Discover more about the exhibitions held at Mall Galleries through interviews with artists, photo essays, prize winners lists and video and audio content. Mall Galleries publish content from all Federation of British Artists Art Society Exhibitions.

Ian Sidaway RI: Sketchbooks

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Ian Sidaway RI is a prolific painter of landscapes in watercolours. Ian was due to speak about his use of sketchbooks in the gallery during the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 208th Exhibition. Now that none of us are allowed out, whatever the weather, Ian has shared some images from his sketchbooks with us here.

A studio painting almost invariably has its genesis in a sketchbook work. I produce paintings in Moleskine A4 Landscape sketchbooks which open to give a wide panoramic format. It is not an easy format to work on and presents a number of challenges, not least when presented with a tall subject, however, I like the way the image can be designed across the spread which lends a certain dynamic, different to that seen in traditional rectangular or square formats. I often work on-site but have no problems in supplementing my studio reference with photographs.

When working on location I also make fine liner drawings in a small Moleskine whilst a larger sketchbook painting dries. I also make these type of drawings almost daily as I always carry a book and fine liners in my pocket.

I am not the type of artist, many of which I admire greatly, that work in all weathers, lashing themselves to the mast in order to capture the moment. I like to travel with the minimum of equipment, preferably in fine weather, to a location close to a bar or other form of hostelry.  I am a plein air lightweight. The sketchbook drawings are often painted without a preliminary drawing. A few pencil lines might position key elements but I prefer ‘drawing’ with the brush, placing one shape next to another creating the basic image before beginning to lay washes one on top of the other. I will often rework an image in the studio principally by strengthening the darks which has the almost magical effect of lightening the lights, broadening the tonal range.

Prior to beginning a studio painting, I will often make small compositional sketches in a Moleskine with squared up, Quadrille, pages. Paradoxically I never produce studio work using the same panoramic format of the sketchbooks but will section areas out so that the finished image conforms to the more traditional formats. It is arguable whether or not these small doodles are a necessary part of the process but I find it satisfying. It's a habit I got into after reading ‘Composition of Outdoor Painting’ by Edgar Payne.

I was trained as a designer and used to rail against the graphic qualities that seemed inherent in everything I did. I dreamed of plastering paint onto a canvas with a virtuosity equal to that of Sorolla or Schiele but the penny finally dropped, that was not going to happen, and I realised that I should concentrate and build on those few qualities and strengths already present.

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Ian Sidaway RI, Sketchbook, Champ de Mars and Tour Eiffel

Musical Instruments in Watercolour

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Our Bookshop Manager, and one of our most musical members of staff, Natalie Richardson, shares her thoughts on the paintings of musical instruments in the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours online Exhibition.

As I was dancing around my living room the other day, I texted my best friend Alice:

'ABBA dance marathon just about to start in my living room.' 

Her reply? 

'What's the first tune? I shall join you.'

Music has always been a huge aspect of my life, but I'm finding that now more than ever, I'm desperately listening through all the good stuff out there, to lose myself in a moment that isn't about 'you-know-what'. I'm not afraid to admit I've been singing along (badly) and then getting my ukulele out to see if I can play along too. It's not usually a rock-stars' instrument-of-choice, but you've yet to hear me play.

Maybe that's why, as I was listening to '90s Bangers' (hits from my childhood) on the radio, and scrolling through the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours exhibition for work, I realised that there are so many instruments painted in the pictures. It got me thinking that creating music is such an act of togetherness. You need to be present and paying complete attention. If you're out by a beat, you're flat, or you're playing the wrong piece of music (it has been known to happen), it makes a beautiful melody a bit of a cacophony. 

Togetherness is what we're craving right now so can we find that in music?

Roger Dellar PS RI ROI Quartet Watermedia, 46 x 46 cm, £695

I wonder what the musicians in Roger Dellar's 'Quartet' are playing? Let me know what you think. His studies of The Cellist and the player in Violin Performance look so engrossed; the passion and concentration growing stronger as the piece progresses. There are so many classical (and non-classical) players who’ve done amazing virtual performances recently - it’s their creativity, and drive to do everything to try and be together, that impresses me.

