galleries

The evening also includes a chance to meet the RWA’s new Chair of the Board, Adrian Tinniswood OBE, well-known as an author, lecturer and broadcaster: the evening will be his first public duty since taking up the post.

Guests can enjoy a two course buffet dinner in the RWA’s stunning galleries surrounded by the wonderful and diverse array of artwork produced by established, emerging and unknown artists, providing the perfect opportunity for art enthusiasts and collectors to discover the stars of the future and buy work by leading names of today.

As well as offering an opportunity to explore the exhibition, the evening promises a variety of entertainments, including live music, and a raffle to win £500 to spend on art.

Tickets are £25 per person and are available online here 

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New Chair of the RWA Board – Adrian Tinniswood OBE

New Chair of the RWA Board

The RWA is delighted to announce the appointment of its new Chair – Adrian Tinniswood OBE – who will take up his new role in late October.

Adrian Tinniswood’s career has combined work with heritage institutions such as the National Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund with lecturing for English and American universities, including Bristol, Oxford, Nebraska-Lincoln and UC Berkeley. He is the author of twelve books on architectural and social history and is well-known as an author, lecturer and broadcaster in Britain and America.

Adrian is a member of the National Trust’s Learning Panel and South West Regional Advisory Board, and a Visiting Fellow in Heritage at Bath Spa University. He serves on the boards of the Bath Preservation Trust, the Holburne Museum and the Bishop’s Palace Wells. He lives in a quiet village outside Bath with his wife Helen and a comfort of cats. In June 2013 Adrian was awarded an OBE for services to heritage.

In addition to a thorough knowledge of the heritage sector and the funding framework in which it operates, Adrian also brings enthusiasm for the RWA and its potential for future development. ‘The RWA is not only a great Bristol institution, it is a national treasure. I’m proud to be part of its future.’

Adrian’s first official duty will be to speak at the RWA’s Autumn Art Party on 23 October, at which Sir Peter Blake RA, RWA (Hon) will also be present.

Adrian Tinniswood OBE
Photograph (C) Helen Rogers

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Overview by Michael Toseland on Tim Shaw RA Casting a Dark Democracy

RWA Volunteer Michael Toseland picked Casting a Dark Democracy by Tim Shaw, one of the iconic images of the exhibition ‘Shock and Awe: Contemporary Artists at War and Peace‘ to focus on. Michael has written about how the piece made him feel and the wider subjects the artwork tackles.


Imposing is a word well equipped to describe Casting a Dark Democracy, unforgiving in its honesty, its truth and emotional intensity,  it is a piece that is perhaps a look upon human suffering at its upmost submissive and a sobering snap shot into the depths of our nature.

The subject itself is one of a hooded prisoner from the Iraqi prisons of Abu Ghraib. The figure, Poised mercifully as a penitent figure reminiscent of Goya, endows the viewer with a sense of responsibility, an ethical question into the futility of suffering.


The materials themselves such as rusted steel, barbed wire, black polythene and electrical cable seem soiled by earth as if dragged kicking and screaming from the depths of her belly. A creature born of oil, of greed, of hate, of fear, of war as if not from this world but a darker other.

The underlying skeletal figure is more human, weak, feeble in its attempt to manage the weight of material bestowed upon its shoulders. A primitive, brutal image itself described by Shaw as ‘medieval’.

A pitiful figure, submissive to the hate and fear of war, submissive to our barbarism holds out its hands as if to god. Reminiscent of a Greek god of old bringing fear through power, here we see the symbol of our own fear.

This is the realization of our nature, of the sickness of our fear. The almost too human hands seeming unusually soft, plump and welcoming for such a figure are held, palms out as if yearning for human comfort. The culturaly etched crucifiction image unavoidably lurking in the subconscious.

It is a piece that forces us to ask of ourselves what it is to be human. To be human is to stretch out the hand, to offer comfort to the suffering and to shed light on the darkness of fear. These are the things we idealize and longingly grasp onto as our definition of human nature despite unimaginable examples suggesting the contrary to be true.

