Best of the West – October 2021

The best art exhibitions coming up in Bristol and the Westcountry – selected by the Friends of the RWA…

Here’s our pick of the best art exhibitions and events happening in and around Bristol and the south west in the month ahead – including a look ahead to upcoming features….


 

The RWA Collection – Our Heritage, Our Future

9 Oct – 27 Nov 2021 – special preview days for Friends 8 and 11 October 21.
Victoria Methodist Church, Whiteladies Road, Bristol BS8 1NU

The RWA galleries may be closed temporarily for the transformational NLHF-funded Light and Inspiration Project, but the exhibitions programme continues as the RWA, with the support of the Victoria Methodist Church next door on Whiteladies Road, displays a selection of works from the RWA Permanent Collection in the wonderful open space of the church.

Joining two recent acquisitions by Albert Irvin, the exhibition includes historic works by many of the RWA’s well-known members, such as Mary Fedden, Julian Trevelyan, Anne Redpath, David Inshaw and Dame Elisabeth Frink, as well as contemporary works by recent members such as Adelaide Damoah, Paul Thirkell and Leslie Glenn Damhus. Many of the historic works, still as fresh and interesting as when they were first produced, will receive their first showing in many years, in the largest exhibition of the collection in recent times.

More info here.

Image above: Vivienne Baker (b.1965), Opaline, 2000, oil on canvas, 162 x 187.5cm © the artist. RWA Collection. Photo © RWA

 

RWA Pop-Up Exhibition ‘Varekai’

The RWA has closed its doors until February 2022 for the very exciting Light and Inspiration project. But in the meantime there will be plenty of RWA events going on at other venues in the area. Keep an eye on rwa.org.uk for the latest.

One such is the Varekai (‘Anywhere’) Pop-up Exhibition, in which a selection of works from the RWA’s Permanent Collection will be appearing at venues around the city.

To accompany the exhibition, free family art workshops with an artist will run at each venue, using the paintings as inspiration. Booking for these workshops is via each individual venue.

St Paul’s Learning Centre: 25 Sept – 28 Oct (Family workshops, Sat 9 and 23 Oct)

Wellspring Healthy Living Centre: 30 Oct – 26 Nov

Southmead Community Centre: 27 Nov ’21 – 6 Jan ’22 TBC

Find out more about the Varekai events here.


 

CURRENT EXHIBITIONS

Compiled by Sue Quirk and Laurel Smart
 

1) HELEN SEAR & ROBERT DARCH: TURN TO RETURN

25 SEPTEMBER – 27 OCTOBER, CENTRESPACE, BRISTOL

‘Turn to Return’ brings together two series of work, ‘Within Sight’ by Helen Sear and ‘The Island’ by Robert Darch, both exhibited here for the first time. Sear’s series was made whilst repeatedly walking the same mountain passage in Majorca and Darch’s work was made in response to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016. On the surface, the series are disparate both visually and in subject matter. However, when presented and interacting within the exhibition space, further similarities become apparent.

Website.

 

2) REBECCA ASHDOWN: IN PLAIN SIGHT

29 SEPTEMBER – 23 OCTOBER, PREMA ARTS CENTRE, ULEY, GLOS

Rebecca Ashdown’s most recent body of work ‘In Plain Sight’ presents a series of semi-abstract landscapes inspired by Rodborough Common, above Stroud. These works were painted in a year when the world was changing beyond recognition. They capture sound and movement, shapes and motifs – a moss covered rock, paths scored into valley walls – and express an essence, sometimes apparent and sometimes hidden in plain sight.

 Website.
 

3) SOU’-SOU’-WEST GALLERY, SYMONDSBURY: 2 EXHIBITIONS

RITA BROWN: KIMMERIDGE BETWEEN THE LEDGES UNTIL 4 OCTOBER
ZEE JONES: PERFECT BALANCE 2-17 OCTOBER

RITA BROWN: Rita Brown’s latest show has a focus on fossils and the Jurassic coast: geology and palaeontology have been a recurring theme throughout her career. Rita’s collection of specimens and visits to Kimmeridge and Charmouth has been a huge motivation and inspiration for this recent work.
ZEE JONES: Based in Devon, Zees’s work is inspired by a love of the countryside and coastline which surround her and her life philosophy. Zee believes that the answer to a contented life is to give willingly and achieve the balance in life that is right for you: a ‘Perfect Balance’.
In her work Zee aims to produce art which will promote emotional stability using images that incorporate light and dark, quiet and noise, structure and freedom, and fun and sensitivity.

