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Why is it a New Genre?


On her Web Site at, Prue Bishop has defined Sculptural Watercolour as follows:

Sculptural Watercolour is the application of paint made of pigments suspended in gum Arabic onto a pliable paper carrier that may be cut and formed to allow artistic freedom in the third dimension; the result being a unified watercolour painting.

S'il vous plaît allez ici pour une introduction à l'aquarelle sculpturale en français.

Attempting to fit Prue Bishop's works into existing genres

A few critics have found difficulty in accepting that her works are watercolours. This appears to stem from their belief that watercolours must be painted on a single piece of flat paper. Most accept that her work would come under a broad definition of watercolour.

A main theme of collage is that pieces are taken from existing artefacts such as photographs and newspapers, often retaining a particular message. Or, as the Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms mentions, often works 'emphasizing the juxtaposition of disparate and incongruous imagery'. Prue Bishop's work relies on her own skilled use of watercolour techniques on paper that is then cut and formed to produce a unified picture. Her work would seem to lie well outside the common understanding of collage.

Whilst many, probably most, critics do not see Prue Bishop's works as sculptures, the fact is that they could be considered to lie within the commonly accepted straightforward definition of “creating figures or designs in three dimensions”. From a practical perspective, Prue Bishop's actual experience is that whilst some curators have indeed classified her works as sculptures, most haven't.

Sculptural Painting
There seems to be no generally agreed definition of Sculptural Painting. However, the term is regularly used when very thick 'paint' has been applied to surfaces such as walls, and for rather adventurous assemblies of metalwork, and also for certain carvings. Prue Bishop's subtle definition of Sculptural Watercolour would therefore seem to lie well outside what appears to be generally understood to be a sculptural painting by those employing the term.

Whilst there seems to be no generally agreed definition of 'craft', the Director of the UK's Craft Council says that “Contemporary craft is about making things: an intellectual and physical activity where the maker explores the infinite possibilities of materials and processes to produce unique objects.” To the extent that Prue Bishop uses her manipulative skill to 'make' her works, they could meet this definition. However, in looking at her work, once has a strong sense that one is looking at pictures rather than craft-work.


As some have found difficulty in placing Prue Bishop's work cleanly into an existing genre, she has defined a 'sculptural watercolour' genre, leaving those experts that wish to place her works into one of the above classifications to do so according to their own views.

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This page was last updated on April 9th, 2010

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