On Friday I travelled by train to Birmingham, for the Awards Party at RBSA Gallery (The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists).

Arriving at 1.30pm I found my way to the new library, which has replaced the brutalist John Madin design, due to be demolished. The exterior is covered by a decorative steel screen, as striking in its way as the inverted pyramid of the original building. Inside escalators rise through three floors within a giant atrium, to service the various general and specialised libraries. I had lunch at the ground floor cafe and, later, a cream tea at an upper level, and found and started to read Fools Gold by Gillian Tett, about the financial crisis of 2008.

It was called the Clairefontaine Award, for £100 of their art materials. Apart from this I found there were first, second and third prizes and some highly commended. As usual, I found it difficult to agree with the judges choices, seeing at least three portraits (two, egg tempera and one coloured crayon) I would have preferred. Arranging through the receptionist for a taxi at 7.05 pm to catch the 7.30 train, and learning from her that the speeches would begin at 7.00 pm, I walked back to the library to fill the time before the start of proceedings at 6.00, only to find it on the point of closing. I saw an attractive young girl sitting on her own, and plucked up courage to ask her if I could take a photo, to use for a watercolour portrait – but she declined!

Just before seven, when I was preparing to leave, the President and Chairman introduced themselves, and said nice things. When they realised I had to leave in the next few minutes, they re-arranged the order of the awards presentations to put mine first. I was nevertheless on tenterhooks while the preliminary speeches were made, and I saw the time ticking by. Taking the certificate from the Chairman and posing for a camera shot, I pushed through the crowd to find the taxi waiting. Although arriving with a little time to spare, I nearly missed the train because of the confusing platform numbers. The last leg of the journey home was a stopping train from Sheffield, which took more than two hours. I finally got home at 11.15pm.

Lying on the doormat was a packet from Search Press, with the final draft of my soon to be published book on Drawing and Painting after the designers had worked on it. A quick look suggests they have done a good job.

Here are my Photos of some of the other exhibits.

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More of David’s work can be seen here: DAVID THOMAS PORTRAITS

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