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Nearly ready to begin!
Dr. Cotton recognizes Zbigniew Drecki, introduces Ray
The lecture
Ray Balkwill, Michael Carter, Alan Cotton
2014 LECTURE PRESENTATION
Ray Balkwill, SWAc: An Artist's View

A typically cold and wet late November evening was brought to life at RAMM on Wednesday 26th when our own highly talented Ray Balkwill SWAc entranced a capacity sell out audience with his fascinating illustrated lecture based on his life and work as a landscape painter.

Prior to the lecture, a warm and welcoming atmosphere was created when guests were invited to enjoy a range of delicious ‘nibbles’ generously provided by Mr and Mrs John Hurford, Jane Balkwill, Ann Jones and Alexandra Jacobs, and a cheering glass of wine or a soft drink capably dispensed by our own Penny Keen. A festive table cloth and napkins gave the clue that we were edging towards Christmas!

Then it was down to the main business of the evening as guests took their pre booked seats in RAMM’s delightfully spacious lecture theatre and gallery equipped with the latest audio visual aids and extra-large screen.

SWAC’s President Emeritus Dr Alan Cotton, began by outlining the history of the Drecki lecture series emphasising the Academy’s debt of gratitude to the late Zbigniew Drecki, before introducing his friend and fellow artist Ray Balkwill, who he described as’ an outstanding artist, author, teacher and highly influential landscape painter’.

Ray’s illustrated talk was entitled ‘An Artist’s View’ which aptly described all the events in his life that had clearly made him the highly respected and much loved artist that he is today.

An intensely proud Devonian, born in Exeter and brought up on the edge of Dartmoor his passion for landscape, particularly that of the Exe Estuary, ‘ran as deep as the red earth’ of Devon itself.

One can only imagine the emotions passing through Ray’s mind as he began his talk in this, one of Exeter’s most iconic buildings; a building that would undoubtedly have had a special place in his childhood memories.

The judicious choice of on screen photographs and video clips accompanied by an excellent and entertaining narrative sustained the interest throughout and contributed immensely to the overall enjoyment of the evening.

Ray has written several books and produced two instructional art DVDs. His latest book ‘Travelling Light’ is outstandingly good and rated by many as one of his best to date.

Words to accompany the images play a major part in his technique as an author. He invited Academician, author and photographer Michael Carter, to read a brief passage from the recently published South West Academy book ‘Art People and Place’, in which Michael describes his visit to Ray’s Exmouth studio.

Ray concluded his talk with a heartfelt tribute to his wife Jane, ‘his soul mate and the backbone of his life’. He sat down to well-deserved and prolonged thunderous applause from an appreciative and knowledgeable audience many of whom had had the uplifting experience of attending one of his art courses over the years.

Mary Nation, Chair of the Friends of the museum gave a warm and enthusiastic vote of thanks. Once again, the Drecki lecture had been a collaborative affair arranged by the Friends of the Museum and SWAC. An excellent partnership it would seem.

Well done to both of them and well done Ray!

For those who missed Ray’s lecture or were too late to buy tickets, then the good news is that it will be repeated next year at Kennaway House, Sidmouth on April 9th. Look out for further details on the SWAC website in the New Year but then book early to ensure a place.

Ray’s books, DVDs and prints can be purchased from his website.

Ann Jones SWAc
November 2014

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