Roger Dellar PS RI ROI The Cellist Watermedia, 46 x 46 cm, £695

Roger Dellar PS RI ROI Violin Performance Watermedia, 56 x 56 cm, £795

The string section gets another look-in with Anna Dudley Neill's Signature Tune which has them in a semi-abstract embrace. Initially, I thought there was something a bit ‘MC Escher’ going on here. Then I took some time, and through the lines of sound drawn on the page, I noticed the loving accuracy of the mark-making appear before me, like a study of life. Anna's truly seen the instruments for what they are; learning all their shapes and curves, whilst also capturing their potential, ability and hope, and drawing us into the truth in their beauty. We’ve got time ourselves at the moment to really look, and this powerfully simple act can have a such a calming influence.

Anna Dudley Neill RI Signature Tune Watercolour, 47 x 39 cm, £800

Currently, new friends are a bit hard to come by, but I have found a new one in Hanako. David Gleeson has captured her sly smile and strong gaze; Hanako knows the best is yet to come. Once she lifts the flute to her lips she will transport us all to another plane, filled with colour and light.

David Gleeson Hanako and Flute Watercolour, 77 x 74 cm, £2,500

I'm similarly intrigued with the chap in Geoffrey Wynne's Kind of Blue where the intensity of his eyes travels into my soul and I can hear the distant sounds of his song.

Geoffrey Wynne RI Kind of Blue Watercolour, 50 x 35 cm, £1,600

A good old celebratory fanfare is displayed in Nick Orsborn's Oasis and Aimee Birnbaum's Darwin’s Dream. It reminds me of all the noise the pots and pans, and hands, make for the NHS and keyworkers. Such an act of appreciation and unity. Did you also see the video of the six-year-old whose whole street stood outside their front doors with balloons to sing her ‘Happy Birthday’? Made me well up! Well done everyone, thank you. Keep up the good work and we'll stay home.

Nick Orsborn RI Oasis Watercolour, 36 x 36 cm, £750

Aimee Birnbaum RI Darwin's Dream Watercolour, 67 x 82 cm, £1,500

And on that note (pardon the pun), the final painting I'll draw your eye to (pardon the pun...again) is Rosa Sepple's What's New Pussycat? Not because of the title, although I shall be going to play some Tom Jones and texting Alice shortly, because this is where a lot of us are at the moment: at home, alone, tickling the ivories, with the cats…

Rosa Sepple PRI What's New Pussycat Watercolour, gouache & ink, 28 x 19 cm, £995's 4 o'clock in the afternoon and you're in your corset (pyjamas).

#StaySafe #StayHome #FlattenTheCurve

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Nick Orsborn RI, Oasis (detail)

Jean Noble RI: Emerging Painting

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Jean Noble RI would have been painting before an audience in the gallery. We might all be in quarantine, but she has shared the stages of a painting for us to follow along at home.

All my work starts in front of the subject with an initial sketch. In this case, I was looking at the reflections that the bobbing houseboats make in the water. I have combined two different boats with their reflections.

Thinking of the unifying life of people who live their lives cheek by jowl. The pride they have in these boats is quite extraordinary. There are potted plants adorning them. Every inch is painted and loved. The juxtaposition of these homely dwellings beside the towering glass edifices of Canary Wharf I find comforting. I’m glad they haven’t all been swept away in the name of progress.

I prepared the paper with a warm ground and set about blocking out areas. I often use a warm ground if I want to end up with a cool painting and visa versa…..the ground colour usually comes through in edges. In this stage not all the shapes are working…and I’m certainly struggling with the balance of colours. The sketch is the preliminary to the finished painting. It informs but can be altered as the painting evolves.

There is a bit of a jump here as I got rather carried away and forgot to take the photo! However, the warm colours are now still with the brush being painted over and once dry I have assessed the ‘drawing’ part of the painting and taken a charcoal stick to reinforce change some areas.

