Until 30th January
The Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW) was set up in 1878 by well-known artists who painted in oil, but now wanted to promote the new medium of watercolour. HRH Prince Charles, whose work features in the exhibition, is the proud Patron who is already looking forward to the 140th exhibition to celebrate its illustrious heritage, commenting, ‘The Society continues to support and encourage painting, promoting creativity and skill.’
For the 139th Annual exhibition, one hundred artists were selected to present 234 paintings, by both RSW members as well as artists (working in water-based media on paper) in Scotland through open submission. Artist Derek Robertson, convener of the hanging committee, said, ‘The work here is energetic and experimental, diverse and dynamic.’ It certainly is a broad-based selection, and most interesting to spot familiar names of artists who I have long admired.
Douglas Davies is a master painter of landscapes and flowers, and ‘Above the Loch’ is a wonderful winter scene, which captures the cold, crisp air, white sky and snowy hill above the bare trees and icy glassy loch.
Chris Bushe is usually associated with bold, brash abstract landscapes in thick oils but here is a softer approach in ‘Winter Sun – Cromar’ – such a calm, serene scene, a whiteout of snowy fields with a distant shimmer of fading light.
Michael G Clark is an astute observer of people and places, bars and restaurants, capturing a moment in a colourful sketch ‘Waiter, Paris, October’ – a charming impressionistic figure with his uniform white apron (winner of Eat and Drink Italy Award).
It is the simplicity and quirky style of his subject matter which is so appealing as in a glass of red wine, ‘Mostly Bordeaux’.
Winner of the £3,000 Alexander Graham Munro Travel Award went to Chloe Colquhoun for her ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind,’ an intriguing optical illusion, like a maze, which allows the eye to wander across the piece.
‘My work is figurative and autobiographical. It deals with my personal thoughts and feelings, much of which is subconscious.’ – June Carey. An enigmatic, red-haired lady by June Carey, ‘Yours for the Taking’ is one of her signature, sassy portraits of women. With piercing Bellany-style eyes, she sits as if in mid conversation, her right hand raised, left hand tightly clutched, gesturing an opinion.
Seascape is certainly a popular genre around the exhibition with many stunning views around Scotland’s shores, such as Donald M Paterson’s ‘Western Sands Uist’: the long, narrow composition is most effective, with dramatic lines to denote coastline, sea, rock, sandy beach.
Real or imagined places of the mind provide artists with freedom to experiment. ‘The Far Shore’ is a mesmerising study of a mother and child feeding chickens, two women in thoughtful pose, all against a surreal backdrop of mountainous islands.
Charles MacQueen takes us on an exotic journey to the North Africa, in ‘Evening Marrakesh’, with its soft shades of pink & yellow and subtle shadowy shapes, perhaps a courtyard, houses, door, window and towering mosque.
There are two watercolours by HRH Prince Charles himself, ‘Abandoned Croft, on the Isle of Stroma’ and ‘Klosters’ – two favourite places in Scotland and Switzerland – which you may view but unfortunately are not for sale.
House for an Art Lover presented Isla Valentine Wade with an award for her exquisitely composed abstract, ‘My Passion is Dead’ – a unique fluidity in the texture with splashes, dribbles and scribbles. Wade is inspired by poetry and prose – Plath, Becket, Kafka, Kerouac, Sartre – to express her own philosophy of life through art – ‘Words and phrases form the basis for my colourful abstractions, with emphasis placed on my connection with the rhythm, phonetics and ambiguity’.
From representational and classic to innovative and current, this is a truly enriching, exciting showcase of paintings by well established artists to talented graduates. Yes indeed, energetic and experimental, diverse and dynamic.
Edinburgh EH2 2EL
With grateful acknowledgements to Vivien Devlin for this review.