Oarsome Paintings by Tonia Williams Unveiled for the first time at the River & Rowing Museum (26 May - 12 August)

  • Exhibition of New Works Captures the Essence of the Art of Rowing at the River and Rowing Museum 26 May – 12 August 2012
  • From the Athlete’s Perspective: Artist Tonia Williams won three medals including a Gold at the World Rowing Championships 1993
  • Geometric designs and vibrant colours provide a fascinating and unique collection of paintings

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The River & Rowing Museum’s fascinating new exhibition, Oarsome – the Art of Rowing, showcases work by Tonia Williams - former rowing World Champion and Team GB lightweight oarswoman. Her extensive sporting career as a 20-year career as an urban designer has heavily influenced her vivid contemporary artwork drawing on both the visual beauty of her beloved sport and her technical drawing skills. Williams’ artwork evolved through years of searching for contemporary paintings inspired by rowing that successfully captured the essence of the sport. Her vibrant canvasses based on a scientific and emotional response to the power, symmetry and dedication of rowing demand attention in this extraordinary show.

Tonia Williams grew up in New Zealand but was born in Plymouth, UK. Williams discovered rowing when she joined her local club whilst studying for an architectural degree. As a member of North Shore Rowing Club, she excelled and became part of the first New Zealand women’s eight to race abroad, winning the World University Boat Race at Brisbane expo in 1988. Soon afterwards she moved to competing in lightweight events and the single scull. Following six months in Switzerland at the suggestion of Harry Mahon, then Swiss head coach, in 1990 she was invited to move to the UK to join the Nottinghamshire County Rowing Association high performance squad and gained selection for the Great Britain rowing squad.

Her first appearance for Britain was in a lightweight double scull in 1991. From 1992 until 1994 Williams stroked the British women’s lightweight four winning three medals including gold at the 1993 World Rowing Championships. This was Britain’s first ever world rowing gold medal for women. She retired from competitive rowing in 1996 then became President and then Commodore of North Shore Rowing Club in New Zealand. She is currently helping to oversee the club’s redevelopment, while actively competing as a master.

Lindsay Guest, Curator of the Exhibition said: “The River & Rowing Museum has always strived to display exciting contemporary artwork alongside the rich heritage of the sport. Tonia Williams’ experience as an athlete as well as an urban designer enables her to capture the essence of Rowing in a unique and fascinating way. We are delighted to exhibit her work”

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Press Contacts

Jack Hickmott, Kallaway: 0207 221 7883 jack.hickmott@kallaway.com 


William Kallaway, Kallaway, 0207 221 7883 william.kallaway@kallaway.com

Catherine Yoxall, River & Rowing Museum: 01491 415642 catherine.yoxall@rrm.co.uk

Follow River & Rowing Museum on Twitter: @OnTheRiverbank

Notes to Editors

The show will run from 26 May - 12 August on The Wall at the River and Rowing Museum, Mill Meadows, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 1BF.

Tonia Williams’ work can be purchased at o4rsom.com.

The River & Rowing Museum

The River & Rowing Museum is one of the UK's leading regional and sporting Museums, attracting over 114,000 visitors a year. The Museum, an independent charity, also has a purpose built education centre visited by over 20,000 children and adults a year. The Museum provides superb value for money. Tickets are £8 for adults and £6 for children and provide free access for a year.

Designed by David Chipperfield and located on the banks of the River Thames in Henley on Thames, the Museum celebrates and explores four core themes through a wide variety of exhibitions and events across four galleries and special exhibitions:

  1. Rivers: Using the Thames as a starting point, the Museum explores the environmental, ecological and social impacts of water and rivers across the world.
  2. The historic riverside community of Henley on Thames: This historic town, home to the Henley Royal Regatta and host to the Rowing competition in the 1908 and 1948 Olympic Games, has a colourful history dating back to the stone age, all captured in a dedicated gallery explored through hugely popular temporary exhibitions.
  3. The international sport of rowing: One of the world’s most significant collections of rowing memorabilia, charting the sport from ancient beginnings to present day, is held at the Museum. The sport is also celebrated through temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
  4. The Wind in the Willows: hugely popular with children and families, this exhibition recreates the timeless E H Shepard illustrations from Kenneth Grahame's famous novel, taking visitors on a journey through the world famous riverside tale of Mr Toad and his friends.

Since opening in August 1998 the Museum has received numerous awards including the National Heritage/NPI Museum of the Year award and the Sandford Award For Heritage Education.

Location, opening and ticket information

  • The River & Rowing Museum, Mill Meadows, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1BF. Tel. 01491 415600.
  • The Museum, terrace café and shop are open every day from 10am - 5.30pm in summer and 10am - 5pm in the winter
  • Tickets give FREE admission for a whole year!
  • Admission is just £8 for adults, £6 for children aged four and over, FREE for children aged three and under and £6 for senior citizens and concessions
  • Free parking for visitors
  • Members of the British Armed Forces and their families receive discounted tickets.
  • The River & Rowing Museum is part of the Thames Valley Museums Group (TVMG) Family Friendly initiative - a scheme that brings together 29 Museums across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, to promote their popular appeal to the whole family
  • Signatory to the Kids in Museums Manifesto
  • Art Fund members are entitled to free admission

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