Past Exhibition – Royal Academicians May 2011

The exhibition comprised work by members from three centuries: the second half of the 19th, the 20th and the first decade of the 21st

Most of the work having been acquired over the last 35 years, the predominant style is figurative with the early period ably represented by such names as S.J. Lamorna Birch, Eric Gill, Sir William Russell Flint and W.L. Wyllie. The St Ives foray into abstraction includes works by Sir Terry Frost and a stunning 2m x 2m canvas by Sandra Blow. 

Sadly, the first decade of the 21st century has seen the passing away of a number of Academicians, with The Late Sir Terry Frost and Sandra Blow being followed by Donald Hamilton Fraser and Kyffin Williams. Work by all of these artists makes a striking contribution to the show. 

And so to the present. A striking group of Senior Academicians who put the Modern into British in their day includes such favourites as Armfield, Cuming, Dunstan, Fedden, Howard and Tindle. 

The mix is eclectic but personal. The range of media includes egg tempera, oil, pastel, gouache, even the currently resurgent watercolour. 

Strong, bewitching colours intertwine through the period and indeed the exhibition. The delicacy of Flint, whether it be the Loire architecture, sensuous skin tones or reflections in wet sand contrasts with the rugged beauty and strength of a Kyffin Williams North Wales landscape silhouetted against a silver sea. The familiar shapes and figures from Frost contrast with the wild abandonment and very different strength of Albert Irwin’s kaleidoscope of colours.