Judith Greenbury RWA, 1924 – 2016

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of one of our Academicians, Judith Greenbury.

Greenbury, Judith, b.1924; Brill, December 1973

Greenbury, Judith; Brill, December 1973; Royal West of England Academy

Judith Greenbury studied at the West of England College of Art in Bristol, under the tutelage of George Sweet, followed by the Slade School of Fine Art in London.

More recently, she became known for her travels around the country to paint piers from Eastbourne to Tenby. She has on her journey depicted the piers of Clevedon, Weston-super-Mare, Cromer and Blackpool amongst others. These works have been compiled into a publication by Sansom & Co entitled ‘Piers and Seaside Towns: An Artist’s Journey’.

Over the years, Judith showed her work in several solo exhibitions including the Alpine Gallery, London. Her work has also been seen in numerous mixed exhibitions: The Royal Academy, New English Art Club, the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Royal Society of British Artists are institutions which have shown her work. Indeed, two of her works were displayed at the RWA last autumn as part of our 163rd Annual Open Exhibition.

She died on 4th April. She continued to paint in her studio room in her house right up until her final illness.

Her watercolour of Brighton from our permanent collection is currently on display in our foyer.

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Important info for Saturday gallery visitors

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Orchestra Life Drawing – important information about gallery activities on Saturday 9 April

Interested in figurative drawing? Join the RWA and the New Bristol Sinfonia this Saturday for an untutored life drawing session with a twist!

Between 3.30pm and 5pm the orchestra invites audiences to sketch the assembled musicians in rehearsal before their concert that evening. This will be a wonderful opportunity to capture the human form in the stunning surroundings of the galleries, all for the price of the exhibition admission.

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Chairs will be provided, but you will need to bring your own sketchbook and dry materials with you for drawing. Due to space limitations, the use of easels and drawing boards will not be possible.

Visitors to the exhibitions should be aware that, although the galleries will be open to visit, the orchestra rehearsal will present a very different experience and atmosphere during these hours, which some visitors may find disruptive.  

If you would like to take part, email info@drawingschool.org.uk

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Hidden Talents at the RWA

BBC Get Creative is a celebration of the amazing arts, culture and creativity that happens every day across the UK.

In celebration of creativity, and the power and importance of creative activities for many people all around the country, the team at the RWA have shared their own creative passions and explained why being creative means so much to them.

“I love hand stitching because the process matches my preferred pace of life in that it’s quite slow! For me, stitching is like drawing in pure colour and beautiful things can be made from the smallest of scraps!”

Sophie Bristol, Drawing School Manager



“In my spare time, I love writing stories. I write a lot in my job but writing fiction feels like a total luxury. I prefer to write in a busy café and fill notebooks with ideas, characters, overheard conversations and sometimes sketches. I can lose myself in writing for hours – when I am in the zone, I disappear down a rabbit hole and emerge feeling like my brain has been to a day spa.”

Holly McGrane, Marketing Manager   



“I finally mastered knitting in my late 40s and I’m now seriously addicted. As well as enabling me to create things, I find knitting immensely relaxing, taking up the part of my brain that would normally be fretting about work so that I can switch off: it’s basically a form of meditation, but with an output!”

Alison Bevan, Director



Oranges, Suze Eyles


“For me photography allows me to study life – it’s like a slice of time.”

Suze Eyles, Head of Finance and Administration



“I learnt to play the piano and guitar when I was young. I ditched the piano (mistake) and focused on mastering just the 6 strings. I became a MASSIVE pop star but then gave it all up to concentrate on playing the humble ruler (as in the thing you measure and draw straight lines with – not a king or prime minister or something.) Twangggg!”