It is beginning to come together, but I’m not sure I like the connecting houseboat roofs….the large bar of green going through the paper and there are too many erratic bits of colour. Some of the shapes are not pleasing me either!

Well having painted it in with a palette knife…a bit heavy-handed I know I don’t like the ‘bar’ of turquoise green. I also find the creamy yellow on the right disturbing (actually this looks worse in the photo than it does on the painting). Taking photos does often show up where the problems lie!…are my eyes ever going to settle …I know I want to keep the painting interesting and allow the viewer the chance to roam around the painting….but this is just too scattered!

OK. I’ve calmed some areas down a bit…a little more unity and changed some of the tones. I like to build up colours on top of one another. Edges get better…I love edge qualities!

The centre red has been in and out a few times…I can’t quite make my mind up about it. They aren't ‘talking’ to one another yet. I’m trying to show the integrating qualities of this type of living…it probably is a bit busy but then watching the people on a warm day on the boats that’s how I remember it too.

Now I’ve introduced the warm back into the painting with a warm grey back again….it was there before then I tried the turquoise blue …..but back it has come although some of the under colour always remains…this gives a more interesting variation to the colour surface.

I’ve lost a few of the shapes and changed that turquoise ‘bar/roof’ completely. I’ve put away my sketch now and am looking at what the painting needs. It is becoming more lyrical…for me anyway and since I am the artist it must be something that I am comfortable with.

Very nearly finished….I’m beginning to be happy with colour/ tone/shapes and the overall composition of the piece. It’s been a struggle….it is definitely one of my more complicated pieces. But we have the time to challenge ourselves at the moment!

It’s finished! It feels right to me. I think I’ve got the warmth of the day back into it with the hint of golden glow. Whilst retaining the colours and feel of the water that surrounds these homes.

It’s a large piece. It measures 92 x 103 cm. I hope it will fit in the car when the framer has finished with it. 106 cm is the maximum I can paint to without requiring a van!

Here are photographs of four ‘bits of paint’ to show the textures and edge qualities that I try to achieve in my paintings either with finger/brush/ palette knife or coffee stirrer ….the side of a piece of card is also good for applying paint! Actually anything to get the effect you as the artist wants!

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Image credit

Jean Noble RI, work in progress

Exhibition Tour with Tony Hunt RI

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For several years I have taken informal tours round Mall Galleries to view and comment on the works on show for the Annual Exhibition of the RI. With the galleries closed this year, it was suggested that I might like to take a virtual tour of the exhibition to go online.

Now as I travel with my mouse through the exhibited images on my computer screen, my intention is to respond to those paintings that particularly catch my eye: and leave a few words in response.

A starting point is looking for paintings which change or expand our ideas of what a watercolour painting is. The conventions of shape, size, proportion, media, and the support can all be challenged, as can the presentation of the painting.

However, it is equally important to remember that most of these conventions have evolved for pragmatic reasons. Apart from the unique qualities of the watercolour itself (and all of these selected examples are very fine paintings in terms of form and content), the qualities of the presentation are there to protect the painting and to prolong its life.

Thus the frame, the mount and the glazing are there primarily to keep the image flat and dirt-free when it is displayed. Of equal importance to protection is permanence – we don’t want to see the image disappear owing to fugitive paint or inferior paper!

So, it is very interesting to see how certain artists in the exhibition are challenging some of these conventions.  

Julie Green Wild Wanderings Watersoluble mixed media, 84 x 102 cm, £2,350

Julie Green’s painting not only evokes a visual representation of a landscape but in its structure, it echoes the structure of the landscape itself in a most successful way that almost extends the watercolour into sculpture.

Alfred Carpenter Red Rusted Boat Mixed media collage & acrylic, 42 x 36 cm, £475

Similarly, Alfred Carpenter’s Red Rusted Boat frees his image from the restriction of the rectangular perimeter, though still allowing a satisfying interplay with the rectangle of the frame.


