Big – Bigger – BIGGEST! The biggest international watermedia art exhibition ever to be held in South Africa will be taking place on our doorstep, in Somerset West, from 3 – 9 September this year. As the first ever event of its kind to be hosted by this country, the Colors of the Rainbow Nation exhibition is being organised by the International Watercolour Society South Africa (IWSSA) and is attracting work by artists from all over the world. Not only will it be a wonderful showcase for our own talented artists, but it will give the art-loving public of South Africa an amazing insight into the best work being produced world-wide. Works by 150 artists from 26 countries have been accepted.

Unlike other international exhibitions organised by the IWS Globe, this one has expanded its reach beyond water colours, to include other water-based media like acrylics and ink. The theme has been left open-ended, but each artist who enters is restricted to two pieces. Again, in contrast to many other international exhibitions, the images are submitted and judged online by an international panel of judges from India, Canada and China. The judging process goes through several stages before the pieces to be exhibited are selected and then, finally, awards are made across the different categories. Only then are the artists required to submit their original paintings for display.

Well-known Hermanus artist, Charmé Southey, who is on the organising committee, is filled with excitement about the venue – the Art Curator Gallery on Lourensford Wine Estate. “It can accommodate up to 300 paintings,” she enthuses, “and the setting is absolutely magnificent. It also provides enough space for art supply vendors to show off their products, as well as for demos to take place. Then, only a stone’s throw away is the beautiful little Imbali Gallery in town, where five days of workshops will be presented by three top international watercolour artists.” This is truly a not-to-be missed opportunity and she advises potential participants to register as early as possible.

“Most exciting of all though,” she adds, “is that we’ll be bussing participants to Hermanus for two days of ‘plein air’ painting, inspired, of course, by the wine-tasting programme we are also organising for them! So not only will we be showcasing our outstanding artists to our many overseas visitors (IWS Globe is active in over 80 countries and we’re hoping we’ll have visitors from all of them), but we’ll be offering them the privilege of painting outdoors in the champagne air and beautiful surroundings of Hermanus.”

One of Charmé Southey’s paintings which has been accepted for the Olympiart event in India this December.

Charmé urges local artists to join IWSSA. Membership is free and members will be offered discounts on some of the activities during the exhibition, as well as a limited number of wooden A4-size frames which will be on sale. Membership forms are available from and for workshop bookings and other information about the event, you can visit

The organisers also invite anyone interested in associating themselves with this extra-special event, by sponsoring workshops or donating prizes, to contact Christopher Reid at

Both Charmé and Christopher, also a renowned Hermanus artist and chairman of IWSSA, have had work accepted for previous IWS Globe international exhibitions. In fact, Charmé was recently notified that the two paintings she submitted for the Olympiart event in India have been selected. Dubbed the biggest art exhibition in the world, it will take place in New Delhi, from 8 – 11 December 2019. She feels extra-privileged to be able to reciprocate and offer people from other parts of the globe the opportunity to display their work in this Rainbow Nation that she calls home.

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