Our Prize Exhibition opens this week and offers some fascinating glimpses into life in the UK today… we asked the artists selected for some background on how their works were created.
Check out some of their responses below for a real insight into the sources of inspiration at work in the contemporary art scene.
To see the works in all their glory, why not visit the exhibition soon?
It’s the ideal chance for budding art collectors to pick up contemporary art by renowned national artists and emerging new talent… so if your Bank Holiday has led to some fresh ideas for your home, why not add art into the equation?
Timothy Gatenby, ‘Crawling down the Hard Shoulder’
The paradox of motorways; like dark clouds collecting before a storm, a hard sterility has crushed the cavalier spirit which crowned their early days by way of death, speed cameras and congestion. Motorways are now a means to an end. There is hardly a sense of excitement at the prospect of new roads being opened. Local protest appears more likely to manifest amongst people keen to keep the drone and fumes away from their homes.
Despite their relentless unease, I find grace in these magnificent roads; the palisades, the drivers and concrete tunnels. A sense of flying through the world, elevated as if magically teleporting in evolved vessels of glorified metal. The landscape which has reformed itself to complement the slick redesign of whizzing steel. The wonderful collaboration between people and their vehicles, dicing with death by putting their trust in one another. Nature restructured.
Peter Davis, ‘Haha ur weird’
‘Haha ur weird’ is part of a series of paintings that explore humanity and our relationship with personal technology.
My inspiration came from our ever-more consuming attachment to technology. Personal devices are fundamentally altering the way we interact with each other, and this change is what I am documenting through my paintings in this series.
My aim, as a social realist painter, is to capture the spirit of our age and create contemporary portraiture that belongs in the here and now. The majority of my Zeitgeist paintings feature a highly detailed figure against a flat-coloured background. I always try to create a visual dynamic loaded with implications.
Establishing a deliberate dichotomy in my compositions forces the viewer to focus on what that person is doing – and in doing so, it creates a psychological conflict in the painting between humanity and technology.
Mark Finch, ‘Circean Poisons
Circean Poisons has its origins in the classic Greek tale of the Odyssey. It broadly depicts the story of Odysseus and his crews’ plight at the hands of the enchantress Circe.
In the myth, witch-goddess Circe (seated on the helter-skelter in the painting) turns Odysseus’s men into pigs as a punishment for their poor, gluttonous behaviour at a feast thrown in their honour.
This modern take on the myth casts a spotlight on the attitudes in, and behaviour of, today’s society. Critiquing contemporary masculinity, the men in the painting don pig masks, drink to excess, and run amok at the funfair.
Brian Fletcher, ‘Derelict Factory’
Brian Fletcher, ‘The Red Door’
The two paintings selected are of derelict factory sites. One is of a favourite site for inspiration in Stourbridge. This has fascinating textures and colours and has recently been bulldozed for conversion into apartments. Vandalism for me. The old is disappearing fast.
Th other is an old industrial site in Netherton, Dudley. First glimpsed from a car window and subsequently studied as a fascinating factory fascia.
I have been inspired by such subjects for many years and keep returning to this them as the source material for paintings. I love to explore the decaying faces of these buildings, rich in crumbling textures fading colours and ghostly lettering, once functional, suggesting what was once important information and now defunct.
In ‘gentrifying’ these areas there is a loss in the name of progress. ‘C’est la vie’ for the artist.
Adam DeVille, ‘Birmingham and the post electric brutalist dream’
This piece is based on brutalist architect John Madin’s Post and Mail building, designed to be an monument to the rebuilding of Birmingham and the country in the 1960s.
Modernism, and especially brutalism, was meant to inspire a new dawn, but as the early 90s kicked in, culture was on the turn. The grunge music scene perforated the high street and the outlook of the young. We wanted to strip away the electrosynthesised 80s, the loads-a-money yuppie culture, and see what lay beneath.
These buildings were unpopular for a few decades, and so the council began to demolish them. I look upon these remaining monoliths as reminders of our hopes and dreams and how quickly they can decay. This is my homage to a beautiful dream, a rebirth through the process of physical and social entropy.
Artist’s note: the piece was created with an architectural framework which was then marked with expressionist marks, lines and pieces of text almost like the writing in the wall, or memories left etched into history… an impression of the energy behind the initial build and subsequent growth in time.
Visit the Prize Exhibition Soon
These works are on show as part of the Prize Exhibition which runs until 23 June. The RBSA stages the show every year, providing an opportunity for some of the most sought-after artists to show their artwork alongside emerging new talent.
With a top prize of £1,000 competition is fierce! Artworks range across jewellery, ceramics, textiles, drawing, painting, and printmaking.
Many works are for sale.
Our Gallery staff will be happy to help you with any queries on your visit to the RBSA.