Faye Bridgwater 140 Monochrome Studies of Sussex Pencil, watercolour & ink, 68 x 87 cm, £495 
This painting of 140 Monochrome Studies of Sussex by Faye Bridgwater is an imaginative and understanding image, summarising the landscape of Sussex by being the accumulation of its constituent study parts. This painting was awarded The John Purcell Paper Prize.

George Butler Delhi Market Watercolour, 110 x 130 cm, £5,000 - winner of the £3,000 Winsor & Newton Award.

George Butler’s fine Delhi Market observational drawing is enhanced with an assemblage of additional studies and ephemera which retain elements of the total experience of being in that environment.

Watch the video of George speaking about this piece, that was awarded the Winsor & Newton Award for here.

Sheila Vaughan Snail Acrylic, 43 x 61 cm, £400

The apparent simplicity of Sheila Vaughan’s painting belies a sophisticated and imaginative interplay between the inherent qualities of watercolour paint and its application in defining the form of the subject.

Bina Shah Winter Storm on Bracken Fields III Mixed media (Tempera, glair, ink, bitumen, graphite & natural earth pigments), 44 x 35 cm, £975

Robin Hazlewood RI Last Light, The Thames at Barnes Watercolour & white gouache, 49 x 49 cm, £435

An evocative painting by Bina Shah redefines a landscape with confidence and critical analysis; as does this watercolour by Robin Hazlewood RI. In both these instances, the artists have achieved images which cross the boundaries between figuration and abstraction to create paintings that function simultaneously well in both conceptions.

Other paintings which have caught my eye are two portraits. The first, Age of Confidence, is by Daniel Byrne and is a strong image which utilises the watercolour medium very well to explore the personality and appearance of the sitter. The second is Zi Ling’s The Puzzle Garden. This very imaginative and dynamic portrait uses colour and patterns to give life to an image which tells as much about the creator as it does the sitter. These two paintings use quite different routes to reach similar objectives.

Daniel Byrne Age of Confidence Watercolour, 52 x 42 cm, £850

Zi Ling RI The Puzzle Garden Watercolour & collage, 74.5 x 60 cm, £2,300

Teresa Lawler The House on the Edge of the Lake 2 Watercolour & gouache, 70 x 70 cm, £1,050

Teresa Lawler’s accomplished painting uses colour beautifully and expertly to atmospherically convey early twilight as artificial lights are lit.

In terms of really good use of colour, I also select Cool Chilli by Anne Goldberg. Her well-designed and intriguing painting has an original interplay of colour as well as a real rapport between the represented two and three-dimensional elements of the work.

Anne Goldberg Cool Chilli Gouache, 70 x 57 cm, £1,500

On the subject of colour, my attention was taken by a more conventional and traditional application of watercolour in a painting by Junwei Dai. In Fairyland Series 1, Junwei has demonstrated strongly the luminosity, translucency and richness of colour that good handling of the watercolour medium can achieve.

Junwei Dai Fairyland Series 1 Watercolour, 72 x 52 cm, £5,000

Anne Ware Flash Flood in the Lakes Watercolour, 50 x 62 cm, £640

I very much enjoyed looking at Anne Ware’s watercolour Flash Floods in the Lakes. The evocations of hazard, danger, fleeing to safety, the movements of the flooding water and the time scale involved, all encountered and engaged within the parameters of the painting, is quite masterly in its execution.

Derek Robertson What We Lost in the Desert, Refugee Camp, Jordan Watercolour & acrylic, 84 x 103 cm, £4,950

This painting is also arresting in its presence. Derek Robertson’s What We Lost in the Desert, Refugee Camp, Jordan is a powerful image; in topicality, in execution and, ultimately, in its poetry.

Day Bowman Storage Facility 2 Gouache & graphite, 30 x 33 cm, £675 - winner of The Winner & Newton Product Prize

So this brief excursion through the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 208th Exhibition concludes with a widening perception of what a watercolour painting is. The final painting here is Storage Facility 2 by Day Bowman. This is another image which is topical in conception, but economic and dynamic in execution, and evocative of so much of our contemporary world. My mouse rests.

