Rosa Sepple, President of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours. 

I welcome you to the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) 208th exhibition in a slightly different way than planned. It is now 189 years since its foundation, and this will be the first where the exhibition is “opened” in this manner. I do wish that you all stay safe and heed the advice given by health officials and government.

The RI was originally called the New Society of Painters in Water Colours and it held its first exhibition in 1831 under the patronage of Queen Adelaide with the aim of promoting artists who were not affiliated to any ‘Society’. Invitations were circulated amongst artists and this first open exhibition was held in Old Bond Street with 118 painters submitting works.

This year we have had contributions from North America, Europe and Asia. 459 artists submitted 1096 works online which included not only a record number of young ‘Emerging Artists’ but also a record number of artists wishing to become members. Please take time to look around the virtual exhibition. This is the largest exhibition of its kind in Europe and includes 444 paintings, 196 of which are from non-members.

Claire Sparkes RI Still Life on a Ledge

Congratulations and a big welcome must go to our two new members, Claire Sparkes and Zi Ling. Both of them have a unique approach to painting that will add a new and exciting dimension to our shows. 

Zi Ling RI Dream of Platybelodon

Our immense gratitude must also go to Winsor & Newton and The Leathersellers’ Company for their continued support and to all those who give so generously every year by supplying us with prizes. We are fortunate to have an additional prize this year - ‘The President’s Choice Award’ of £750. 

Above all, our thanks must go to all the artists who have contributed their amazing paintings, to the Chief Executive Officer, Clare O’Brien, and everyone at the Mall Galleries for their help and support. I would personally like to thank my amazing Council for their support and contribution over the past year making this one of the most respected art institutes in the world today.

Discover the exhibition now