I visited the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 211th Exhibition twice last week – once for the preview and again the next morning when it opened to photograph the artwork without hordes of people in front of it!
This is the biggest exhibition of paintings in water colours in the UK and it’s well worth a visit. I’ve always enjoyed visiting this exhibition – and missed it last year due to surgery
|RI Preview Evening in the West Gallery
MY APOLOGIES: I had planned to be posting this review rather earlier but last week turned out to be VERY busy for five days straight and I woke up on Sunday feeling very distinctly under the weather. I need to get better at pacing myself! The fact I can now walk again without pain (in my ankle) does not mean I’m getting any younger!
|Deborah Walker RI and Chris Myers PRI – both displaying four artworks in the West Gallery
I was particularly impressed by Deborah’s paintings of the water’s edge
and Chris’s painting of snow
For artists – both members and those selected via the open entry, this exhibition offers:
- several prizes and awards (see below)
- the chance to have your work seen alongside artwork by RI members
- the opportunity to exhibit at a prestigious gallery in the heart of London
- have your work seen by very many visitors – some of whom regularly buy watercolour paintings
I’ve decided to adopt a different approach and write the key conclusions up front and then follow up with images.
- The show include 449 artworks hung across three galleries in a multitude of different styles
|Impressive paintings by Bob Rudd on the extreme left and right
- For the most part, the show exhibits high quality artwork in various art media using water (watercolours, gouache, egg tempera, ink, acrylic) – and some added in other media eg pigment.
- some older members seemed to me to be starting to lose their touch. I think this is very often associated with deterioration in eyesight rather than in ability to paint. As somebody who has now got artificial lenses in both eyes, I always recommend eye tests if your artwork starts to look different – although the artist can very often see no difference.
- Paintings ranged across a very wide range of subject matter (I’m a fan of the landscapes) in various styles. Realism is popular as is impressionism with abstract and/or naive styles being in the minority
|Realism leaning hard towards Impressionism
– both of which I liked a lot
(the ones on the right made me feel like I needed to book a holiday!)
- I do like an exhibition which feels contemporary – meaning responding to life in the last 12 months. It was interesting to see that “weather” crept into quite a few of the landscapes – which is hardly surprising given the extremes we’ve had in the year since the last exhibition.
- I had the impression that there were relatively few large works with many artists showing work a tad smaller than usual. This is very understandable in the current climate given cost of living issues and the continuing level of uncertainty – which does not help sales
|View of the East Gallery
- that said, the next day, I saw a lot of sales – and I’ll be doing an Exhibition Metrics post after the exhibition has closed.
- This is a show with a number of prizes – and you can see who won prizes in:
- this page on the Mall Galleries website RI 211th Exhibition Award Winners
- my Facebook Album – the RI Prizewinners 2023 although I know I didn’t get all on the preview night as I realised next day that not all stickers were up! (Note: I really don’t know why the surprise element of prize announcements is valued more than communicating really well with the audience who are most likely to buy. Stickers can go up before the prizes are announced – so people can then go and look at what was thought worthy of a prize i.e. sales are always more important that surprises – especially in the current context)
- The exhibition continues to exhibit some very silly pricing by artists who are RI members as well as those selected through the competition entry. It is NEVER EVER a good idea to price just above a known “hurdle price“ e.g. £500, £1,000 or £1,500. People are more tempted to buy when the artwork is just below rather than just above the hurdle price. I’ve never done an exhibition metrics post demonstrating this – but I am tempted. It is a well known phenomenum for pricing just about anything!
How can you see the artwork
- You can see the artwork as individual artworks online on the Mall Galleries website (scroll down). What I hate about the website is it’s not possible to view all the artworks at a decent size by clicking an arrow. You have to go in and out of the thumbnail view for each one –
- in albums on my Making A Mark Facebook Page – which DOES allow you to click through the views. I try to start at the entrance of a gallery and work my round the walls. The advantage of these are these views give you a much better impression of the size of individual artworks because you get context!
- My personal impression is that this RI Exhibition continues to be much better than the Spring Exhibition of the Royal Society of Watercolours at the Bankside Gallery which is generally held at the same time. You can check out the Bankside Gallery’s online RWS artworks to see what I mean. My recommendation – if you’ve only got time to do one exhibition, visit the RI.
The workshops were all sold out in advance of the exhibition.
There is also an extensive programme of events which are free unless stated otherwise
- Winsor and Newton are holding A Celebration of Watercolour between 2-4pm
- you can paint with the RI members in the Mall Galleries between 6pm and 8.30pm.
The paintings will be judged by Members of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, with a first prize of Winsor & Newton art materials to the value of £150 awarded to the most successful painting, and two runner-up prizes of Winsor & Newton materials worth £75 each.
On Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, members will be in the gallery and able to talk to visitors, lead tours, or provide demonstrations. Check the Exhibition Events page for who is on when.
More about the Exhibition
Admission: £5, Free for Friends of Mall Galleries, RI Friends and under 25s. Concessions available.
Dates: 30th March – 8th April
Open: 10am – 5pm.
ARCHIVE: RI Annual Exhibition 2007-2023
I’ve been visiting and reviewing this exhibition for the last 16 years – since 2007.2023