Constant gaze

 Waiting tide

This exhibition, open to non-members of the RSMA to show, and to the general public to visit, is a visual treat of, in general, reasonably-priced works reflecting our fascination with ships and the sea. The quality and standard of the work is outstanding and the techniques varied. An interesting addition this year was a time-lapse film showing artist Rowena Wright RSMA at work completing one of her paintings on show, Tuiga in the Solent. Living in Cowes her studies of classic Yachts in the waters of the Solent are vibrant and her use of paint adds interest to the occasion.

Harbours are a popular theme and one that caught my eye was Woodbridge Harbour at low tide by David Allen RSMA, Classic Boat award winner in 2005.

From a recent visit to Mahon Harbour on Menorca I instantly recognized historical artist and RSMA past president Geoff HuntConway Maritime award-winning version set in 1800 showing the waters as a military safe anchorage. The past glory of the days of sail is also captured in James BreretonClipper of the Black Ball line. The line, set up in 1817, ran a scheduled service between Liverpool and New  York.

Two very striking paintings featured large details of sails by a newcomer to the exhibition, French artist Michel Brosseau. His oil painting All furled up shows a very familiar view, in crisp detail, of a sail tie around a flaked sail and boom. It won die Russell & Chappie (canvas suppliers) award.

 Waiting tide

Boatyards are a favourite with artists and Patrick R Donovan contributed a fine watercolour of the Hollowshore boatyard.

Onboard paintings are rare, so a welcome sight was the atmospheric pastel My first trip at the mouth of the Channel by the very experienced historical marine artist John Groves RSMA. Last yearClassic Boat winner Richard Dack was back with an oil painting of restoration in progresss.

Smaller items included a limited wood engraving print by John Bryce of the Maldon waterfront, showing the Thames barges lying alongside the quay. It was titled Waiting for the tide and here I have a bone to pick. Much can be gained or lost in the naming of a painting. I feel a painting has a lot more to be gained if a more informative title is used. After the race is of barges. But where are they? Which race? It would also help bodi the paintings and a boatprovenance if the boat featured were named.

In many of the pictures on show here I have had to ask die artist or do some research. Waiting for the tide as a tide will simply not do. It is of no help to anyone.