Tony Hunt RI 

Tony Hunt RI Afternoon on the Downs Acrylic, 87 x 67 cm, £1,400

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Image credit

Alfred Carpenter, Red Rusted Boat (detail)

Paul Banning RI RSMA: Sketchbooks

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Paul Banning RI RSMA is a traditional watercolourist specialising in painting plein air, painting in all weathers. He was due to speak about his use of sketchbooks in the gallery during the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 208th Exhibition. Now that none of us are allowed out, whatever the weather, Paul has shared some images from his sketchbooks with us here.

"I have been an avid sketcher from childhood and have accumulated many sketchbooks over the years, and I would like to share just a few images with you with some explanation of what appealed to me about the subject and with an image of the finished painting.

I tend to use an A4 ring binder sketchbook which allows for a double page to be used."


The two images are of much the same subject, Bruges, using the whole page; the first one was abandoned as it poured with rain and the paint began to run - anyway I liked it; ah well! Maybe another time ... and so after the rain I moved to another spot and did the second one, which I then used to develop into a painting.

The Tank Battle of Cambrai November 1915

I am fortunate enough to have two sons who are First World War historians, and I had the opportunity to join them on a trip to Cambrai and the surrounding area, and thought I might be able to get some interesting information for a painting. How lucky I was that we were taken to an old barn where the relics of the tank Battle of Cambrai were being displayed, a damaged full-size tank, ammunition, trucks and debris from the battlefield.

My sketchbook was soon out and my energy level soared as I quickly contour drew the images in front of me. I remember at the time the surge of energy and excitement as I captured the information for my painting.

In a painting that is historical, the facts have to be right so I did a number of small sketches discussing them with my sons before I got to an image that was, to me, both artistic and yet reasonably factual.  

Cutty Sark

I am a member of the Wapping Group of Artists who specialise in painting the River Thames and its estuaries during the summer months, plein air. Fortunately, the Group was invited to visit the site at Greenwich when the Cutty Sark was being refurbished, and permission was given to gather information for a painting. I was able to go down to the keel of the ship where the planking was being renovated, and sat and did this small sketch with some colour notes.

More than anything the atmosphere stayed with me as I used my sketch to develop the finished painting.

Deserted Italy

I have painted in many parts of the world and a sketchbook is so good for capturing immediate information. I spent a couple of weeks with some painting friends in southern Italy in an area called Basilicata in the centre of the Boot of Italy. On one day trip out we drove to a small deserted village on a hilltop, and came across this village which was completely deserted - not a soul in sight. We walked through it going in and out of buildings, all as if the occupants had left in a hurry.

My sketch depicts this hurried departure, rubbish everywhere, and yet some order. Leaving behind certain objects, maybe one last party? So out comes the sketchbook and I captured a number of interesting subjects. This one converted into a full imperial watercolour. The shaft of light through the shutters and that last drink of wine before departing captures the subject.

Jim Carrying Potatoes

I am now in Trinidad, my birthplace and have friends who own a beautiful little cottage overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from the North Coast range of hills, where the sea breeze brings cool air in from the Atlantic as well as much rain. The ground is very fertile and bananas, coconut trees and mango trees grow wild.

This sketch was produced sitting on the side of a very narrow and steep track where a local had a small dwelling! His name was Jim, and he would go out to dig up root crops, potatoes yam and such growing wild. What an opportunity! The sketch is more detailed than usual but I had the time. The sun was shining, it was a warm and a beautiful day - why hurry? Jim saw what I was doing so I persuaded him to show me how he carried the potatoes. In no time he had the sack on his head and I was able to do a quick scribble and put him in the picture. Life can be so good sometimes.


After 9/11, when tourism to the Middle East was slow, I went to Jordan; to Jerash Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba, and on to Egypt. Having done the day of the tourist in Petra, I spent the next 4 days sketching and gathering information for paintings. My sketchbook went everywhere with me and I was able to produce a number of very good works from these 4 days of sketching.


