Charles Pears was a renowned British Painter and the first elected President of the Royal Society of Marine Artists. Charles Pears was also a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and Royal Institute of Oil Painters. His works are held in the collections of the London Transport Museum, National Railway Museum, Imperial War Museum, and Tate.

Each year The Royal Society of Marine Artists commemorate his memory with The Charles Pears Award at their Annual Exhibition, given for an outstanding work in any medium by a non-member. This year the award has been won by Tony Williams for his work Ship with Moon.

Tony Williams

I am delighted to have been awarded The Charles Pears Award for 2015 and I extend my warmest thanks to the selectors.

I must admit, to my shame that I had not been aware of the work of Charles Pears so finding him and getting to know his wonderful paintings has been a revelation to me and reminds me that I don’t look at other artists work, which I should. 

I started painting fourteen years ago, having spent my life, thus far, fearing it and the distinct possibility that I would not find the results I wanted. Attending Sutton Art School for three years in the sixties, I studied life drawing and graphic design and my working career after that had been in advertising, as Creative Director at Rex Stewart Grangers in Exeter. During that period I worked on accounts for Camper & Nicholsons, Ratsey & Lapthorn, Jack Holt, Chernikeef and many other marine businesses, I even held a mooring in Cockwood Harbour, one of the hardest things to acquire in history, but in all this time in my life I had never picked up a paintbrush, for fear; being surrounded by a whole family of artists, living with paintings and countless books on painting and looking at the world as though it were a painting. So painting now is an obsession that happens every day, there’s no going back, once it’s got you it won’t let you go, and it is the hardest job I’ve ever done.

I have found in the work of Charles Pears a kindred spirit and hero of the graphic image and a true painter who I can only admire from afar, hoping that just a small brush full of his great genius can be absorbed along the way and I will forever be grateful to the RSMA for bringing him to me and for having faith in my work.

Tony Williams, Ship with Moon

The painting Ship with Moon has come from a series of romantic/nostalgia studies following bright summer moonrises and a looking back to the days when I lived in south London as a boy and art student cycling up to the river Thames a few miles away with my old camera. It is a subject that allows me to indulge in my love of the constructivists, whilst mellowed by a romantic element.

And one other little discovery I made in my delvings; a picture of Charles Pears standing with his painting of RMS Orcades, the ship which I was given at the age of eight in large scale electric model form. It was made by Lines Bro. in Merton near my home in Wimbledon and it was the greatest possession I could imagine at that time.  That was the ship that started a love of all things marine.

View more highlights from the exhibition here