Contemporary watercolour exhibition in Horsham reveals a surprisingly radical art form

'La Serenata' by Rosa Sepple

'La Serenata' by Rosa Sepple

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More than 20 of this country’s leading watercolour artists are descending on the ancient market town of Horsham to display their most recent work.

Watercolours, a democratic medium enjoyed by millions but perfected by so few, is an art that has great versatility as members of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours show in NOW 17 at Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum & Art Gallery.

'Tenby Skyline' by Naomi Tydeman

'Tenby Skyline' by Naomi Tydeman

Going back to its roots, this stunning exhibition of contemporary watercolours shows just how radical the art form is and just why it set the art world alight 200 years ago.

Then it was contemporary, cutting edge, challenging and revolutionary, as well as artistic – just the qualities that The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours celebrate in their show.

Artists such as Rosa Sepple RI (the current RI President) reveal just how modern watercolours are; they show that while the watercolours, such as La Serenata can look naive, they are multi-layered with fascinating narrative, complex colour pallet and humour. Or the paintings by Naomi Tydeman RI, whose sense of colour, perspective, understanding of the medium and feel for the seaside create masterpieces of great beauty, which draw the visitor in to the Tenby Skyline. Ian Sidaway RI Levans Hall VI, which will also be on display among the 80 paintings, shows how the modern watercolour artist is stretching the bounds of techniques; while Deborah Walker RI displays different style to reflect the Inlet.

Founded in 1831, the year before the Great Reform Act when radicalism was in the air, the rich history of the Royal Institute is matched by the quality of the watercolours on show at Horsham. Queen Victoria awarded the title ‘Royal’ in 1885 and today Her Majesty the Queen is Patron and HRH Prince of Wales is an Honorary Member.

'Levens Hall VI' by Ian Sidaway

'Levens Hall VI' by Ian Sidaway

NOW17: New Original Watercolours forms the central part of Horsham’s Festival of the Watercolour.

Jeremy Knight, heritage officer and curator at the museum, said: ‘‘Thanks to the support of Toovey’s Fine Art Valuers and Auctioneers, the festival will also feature a wine reception and talk by renowned curator and author Nicola Moorby who is an authority on Britain’s greatest watercolour artist Turner.

‘‘The reception and talk takes place at The Capitol in Horsham and has a limited number of places. It is the perfect antidote to election night, as it takes place on June 8 from 7pm to 9pm.”

Fun and informative workshops for youngsters will be hosted by the museum and, for adults, award-winning artists will be chatting and demonstrating their skills in a series of ‘meet the artist’ events and workshops.

NOW 17 exhibition and the Festival of the Watercolour are supported by Toovey’s Fine art and Valuers, who have continued their involvement with the development of the Museum watercolour collection. Without their support, Horsham Museum and Art Gallery would not be able to host a number of upcoming events.

NOW17 runs until July 15 at Horsham Museum. Entry is free.

Visit www.horshammuseum.org.

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