Scottish Art News

Latest news


News & Press


The RSW’s 141st Open Annual Exhibition

By Susan Mansfield, 23.12.2021
blog detail
James Cosgrove, Taking A Longer View. Courtesy the RSW and the Artist.

Featuring some 350 paintings, from Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour members and non-members, the annual exhibition brings together some of the best painters in water-based media working in Scotland, Susan Mansfield takes a look at some of the exhibitors… 

James Cosgrove, ‘Taking A Longer View’

The views of the North Ayrshire coast which James Cosgrove sees daily from his home often form the backdrop to his paintings. He describes Taking A Longer View as “an imagined farewell and safe journey [being wished] to a voyager on a journey to an unknown island. The narrative is coloured by reading the works of Philip Pullman and references are made to characters such as Balthamas and Baruch. I prefer my work to be looked at ‘like a book’ and the narrative interpreted and further developed by the viewer. Of course, underlying everything is experimentation with methods and dynamics of drawing and painting without being purely representational.”

Morag Muir, Blue Sky Day. Courtesy the RSW and the Artist.

Morag Muir, ‘Blue Sky Day’

Morag’s studio window, looking across the Tay estuary to the city of Dundee, forms the backdrop to her still life compositions. She said: “My Studio is a living and working environment populated with objects and bric-a-brac collected over many years. These objects are used to create still lifes which dress the stage and support the developing narrative which often reflects everyday happenings in my life. These happenings are often played out in conversations within the canvas. However, the viewer has licence to place their own interpretation on the scene as these stories will inevitably resonate with shared experiences of heartache, pain, parenthood, loss, love and joy.”

Catriona Mann, Maria Queen of Scots. Courtesy the RSW and the Artist.

Catriona Mann, ‘Maria Queen of Scots’

In autumn 2021, artist Catriona Mann was appointed President of the RSW, the first female president in the organisation’s 145-year history. She described the role as a “massive honour”, although it thrust her immediately into the thick of planning the society’s biggest show for three years. Her own work is mainly in mixed media, combining water-based paint, drawing and collage. She says: “’Maria Queen of Scots’ is in water-based paints with gold ink lettering on layers of tissue paper. It is very loosely based on paintings of her by Clouet. The ‘Catte’ refers to Queen Elizabeth I who tormented her. Mary was a talented embroiderer and portrayed herself as a mouse.” 

Derek Robertson, The Afghan Girl: Whispers From The Desert. Courtesy the RSW and the Artist.

Derek Robertson, ‘The Afghan Girl/Whispers From The Desert’

Fife-based Derek Robertson is best known as a wildlife artist, but in the years before the pandemic he undertook a number of journeys in Europe and the Middle-East to explore the human migration of refugees, which mirrored the movements of migratory birds. He says: “This painting was built up from some sketches I made in a refugee school in the Jordanian desert where I was teaching art classes to the children. During break time, the children played in the dusty playground where the boys played football and the girls were relegated to often-repaired swings. Several girls were playing with the sand — including this young Afghan girl in a beautiful shawl that had been patched over and over again. It was a striking image that stayed with me.”

Liz Myhill, Liminal. Courtesy the RSW and the Artist.

Liz Myhill, ‘Liminal’

Perth-based Liz Myhill works directly from life painting landscapes and wildlife, from the Isle of Skye (where she grew up) to the mountains and glaciers of South America. In October, she received the Birdwatch & Swarovski Optic Artist of the Year Award at the Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition. She says: “This painting depicts a place I've known well since childhood and where I regularly draw. Almost an island in itself, the headland is a wonderful place to watch wildlife and the change in mood can be dramatic depending on the weather conditions. For me it is a place of stillness where I spend many hours working en plein air and watching the otters, seals, birds, deer and others who roam there."

The 141st Open Annual Exhibition of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW) is at the RSA in Edinburgh until 27th December (closed 25th and 26th).