Joel Edwards, Learning and Participation Manager



“I inherited my love of fabric from my mother, who is an upholsterer, amongst other things. She taught me to sew when I was very young and a few years ago, I started dressmaking. I love the process of it, from cutting out a pattern and transferring markings to fabric, to winding a bobbin and easing a sleeve. To create a wearable, lasting garment, there are no stages which can be skipped, which forces patience and precision from me, neither of which I have naturally. It’s creativity with known boundaries and rules which, once learned, can be mutated in a thousand different ways.”

Jess Kirkby, Membership Administrator


As part of the BBC Get Creative weekend, the RWA will be offering a morning of free creative fun for children and adults with a special free Scribble and Sketch session plus 2-for-1 tickets on exhibition entry (under 16s go free). Also on this day, you can try your hand at embroidery with the Bristol Embroiderers Guild who will be teaching basic stitches in the building.

Read more…

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Stewart Geddes RWA

Stewart Geddes is Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and an RWA Academician. He studied at Bristol Polytechnic under Alfred Stockham before going on to the RCA. His work is in numerous public collections and he has shown widely in the UK and abroad. He works at BV Studios in Bristol.


RWA: What are you working on at the moment?

SG: I always work on a group of paintings concurrently. I typically have about half a dozen paintings on the go at any one time. I have to allow gestation periods and put paintings to one side to allow surprising outcomes to emerge. Currently I’m working on some larger works – about 4 to 5 feet long and around 3 to 4 feet tall. I’ve just got a feeling at the moment that I want to work more physically with paint. Sometimes it is the complete opposite and it’s about something much more intimate and quiet. At the moment, though, I’m feeling more expansive.

RWA: Where do you find inspiration?

SG: The work is embedded in experience of the urban landscape. In the tradition of Picasso – of not seeking, but finding – I walk around a city and things suddenly rear their head at me. It might be a drainhole cover, it might be the combination of colours in a series of houses, or the surface of the pavement. It’s usually something fairly mundane. If I’m looking down at a pavement or at the façade of a building, it’s almost like I’m looking at the surface of a painting. Particular colour combinations that I extract as I’m looking around can be important, but also surface, edges – where one thing ends and another begins.


I think the current language formed itself primarily in London several years ago. There has been an incremental shift in the work since being in Bristol. Bristol itself is a demarcation between the urban and the marine and the pastoral. Because of that, I think slightly more forgiving properties are creeping in to the work.

I mainly record my ideas through photography and sometimes brief note-taking. It’s not a matter of copying but using notes as a trigger. Even if a painting starts off being quite closely related to something I have seen, there is a point when the painting has to become separated from that ‘trigger’ and negotiated on its own terms. I’m not trying to copy something, I’m trying to translate something. If you copy, you don’t get a perspective on it. By displacing it, you get a new insight into the original.

Recently I have been adopting a shuttering technique that you use when you pour concrete. I G-clamp bars of wood to a surface and then spread out a large quantity of paint and pull it with a sort of squeegee. Sometimes the paint might have something like marble dust in it to give a gritty surface. I am very mindful of not mimicking something, but running a process in parallel to something.


RWA: What does the RWA mean to you?

SG: It used to mean a fusty old institution whose relevance was in question. It had been through all sorts of trauma – during the Second World War it had been taken over by American troops, and then the tax office had it for another ten years or so. When it was reluctantly returned to the artists, they were living hand to mouth, trying to survive. It seemed to me that it wasn’t as vibrant as it had once been. There was, however, a constituency within the RWA (people like Alfred Stockham and Derek Balmer) who were trying to address that. So they invited me in and I became an RWA in 1996. I felt it would be fantastic to see it become important again.


In some ways, the greatest thing about the RWA is that we own the building; and the worst thing about the RWA is that we own the building! It costs a huge amount just to keep the doors open. But the building really expresses in the most simple and powerful way a commitment about how important the visual arts are. The light in those galleries is very very special.

I have become part of a community of artists which I find very interesting. I don’t agree with everything and I’m sure people don’t always agree with me, but things are only healthy when you have a debate – you’re in trouble when you think you’ve got it sorted. I’m delighted to be part of that debate.

