Gallery visit: Air @ RWA

Last week involved several museum and gallery visits around the centre of Bristol.  My first stop was Hamilton House to see Camilla Cacciari‘s exhibition, A Wild World.  I like the way she blended real and imaginary travels, drawing on the art of tribal communities, Middle Eastern folk art and textile patterns.

My museum visits included Skeletons: Our Buried Bones at the M Shed and Pliosaurus at Bristol Museum, which both continued my archaeology / fossil trail of inspiration quite nicely.

On a day in between some of these visits, I read the August edition of The Simple Things and came across the work of Alice Stevenson, particularly this sketch of Kirkcudbright from her book, Ways to See Britain: Curious Places and Surprising Perspectives.

I’ve never really done much sketching (or at least, not much successful sketching), but I was inspired by this to try sketching small details rather than a large scene.  So on my next day out in Bristol, I had a go.  I went to see Air: Visualising the Invisible in British Art 1768-2017 at the Royal West of England Academy (RWA).

Some of my favourites from the exhibition included:

  • John Constable‘s cloud studies, with detailed notes about the time of day, the weather and the direction and speed of the wind, for example this one, inscribed on the reverse: “Hampstead, Sept 11, 1821. 10 to 11 morning under the sun – Clouds silvery grey on warm ground sultry. Light wind to the S.W. fine all day – but rain in the night following.”
  • Eric Ravilious’ watercolour of a barrage balloon.
  • Liz Butler’s watercolours of views of the earth from above.
  • Polly Gould‘s silvered glass globes which reflect watercolour panoramas.
  • The beautiful colours in Jemma Grundon‘s oil paintings of clouds.
  • Janet Haigh’s gorgeous applique of the sunset over the Severn estuary, a view with which I am very familiar.
  • Helen Jones‘ pastel clouds on tracing paper.
  • Bridget McCrum’s bronze bird sculptures.

I sketched a few details from the exhibition and a few architectural details and then added a few further architectural details while waiting at Bristol Temple Meads for my train.  I then added a few further details from photos I had taken during the day.  At home, I then went over the lines in pen, photocopied it and added some colour using pencils.  I’m still not sure whether I prefer the original black and white version or the colour version.  Please comment below if you have a preference!


Other things that inspired me last week:

  • A visit to Cass Art shop on Park Street
  • Article in The Simple Things about naming colours
  • A quick paddle in the muddy Severn at sunset on the eve of my birthday – the combination of a new moon and high tide felt significant

What has inspired you this week?  Have you seen any interesting exhibitions recently?  Please comment below.



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