Since the dawn of painting, landscape has been an enduring source of inspiration. It has been configured both symbolically and poetically over centuries, encompassing Beauty, the Picturesque and the Sublime within its wake.
The envisioning of arcadia in our rural surroundings has a deep resonance with artist Sophie Ryder’s work, which is to be shown simultaneously at the RWA. Just as Ryder’s animal-human creations bear a past steeped in mythology and autobiography, these landscapes carry their own memories, both specific and abstract. In Monumental, Ryder’s work brings the outside in, replacing the fertile backdrop of forests and parkland with the blank canvas of a gallery wall. Picturing Arcadia reverses this notion, creating a miniature-Eden within. Wild and weathered hilltops sit side-by-side with tranquil tree-lined avenues, contrasting rolling valleys and rugged shorelines with manicured hedgerows, pickets and palings. It offers an alternative view of the bucolic idyll, from the sentimental to the sublime, presenting each work as its own individual reflection upon nature, containing a future and a past in one narrative.
Picturing Arcadia draws on the RWA’s outstanding permanent collection of paintings, including work by Mary Fedden, Alethea Garstin, Duncan Grant, Robert Organ, Kurt Jackson, and Donald Ewart Milner. The selection is reflective of a strong tradition of landscape within the Academy, stretching back to its foundations in the 1840s by the Bristol Society of Artists, a group mainly consisting of landscape painters. Since then, landscape and regionalism have become intertwined as mutual characteristics of the Academy’s collection.
Exhibition Tour and Talk: Picturing Arcadia
Saturday 29 June
2pm FREE with exhibition entry
RWA President, Janette Kerr, and Academician, Andrew Hardwick, will be providing a tour of the exhibition, discussing some of the