Pictures in the frame


The Rye Society of Artists (RSA) is holding its summer exhibition from August 5 -28, in the Dance Hall on Conduit Hill. A very successful preview was held on August 4, when the two galleries were packed with viewers. buyers and the artists themselves.

Admiring Lisa Katzenstein ceramics

This summer exhibition is always a highlight for the town, bringing together work from all the disciplines of the members of the society and selected artists who live and work within a 15 mile radius of Rye. This year, each RSA member is highlighted on the information labels, so the queries about selected artists are easily answered. There was the biggest submission ever from non-members, making for diversity and new interest.

Janet Milner RSA : Tina Can’t Stand the Rain

Excitingly, six members were showing at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (RA) this year. Angie Braven is an invited artist this year at the Royal Academy which is a huge honour, with Denise Franklin winning the Hugh Casson drawing prize, a triumph for her. Look for her work, seen as you enter the upstairs gallery.

As well as Denise and Angie, Lisa Katzenstein, Chris James and Janet Milner all had work featured at the Royal Academy, along with the late and sadly missed Fred Cuming, who had three paintings there. All the works were sold and as there were sixteen and a half thousand entries, it highlights the quality of this Rye exhibition and the talent of our local artists and makers.

One of the longest standing members has just celebrated her 90th birthday. Shirley Spottiswoode continues to display her work, pictured here. She joined the society aged 18 and has been a contributing member ever since. Many congratulations on reaching such a milestone.

Shirley Spottiswoode RSA: St Thomas Becket Church, Fairfield

I was shown round the exhibition by the RSA chairman, Karen Birchwood, starting upstairs in the big, light, airy space, but the real difference is the change that has been made to the Chapel Room, the downstairs gallery. A grant from the Rye Fund has meant that the space has been redecorated, the floorboards revealed, sanded and polished and new lighting installed. What a difference! It seems twice the size and can accommodate larger, heavier works. Richard Adams has five images in the space, for example and extra battening on the main wall has opened up more room for exhibits.

Richard Adams RSA: Passing Rye

The exhibition is always curated so that everything can be shown to its best, so artists and makers are not necessarily placed together. Karen explained that there needs to be “a conversation” between the 3D and 2D. Showing downstairs are some wonderful ceramics by Judith Douglas and woven vessels by Julie Gurr, with Annabel Faraday’s ceramics complementing Janet Milner’s ‘Tina Can’t Stand the Rain’.

Each year, five voucher prizes are given to students at Rye College. Two powerful images are hung at the bottom of the staircase, well worth close attention, as Karen was determined to get them into the exhibition. You can see the students pictured on the noticeboard as you enter the upstairs gallery.

Finally, a brief history. What is now the RSA was formed as the Rye Arts Club in the 1920s, with a roll call of members that included Augustus John, Dame Laura Knight  and Edward Burra. The influx of artists locally after the second world war led to the formation of another group in 1951, by eight artists who launched their own modern movement named the RX8, after a fishing boat. It merged in 1952 with a newer group, which included Ken Townsend and Wally Cole and was finally called the Rye Society of Artists. Rye should be immensely proud of its artists and makers and the gallery pictures below help to highlight this year’s contribution to that wonderful story.

Image Credits: Annie Soudain , Gillian Roder , Janet Milner , Shirley Spottiswoode , Richard Adams , Denise Franklin , Christopher James , Angie Braven , Judith Douglas , David Crew , Julie Gurr , Celia Allen , Lisa Katzenstein .

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