We held our most successful exhibition ever at Wells Maltings in Norfolk in February. Late in November, we got the opportunity to stage a Festival of Watercolour at this prestigious gallery. Despite many reasons to shy away from this challenge: (lack of lead time, winter exhibition, travel distance, Christmas!), the committee of the SEAW decide to take a leap of faith. We put the opportunity to our members and launched an open call in order to be able to hang watercolours from other excellent artists in the region.

Visitors' Favourite: Looking out to Sea by Anthony Mashman
Visitors’ Favourite: Looking out to Sea by Anthony Mashman

The response was exceptional. 128 paintings were hung on the walls of the beautiful Handa Gallery with a further 84 in the browsers. Forty-four watercolourists of East Anglia celebrated their appreciation of the medium through their works on show.

As usual, we invited visitors to vote for their favourite painting. 937 votes were received over the course of the exhibition and the visitors’ favourite was Looking Out to Sea by Anthony Mashman. In second and third positions respectively were Behind the Eyes by Stephie Butler and Votes ‘Four’ Women by Mel Collins.

The winning card was completed by Viv Henderson.

A Festival of Watercolour. Private Viewing Awash Exhibition January 2019
Visitors to the Private Viewing of Awash: A Festival of Watercolour
A Festival of Watercolour. Private Viewing Awash Exhibition January 2019
Good conversations between members and supporters at the Private Viewing of Awash: A Festival of Watercolour

A Festival of Watercolour for everyone

In addition to providing a show of some of the best watercolours in the region, we wanted to give visitors the chance to take an active role.  The members of the SEAW tutored a series of workshops for artists of all levels of experience. Watercolour taster sessions allowed those who were interested in having a go at painting in the medium to come along and try their hand. We decided to stage these inside the gallery rather than in a separate room. This allowed visitors to witness the process of creating watercolours before they reach the walls.

The taster sessions and full day workshops proved highly popular. We are grateful for the support of our workshop sponsors, St Cuthbert’s Mill.

What made this our most successful exhibition?

Naturally this is a subjective judgement. In my view it is the fact that over 2800 people enjoyed the exhibition. Many people made a point of coming back to a second visit. A high proportion of visitors took the time to tell us how much they appreciated the standard of work on the walls. There were great conversations. There were requests for information about becoming a member, and there were a good number of red dots on the walls.

The Society of East Anglian Watercolourists was given a warm welcome by Wells Maltings and the people of the Wells-next-the-Sea area. SEAW members were enthusiastic about the experience of stewarding and chatting to visitors.
Next year we will be staging Awash2: A Festival of Watercolour. Sign up for our news if you want to stay in touch.

In the meantime, why not visit our Members’ Exhibition at Long Melford, open to the public from 18th to 28th April.