Yesterday I went up to London to see the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition – which has been running every year for nearly 250 years. I try to catch some of the exhibitions at the RA but strangely this was the first time I have gone to the Summer Exhibition.
Over 1100 works, some by amateurs and some by famous artists, intended to be a snapshot of contemporary art.
You enter the wonderful building and immediately see the incredible staircase by Jim Lambie. It felt weird to walk up such a masterpiece but walking down was actually a bit tricky. I have trouble with perspective at the best of times and this made my eyes swim! So I sensibly hung onto the railing so that I wasn’t the first person to fall down the stairs 🙂
The exhibition itself covers over ten rooms. Sometimes there is just one piece on the wall at a time, sometimes they are stacked five high, so your neck muscles get a work out.
There is no way I could emotionally take in over 1100 pieces of art, so I decided my strategy would involve scanning all and homing in on the ones that interested me, hopefully those that hit me in the chest emotionally and others that just needed closer inspection.
I recorded those in the catalogue, so I intend to spend today looking at those ones again online, soaking them up a bit more and learning from them.
I loved it! Such depth and variety. Small, large, colourful, monochrome, every genre.. it’s all there. Intriguing, funny, sad, thoughtful, brash, subtle…..
A lot of it was glorious and I would hang it on my wall (if I had one big enough in some cases!) any time. If I could afford the hefty price tags of course! I won’t go into the individual pieces – I couldn’t- suffice to say, some blew me away and some passed me by.
I have made a Pinterest board of my favorite pieces which you can see here https://www.pinterest.com/abrims/royal-academy-summer-exhibition/
I learnt so much. I think it is crucial for my art practice to continually see the work of other artists so this was a bit of a binge in that respect. I learnt that no-one else does art like me. Far from worrying that I am different, not ‘right’ or my work doesn’t fit in, I find it exciting that I have a little unique niche. I also realised that paintings do not have to be oblong – they can be any shape and be painted on any material. Food for thought there!
I also popped into the National Gallery to see my favorite impressionists. I was a bit saddened that two of the pictures that make my hair stand on end (Van Gogh Cypresses and Renoirs Umbrellas) were not there this time, but I still loved seeing the others: Manet, Monet, Degas, Pissarrio, Matisse, Gauguin….. It never ceases to thrill me that I can walk in off the street at Trafalgar Square and see these masters.
So today, I am having a think. About my work and how I can develop it in light of all the new ideas that are buzzing round my head!
I haven’t included any pictures of the artists mentioned for fear of breaking copyright rules. Instead the header image is the only one I took of the colourful perspex sheets by Liam Gillick in the central hall against the glass dome. It was stunning.