RBA May News 2020

RBA May News 2020

Martin Leman has a selection of his new works [received by the gallery just before London’s lockdown!] online at the M1 Gallery:

The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists [RBSA] have an online exhibition of some of their members’ works and these include RBA members:

David Brammeld

‘Dark Wood’

Anthony Yates

‘The Catholic, Easter Sunday’

Wayne Attwood Hon RBA PRBSA:

‘Will I always feel this way?’

Anthony Yates also has some works in the ‘Lyrical Colourists’ exhibition at the Fosse Gallery – this show has also been transferred online until the 4th June.  His work for this show was inspired by his recent Italian trip and more images as well as a continuation of his blog can be seen in “Latest News” on the RBA website

Anthony Yates
‘Music in the Square, Montmarcello’

Cheryl Culver has made a video called Art in Lockdown, which can be viewed on YouTube

Art in Lockdown – Cheryl Culver PPPS RBA Paintings

Some of our ‘RISING STARS’ are still doing well, including:

Ruth Murray who has just won the Jackson’s Painting Prize 2020 for her work ‘Geraniums’.  She has received the main prize of £5000 and says that the award “… was a wonderful surprise!” and “It’s a huge privilege and honour. The prize means a great deal, particularly in these uncertain times. It will go a long way in supporting my practice.”


Ruth Murray

Alice Boggis-Rolfe’s website http://www.aliceboggis-rolfe.com shows her online exhibition ‘INDIA’ and her works which were scheduled to be shown with the British Art Portfolio, can now be seen online at their website:

‘Tomatoes in a Moroccan Bowl’

Alice Boggis-Rolfe

[Our members Sue Campion and Frederick Cuming also have works in the same online exhibition]

Alex J Wood is probably familiar to us all now – here he is smiling broadly behind Tracey Emin at the Terrence Higgins Trust Auction 2020 at Christies:

Alex says: “Earlier this month I exhibited alongside Tracey Emin, Howard Hodgkin and many other big name artists at Christies. I was over the moon as ‘Blow Out’ my watercolour of an oil derrick, sold for £500 with all the money going to help Terrence Higgins Trust.”

‘Blow Out’

Alex J Wood

Another Alexander – Alex Glass [who also had a work in the Christies auction in support of the Terrence Higgins Trust – see ‘March Good News’] has informed us about the following project, which is helping artists in these difficult days:
The Artist Support Pledge is an initiative set up by the artist Matthew Burrows as a reaction to the effect of COVID-19 on artists everywhere. The idea is to create a network of generosity and support whilst things are so precarious.   Alexander Glass is supporting this initiative himself and also making extra donations to The British Red Cross for any sales made.  His ‘shop’ is here: https://www.alexanderglasssculpture.com/shop


Alex Glass


  • If you need a break from your own studio, there are also online tours of some galleries and museums including The British Museum, The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, The Courtauld Gallery and The National Galleries of Scotland.  Lectures, videos and talks can also be found online. My favourite is the film: Documentary: inside ‘Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse’ on the RA website [also recommended by our Denis Baxter]
  • For those who live/work/studied or were born in Northern England, the ‘New Light Real Northern Art’ exhibition is inviting entries until the 31st May https://newlight-art.org.uk/prize-exhibition/
  • Other upcoming news is that the Mall are thinking about a mixed online exhibition for the FBA Societies during the summer.  This is very much at the ‘thinking’ stage, as there will be many things for them to consider – not least that there are probably over 800 members altogether!
  • The ‘virtual’ exhibition at The Royal Over-Seas League will be happening online soon – the launch will be next Wednesday 13th May at this link http://www.rosl.org.uk/rbaonline.  The problem was that the laptop, which was being used ‘at home’ to mount the exhibition, was not powerful enough for the rather complicated programme being used to show the works ‘in situ’ in the gallery.  However Liam Culver, like a knight in shining armour using a more powerful computer rather than a white horse, has come to the rescue.  He has worked hard to organise the show, although he has never used the programme before and we have fingers and toes crossed that he will be successful!
  • We are aware that some of our members are unwell at the moment [not Covid-19 so far as we know] and others are recovering from surgery or are suffering because their planned surgeries or treatments have had to be delayed.  We wish them all well and hope that you will all please keep in touch with us and let us know how things are going.
  • We also thought it might be a good idea to share some ‘smiles’ at this difficult time and so, if you have some which you would like us to share with other members, whether they be videos, jokes or cartoons, please let us have them [we shall have the first giggles] and then we will send them out to the members. We know that this first video has been around for a while and you may well have seen it, but it’s one of our  favourite songs and apologies if you are offended by the political message:


And this one will also hopefully raise a smile too:


You may need to copy and paste all these to your internet browser.

Vicky Anthony Montemarcello by Anthony Yates RBA RBSA Part 3.