Passers-by often looked at me and thought and said I was quite mad sitting in the hot sunshine, sketching but I gathered some very good images to work up in the comfort of my studio over the winter months. Here is one of the Treasury in Petra, an amazing structure carved out of the rock by hand and still surviving today. I produced an oil painting and a number of watercolour from the sketches. 

Old Cobblers Shop, Holland

Over a number of years, I made a variety of boat trips sailing around the Ijsselmeer and out into the North Sea with some painting friends. We stopped on one occasion at one of the ports where I discovered this old Cobblers workshop. What attracted me was the mysterious things that seemed to be showing up in the dismal light and a sketch seemed the best way to capture it, unlike a flashed photograph which would have altered the effect of the interior.

Once I had the information down it was very easy to develop it into a painting. Some would say it was rather dull but on the contrary, I feel it is important that we try to paint in different and subdued lights, not just bright sunlight.

Westminster Abbey

I have always been fascinated at this facia of Westminster Abbey and planned to do a little sketch of it.

When I started to sketch I was immediately interrupted by passers- by who wanted to see what I was doing. So I crossed the road and noticed a small triangle area between Victoria Street and Tothill Street where I could sit with my sketchbook in the door way of a shop now a Bank. I was out of sight of the passers bye so an ideal spot to produce my sketch which became a small watercolour. I made notes about colours and was able to study the detail the complicated East window without any interruptions. With this data I produced two in daylight images and one at night. 


The galleries might be closed but you can view the entire Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 208th Exhibition online. Most works are for sale, with prices starting at £350.

View the RI's 208th Exhibition online now

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Image credit

Paul Banning RI RSMA, Sketchbook detail, Bruges

Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 208th Exhibition Prizes & Awards Part Four


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.

Book your ticket now

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 four include:

The Dry Red Press Award

Desmond Clark

Kid in a Sweetshop

Desmond Clark used to work for London local authorities, but spent most of his time in meetings doodling on a sketchpad. So he threw in the towel and moved to Devon to devote his time to art.

He has exhibited regularly with the South West Academy in Exeter and last year won an award for “exhibiting excellence” from the Society of Botanical Artists at Mall Galleries. He loves depicting transparency in water or glass. ‘Kid in a Sweetshop’ was painted at his wife’s suggestion while recovering from cancer in 2019.

The Escoda Barcelona Award

Brendan Smith

Sunset, Ventnor

This painting depicts the autumn sun setting over the coast of the Isle of Wight seen from the cliffs above Ventnor. The receding land melts into the warm light of the sun while the town below is already falling into dark shadow. A light mist over the calm sea reflects a pearly light.

The Frank Herring Easel Award

Alex Chilvers

London Fields Lido

A painting of the London Fields Lido. I'm very interested in capturing people's relationship with public leisure facilities. This is one of a number of gouache paintings I have created depicting people swimming in public pools around London. I draw on location using coloured pens and pastels before constructing the composition using gouache in the studio. I love to capture the movement of water and the energy of people swimming within a man-made space.  

The Neil Meacher RI Watercolour Award

Geoff Butterworth

A Day Like Any Other

This watercolour subject was photographed years ago and I have done a couple of versions of it with figures and cats on. This time I chose to work it as it was and also to work on a paper of the time. I used to do commissions for Whatman Paper for use as a production bonus that went to India, China, Germany and America and in payment, I chose paper (watercolour, not money).

The 200lb Not Whatman paper seemed to paint itself, you just looked at it and showed it the brush. The results here are pretty much the same, I have very few left but they are a treat every now and again. "A Day Like Any Other" sums up the mundane life of the times in the Lancashire border towns in the Pennines. Beautiful light, gritty reality.

Discover all the prize winners via the links below

Browse the whole exhibition now


Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 208th Exhibition Prizes & Awards Part Three


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.

