This year's Open Exhibition has proved highly successful with the public attendance much
improved over last year and these visits rewarded by an extremely high standard of work
displayed. The new Gallery at the Castle was a fitting and prestigious home for an outstanding
collection of images, sculpture and ceramics from across the South West. Thoroughly contemporary
and exciting work was mixed seamlessly with the traditional in all genres making for an exciting
exhibition fully in line with the Academy's refreshed and redefined aims and objectives.
Winners of the Lionel Aggett Memorial Prize, awarded each year for the best in show from
on-academicians were Rita Brown for her mixed media on canvas Bodyform No 1, Angela Fahey for
her oil on canvas Windy Day Across the Harbour and Alison Hood for her ceramic sculpture
Conversations. Highly Commended was Rupert W Brookes for his oil on canvas The Migrants.
(click on the images below to see photos of the works).
In his Opening of the Private View and welcome to the guests Alan Fynn, Chair of Trustees,
took the opportunity to introduce visitors to the facilities of the new Academy website,
profiling all the Academy's new initiatives and its history and achievements over the
last twelve years. He also reminded guests of The next Academicians Show in the Spring
and the Drecki Lecture
for 2012. Announcing that the Trustees had renewed the Academy's
commitment to education with a planned Annual Open Award for young artists from primary to
age twenty, to be staged in 2012, he asked for help from all present with this project - either
by volunteer effort or help with funding through the re-launched
Friends Association and
new Associate Membership Scheme.
Below is a review of the 2011 SWAc Open Exhibition by Alison Summerfield.
Cherry trees in Amsterdam and April in Paris, two delightful paintings by
Tina Morgan gave a certain spring like atmosphere and romance to this year's
South West Academy's open exhibition together with others such as Sonia Fynn's
Cretan Spring - Alliums, Early morning Mist - Burgh Island by Janice Walton,
The Basilica; Venice by Simon Ashby and Chassaigne through the Trees by
Martin Dutton. Unlike London's Frieze Fair, SWAc did not require a Super Yacht
to attract visitors but with coastlines and boats a naturally occurring theme
here in the West Country, Ray Balkwill, Chris Sampson, Roger Wonnacott, Sally
Clayden and their co exhibitors did not disappoint with their regionally inspired
paintings - and of course, were more affordable and easier to transport home.
However, as with every SWAc exhibition there was a truly diverse selection of
genre executed in all manner of styles and media. Jo Dixon's exquisite portrait
Forward Facing in oil, to June Arnold's Asleep on the Ghats in Varansasi in
pastel and Kirstie Benwos's 'White Garden' in oil, acrylic and collage, together
with lino-cuts and etchings, water colours, pen drawings and photography, as well
as ceramics and sculpture - (the latter of which I hope will prove more widely
represented in 2012) - all offered the art buyer a variety of artworks and prices.
First time exhibitors and emerging artists hung side by side with well
established artists and academicians. And, as always there were one or two
surprises to keep regular attendees of the SWAc exhibition on their toes - this
year Kevin Jones's wonderful Still life with Fish was far removed from his from
his usual style and genre, and while another painting by Jo Dixon saw a move away
from her portraits to paint the Spare Room, the alluring serenity in her work
was still recognisable. Visitors may well also be familiar with Roger Wonnacott's
Trawler paintings but this year his Twilight and CKS Newlyn - well you
could almost smell the rust on the hulls.
Despite the onset of Autumn there was a definite air of spring during the SWAc
Open Exhibition and despite one or two weaker entries, the high calibre that
we have come to expect at this annual event was maintained and proves without
doubt, that the South West Academy provides a solid platform for both new and
established artists and is an excellent assembly for art collectors too.
First Prize: Rita Brown Bodyform Number 1 Mixed Media
Second Prize: Angela Fahey Windy Day Across the Harbour Oil on Canvas
Third Prize: Alison Hood Conversation Clay
Highly Commended: Rupert W. Brooks The Migrants (detail) Oil on Canvas
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