RWA: What would be your dream project?

SG: To paint. To do what I do. On a purely personal level, it’s to carry on. I find this the most fascinating of activities. I love teaching but if I’m not in here enough I get anxious and actually feel that I lose something that I could bring to the table, in terms of art school teaching. In terms of potential projects at the RWA, I’m very interested in exhibitions that look at post war British, modernist painting and the contemporary situation.



RWA: Who is your hero?

SG: At the moment it’s the West Ham forward Dimitri Payet because he is the most fantastic footballer and for one of the few times in my life, West Ham are hugely successful. He is making me fantastically happy! In an artistic sense, it’s really unoriginal but someone like Piero Della Francesca. To make painting of that curiosity, luminosity and timelessness, I think that’s an extraordinary achievement. I don’t know much about him – I don’t know if anyone knows much about him – but for me that makes it all the more powerful, because it’s not an egotistic thing. The person disappears and we are left with the work, and I find the work so extraordinary.

RWA: What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

SG: Alf Stockham said to me as a student “Make your work a joy of study”. I also remember him saying, “Anonymity – that’s what you want, because then you’re free to make the work that you want to make.”


RWA: If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

SG: Left mid-field for West Ham (because I’m left footed).

RWA: If you could own any piece of artwork which would it be?

SG: A 19-teens Matisse or a Vermeer. I like The View of Delft.

RWA: What other jobs have you done?

SG: Nothing too dubious! One of the jobs I always remember having done, because my knees remind me on a daily basis, is that I used to clean antique carpets. I was in my early twenties and I remember that we were on our hands and knees, scrubbing Persian rugs. An older guy who worked there told me to be careful of my knees, but you think you’re indestructible at that age. I wished I’d heeded his advice. I remember wading around in my welly boots, pushing biotex into this rug with a roller, and the next week it was in the Ashmolean Museum with a ‘do not touch’ sign hanging on it!


IMG_4475.JPGRWA: How do you see the future of RWA?

SG: I’d like it to be seriously regarded for the contribution it makes: to be respected for the intelligence and visual richness of its exhibitions.


Stewart Geddes will be showing work in the exhibition Material Fact at studio 1.1 london alongside Deborah Westmancoat. The exhibition will run from 8 April – 1 May 2016. For more information, visit here


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Visit us this Easter

The RWA is open throughout Easter (Friday 25 – Monday 28 March inclusive) and there are plenty things to do throughout the building. Here are a few ways to spend your day with us…

MAN1772679Creech Barrow, Evelyn Cheston, Dorset, 1910, oil on canvas, © Bridgeman Images/Manchester City Art Gallery

Inquisitive Eyes: Slade Painters in Edwardian Wessex, 1900 – 1914

Discover great British artists like Augustus John, William Orpen and John Everett in this stunning exhibition of landscape painting. Inquisitive Eyes captures a key moment in British art history, and the pivotal role that the Wessex landscape played in it. Full of windswept moors, jewel-like pools and tumultuous seascapes, this exhibition will transport you to the glorious Dorset countryside.


Imagined Landscapes

Running alongside Inquisitive Eyes, Imagined Landscapes explores the role of artist as cartographer and geographer. In this group exhibition, contemporary painters, sculptors and photographers explore themes around space, place and landscapes.


Simon Quadrat PPRWA

An intimate solo exhibition from RWA past president Simon Quadrat. Simon fuses together imagery from his memory and imagination to create richly nostalgic, and often unexpected, tableaux.


Easter treats at Papadeli

What would Easter be without some sweet treats? The Papadeli team have been hard at work, baking up a tantalising array of cakes, pies, tarts and pastries to make your weekend all the sweeter. Also, don’t miss their homemade hot cross buns and beautifully wrapped, artisan chocolate eggs.

The RWA is open on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday throughout Easter. 


