‘Too many wonderful artworks…’ – The Friends’ Exhibition 2022

Thanks to all who came to the Create Centre in May to see the triumphant Friends’ Exhibition 2022. Here’s our report…

Words by Laurel Smart. Photos by Angus Gregson

The Friends Exhibition, open to all Friends, is a fundraising event in support of the RWA. This year, for the first time,  it was held off-site, due to the demand for gallery space in the reopened and refurbished Academy. 

But the Create Centre on Spike Island proved a wonderful venue with plenty of hanging space: there were 134 artworks selected and displayed. Visitor numbers were strong, with 506 visitors over the 13 days, resulting in 22 sales with a total value of over £5,000. 

Images from the selection and hanging. Photos: Angus Gregson

We would like to thank all those people who made this such a brilliant success… 

Firstly, a massive thank you to the artists who submitted their work and the volunteers who helped at every stage. We have really enjoyed getting to know many of the artists, with lots of comments about how much they have enjoyed showing their work and meeting each other: all have said what an amazing space the Create Centre offers and appreciated seeing their work so well hung alongside other Friends exhibits.

The selection day was a triumph of efficiency and calm, aided by the unstinting support we received from the Create Centre staff. 

The selectors, Dallas Collins RWA, Lucy Austin RWA and Andy Phipps, owner of That Art Gallery, not only expertly chose an eclectic and exciting collection of work but also stayed late on the day to assist with placement. This made the job of hanging the next day so much easier.

The RWA, at an incredibly busy time for them, have given us such good support: most importantly setting up and managing an online sales system. 

Images from the preview show. Photos: Angus Gregson

And the response from the public has been uniformly positive. We will give the last word to the visitors with just a few representative extracts from our feedback forms…

“A really impressive standard and a pleasure to see … “

“A great variety of styles and techniques expressing interesting visual ideas …”

“A really impressive exhibition and thank you for bringing this opportunity to the South of Bristol…”

“How can you choose a favourite? Too many wonderful artworks to choose the best…”

“Thank you for putting on this inspiring exhibition. I especially really enjoyed the Spot the Detail treasure hunt, it made me really focus in…”

“Great exhibition in a lovely space… A very well organised and curated hang.”

2022 has already been a very exciting year for the Royal West of England Academy and we are proud to have contributed to the excitement. Roll on the next Friends’ Exhibition!


Friends’ Exhibition 2022 – Prize winners

Congratulations to our prize winners and many thanks to our sponsors:

Best in Show: Jamillah Knowles, AI Riot. Embroidered Printing Screen. Sponsored by Niche Frames. [Read our interview with Jamillah here.]

Selectors Choice: Angie Broome, I Gattopardi. Acrylic, charcoal. Sponsored by Coldharbour Gallery & Framing.

Selectors Choice: Viv Shelton, Underfall Yard. Mixed Media. Sponsored by Bristol Fine Art and Coldharbour Gallery & Framing.

Selectors Choice (3D work): Rebecca Lisle, The Spring Unravels. Salvaged wood. Sponsored by Cass Art and Sky Blue Framing & Gallery.

Selectors Choice: Joanna Walter, When I was five. Oil on board. Sponsored by Sky Blue Framing & Gallery.

People’s Choice: Monica Cuellar, A Bristol Story 7/6/2020. Acrylic. Sponsored by Bristol Fine Art.


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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