Study Visit 18.08.16 – Edinburgh Royal academy – RSA Open Exhibition 2016

 I love the diversity of open exhibitions, although this one is certainly not textiles based, I can learn a lot from techniques, which can be translated into textiles and also a lot of pieces are tactile in themselves.

This is the basic information on the website:

‘Showcasing a unique selection of collectible artworks by artists from Scotland & beyond, the RSA Open Exhibition has a long history of celebrating the best of contemporary practice. After having been part of the RSA Annual Exhibition for over 180 years, it now enjoys its own slot in the RSA Calendar. Drawing from artists across the whole of Scotland and beyond, this exhibition showcases around 400 works annually and features a wide range of small and medium sized works (max. 80cm in any direction) selected through open submission including paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints and photographs.’

I will document a few of my highlights from my visit…..

I was interested in the artist below for two reasons, one:  She deals with portraits is an impressionist or “simplistic” style and faces are a favourite subject with myself.  Two:  She reminds me or Marlene Dumas, an artist I have studied in the past and have seen at The Royal Academy in London.


Above:  Jane McCance

This piece and the first one I illustrated of this artist were exhibited at the RSA.  I love the eye and shadow detail, along with the black background.  This artist has understood the reasons for simplifying certain areas and bringing others into focus with lighter colour and detail, such as the face. This artist I feel, is a good one to look at with a view to inspiration for textiles as the style is very interpretable. 

One website said of her: ‘Of Scottish and Danish parentage, Jane’s work is influenced by the landscape of both Scotland and Scandinavia, but is also concerned with themes of memory, loss and renewal; themes which are apparent not only in her landscape and semi-abstract painting practice, but also in her quiet and reflective still life pieces. Rarely working in pure abstract, she chooses instead to base her image-making around form and subject – sometimes loosely (as in her landscape and semi-abstract work), and other times more firmly rooted in the representational (as in her still lifes).’

The Fotherigham Gallery said of her work:  Her work shows her deep love of paint as a medium; the building of layers of colour, sketching and drawing into the paint, and the scraping of the surface to reveal what lies beneath are methods which contribute to a sense of depth which rewards continued viewing.’

I too love to focus on themes of nostalgia and memory, often conveying them in facial ways, such as previous fabric embroideries of my grandmother and myself.  I can also say that I bring the drawing side of things and paint into the fabric medium.

aaaa.png Jeff Ulglow

Above:  Not my usual style, but I love the texture and 3D element of this piece.

Again thinking about Portraits, this piece was more realistic than others, but I like the angle and folds of the clothes.

Above, a self taken image at the exhibition, showcasing the fact that the artists use an eclectic range of frames for their work.  Some appear fragile, others well framed.ggg.png I gave attention to this painting, due to its portrayal of the human character through drawing.

This piece has emotion and thought behind it.  Facial lines are not hidden, but embraced.  Thus I felt it was very relevant to my practice, as I like to focus on real thoughts and memories.  Again the artist has the balance of detail right.  Not too much all over detail, makes sure that our focus looks to the face, rather than the edges of the painting.  The muted colour choice is something that works well on fabric a swell as painting.

This piece below was of interest, as it combines a few elements which I like to wheedle into my own work….memory, collage and vintage themes which are personal.  It says a lot in only a small space, this piece being no larger than A4 in square form:


This will be the last painting I look at, but I feel there are several lessons to take on board from this exhibition:

–          Simplify facial features when dealing with portrait themes

–          Collage memories, use things like letters or precious items we have, photocopy them?

–          Use simplistic backgrounds to give the focus on the main areas of the piece, which you want to highlight.

–          Framing is important, as it can take away or make a piece.

Throughout this course, I will be referring back to information I have already looked and documented, along with new sources I find along the way.  I think it will now be helpful to look at the more current print design, working out techniques and how other artists are practicing.

How am I imagining my own work to develop at this stage?

I want to play with ideas, but I also don’t want to waste time on those which don’t have enough body to them.  I want to think about the future too as I work through my own design stages….would this design work as a repeat in the future?  What would need to be changed?  Is it marketable if printed on an item?  Would it fill the space correctly of the fabric I printed on?  Just a few questions, yet they need to be said; I need to challenge my own thoughts and keep raising the bar to achieve.


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