York artist Catherine Sutcliffe-Fuller exhibits at Royal Academy of Arts summer exhibition (From York Press)
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York artist Catherine Sutcliffe-Fuller exhibits at Royal Academy of Arts summer exhibition
WHEN York artist Catherine Sutcliffe-Fuller submitted a couple of her lithographs for this year’s Royal Academy of Arts summer exhibition, she was hoping her name might be noticed.
She knew it could take five years or more of trying before being accepted – and many never make it. As it was her first attempt, she bought a return ticket to London and was about to set off to collect her rejected works.
But two weeks ago a letter arrived marked Royal Academy. Heart pounding, Catherine hardly dared to open it and when she plucked up the courage she couldn’t believe her eyes. Inside were a gold ticket and an artist’s admission card. Catherine was to be one of the exhibiting artists.
“It still hasn’t sunk in really,” she says. “I’m in shock because this has been a lifetime’s dream. I’d set myself a slow path and gave myself 40 years to get in. So when I found out I had been accepted it did make me cry. I was completely and utterly shocked.”
Catherine didn’t realise how difficult it was to get in until she went to the church service held for the exhibitors in advance of the private viewing.
She sat next to a woman who turned out to be a print-making tutor at the Royal College of Art. They got talking and the lecturer asked if it was Catherine’s first time and what was her medium.
“I told her that I was a print maker and she said it was amazing I had got in first time because it is the most difficult category to get into. All the academicians submit prints because they can make a lot of money from the multiples, so it seems I was competing against them.”
It turns out that 12,000 submissions were made and only 1,200 works have been selected; of those only 400 are by non-RA members such as Catherine.
Later, at the viewing, Catherine was introduced to illustrious names such as Eileen Cooper, the RA’s head of print making, and Turner prize winner Grayson Perry. She says it was an amazing experience, but things were about to become even better.
When she walked around the exhibition, Catherine could not find her prints. She tried the print room but there was no sign. Then she overheard someone talking about print making, so she asked if he knew where her work might be.
“He said it’ll be in that room over there, but I said, ‘No it’s not, honestly, I’ve looked’. He insisted that it had to be in there… Anyway, we went across, had a look but still couldn’t find it, so he browsed the catalogue, turned to me and said ‘I don’t believe it’.”
And with good reason. Instead of being displayed along with the other prints, Catherine’s work had been afforded the hallowed status of hanging in the landscape section alongside works by luminaries such as David Hockney and Frederick Cumming.
“It’s unbelievable but I’m really proud that North Yorkshire has sort of taken over in the landscape room, there’s David Hockney’s wonderful painting of Bridlington and just along the wall is my print of Sutton Bank. That’s not bad is it?”
• CATHERINE Sutcliffe-Fuller’s prints will be on show at the Royal Academy of Arts summer exhibition until August 22, but you don’t need to travel to London to see her work.
A series of her prints entitled Navigation is on show at the New School House Gallery, in Peasholme Green, York. Tomorrow, she will lead a workshop at the gallery on printing without a press, after talking through the complexities of her own lithographic process. Times 10.30am and 3.30pm. The cost of £80 includes materials, plus refreshments and a light lunch courtesy of Le Langhe restaurant.