Shaw ultimately has presented us with the opportunity to confront crucial questions, both on our intrinsic nature and on our value of morality and humankind itself.

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Art History Day Schools at the RWA

As part of our Learning and Participation programme the RWA have two fascinating Art History Day Schools looking at art, artists and architecture. Lead by professionals renowned in their field these courses aim to give a greater insight and understanding by oresenting new theories and asking challenging questions.

Landscape and the things behind: The Places and Paintings of the Brothers Nash (Art History Day School)

I turned to the landscape, not for the landscape’s sake, but for the “things behind”, the Dweller in the Innermost, whose light shines through occasionally.

[Paul Nash, letter to Gordon Bottomley, c.1920]

Join Dr Justine Hopkins for an in depth study of John and Paul Nash’s artworks, with a focus on their representations of the British landscape, as featured in the Brothers in Art exhibition.

A Gloucestershire Landscape John Nash (1280x1081)

A Gloucestershire Landscape, John Northcote Nash, 1914, oil on canvas, WA1978.67 © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford © The estate of John Nash. All Rights Reserved 2014, Bridgeman Art Library

As young artists Paul Nash and his brother John frequently shared studios and worked alongside each other; when Paul was employed by the War Office he soon arranged for John to become a War Artist too and the pattern continued. But in the years after the War their paths diverged. Flamboyant, articulate Paul experimented with Surrealism and Abstraction, becoming a leader and self-appointed spokesman among the English avant-garde. John, on the other hand, chose largely to avoid the debates and controversies of Modernism; plainer, quieter, always a little in his brother’s shadow, yet just as dedicated and in his way no less defiantly innovative in his approach to painting landscapes that not only bring particular places and seasons vividly to life, but reflect the fears and uncertainties of their times. Ironically it was ultimately John who took the honours: RA, CBE, and the first living artist to be granted a retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy. Yet it is still Paul whose name and work are the more readily recognised and admired. This Study Day offers an opportunity to explore the paradox of the brothers Nash through a series of close encounters with their works – some immediately familiar, others almost unknown – considered not only in terms of technical mastery and the history of painting, but in the wider context of memory and imagination in a world torn by conflict.

Dr. Justine Hopkins gained her BA from Bristol University in English and Drama; MA from the Courtauld and PhD from Birkbeck College, specialising in 19th and 20th century European Art. Currently working as a freelance writer and lecturer for assorted institutions, from universities, national museums, NADFAS and auction houses to independent art groups, schools and commercial galleries. She published a biography of sculptor and painter Michael Ayrton in 1994, and has contributed to various periodicals and art dictionaries including the New DNB and the Oxford Dictionary of Western Art.

For more information and booking click here.

 From Athens to Bristol: The Parthenon Sculptures and their place at the RWA (Art History Day School)

Gallery Friezes

This series of three lectures and a gallery tour will spotlight one of the RWA’s more unusual features: the replica of the frieze from the Athenian Parthenon in the upstairs Sharples gallery. Currently the focus of much international debate the Parthenon sculptures have been acclaimed as exemplary from their first creation and these lectures will place these masterpieces of art both within their original context and within the broader sphere of their paradigmatic role in European academic instruction.

Lecture one will discuss the original sculptures and their place in the society and culture of Periclean Athens, lecture two will examine their removal to England and the academic discourse their arrival engendered and lecture three will investigate the role of the classical for artists of the nineteenth century and will also include a discussion of the Walter Crane lunettes above the main staircase. These sessions will be a combination of slide lectures and gallery tour.

Dr Harriet Batten – Foster studied at the Courtauld Institute in London and, following a period working in documentary film making at BBC Television, returned to the academic sphere with an MA in Classical Heritage at the University of Bristol. Since then she has worked as an art-history tutor, teaching both undergraduate and Lifelong Learning students within the universities of Bristol, Cardiff and Oxford. She has recently completed a PhD on the changing aesthetic of the classical image.

For further information and booking please click here.

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