Website.

 

4) ADRIAN SYKES: IN TUNE WITH LIFE

UNTIL 8 OCTOBER, MARINE HOUSE, BEER


Adrian creates from his imagination as he works at his Bristol studio. It’s apparent that geographic locations seed many of his paintings. Venice is a recurring theme, as are the old field patterns and hills of the English landscape which regularly provide a backdrop to his work.
But these are not just straightforward landscapes or townscapes, once they have been breathed on by Adrian’s fertile imagination. People are heading home to isolated houses, romantic trysts take place, often via impossibly long ladders; current trends such as wild swimming make their appearance, and busy happy scenes, in a park in a mill town, almost Lowryesque in style, are explored.
As always, Adrian uses bold and warm oil colours applied liberally and in depth as he reveals his composition. He makes clever use of perspective, but is not a slave to it! This helps make his paintings accessible, giving the viewer constant small and agreeable surprises as their eye picks out unexpected details.

Website.

 

5) SHELLEY ANDERSON: HARBOUR LIFE

UNTIL 16 OCTOBER, THE ENGINE ROOM, THE EXCHANGE, NEWLYN

Paintings and metal sculptural works by Newlyn-based Shelley Anderson. He uses new and innovative techniques to complement his traditional metalworking skills. He is inspired by roaming the coastline and landscape of West Cornwall, and lives and works in the industrial fishing port of Newlyn.

Website.
 

6) TOM ROBINSON: RED DAY

UNTIL 17 OCTOBER, MESSUMS WILTSHIRE, TISBURY

Painting in his light-filled studio on the north Norfolk coast Robinson’s abstract oils evolve over months, to create complex, rhythmic planes of overlapping colour and space.
He starts with a one-dimensional idea of colour and form and gradually establishes a structure and colour key, describing his work as ‘reaching for something hovering behind the surface: the meta image’. The paint is applied thickly, soaking brushes in pots of paint rather than a palette, then reworking the paint, scraping it back with chisels or wood planes. Each painting is balanced and compact, elevating rather than mitigating the tension and visceral energy of his mark-making. His understanding of colour is subtle and often surprising. Colours bounce forwards and sink back, giving them three-dimensionality akin to relief sculpture.

Website.

 

7) MARIELE NEUDECKER: SEDIMENT

UNTIL 24 OCTOBER, HESTERCOMBE, CHEDDON FITZPAINE, SOMERSET

SEDIMENT brings together three decades of work by celebrated German artist Mariele Neudecker, who works at the crossover of art and science. Landscape, the deep sea, the Arctic, environmental concerns and lockdown all have a presence in this major solo exhibition.
The artist’s quest to find a ‘contemporary sublime’ leads her to explore topics such as mapping, perception, the invisible, painting and the history of art. This multimedia practice incorporates sculpture, video, painting, photography and sound.

Website.


 

LAST CHANCE TO SEE…

  • UNTIL 2 OCTOBER: JOANNA BRIAR: THE SHAPE OF TREES Landscape ink drawings, paper sculptures and printmaking focusing on Somerset trees and plants. ACE ARTS, SOMERTON acearts.co.uk
  • UNTIL 2 OCTOBER: JULIE ELLIS: EQUILIBRIUM An exploration of two different aspects of the natural world. BROWNSTON GALLERY, MODBURY, DEVON https://www.brownstonart.com/exhibitions/
  • UNTIL 3 OCTOBER: RICHARD CHOPPING: THE ORIGINAL BOND ARTIST Celebrates the life and work of writer, illustrator and teacher, best-known for illustrating the original book covers for James Bond. SALISBURY MUSEUM, SALISBURY https://rammuseum.org.uk/seedscapes-future-proofing-nature/

 


 

WATCH OUT FOR…

 

TWO DAY EVENT

 

If you would like an exhibition or artist to be listed please email laurel.smart@blueyonder.co.uk for consideration.


The Friends of the RWA is an independent charity that supports the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol’s first art gallery. 
For just £35 a year Friends can make unlimited visits to RWA exhibitions and enjoy a host of other benefits, as well as making an important contribution to the arts in Bristol and the South West. Find out more and join up here.

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