The Society of Graphic Fine Art: an interview with Jackie Devereux

The RBSA is delighted to be hosting the Society of Graphic Fine Art (SGFA) for the first time, from 3 — 18 May.

The Society was founded 100 years ago in 1919 and is the only national society in the UK dedicated solely to drawing. SGFA Past President Jackie Devereux will be giving an exclusive tour of the exhibition on 8 May.

Jackie is an award-winning watercolour artist: she is well-published and the author of her own illustrated book. She gave ART BLOG an exclusive interview on the SGFA and the importance of fine drawing skills…

Gary Cook, Snow on the Burrows

How did you first get involved in the Society of Graphic Fine Art?

I have a long background in art. About fifteen years ago I saw an advert for the Society and was immediately interested. They had an Open Exhibition and I successfully entered my work. I enjoyed the experience of exhibiting, and gradually got more involved with the Society, first on the Council – a great team to work with – and then I became President five years ago.

What did you try to achieve during your time as President of the SGFA?

I think it’s important that societies evolve, and my main aim as President has been to really get the Society’s name out there and to get more people involved. This has been achieved by exhibiting at many interesting and high-profile venues in different parts of the country.

A couple of years ago we exhibited at the Bankside Gallery in London – home to the Royal Watercolour Society – which was very successful, and we’ve been invited back this year. After the RBSA exhibition we have a showing at the Bishop’s Palace in Somerset.

We are also publishing a new book to mark our Centenary year, celebrating the Society’s artistic output. It will be the first publication of its kind in the Society’s long history.

Felicity Flutter, Summer Wavelength

Can you tell us a bit more about the Society and its main purpose?

Although we’re based in London, we have members from across the UK including Scotland. The Society has a strict criterion for membership, the main requirement being “drawing excellence”. The high admission standards are also practical because venues only have so much wall space, and so we need to be fair to the existing membership – we have an active membership of 133.

The skill of drawing has gone out of fashion with the rise of expressionism and other art movements. However, many artists inside and outside the SGFA see drawing as the backbone of art. This is because if you can’t draw you are not observing, and if you are not observing it isn’t possible to interpret what you are seeing.

Jackie Devereux Winter Hedgerow II

Since I’ve been involved with the Society it has encouraged artworks in many different media – and not just in black and white – that demonstrate the use of drawing skills.

These include printing, embroidery, collage, and paper-cutting. Even 3D artworks can display drawing expertise.

The RBSA exhibition will be the Society’s first time showing in Birmingham. We want to reach as wide an audience as possible, not just in London but in the other big cities.

Talk and Tour: Wednesday 8 May

Looking for something to do after work? Join Jackie for her tour of the RBSA exhibition on Wednesday 8 May. Jackie will provide insights about the Society, the artworks on display, and the changing attitudes to fine drawing skills. The event will include time for questions at the end.

6.30-8.30pm (arrivals from 6pm for a prompt 6.30pm start).£5 per person or free for Friends of the RBSA and SGFA members. Drinks are included.Booking is essential – call 0121 236 4353.

By Alfie Hancox, RBSA Blog Volunteer

Biographical note:

After five years as President of the SGFA, Jackie has now retired but retains a very active interest and works closely with its Council. She is also active in a PR role within the Society as it continues to flourish and move forward. Jackie has now been awarded Honorary Membership.

Banner image: Harriet Brigdale, ‘Passing Through’ (detail)

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