Banner image: Decommissioned, 35 x 93cm, Watercolour by Lillias August © The Artist

Formed to exhibit the best of progressive watercolours, The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) showcases a diversity of styles and techniques, from traditional uses of the medium to more experimental and innovative paintings. From surrealist castles and hilltops by the RI’s President, Rosa Sepple, to the life-like ‘Decommissioned’ guns by Honorary Secretary Lillias August, the exhibition (13 July – 20 October 2019) will include around 28 members and 90 paintings celebrating the best of contemporary watercolours.

Across the Bay © Jean Robinson

The RI is one of the oldest and most respected watercolour societies in the world. The beginnings of the RI can be traced back to 1807, where it showcased the work of both members and non-members, a policy still followed today. The society began at a time when watercolour was used for serious artistic expression, and many highly regarded painters, including Cotman, Turner, Cox, de Wint, Bonington and many others exploited the natural and luminous qualities of the medium to great acclaim. In 1883 Queen Victoria granted the Institute a Royal Warrant. Today, Her Majesty the Queen is Patron and HRH Prince of Wales is an Honorary Member.

Castle on the Hill, 38x56cm © Rosa Sepple

President since 2016, Rosa Sepple will be exhibiting two paintings in the upcoming exhibition. The self-taught artist started her career in the late nineties, producing exciting, vibrant and highly original paintings in watercolour and collage. Her quirky, colourful and almost magical paintings demonstrate the artist’s highly distinctive style that is intensely personal. ‘Castle on the Hill’ echoes suggestions of English painter and printmaker John Piper, whose work often focused on the British landscape, including churches and monuments.

Bedside, 33x41.5cm © Lillias August

Also included in the exhibition is ‘Decommissioned’, a disturbing and uncomfortable statement against firearms. The artist was drawn to the evocative and powerful weapons, inspired by the stories they could tell, and this unsettling painting stimulates different reactions amongst different audiences. In contrast to ‘Decommissioned’, the artist will also be exhibiting the slightly brooding, but peaceful, ‘Bedside’, part of a series of paintings inspired by the remains of where people once were, painted in layers and lifted-off in stages resulting in a muted, soft, yet strong effect.

The exhibition opens on 13 July in the Upper Gallery, and runs until 20 October 2019. Friends of The Lightbox  go free. We hope you're as excited about this one as we are!