The Taste of Italy

At the end of a piece of rope longer than the heel on the boot of Italy was a dog. The other end led to Barbara’s House. Barbara lived next door. The dog padded into our house, flopped on the burnt orange tiles of the floor and wouldn’t budge. If we wanted to use the front door we had to step over him. I wanted; no! needed a coffee. I looked at the stylish, angular pot standing on the gas hob. I had no idea how to use it, nor that it was called a moka pot or that it was invented by an Italian named Bialetti. I asked Vicky how to use it. No good asking Vicky how to use it, she is strictly herbal tea. I stepped over the dog, sheepishly climbed the steps to Alexandra’s house, Alexandra being the only person I’d met on the first morning in Montemarcello, and asked her advice. Alexandra came down the stairs into our kitchen, explained the Italian passion for coffee, made sure I had good coffee in the cupboard, showed me what to do, and, “listen to the little ‘blip-blipping’ at the end, keep the gas flame low, too high and you singe the handle, and, most importantly don’t ruin the coffee by burning”. I thank Alexandra from the bottom of my heart.

Vicky and I immersed ourselves in our work. We both wanted to draw everything; to feel the emotions only this experience could bring. My drawings aren’t particularly for public display; they are for me, my language, a shorthand cut to how I feel in front of the subject, to reappear when I make the final paintings. I drew the big metal kettle that Vicky used to make her herbal tea and the Bialetti Moka pot – both on the boil every morning – and, perhaps, the finished painting is a symbolic portrait of Vicky and me. I made a simple watercolour of crude hand-thrown jugs and a bowl against the dazzling light of sunlit façades. In Tellaro, we melted in the heat, and the colourful buildings blurred through squinted eyes. Morning bustle gave way to the silence of the afternoon, parched earth under the searing sun, almost unbearable to stand out in and draw. As the days went by the heat built up and things slowed down… right down. Come the afternoon the café on the Square shut, the streets emptied and the air hummed with humidity. This atmosphere intrigued and enticed me, and late one afternoon I left Vicky resting in the house, slung a rucksack of drawing materials over my shoulder and wandered out alone, not one person was to be seen and just out of the village I found a spot to draw – a lane through dark woods, mysterious in that deathly quiet afternoon. I drew quickly, scribbling marks, laying on colour and used the sketch as inspiration for a finished studio painting. I made interior studies, in the shuttered light of the afternoon, the torpid heat pervading the atmosphere, inducing inertia. The evenings came alive again, the café buzzed and we’d watch Mediterranean sunsets from a viewpoint out of the village high up on the cliffs, afterwards walking back in the twilight to the lamp lit streets of Montemarcello.

Once a week some of the womenfolk of the village get together and go swimming at Punto Bianco, a local beach so named because of the white outcrops of rock on the beach. It’s a ladies only affair and the ‘foreign contingent’ of Vicky, Caroline and Leoni were invited to join them. They looked at me and said that as I was the only man there I could come along too. Feeling a little embarrassed in the company of so many women I declined and made the German girls giggle by telling them I couldn’t go as I’d left my bikini at home. Off they went crammed into a couple of cars while I stopped in the village and went searching for something to draw. They were gone quite a while and returned chattering excitably. There had been a man on the beach exposing himself, which obviously wasn’t nice for the ladies. Ah, well! – I missed out on that particular drama – perhaps if I’d tagged along I’d have got a chance of doing a male nude study, (only joking, girls!).

Our stay was drawing to a close and, of course, having made so many friends we simply had to spend the last evening together. We all wandered to a café at the edge of the village and sat drinking, chatting and laughing until the bar closed.


As we stood on the raised step outside our house on the morning of our departure an elderly man came by carrying a large basket of plums. He spoke only Italian but offered the basket up to Vicky beckoning her to take some fruit. Alexander was close by, she knew the man and explained the plums were to make jam and he was on his way back home after picking them.  We both bit into a plum, they were sweet, juicy and still warm from the bush – we had our last taste of Italy.

We knew we would miss the life we had found in Montemarcello. We found our Italian friends serious and passionate about life who gave us kindness and friendliness without reservation. I must especially thank Alexandra and Barbara our neighbours for all the warmth and generosity of spirit they extended to us, and, of course, not forget the lovely German girls Caroline and Leoni. We were in Montemarcello courtesy of Henrietta Bowden-Jones who had the idea of sending artists over to this part of the world to see what we made of it – and so our biggest thanks must go to her.

Grazie, grazie, grazie!












All drawings and paintings reproduced in the blog are the original work of Anthony Yates, with the exception of No. 13 Vicky’s etching – ‘Montemarcello’ and No. 20 Vicky’s print – ‘Summer Sky one’ which are the original work of Vicky Oldfield

Photographic credits: for image 12 © Alexandra Schileo, for image 21 © Leoni Fritsch.  All other images © Vicky Oldfield & Anthony Yates

Blog written by Anthony Yates and edited by Vicky Oldfield