Congratulations Sonja RCA!
20th January 2010
The artist from Llanelltyd near Dolgellau, Sonja Benskin Mesher, has been accepted into the prestigious Royal Cambrian Academy.
The Academy was established in 1881 by artists from North Wales, Liverpool and Manchester. Initially known as the Cambrian Academy of Art they attracted members from the rest of Wales. In 1882 Queen Victoria commanded that the Academy should be 'Royal'. In 1885 Lord Mostyn offered the Royal Cambrian Academy the lease on an Elisabethan mansion in Conwy, Plas Mawr. This was home to the Academy until 1992 when it moved next door into purpose built gallery space. Members have included the likes of Augustus John and Sir Kyffin Williams. Its current membership of around 100 includes Ifor Davies, Ogwyn Davies, Ken Elias, Shani Rhys James, Clive Hicks Jenkins, Peter Lord, Luned Rhys Parri, Tim Pugh, Kevin Sinnot, David Tress, Meri Wells, Catrin Williams and many more Welsh artists of standing.
Academicians are elected by their peers and it can take many years to become a member of the Royal Cambrian Academy. Membership conveys a level of achievement and it is seen as 'a badge of honour'. This week Sonja can wear that badge too.
Sonja Benskin Mesher at work in her studio. Photograph Pete Telfer
So what was the Royal Acamedian doing today? Painting of course, but using a technique that she has developed herself. With the quote from Scott Adams in her mind "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep" this technique originally evolved from an accident. With sheets covering the floor and other paintings in the studio, Sonja was throwing water around the room, some of it hitting the intended target, a canvas freshly painted blue. Using rags and sheets she then absorbed the water splashed accross the work, lifting the blue paint where the water had made contact to reveal the red beneath.
Work in progress Photograph Pete Telfer
And what else? Sonja has just decided to contribute to two other very diverse exhibitions.
Holocaust Memorial Day this year is on 27th January. Its theme is 'the Legacy of Hope', and it commemorates the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Sonja will be supporting the Shrewsbury-based arts exhibition, showing pieces specially made for this event, at 16/17 Butcher Row off Pride Hill, Shrewsbury (leading from Pride Hill to St Alkmunds); from 10.00 am through to when it runs out of visitors.
The other exhibition will be the work of artist Helen Frik in Chapter Cardiff. Sonja will lend her a knitted duck!
"I saw the call for hand made toys, and realised that I had some I made for my daughter 40 years ago. I hoisted them out of the dolls pram, where they have lived for 16 years, dusted and sponged them down, and am sending them all the way to Cardiff to be a part of this thing. I hope they will not be scared, or home sick. The ducks!"
"They will indeed have their moment of fame, before they come back here safe with me".
And Sonja has convinced her daughter Peta Jayne Benskine-Pike to send some very strange knitted toys to the installation too.
"My daughter will also be sending hand knitted toys, a terrorist, and a self harmer. Knitted, no pattern used!"
Sonja's Ducks Photograph courtesy of the artist.
Also See -
Sonja Benskin Mesher profile