Book your ticket now

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 three include:

The Baohong Artists' Watercolour Paper Prize for a Member

Lillias August RI

Tied Up in Knots

I’ve done many paintings of everyday things and what could be more ordinary than string? Usually when I paint rows of objects I hang them up by pieces of cotton so that they are right in front of me when I work. I often don’t paint the cotton and the pictures end up looking like I’m looking down on the objects on the floor. This time I left those bits of cotton in as they seemed to tie in with the subject so well. So what could be more ordinary than bits of string collected over the years - all have done their job and been discarded but were essential at some point. Different textures, different colours, different shapes, different sizes - what could be more interesting to paint and what will the whole thing mean to those that look at it?

The Baohong Artists' Watercolour Paper Prize for a Non-member

Juliette Losq


I depict marginal landscapes that spring up in the overlooked borderlands of cities and towns. These become sites of speculation on what might have gone before and what may be occurring out of sight.

I allude to the Picturesque and the Gothic of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, interweaving their motifs and devices with the marginal areas that I depict. I aim to evoke an uncertain world hovering at the edges of a symbolic ‘Clearing’, where wilderness and chaos oppose civilization and order, and in which beauty and neglect are interchangeable.

'Aisle' shows part of the semi-derelict boatyard on the Thames.  Compositionally, and through the depiction of light, the scene reminded me of certain Vermeer paintings.

The Cass Art Prize

Martha Zmpounou


Part of a series of artworks and face studies, 'Christian' is the portrait of an Italian friend from Syracuse, Sicily. Created through multiple layers and washes, the aim was to develop the painting by continuously responding to the medium’s inherent qualities; its fluid and seemingly transparent nature.

This process involved embracing and incorporating accidental bleeds into the outcome, as well as leaving areas of the painting ‘undone’, to some degree, while working in more detail in others.

The objective was to capture the apparent imperfections of the skin and its fragility, echoing the fragility and transient nature of emotions, as well as subtly convey the introspective element in Christian’s look, a mix between melancholy and contentment.

The Chaoshan Watercolour Award

Tianya Zhou RI


Discover all the prize winners via the links below

Browse the whole exhibition now


Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 208th Exhibition: Prizes & Awards Part Two


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.

Book your ticket now

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 two include:

The Schmincke Prize

Emma Hollaway

Found Paintings 2.1

‘Found Paintings 2.1’ is a work from an ongoing series. Returning to watercolours after several years, I opened my palettes to find collections of forgotten paintings in the lids. As a way of reconnecting with the medium, I turned to painting these paintings.

Painting with watercolour on dry paper was once described to me as a staining process, and I enjoyed the literal parallel with the stains on the set itself. This well-used school watercolour set is the fourth in the series. The paintings in its lid remember unknown works of art that this little set helped create.  

The President's Choice Award

Lucy Pulvers

Self Portrait 1

The Richard Plincke RI Prize for Colour

Paul Murray

Winter Memorials

Winter Memorials is a painting of a view of the surrounding landscape of the cemetery where my father is buried in Gourock just West of Glasgow. Although I say a painting, I see it more as a composition using gouache, collage and drawing.

The initial composition is developed from sketches of the shapes and textures of the gravestones and memorials. It is created through layers of brushwork, collage of patterned and pre-painted paper and mark making as they move between the abstract and the representational.

The objects and their negative space are only the starting point: I allow the textures and marks to dictate what happens next.

The Debra Manifold RI Memorial Award

Presented by the Linda Blackstone Gallery

Lisa Graa Jensen RI

Deep Midwinter

‘Deep Midwinter’ is one of a winter series. The three paintings are syndicated out for use as cards. The initial idea came during a freezing cold snowy walk one day in February on the North Downs in deepest Surrey with my dog, when three deer raced across the fields in front of us... really beautiful. Snowy Peace, then Snowy Land and finally Deep Midwinter came from that snowy walk.

The John Purcell Paper Prize

Faye Bridgwater

140 Monochrome Studies of Sussex

Discover all the prize winners via the links below

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Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 208th Exhibition: Prizes & Awards Part One


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.

Book your ticket now

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


Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours: President's Foreword


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