2016 Exhibition



Now in its 29th year, the competition is the largest and most prestigious showcase of contemporary watercolour painting in the UK. Generously supported by Smith & Williamson, the accountancy, investment management and tax group, the competition aims to celebrate and reward excellence and originality in the medium of watercolour.

The First Prize of £10,000, is this year awarded to Kathryn Maple, for Sandy Shoes, a stunningly vibrant painting in which the colourful mosaic of domestic space cascades into the equally colourful natural space of the Southwest Indian Vypin Islands. Maple says that she has “… always been interested in interior/exterior places – and parts of India really feel like a green house waiting to explode.  Sandy Shoes looks at the filtered shapes and vibrant colours I experienced in the Vypin Islands.”

Maple studied for a BA in Fine Art Print Making at The University of Brighton before taking a Postgraduate Programme at the Royal Drawing School. A practicing artist, living and working in London, Maple has held residencies at Dumfries House and The Muse Gallery.

Chloe Le Tissier is awarded the Second Prize of £6,000 for Never Alone, which is painted upon graph paper and depicts the figure of a man standing over a pool against the backdrop of a villa luscious with tropical flora.  Le Tissier studied at The Slade School of Fine Art before, like Maple, completing a Postgraduate Programme at the Royal Drawing School. Of her playful and intriguing practice Le Tissier says, “…I seek a moment where the paint takes over and something unexpected happens. I work from life as well as from photographs, fabric and the memory of a place. The process of painting and creating a composition is as important to me as the choice of subject matter. Delicately building a sense of depth, colour and light, I use the surprisingly robust nature of watercolour to create tension across the page, loading the brush and layering. This in turn reveals the imagery; the pulsating rhythm of a woodland or the flow of water leading to a man clothed only in shadows, on which our gaze falls.”

The Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize of £1,500 goes to Janet Kenyon for Gridlock (Manhattan). Kenyon lives and works in Carlisle and studied for a BA in Graphic Design at Leeds Polytechnic where she began to experiment with the possibilities of watercolour. For Kenyon it is “… the capturing of natural & artificial light, in my paintings, and the way it interacts with the landscape, alongside the unexpected perspective and sense of space, that ignites my imagination.”

The 2016 judging panel includes Akash Bhatt, Winner of Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2015; Sara Dudman, artist; Simon Oldfield, Director of Simon Oldfield Gallery; Desmond Shawe-Taylor CVO, Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, and Louis Wise, Critic and Writer, The Sunday Times.

The shortlisted works are on show at the Mall Galleries, London from 19 – 24 September 2016, and will continue to tour to venues across the UK, including Parabola Arts centre, Cheltenham (24 – 29 October 2016) and Guildford House Gallery, Guildford (10 December 2016 – 28 January 2017)

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