Our Membership includes one of the oldest art society subscriber schemes in the UK – the Friends Exhibition has been running since the 1900s. As this year’s show drew to a close, our Friends Team and Brian Fletcher RBSA led a tour of the artworks on display.
Friends Co-ordinator Linda Nevill wrote this review for ART BLOG…
What a great turnout for the Friends Exhibition tour and crit!
Brian Fletcher RBSA opened the discussion by praising the high quality and variety of work in the exhibition, saying it had been a delight to see it come into the gallery. He invited artists to say a few words about their work, and remarked on the fascinating narratives and motivations that were revealed by them as they spoke.
Gail Britt explained that she is a narrative painter and her painting, ‘Owzat’, mixed media, makes reference to her grandfather who lived in Hastings and played cricket as a young man. However, that is just the starting point. When Gail starts painting, she says it is like a journey and she wants to surprise herself.
‘Imagination is more important than knowledge’
Roger Hale has been painting and drawing all his life. This is the first time his work ‘The Winterbourne Oak and Easter Chestnut’, pen and ink, has been exhibited.
Although he has painted many portraits for people, they tend to go to the homes of their subject. His interest in trees, his subject matter here, started on Edgbaston golf course and grew from there. His ‘Easter Chestnut’ is a tree he saw on Greenwich Common and finished on Easter Sunday – he also felt that the tree looked like an Easter Island statue. Roger used a 0.25 Muji rollerball on conte paper.
Colin Hill’s photographic work ‘How Much Longer’ depicts his grandson standing in the street feeling fed up at Christmas. It’s a moment in time, it tells a story and has a mysterious quality.
Glen Ibbotson’s initial inspiration for his ‘Consignment Batch’ series was escapology. He got into a crate and filmed himself with a video camera, using this film as the starting point for his paintings.
However, as the images developed, news stories about Guantanamo Bay and human trafficking gave the work additional layers of meaning.
Martyn Overs was inspired by board games, Peter Blake and 60s Pop Art colours for his three plate lino prints – ‘I Changed My Mind’, ‘Don’t Think Twice’, and ‘Oh That Was So Real’.
His print ‘I changed My Mind’ is a purposely mis-registered lenticular image and reflects his love of coloured printed packaging of that time.
Susan Pitt explained how, in ‘Whimsical Wightwick’, she used maps of the Mander family’s Wightwick Manor and estate, dated 1928, to create images she screen-printed onto her porcelain bowls.
For the series ‘Google Maps Timeline Collection’ she used her own smartphone tracking data to create Google map data images on slip cast bowls.
Cornwall Road, Smethwick, was the starting point for her ‘Demolition of B66’ assemblage of stoneware representing an area of industry now marked by dereliction. Sue used a piece of metal found on-site to inspire the creation of the shapes and marks on this piece.
Gill Price’s machine embroidery piece, ‘Reflections’, started with fabric she dyed green. The addition of bleach created colours which reminded her of water. She subsequently consulted her research photos and found one of marshes with reflections of reeds. A couching technique was used for the embroidery.
Jane Pugh spoke about her 12-year-old dog, Tilly, who was the subject matter for her acrylic painting ‘Man’s Best Friend’.
Jane started by scaling up her photograph onto the canvas then worked with a layering technique to build up the texture of the fur.
Inspired by a poem by William Butler Yates entitled Cloths of Heaven, Judith Rowley set out to create a piece of work about heaven. In her research, two friends described it as a wildflower meadow. She used this idea, working with traditional stitching skills to create this textile piece using Indian cottons which her neighbour imports for making turbans.
Clare Sherwen loves making images of animals, including tigers. She showed us the collagraph plate she made from mount board, with areas scored and removed to create dark tones for the stripes, and enamel painted onto the board to create light tones. Ink is then rubbed into the grooves and lines on the plate, the surface ink wiped off and then printed using damp paper on Clare’s etching press. The tiger is shown in an unusual position with the bottom of the big cat’s paws visible leading to the print’s title, ‘Tiger Feet.’
Marie South explained that creating an etching print is a two-part process: making the plate and then printing it. When the plate has been made, there are many different possibilities for how to print it, each creating a very different outcome. In this etching, ‘Kneeling Woman’, she used coloured paper for the figure as integral collage which is called ‘chine collé’.
Mirta Vargas showed us her stoneware vessels,’Underwater 1,2 and 3′, ‘Little Sea Creature’, and ‘Fire’. They are linked to psychodynamic concepts and can be seen as a container for thoughts. The openings in the pieces were painted with oxides and felt, to Mirta, like shadows inside these smooth, rounded shapes.
Charles Weston explained a mahnmal is a monument which serves as a warning about a tragic event that should not happen again. The main inspirations for his Portland limestone sculpture ‘Mahnmal 2’, were German memorials in Berlin and the artist Käthe Kollwitz’s diary reference to her son’s death in 1914.
Charles also showed us some barbed wire which came from a battlefield – he had incorporated a sculpted version of this, too.
Brian Fletcher concluded the afternoon by talking about more of the artworks. His favourite pieces in the show were ‘Girl on a Stool 2’ and ‘Tenebrosa 19’ – both charcoal drawings by Stuart Gregory. Brian praised their skill, the sensitivity and depiction of movement.
It is impossible to do all our speakers justice in a single blog post. The response to this event was overwhelming!
Linda Nevill ARBSA
This tour is just one example of how the RBSA helps its Friends, encouraging them to meet up, discuss their work, and share hints and tips about how to develop their practice.
If you are interested in joining our Friends Scheme, you can read more here…