Royal Watercolour Society

RWS Update

The following explains my decision to step down from the Royal Watercolour Society

The RWS (London) is the oldest and most prominent watercolour society in the world. As that beacon, one would want for the society to embrace all the exciting possibilities the medium holds. We have an abundance of artists at all levels exploring the medium in the UK: producing a wealth of innovative work by painting in watercolour on a wide array of non-traditional surfaces, as I myself do. For its shows and competitions, the society will accept only watercolours painted on paper. Upon election as a RWS associate, one of my key aims was to advocate for a broadening of the acceptance criteria. My non-traditional approach and use of watercolour upon found-objects was, after all, one reason I was invited by the society for interview in the first instance.

Two proposals to the council over the last two years – that the RWS should consider expanding the range of accepted production materials – have been denied and finally rejected outright. Although I understand the desire to honour long-standing traditions within such an established society, I personally do not feel that this ethos is compatible with my own ever-evolving and experimental practice. I firmly believe that creativity and innovations should not be bound and restricted by tradition, but should be a founding basis for a sustainable and supportive culture and development of that same tradition. For this reason, and with regret, I have decided to leave.

Many positions come and go during an artist’s working life. Sometimes one must try something out in order to determine if there is space for it to sit in harmony with one’s methods of creation. As an artist and a collaborator I have always endeavoured to avoid situations where restriction exists. In my career thus far I have spent time exploring a variety of ventures in order to help extend my practice, find balance and learn new skills that feed into my principal output.

It is an honour to be recognised by such a prominent institution. Yet – as in many aspects of life – if a scenario is incompatible it shouldn’t be pursued against one’s principles simply because it is associated with a level of prestige. Leaving is a step forward.

Below image: paintings in (mostly) watercolour & gouache upon a variety of found surfaces: wood, antique canvas, stone, card & metal.

Winsor & Newton: Water Paper Paint

Earlier this month I gave a live painting demonstration for Winsor & Newton, during the exhibition Water Paper Paint. The show's been a great success so far and finishes this coming Saturday (22nd April).

Four of my Florence in Flood watercolours are on display, plus one gouache seascape. All works are framed.

Live-painitng was a new experience for me, Winsor & Newton will release footage of the event soon. Thanks to all those who came along!

David Cass Royal Watercolour Society

Spring 2016

These coming weeks are shaping up to be the busiest I've yet experienced since becoming self employed in 2010. I'm working on exhibitions that are several months in the future, whilst also distributing as yet unseen 2015 artworks into venues now.

My key focus at the moment is working to secure funding for a solo exhibition in Florence this coming November. If you follow me on social media I'm sure you'll have viewed my recent Florence in Flood sketches. I'm delighted at the level of public engagement this project has so far enjoyed, and am excited to work with the British Institute Florence to build this informative exhibition within the walls of Palazzo Lanfredini.

Back to the present and my next solo exhibition will be in new organisation Gayfield Creative, based in Gayfield Square, Edinburgh. The exhibition will feature found-object based water paintings exclusively. Water has become the main focus of my practice: from straight depictions of sea, pools, reservoirs; to studies that explore flood-zones. The exhibition 'Surface' will exhibit more of an informal nature than my usual displays, featuring experimental works as well as works in new media.

Other current and upcoming dates include Rome Media Art Festival in Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo - MAXXI, Rome; Till It's Gone in MoMA Istanbul; The Royal Watercolour Society's Contemporary Competition in London, and a mixed group exhibition in Crinan Fine Art, Argyll.

Awarded the Winsor & Newton First Prize at the RWS

I'm delighted to have received the Winsor & Newton First Prize at this year's Royal Watercolour Society 'Contemporary Competition'. The prize was awarded for one of my Florence in flood artworks. The exhibition runs until 16th March in Bankside Gallery, London, right next to Tate Modern.