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Artwork of the Month: March

This month’s Artwork from the RWA’s Permanent Collection is ‘Dark Day’ by Carel Weight, chosen by Artist Network Member Holly Brodie:

Weight, Carel Victor Morlais, 1908-1997; Dark Day

Weight, Carel Victor Morlais; Dark Day; Royal West of England Academy; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/dark-day-185994

Slipping below the bottom edge of the canvas, the figures in this painting are marginalised by the landscape. That is not so much to diminish them as to establish their context in a more complex narrative. Carel Weight’s paintings suggest possibilities lying beyond what is immediately visible.

Born in Paddington, London, in 1908, Carel Weight was a prolific painter recognised with accolades such as RWA, RA and CBE, but whose significance in the British painting tradition remains underrated. Before being appointed an Official War Artist in 1945, Weight had already documented a surreal outcome of the Blitz, when a zebra escaped from a bomb-hit London Zoo in 1940. More often, such unlikely scenarios were conjured by an imagination which should earn Weight his place among renowned visionaries like William Blake, Samuel Palmer and Stanley Spencer.

The ‘Alfred Hitchcock of British painting’ was concerned with the undercurrents of human experience – the emotions not obvious to people passing each other on a walk. The theme of isolation recurs. Even when figures appear together, they remain disconnected.

Dark Day appealed to me in several ways, not least of all through its title. Weight relishes the potential of a foreboding atmosphere to draw dramatic tension over a mundane environment and the title points us in the direction of disquiet. In other works, living figures encounter phantoms in suburban settings. Here, the everyday activity of dog-walking is uninterrupted by such fantasies, but we can’t help wondering what might be hiding around the corner, or lurking behind a bush.

Sentimentally, I was also struck by a detail of the painting’s display and purchase – it was bought at the RWA’s 127th Annual Exhibition in 1979, which would have been around the time I was born. Weight is one of a very few artists I give as influences when asked.


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International Women’s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we take a closer look at a selection of our inspiring female Academicians, past and present.

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Janette Kerr RWA, Night Sea

Painter Janette Kerr RWA is our current president, most famous for her ‘foul-weather’ paintings. During her career she has worked as a designer and layout artist, printmaker and full time lecturer. Through her work, Kerr has developed her interest in extreme wave theory – an ongoing research project that is based on meteorological data around the Shetland seas and explores the connection between art and science. She creates large scale paintings as a direct response to this environment, creating a body of work that seeks to make direct visual associations between observational and archival research.


Works by sculptor Margaret Lovell RWA

Sculptor Margaret Lovell RWA, currently exhibiting in Cornwall, works largely in bronze and creates abstract works from the miniature to the monumental. Her work is often exhibited outside as it is usually inspired by organic and natural forms, which regularly consist of two pieces forming a relationship with one another and creating a unified harmony. She also regularly creates works based around a ‘head’, and has a fascination with the possibility of conveying character in a simplified form.

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Laurie Steen RWA, Just at the edge of day

Newly elected academician Laurie Steen RWA is best known for her mixed media drawings which capture positive and negative spaces, trees, and forms in the landscape. She is able to visually record the direct sensation of experiencing something observed in nature the same way she can capture someone in a portrait (which is another element of her practice).

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Lucy Willis RWA, July series No 7, 2012

Painter and printmaker Lucy Willis RWA has a broad library of work and paints still life subjects, landscapes and seafronts, animals, architecture and portraits. She regularly uses oils and watercolours but also creates etchings and charcoal drawings. She created an interesting series of work as artist in residence at Shepton Mallet prison and won the National Portrait gallery’s BP portrait award for a portrait from this series.

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Flowers 2, Mary Fedden PPRWA

Mary Fedden was a former president of the RWA (and member since the 1930’s) and has exhibited everywhere from her first exhibition at a department store in 1947 right up until a major exhibit of her work in the Royal West Of England Academy in 1996. As well as being an artist, she was a stage painter, part of the woman’s voluntary service during the war where she also produced propaganda murals, and later became a teacher at the RCA for almost 10 years, all whilst maintaining a career as an artist and developing her style.

