This year’s Rye Society of Artists Summer Exhibition opened with a private view on August 2 at the Dance Hall, Community Centre, Conduit Hill, and is open daily until August 25.
As last year, there are two galleries, but with changes and improvements in the design and layout of the exhibition. In the large upper gallery there are new spotlights, windows and blinds and both spaces have benefited from the removal of tables to display three dimensional work. There are now a variety of heights and sizes of plinths to do this, which has really opened up the spaces and made moving around the exhibition much easier.
Setting up the display is an enormous piece of work, as the space is normally a dance studio and their equipment has to be taken out first. There are two teams to do this, one for the two dimensional pieces and one for 3D, working around each other in this rather limited space, but the final results show their skill and application.
The hanging of the pictures is always fascinating. There are some clever juxtapositions of abstract and figurative, like the abstract painting of Hazel Brook (Eclipse X1) with the figurative works of Sarah Seymour (The Hide and The Turbines) above. One wall has watercolours, oils, photos and mixed media hung together.
Shown round by Carole Sheldrake, the ceramicist and mixed media sculptor (work pictured) who makes beautiful pieces with a rich surface texture, it was explained that the show encompasses both work from the 42 members of the RSA and submissions from the public living within 15 miles.
The choices are made about a month before the event and a big selection process by the members takes place. To their great frustration, there is not enough space to show all the work of merit, for example, there were some large wooden sculptures that could not be accommodated and only finite wall hanging space. There are etchings, paintings, drawings, prints and photos, and ceramics objects and more. In all, 406 works, 2D and 3D, are on display here. The youngest artist is only 17 years old, and this show will attract young people as well as seasoned gallery goers.
This year, there are three invited artists, Annabel Faraday, Victoria Atkinson and Robert Sample. Annabel Faraday makes stoneware ceramics, such as the three illustrated vessels in the exhibition (pictured) and combines metal, clay and found objects in her work. Victoria Atkinson is an abstract figurative sculptor and recently completed a commission for a seated bronze of Rudyard Kipling, placed in Burwash High Street. Read Victoria’s diary of the making on her website.
The third invited artist, Robert Sample, has submitted two large dramatic and compelling pictures in the upper gallery. Part of the blackShed gallery’s regular exhibitor programme, he is described on their website as an artist ‘with a contemporary view of the past’. For more images and biography, read his website.
The flyer this year was designed by abstract artist Karen Birchwood, and the original is exhibited, with other works of hers. Cliff Howe, last year’s flyer designer, has a number of images, landscapes based in reality, evocative and dramatic, with a touch of the abstract. Michael J White has vivid, bright and energetic flower paintings upstairs, in contrast to the limited palette employed in his paintings in the lower gallery.
The plinth works are perhaps less in number than last year, but include metalwork abstract forms in copper and gold leaf (Gill Bridgestock) and found objects, together with some beautiful, interesting and fun ceramics, like Sarah Palmer, maker and artist, who has some charming boxes and wall art (pictured) and Judith Rowe’s vessels.
Two members of the Society passed away this year and are commemorated here. Rosemary Bagley was an honorary member, very well known throughout Rye and Sue Anderson, who joined the RSA in 1989, was a painter of her surroundings and there are four tender images to see.
This exhibition, always the first three weeks in August, is wide ranging and needs a number of visits to do the artists justice. With an entrance fee of 50p (concessions 20p) there is no excuse not to enjoy it fully, especially as it is open for three weeks. All the work, except that of Sue Anderson, is on sale and over 60 items had been sold in the first weekend. Anyone who wants to submit next year will find all the information on the RSA website. Why not put the dates in your 2020 diary?