The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) and Mall Galleries are pleased to announce the prizewinners at this year’s RI 208th Exhibition, the largest exhibition of contemporary water-based media paintings in the world. 

With lockdown postponing the show, the winning works were chosen from the gallery’s website rather than its walls.

We are now ready to re-open so you can come and see the works for yourself.

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However with videos, audio, images and statements by the winners to watch, hear, see, and read, we hope you can experience and enjoy their works wherever you are.

Discover all the prize winners via the links below

The prize winners featured in part one include:

The Winsor & Newton Award (£3,000)

George Butler

Delhi Market

This work developed because I have always wanted to work bigger than a sketchbook. In situ, in the market outside the mosque in the heart of Delhi, I drew on separate sheets of paper, trying not to worry about whether they fitted together.

I drew over two days and then collected ephemera from the surrounding market stalls to help piece the work together. It is more a composite of characters, black kites and the scene - a memory, for me more accurate than a photograph. 

The Winsor & Newton Product Prize

Day Bowman

Storage Facility 2

These are the post-industrial edgelands that fringe our cities and towns.

I have set out to investigate how and why we travel the landscape: through cities and suburbs; retail parks and parking lots; edgelands and endless motorways.

The paintings represent snapshots of journeys across such landscapes by train or car, bicycle and bus or ferry across a river; journeys that criss-cross the land and our daily lives which we absorb, acknowledge or ignore. 

The Leathersellers' Prize

Suzon Lagarde


'Suzy' was my first painting of 2020. Gouache is a medium I love going back to. I find it to be a fantastic bridge between drawing and painting. It's based on a photograph from my childhood, a precious source of inspiration for me. I painted it in a period where I found myself quite down and anxious, but I remember the joy I got from creating this tiny self-portrait as if I was reconnecting with the playfulness and calm present on this day, over twenty years ago. 

The James Fletcher-Watson RI Award

David Howell PPRSMA

The Ghats at Udaipur

This painting comes from an original pen and watercolour sketch made on the steps of the ghats in Udaipur early one morning, when the women came down to do their washing. I loved the contrast of the bright colours of the saris against the cool of the water and I worked quietly in the background to avoid disturbing what was clearly a social event. I loved the hazy morning light before the heat of the day burnt it away and the contrast of the domed pillars against the deep shade of the background trees..

The Megan Fitzoliver Brush Award

Deborah Walker RI RSMA

Be Still

It's easy to be moved by an aerial panorama of the sparkling Thames at sunset or to feel the exhilaration of crashing waves on a beach, but there is a different kind of magic to be found in secluded backwaters.

The inspiration for 'Be Still' is from such a place near to my home in Staffordshire. I like to walk at the end of my working day, to breathe and clear my head. It's a quiet time.

A favourite walk is at the far side of my village around tree-lined lakes where I've become interested in the water's edge.

My favourite conditions are depicted in 'Be Still' when there is almost no movement on the surface.

While noticing the spacing of the reeds and their seductive reflections, I'm also aware of the surface tension and below, where reeds have fallen and sunk to create a basket that cradles the whole. 'Be Still' is about looking, being present in the moment, noticing the small stuff and it makes me almost hold my breath.

The Anthony J Lester Art Critic Award

Claire Sparkes RI

The Seed That Loki Planted

‘The Seed That Loki Planted’ combines elements of Norse Mythology and Indian culture to realise a personal mythology. The model’s hair was a particular inspiration for this piece. Like roots take nourishment for the growing plant above, so the hair interweaves with symbolic objects, which infuse the flowering figure.

Strands of hair dip into the wells of knowledge within the books, alluding to the roots of the Norse World Tree Yggdrasil and the three wells into which they descend.

The richly embroidered Indian throw underpins the painting. It’s intricate patchwork references layered history, and its intense colour brings lifeblood to the story. My watercolour palette expanded in the process of capturing these vibrant colours.

Discover all the prize winners via the links below

Browse the whole exhibition now