We are creatures of habit and like to walk down Marylebone High Street and stop for a coffee enroute. A couple of years’ back we stopped off at Starbucks as usual and my brother looked ahead of us in the queue and turned and said to me “Look at the state of him – who does he think he is - Rod Stewart?” at which point we took a closer look and discovered it was!
This year, with the Olympics being on, London was transformed with flags and bunting galore and there was an exciting buzz in the air. We encountered a number of the one-eyed Olympic mascot creatures called Wenlock (what are they supposed to be?) on our way down the RA and came over all touristy and had to take photos of ourselves standing next to each.
The courtyard at the RA housed a sculpture by Chris Wilkinson RA entitled ‘From Landscape to Portrait’ (£180,000) which was a series of large wooden frames rotating from, yes you guessed it, landscape to portrait format which was really effective. Jamie and I had fun taking photos of the shadows it cast and our reflections in the metallic sections.
This year, the Small Weston Room which is usually filled floor to ceiling with small works, was given over to a film installation which meant that the smaller works were displayed in one of the larger galleries. This gave a completely different feel to the exhibition space and I hope they repeat this hanging format in the future as it was much easier to see and appreciate the works this way.
I was naughty and took a photo when the steward wasn’t looking as three of my favourite works were conveniently hung next to each other:
‘Holding myself together so far, and no significant bleeding’ by Effie Jessop (catalogue 190; £600) was an image of a woman constructed from tiny hand embroidered letters on linen – it must have taken hours.
‘Peg Tapestry’ by Annie Morris (catalogue: 191; £6,000) was an assemblage of pegs painted with oils and then clipped on to chicken wire – the colours and combinations were lovely. Annie had a larger ‘peg work’ work in another room where she had drawn a woman on each watercolour painted peg – the scale of this work was vast and it had sold (£40,000).
‘New Zealand’ by Matthew Corbin-Bishop (catalogue: 192; £1,600) was a mixed media representation of a postage stamp – this caught my eye as I love to use stamps in my mixed media works and seeing one on this scale was fab!
The other work that I loved was ‘Larousse’ by Alexander Korzar-Robinson (catalogue: 523; £2,000 and featured on page 65 and 66 of the illustrated guide). This was an old encyclopaedia which had been cut into to reveal colour and black and white pictures from the pages inside the book – a bit like a theatre set. This was a very effective dimensional piece.
As usual there were works that made you scratch your head a bit and others that were truly inspiring. And, as usual, there were more in the former category than the latter (£66,000 for a flashing green neon sign that says’ ‘Dogs’ anyone?) But I guess it is the juxtaposition of these works next to each other that make the Summer Exhibition such a great place to spend a few hours and to keep coming back to year after year as you never know what wonders you may discover – and it certainly provokes some interesting conversations!
The Summer Exhibition is I believe the world’s oldest open art exhibition and I would love to have a work accepted and shown here at some point in my life. But in order to get a work accepted one has to submit a work first and that’s a step too far outside of my comfort zone for now . . .
Below are some of the RA and Olympic-themed photos from our London jolly.