Mick Rooney has packed a prodigious number of small works into this modest space. An image of a deserted Woolworths shop strikes a wry, topical note, and at least a dozen other works devoted to the chain’s demise were submitted (unsuccessfully) to the exhibition this year.
Installation view of the Small Weston Room, Summer Exhibition 2009 Photo: John Bodkin
Bernard Dunstan paints his wife Diana Armfield in Post-Impressionist interiors. And Armfield’s own delicately handled paintings of Venice and Provence can be found nearby.
In the middle of one wall, the first to be devoted to black-and-white prints, Peter Freeth’s large, blurred image of a face commands attention, its mouth parted in horror or despair. It is almost as sinister as Adrian Bartlett’s big, unnerving etching Burning the Tree. Elsewhere, David Carpanini’s A Winter in the Hills sounds another bleak chord.
But not everything looks dark. A lively tropical scene by Michael B. White is life-affirming, and so is Rooney’s gouache and tempera image of a sailor and a dog. As for Sir Nicholas Grimshaw’s etching, it proves that an architect can excel in print-making. Spare and lyrical, Grimshaw’s print presents a bird’s eye view of an estuary, offering a quiet, understated insight into the natural world.