The RUA (Royal Ulster Academy of Arts) 136 Annual Exhibition took place last year in the Ulster Museum, Belfast. The exhibition was on the 5th floor of the museum (one floor up from the Game of Thrones (GOT) tapestry) and the consisted of works by 266 artists, 169 of whom had been selected from countries, including Germany, Poland, USA< France, Italy, Finland and Denmark.
A backdrop to the RUA’s exhibition was the display of Poppies: Weeping Window sculpture by artist Paul Cumins and designer Tom Piper. The original installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Sea of Red’ was originally at HM Tower of London in 2014. This installation was to reflect, as with all 14-18 NOW projects, aims to prompt a new, nationwide dialogue around the legacy of the First World War.
Whilst there is no direct link between the two events, the sculpture of poppies certainly made for an interesting talking point for many visitors, whether this is outside, in the refreshment area, the shop or the other areas of the museum.
Returning to the RUA exhibition, for myself, I did not find any of the items on display stood out as exceptional. They were obviously all of a high calibre, selected for their excellence by the panels, however, I did go back to the exhibition three times and from my visits I came away with these artists as someone to relook at:
- James Allen RUA – Blue Sea (Oil on paper)
- Neisha Allen ARUA – Doorway (Oil on Board)
- Daniel Chester – The Gap (Oil on aluminium)
- Dan Dowling ARUA – In the city (2) (Pencil on paper)
- Eileen Ferguson – Crossing (Photo etching)
- Leila Henry – Ballyhernan Dune II (Charcoal on Arches)
- Belinda Larmour – Kevin (Acrylic)
As I said I did go back to the exhibition a number of times and was drawn over that time by a few pieces which seem to hold an affinity for me. They stopped me, made me think and reflect, and after all that is what art in any shape or form should do – I look forward to this years exhibition, and again will be asking what would I like on my wall, what could and would I talk about but wouldn’t have on my wall?