A Portrait of Rye – Recollecting 21 Years in Rye

A Portrait of Rye - exhibition of portraits of Rye People by portrait artist Marina Kim

"A Portrait of Rye" is a collection of portraits of Ryers I painted in the last two decades of living in our little English town. Most of them are portrait commissions, and a few I painted for the Rye Bonfire Society's fundraising auctions.

What is a Ryer? A non-spoken understanding here is that if you had the misfortune to be born elsewhere, at the very least, you'd have lived in Rye long enough to become part of the scenery.

Portrait of Michael Eve. Portrait commission. British artist Marina Kim

Portrait of Mike Eve

Or perhaps you are an active participant in the community's life, a benevolent force for the betterment of the town. And the community in Rye does mean a lot.

For me, as a Russian speaker, this is a special place for one more reason — Rye (Рай) in Russian means Paradise. I like to pretend that my life started on that golden Autumnal afternoon of October the 12th, 2001, when Tim and I, with our first-born and worldly possessions, drove south of London and found ourselves in Paradise, where I have been living happily ever after.

The community here comprises traders and occasional crooks, wealthy retired people and paupers, creatives and fishermen, farmers and city-dwellers looking for a country escape, and many others, ordinary and eccentric folks. I don't claim that I know it well, but I had the privilege to get to know some interesting, exciting people through painting their portraits. For a foreigner new to this country, the hours of live sessions conversating with my sitters were the best way to get to know British people and learn first-hand about their history, culture, ways and values. Perhaps, sometime in the future, I'd be able to say that I am a Ryer.

A Portrait of Rye is an exhibition that was in the making for a long time. My brain is such that I must create in various styles and genres, fleeting from one subject or medium to the other. It makes it hard to understand what I am as an artist. Year by year, print after drawing, still life after portrait, I feel for my style and creative story. This exhibition comes following a sad event in our family's life. Our darling Tim, our rock, passed away in January. When he was diagnosed with Myeloma cancer in 2011, he told me, "All I need is ten years. The girls (our daughters) will be gown up by then." And that is what he did.

Portrait of Tim Roche

Eva and Alina are now 20 and 18, and new paths are unfolding in front of them. I am also beginning again, now on my own, continuing the business. It seems like the right time to reflect on what has been achieved, give thanks, and embrace the coming changes.

I look forward to seeing the familiar faces once again. This beautiful opportunity to reconnect and reminisce with my children and our old friends will set us well on our new journeys!

Welcome to

A Portrait of Rye

at Roche Gallery

17-26 September

During the exhibition, the gallery is open from Thursday to Monday, 10-5.30. Aside from special events, regular opening times are fluid. Please, come in on weekends or call to make an appointment. We'll be glad to see you, any day, any time.

If you are contemplating a portrait commission of yourself or someone you love, I will be happy to discuss your ideas and ways to achieve them. Get in touch!

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