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Details revealed for 2023 Royal Society of Marine Artists annual exhibition


Details revealed for 2023 Royal Society of Marine Artists annual exhibition

The Royal Society of Marine Artists (RSMA,) Europe’s foremost society of artists dedicated to depicting tidal waters and the marine environment, has announced the dates of its highly anticipated Annual Exhibition and revealed an interesting sustainability message within some of the work to be shown.

John Scott Martin, the RSMA’s President:

“The UK has long been Europe’s leader, and a constant inspiration, when it comes to the discipline of marine art. Being an island, the coast and sea is an integral part of our national identity. Artists have never been too far from it and many of us are drawn to the sea and to artwork depicting it. Sustainability and environmental concerns are permeating all aspects of our world, and this includes the marine landscape and environment. For our artists, the aesthetic appeal of classical sailing ships, commissioned to deliver cargo around the world in a sustainable way, provides the perfect package. Combining an inspirational message and story with an attractive subject matter.

In addition to a particularly high quality of marine and tidal work to be exhibited next month, a number of artists have chosen to use their platform to showcase the exciting and innovative developments taking place in the area of sustainable shipping, as dynamic businesses return to using beautiful sailboats and ships to transport cargo using wind power alone. The exhibition this year will open on Thursday 21st of September at 10am and run until Saturday 30th of September at 5pm at Mall Galleries, London.

The RSMA Annual Exhibition will show figurative paintings, hand-crafted prints, sculpture, ceramics and textiles from both RSMA members and work selected from an Open Submission. Marine artists worldwide have been invited to submit work which has been curated according to the society’s foremost measure of excellence in representing tidal waters and subject matter connected to the sea and the marine environment. All of the work to be shown at the exhibition will be available for sale (last year work ranged in price from £500 to £15,000, with £1,600 being the average) with many pieces expected to sell in advance through the Online Preview, as it has in previous years.

This year, at least eight of the works to be shown at the exhibition depict sustainable cargo shipping as a subject matter. Three paintings – John Scott Martin PRSMA ‘There’s cargo for Grayhound,’ Geoffrey Huband  VPRSMA ‘Grayhound’ and Mark Myers  PPRSMA ‘The Grayhound loading cargo on Plymouth Barbican,’  depict a ship called ‘Grayhound,’ a stunning 5/6th scale replica of a three-masted UK Customs Lugger of the same name, built in 1776.  Like many ships in the sail cargo movement, Grayhound combines ultra-low emission transportation of cargo worldwide, with a unique adventure experience enabling people to become crew members on this classically designed sailing ship. The other works include wind-powered Thames Barges with trade licences, including the Blue Mermaid, commissioned in 2019 to be a faithful replica of the original Blue Mermaid.

The work shines a light on a new and exciting cargo transportation marine practice, which is experiencing a renaissance – wind-powered cargo shipping. Drawing on thousands of years of history, and combining this with the innovative solutions of today, its re-emergence is providing a real solution for responsible maritime trade. It sources goods that cannot be produced locally, and delivers them on sailing ships, emission-free. Sail cargo companies are providing the missing link in the ethical supply chain, which is commercially important for producers and wholesalers. Sail cargo ships also don’t have to queue in ports – it is a nimble business model.

The exhibition brings together a broad range of marine themes and subject matter, depicted in styles ranging from those with a historical feel, or painted in a classical figurative manner, to stylised cheerful work, pleasing prints and sculptures. There are beautiful, scenic depictions of coastal settings and quaint fishing villages, paintings capturing the energy of marine sports and naval endeavours, images showing the gritty charm of the fishing industry and paintings celebrating marine wildlife. The exhibition caters for a diverse range of tastes and interests, with work all undergirded with an appreciation of the coast, sea and all it has to offer.

Several prizes and awards are on offer to exhibiting artists worth £10,000, including the £5,000 BAE Systems Award for the best work capturing the story of British Shipbuilding – People, Ships and Shipyards and the £2,000 Baltic Exchange Award for an outstanding work related to the maritime industry.

There will be around 400 works for sale at this year’s Annual Exhibition, including a selection from the RSMA’s current 60-strong members. Buyers can be assured of the artistic quality and appreciating value of the work on show, thanks to their selection by marine artist peers.

John Scott Martin, the RSMA’s President:

“Since the Royal Society of Marine Artists’ inception in 1939, it has been focused on promoting the finest in figurative marine work. There is no other comparable society in the whole of Europe and, with its aim to bring together the year’s best tidal and coastal artwork, our Annual Exhibition attracts both artists and buyers from across the world.”

Originally called “The Society of Marine Artists”, the RSMA’s inaugural exhibition was postponed by the start of the Second World War, and it wasn’t until November 1946 that the long-awaited exhibition took place. Featuring over 100 oil paintings and some 70 watercolours, the exhibition was opened by A. V. Alexander, the new Minister of Defence and former First Lord of the Admiralty. Many fine marine artists, with a national or international reputation, were numbered among the early membership: Montague Dawson, Rowland Hilder, Claude Muncaster, Charles Pears, Norman Wilkinson and Harold Wyllie to name but a few.

In 1966 Her Majesty the Queen granted the Society the title “Royal Society of Marine Artists”. The Society is firmly committed to the promotion of marine art in its many forms and guises, with the subject matter gradually broadening to encompass not only sea-going vessels, but yachts and dinghies, the coast and sea-shore, harbours, estuaries and tidal rivers – indeed anything that is essentially marine related.

The society has a strong association with the Royal Navy and works by early members are held in collections such as those of the Imperial War Museum and the National Maritime Museum. Members have recorded celebratory events such as the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review of 1977 and the International Fleet Review of 2005, and in 2013 two members were granted permission to paint the new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth whilst still under construction at the Rosyth Shipyard in Scotland. More recently, two RSMA members have been involved in recording the building of a new frigate HMS Glasgow at BAE Systems on the Clyde in Scotland.

Mall Galleries in London is the UK’s leader in contemporary, figurative art and a visual arts charity empowering artists through a not-for-profit programme of exhibitions and events, prizes and awards, founded in 1961. Managed by the Federation of British Artists, the gallery is run by leading and acclaimed figurative artists who curate the gallery’s collection, organised into annual shows for its famous member societies. It is a powerful resource for experiencing and sourcing figurative art which is both available to buy and endorsed by leading artists.

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