Artists reveal inspiration behind Prize Exhibition works…

Our Prize Exhibition opens on 23 May. It promises to be a vibrant and varied show with art across a range of media from artists based all over the UK and beyond!

Here, artists tell us about the inspiration and process behind their work, and their thoughts on being selected for the show…

Deborah Timperley

Bridge Over Water: Photo credit: Sylvian Deleu

These pieces explore the beauty of stone bridges, harbour walls, dry stone walling and rocky outcrops.

The compositions are evocative of the landscape and suggest rocks and stones placed harmoniously together, contrasting defined edges with the softness of adjacent vegetation. The blocks of colour echo the surrounding landscape, water and sky. They have a sense of place and atmosphere.

The sculptures are constructed by hand using chunks of glass to create a natural form, 23.5ct gold maybe added suggesting golden lichen.

The pieces are then fired in the kiln over several days. Opening the kiln and discovering the success is always a joy!

Kate Rose

The Good Friends

A few years ago I was commissioned to paint The Last Supper. Rather than attempting the traditional and problematic line up of figures along one side of a table, I decided to make the table the centre of the composition with the figures around the edge, making a piece which could be viewed from any way up. This inspired me to paint some other subjects in a similar format.

The subject of The Good Friends is the Biblical story in the Gospels where the paralysed man is lowered through the roof by his friends in order that he might be healed by Christ. Again the piece can be viewed from any side with the main view point being from above the scene.

There are patterned tiles around the border that carry various objects, pots, birds nests, a globe etc, not intended to be naturalistic but as a means of including images that are modern as well as being decorative. Dogs, drums, toys, babies are included in the composition to show ordinariness and humanity along with the miraculous.

It will be obvious to many that I have paid homage to more than one great artist in my painting.

I have used what I think might be a unique technique combining modern acrylic with gesso paste on a gesso panel.

Ed Isaacs

Wolverhampton Ring Road

I’m extremely chuffed that my work “Wolverhampton Ring Road” has been selected for the RBSA Prize Exhibition. This is one of a series of works that juxtaposes animals and scenes of Wolverhampton.

There is no overt symbolism going on here unless people want to make their own links – I just like making the marks and putting together the images.

Each of the drawings that form the series is about 1.5m wide (which is pretty big for a drawing) and takes a bit of time to do – I go into my own mark-making zone when creating them. Somehow I quite like the intense concentration and care that goes into making these works in comparison with the banality of the subject matter.

The RBSA’s Prize exhibition is a major event in the region’s art calendar – when I talk to fellow artists, they recognise it as such. It would be good to see it reach out to a broader cross section of artists. At the moment I think we are missing out on interesting work from emerging artists, particularly conceptual and video art. I would quite like to see it ‘rebadged’ as ‘The Birmingham Prize’.

Martha Ellis

Martha works in a medium new to the RBSA – laser technology. She explains…

All my work starts with observational drawing, my ‘Botanical series’ for example was after a number of trips to Kew Garden and Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. I always draw from life, looking at the details in different flowers and objects. I also take reference photos to help with composition.

The next stage is composition, this is all drawn by hand using pencil and pen on paper and the focus is on the balance of the composition, arranging the objects and the flow of the piece. This line drawing is then scanned into the computer and the next stage takes place. This is the part of the process where major change happens, I painstaking draw over my line drawing on the computer (all done by hand) and make creative decision as to what will be positive and which parts negative. I also reduce the objects to their stylised bold form.

Once the composition has been drawn out onto the computer, I cut it out of paper a number of times to see it at scale and make further changes , adding more/less detail. Once finally happy I then cut the work out of MDF, which is hand sprayed or a burn effect created. The laser cuts out exactly what I have told it to cut, following what I have drawn onto the computer! Once cut, I (very) carefully push out all the bits which are cut away! Add the hanging blocks which have been specially designed to space the work away from the wall at a distance I feel gives the best shadow.

Steve Evans


My work ‘Shaft’ is an exploration of spaces and connection between them.

The work is in two parts, a minimal line drawing on the bottom layer and a series of related shapes on the second. When I assembled the two elements I found it surprising that the blank spaces I had left on the second layer, as a symbol of connection, were quite so dominant within the image.

That phenomenon gave the work its title.

I regard the annual Prize Exhibition at the RBSA to be perhaps the most prestigious of the year. Every piece of work is chosen by selectors who are arts professionals from beyond the Society. Since selection became digital, the range of entries has come from far and wide. Over recent times entries have been selected from all round the UK and Ireland, the Netherlands and China. It gives me a boost on the occasions that my work has been selected.

It seems to me that the Prize Exhibition is becoming increasingly important among the variety of open exhibitions that are held around the UK.

Visit the Exhibition!

On until 22 June, the Prize Exhibition provides opportunities for art-buyers and artists alike… The majority of artworks are for sale and there are a range of prizes to be won, including a top prize of £1,000.

Framed art isn’t for everyone, so we have a wide range of unframed prints available to view in browsers at the Gallery, on the ground floor.

The RBSA would like to thank the following donors for their generous support of the Prize Exhibition:

GMC Trust First Prize – £1,000 cash

Alec Morison Trust Second Prize – £500 cash

Harris Moore Third Prize – £200 bespoke canvas/framing

The Artist Magazine Prize – 2 years free subscription

Jackson Art Supplies Prize for Young Artist – £125 Voucher for an exhibitor aged 35 or under

Tim Dabson Consulting Prize for 3D work- £100 cash

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