Ipswich exhibition provides showcase for local artists

The Ipswich Art Society has long been at the forefront of the contemporary art scene in the region. Acceptance into its annual exhibition has always been regarded as a badge of honour by both amateur and professional artists.

This year, after several years of a nomadic existance moving between the Robert Cross Hall, St Joseph’s College and the Forefront gallery, the Ipswich Art Society have put down new roots at the UCS Foyer Gallery on The Waterfront.

Founded in 1874, the Ipswich Art Society is one of the longest established art societies in the UK, and has had a long and distinquished list of members over the years including Anna Airy, Colin Moss, Bernard reynolds and Cor Visser among many others.

The annual exhibition strikes a balance between traditional art and contemporary art and increasingly looks at mixing a wide variety of different styles.

Chair of this years selection panel, Barbara Norman said that the standard of entry was higher than ever.

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“I think we are always somewhat taken aback by both the high standard and the diversity of work which is submitted. It makes the judging process incredibly difficult. We had 230 entries this year which we have to whittle down to about 112 works because that his about the number that the gallery space can handle.”

She said that it was important that all the work was hung properly and had room to breathe in its own space. Consequently competition is very fierce – particularly as the exhibition is open to both amateur and professional artists. The work is judged purely on its own merits without consideration for the reputation of the artist.

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The make-up of the selection panel changes each year with local gallery owners and members of the UCS art school faculty joining society members to choose the works which make it through to the final exhibition. “This keeps the event fresh and exciting and makes each year very different.”

She said that they were delighted with the look and the atmosphere of their new home.

“The Foyer gallery makes for a very light, airy and enticing space for the exhibition and we are very happy to be here. The exhibition has been rootless for the past couple of years because of changes in the town and I look forward to us having a more settled home from now on.”

She said that the society had first used to foyer gallery at UCS for both their Anna Airy exhibition for students and their smaller prints and drawings exhibitions but this was the first time that they taken taken over the space for their big annual exhibition.

“Also this year we are delighted to have an exhibition within the exhibition. Ipswich Art Society have sponsored the Inside Out Community Arts exhibition which is the result of artist Juliet Lockhart’s work with people with mental health issues. The exhibition features some highly detailed drawings and collages of birds along with wire sculptures.

Barbara Norman said: “It’s good that the Ipswich Art Society is able to create space within its exhibition to allow excellent work from all quarters to be put on display.”

Ipswich Mayor John Le Grys selected Edward Gentry’s Towards Westgate Street for the annual Mayor’s Award.

In addition to the annual exhibition, the Ipswich Art Society stages the Anna Airy Award, named after the leading local portrait artist and former society president, who placed great store in developing young talent. The annual award and exhibition is open to art students living and working in Suffolk.

The 134th Open Exhibition runs at the UCS Foyer gallery until August 15.

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