At one of my favourite places, the Mall Galleries. A went along there one Saturday afternoon (the 1st of April in fact) and had to navigate past hordes of motorcyclists protesting against motorbike theft (which I initially took to be an April fools hoax). I had just been to see the brilliant Howard Hodgkin Absent Friends exhibition (more on that another time).
It is always a mistake to go for a display of work by a master to an exhibition such as this. It can’t really compare and initially you think all is rubbish. It takes a while to adjust and begin to see the true value of things on its own terms.
What I saw in fact turned out to be the 300th exhibition of the Royal Society of British Artists. Now the RSBA members are, in the main, very traditional in their tastes. So there are allot of very well rendered, but rather dull, picturesque landscapes. Modern versions of the kind of Victorian paintings you often see (well I often see anyway) in auction houses, antique shops and the more serene trendy cafes. Having been to a few Mall Galleries shows I recognised a few names that seem to pop up in a number of these views.
It was quite a large show, taking up the whole place. I made my way to the back of the North Gallery where the scholarship (school children) paintings were and made my way from there. There was some annoyingly good paintings from people so young. The most prodigious of these was by William Copley (I do wonder if any relation) of Kings School and with his well rendered Portrait of Laura, a piece full of personality.
Annie Boisseau had on display a couple of delightful sunset scenes, slightly Turneresque.
John Whitehall’s number 15 beguiled me. This finely rendered, threatening picture of a deserted house really drew me in. It reminded me of Lee Madgwick. I particularly like the way the foliage encroaches from the right and up to the front door. Makes me wonder where the house is. This probably was my most favourite piece in the show.
Julie Sorrell has gone to that friend of artists, Orkney. It has not been wasted. She has produced a quartet of fine landscapes in oil. I like the orangey rocks and the turquoise seas but particularly the way the rock is scratched over with fine black lines. The ones with sea in them are the best.
Barbara Richardson has produced this quite subtle still life painting of three pots. It’s pleasing and restrained and suits it title Winter Painting.
Not all of it is painting. There were a couple of sculptures by Peter Weaver. A biplane and a sort of mechanical pyramid both of which I enjoyed.
Continuing the mechanical theme are these anthropomorphised bits of rubbish, done in watercolour by Arthur Lockwood. Friendly and interesting.
There are a couple famous names making a surprise appearance, surprise to me anyway were the appearance of a couple of famous names, William Selby (below left) and Ken Howard (below right) being names I recognised who had entered small, and for them reasonably priced, work into the show.
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.