This year it has been my honour to be the Picture Convenor of the 143rd Annual Open Exhibition of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. We have had our work cut out as the Gillies and Turner exhibitions have limited us to the five main gallery spaces to the South of the building yet the number of works remains the same as last year. Nevertheless my fantastic Hanging Committee of Reinhard Behrens, Jacqui Orr, Chris Bushe, Lynn McGregor, Pascale Rentsch, Simon Laurie and Mike Clark have worked brilliantly together and in just three days have managed to arrange over 370 Member’s and Non-members’ works into a cohesive and exciting exhibition.
Once the initial digital selection of non-Members work had been made, and the Members’ work counted, we found we had even more works in this year’s submission than last. At first this seemed like it was going to present us with a serious problem as we only had about two thirds of the space! However, once we’d spent a few hours moving the work around the galleries I felt more comfortable that we would be able to accommodate such a large group of disparate works. In the past, one submitted work to these open exhibitions and after a couple of weeks you found out if any of it had been hung. There was no such thing as a digital submission and therefore no such thing as a pre-selection. Nowadays you may find that your work gets pre-selected, only to discover a week or so later that it had not actually found it’s way into the exhibition. So I was determined to disappoint as few people as possible and we did our utmost to hang all the works we had available. We did pretty well, with only five paintings not hung – and two of those artists did have another painting in the show.
A huge shout-out to our fantastic administrator, and font of all knowledge, Jenny Mason who has remained calm throughout and kept us all right; to Neil Macintosh and his team of RSA hangers who have, as always, remained imperturbable; and to our President Angus McEwan and all members of the RSW Council, and all the volunteers whose tireless work supports so many fellow artists and allows us to bring this exciting exhibition to the Scottish Exhibition calendar each year.