Post written by Danielle Doobay, Marketing Intern

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Mother’s Day at the RWA

There are plenty of ways to spoil a mum you know at the RWA this weekend. 

Our galleries are open throughout Saturday and Sunday with three fantastic exhibitions that are inspired by landscape. Alongside works by contemporary artists, you can discover fascinating historical works too – some not seen in public for a hundred years or more! One ticket (£6.95 or £4.95 concessions) allows you to visit all three exhibitions, plus the Bristol School of Art exhibition downstairs.


Creech Barrow, Evelyn Cheston, Dorset, 1910, oil on canvas, © Bridgeman Images/Manchester City Art Gallery


Our shop is full of great gift ideas for Mum, including locally-made jewelry, beautiful arts books, hand printed stationery and a range of cards.

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Feeling peckish? Pop in to Papadeli for a sweet treat or a delicious lunch. Try Papa’s hot cross buns, fresh from the oven, rich chocolate truffles and gorgeous Easter biscuits as well as the usual range of mouth-watering cakes and salads. As a special treat, all mums receive a free cupcake on Mother’s Day when you spend £10 at the cafe.



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Brain Art Competition


This year, the RWA are collaborating with Bristol Neuroscience Festival to deliver an exciting Brain Art competition for schools in Bristol and the surrounding area.

The festival, which will take place at the University of Bristol on 18-19 March, is a two day public science event for all ages that will celebrate the fascinating world of neuroscience research.  The festival will include exhibits, talks and plenty of hands-on activities for families. There will also be lots of opportunities to meet neuroscience researchers, clinicians and local organisations and learn about all things brain-related. For information on all events, visit the festival listings page.

The Brain Art competition invites children aged between 5 – 18 to submit pieces of work that are inspired by the brain – how it works, what it looks like, or simply the amazing things it can do!

Entries will be judged on originality and creativity by a panel that includes the RWA’s own Learning and Participation Manager, Joel Edwards.

There are six prizes in total and first prize is £100. All prize-winning and commended pieces of work will be displayed in the Fedden Gallery at the RWA from Tuesday 22 March to Sunday 17 April, where members of the public will be able to view the work for free.

The deadline for receipt of entries is 4 March 2016.

To find out how to take take part, visit the Brain Art website.



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Hardy’s Wessex and John Everett – original artworks for sale

A rare opportunity to own an original work by John Everett (1876-1949) as part of the current exhibition Inquisitive Eyes: Slade Painters in Edwardian Wessex, 1900 – 1914

Inquisitive Eyes explores the importance of Wessex to a group of early twentieth century landscape painters, who met and trained at the Slade School of Fine Art, London. It focuses on the Dorset landscape, which lies at the heart of the region which the writer Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) defined as Wessex.


Dorchester-born Hardy was conscious of the need to capture this area’s fast disappearing scenery and way of life. Artists working in Dorset from the late Victorian period were influenced by Hardy’s vivid descriptions of the countryside and people. Hardy himself was friendly with the Everetts, a local family whose son Herbert attended the Slade between 1896-1901. Aware of Dorset’s painterly potential, Everett (known as John from 1901) encouraged and assisted his contemporaries and successful London artists to visit the county.


The exhibition features a number of Everett’s works and casts light on the important role he played throughout his career in bringing artists to that part of the world.

Outside of the main gallery space, on the staircase leading to the Link Space, you will find a selection of stunning aquatints and drypoint works by Everett that descibe some of the most beautiful aspects of Hardy’s Wessex. While on the wall there are views of Corfe Castle, Swanage and Lulworth Cove, there are a range of works that are not exhibited, including a series of French Chateaux.


All works are for sale. For more information please contact box office on 0117 9735129 or call in a speak to a member of our team.


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