Head for this summer’s art


The Rye Society of Artists (RSA) annual month-long summer show opened to the tune of champagne corks flying in its new venue on Friday (July 31).  The exhibition features more than 300 works by 65 artists, including ceramics, collage, etchings, woodcuts, prints and photographs as well as paintings.  In previous years, the show has been held at the Boys Club on Mermaid Street, but this building was not available this year.

Instead, the RSA has taken over the Dance Hall at the Community Centre on Conduit Hill for August and they hope to be there for some years to come, says RSA Chairwoman Davida Smith.  A lot of work was needed to repaint the venue in a neutral colour and hide the mirrored wall (used for dance practice). This has paid off though, as the bright and airy space really shows off the pieces.

Although the new venue is slightly smaller than the Boys Club, the natural light and clever hanging makes it appear more spacious. Davida told us that she had adopted the hanging policy of the Royal Academy of Arts summer show where exhibits are often displayed three deep. Guests attending the private view were agreeably surprised that the usual first night crush had been abated by sunny weather, outside space to chat, and extended opening times.

Although the preview night opened two hours earlier than usual, the serious collectors were waiting outside before 5pm to make sure they had the first pick. Sales so far have been excellent. “At the end of the first full day of business we had made sales worth about half of what we took over the whole period of the 2014 show, and that was a record year” said Davida.

Although the exhibition will remain for the whole month, some new exhibits will be brought in, so it is always worth popping back to check out the latest display.

"Engerland!" by Tony Bennett
“Engerland!” by Tony Bennett

As usual the show contains an eclectic mix of thought provoking, amusing and simply beautiful pieces. Some very well-known artists are featured such as Richard Adams, Fred Cuming RA and Louis Turpin with classic paintings (and premium prices).

But there are of other more affordable pieces. I particularly liked Val Fricker’s mediation heads and Timothy Smith’s thin and fat pigs which were around the £20-£40 mark each. Carole Sheldrake’s “Blood Head T Shirt” was funny, displayed directly below Tony Bennett’s terrifying “Blood Head” itself, which is the poster image for this year’s exhibition.

The Blood Head is not for sale, but “Engerland” by the same artist is available and is well worth a look. The exhibition is open every day until August 31, 10:30am-5:30pm. Admission is 50p, 20p for concessions and is free for children.

Photos: Seana Lanigan

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