The Friends of the RWA’s Biennial Exhibition is on show in the Cube and Link galleries until 12 May. Here’s a glimpse behind the scenes…
From 14 April to 12 May the Friends are taking over the RWA’s Cube and Link galleries for our Biennial Exhibition. The ‘biennial’ has been something of a misnomer as in fact this is the first such Friends’ exhibition for some years – and it also represents a major step up in ambition and scope.
Over 340 works were submitted, whittled down on selection day to a show of 181 works by 94 artists – covering painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture and even an architectural drawing that comes complete with its own 3-D viewing glasses.
The selection panel consisted of artists Stephen Jacobson (Vice President of the RWA) and Malcolm Ashman RWA RBA ROI, along with Andy Phipps, owner of That Art Gallery on Christmas Steps. Submitted works required two out of the three votes to go through, and with the quality so high the selectors were required to be very discerning – often debating pieces at length and requiring dozens of works to be brought around for a second look.
Malcolm Ashman described the overall standard as ‘amazing’ and comparable with the RWA’s Annual Open. He explained that as a selector he was looking for that particular indefinable ‘it’ – a reassuring quality that lets the viewer know they are ‘in safe hands’ with the artist, whatever the style or medium.
“I’m very conscious of not falling into the selector’s trap of choosing things that remind me of my own work. I’m looking for a sense that the artist really knows what he or she is doing. As with a good piece of writing or music, a good piece of art takes you with it, on its own terms: you don’t have to do any of the work, in order to make it work.”
Behind the scenes at the hanging
The overall best in show prize was awarded to Nina Dolan’s mesmerising abstract in watercolour, ink and oil, Tranquil Radiance I. Other selectors’ choice awards went to Rich Aaron Ward’s abstract collage Direction of Travel, Suzanne Ewart’s watercolour portrait The Last Swim, and Green Girl, a small, haunting portrait in oil by Liane Stevenson.
The selectors’ choice award in the three-dimensional works category was Sketch, a metallic rendering of one of his own ink drawings by architecture student Daniel Perry.
Roll on 2021!
The exhibition was roundly described as a ‘triumph’, not least in helping to bring in a swathe of new artist Friends.
At the Private View, FRWA Chair Jane Boot thanked all the volunteers who’d helped with the selection, hanging, administration and organisation – a huge effort by all. She also revealed that the show will return in two years’ time – so ‘Friends’ Biennial Exhibition’ will be a misnomer no more!
Visit the Friends’ Exhibition until 12 May – entry is free and all works are for sale (and prices are extremely affordable!)
All photos by Angus Gregson unless stated otherwise. Photos below from the Private View by Philippa Shelton (click for a larger view).