Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

By Sally Pudney on 25th June 2015
Me under the courtyard installation outside the RA

Me under the courtyard installation outside the RA

A bit late, posting about this – it’s been a busy week! Last Saturday I met my niece, Claire, at Piccadilly and we went to see the RA Summer Exhibition. As soon as you enter the courtyard the show starts in a big way with the astonishing metal installation by Conrad Shawcross – it really was like walking under trees, and we both loved it.

Once we entered the building there is another big surprise, as the whole of the main staircase is covered in stripes! – an installation of coloured vinyl tape by Jim Lambie called Zobop. What an impact it had! It was very disconcerting to walk up – and even more so to walk down . . . .

Zobop by Jim Lambie

Zobop by Jim Lambie

The whole show this year was full of surprises, some good, like the courtyard and the staircase, some not so good. I loved the stunning turquoise walls of the central hall, and the wonderful deep pink walls of the first main gallery on the left. We both were really impressed with Norman Ackroyd’s set of 25 etchings of ‘Galapagos’, and the other larger etchings he was showing. I really liked Olwyn Bowey RA’s oil paintings ‘Fallen Tree’ and ‘Fallen Tree in Blossom’. We both loved the quality of light and dreamy atmosphere in Rose Hilton’s ‘Morning’ and Claire was very taken with Dawn Fishing and Noon Fishing by Mick Moon RA. I always love Ken Howard’s paintings, and this year was no exception. ‘Bacini Quartet’, four little paintings of Venice, the same view at different times of the day, was a wonderful lesson in painting light and shadow with minimal detail but to beautiful effect.

One of the not so good surprises was the hanging. It struck me as particularly perverse in some of the galleries, with huge paintings hung at eye level, and tiny paintings hung so high up the wall that a smudge of colour was all we could see. Some were not only very high but squashed so close to the work below that it was  impossible to see the item number and find out what we might have been able to look at if it had been a bit lower! As we went round the galleries this became really quite irritating, and I couldn’t help feeling very sorry for the artists who had been ‘skied’ so badly.

So, as usual, a very mixed bag, some work we thought was wonderful, some we thought was ugly and pointless, but, also as usual, well worth going to have a look at to make up your own mind. I shall probably go again with Graham in a few weeks, and I always find on a second viewing that I notice things I missed the first time.

Hope you’re having a happy Thursday. The sun is shining here and it’s REALLY HOT!! Maybe we are going to have a summer . . . . . . 🙂


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