The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London has become one of the events that I most look forward to every year. It is one of the largest open-submission art shows in the world, which means that anyone, even you or me, could submit a painting or piece of art. In fact, when I finally get around to it, I’m definitely going to submit a piece and see what happens. As an open-submission exhibition, the Summer Exhibition always has a completely eclectic mix of art and it’s this higgledipiggledy mix up of art in every style and size under the sun that I love so much. That and the sheer quantity of art they cram onto one wall, so there’s something for everyone at every turn. I’m always on the look out for rag rug inspiration.
This year, the illustrious Grayson Perry was curating the main gallery of the exhibition (Gallery III). I like a lot of Perry’s art (in particular his pottery), so I was intrigued to see how it turned out. Below are a few photos from the day and some of my highlights. I hope you find it interesting 🙂
The Wohl Central Hall:
The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2018 started off with a bang with a giant textile mobile hanging in the first room. It’s pretty hard to capture the scale and impact of this piece by Joana Vasconcelos but here are a few awkward photos that I did manage to get:
The first room was painted blue, which I thought set off the paintings particularly well. The Wohl Central Hall had some of my favourite artworks from the entire exhibition displayed.
As you turn left out of the Wohl Central Hall, you find yourself in the bright yellow room that Grayson Perry himself curated. I was expecting this room to be a disappointment (as some celebrities rely on their fame to bring in the punters), but this room was chock full of beautiful pieces (in fact, it was my favourite room in the exhibition). There are hundreds of artworks in this room alone, so below are just a few of the bits that I picked out:
You can always rely on the Summer Exhibition for a good bit of humour (fortunately it doesn’t take itself too seriously) and these particular pieces had me laughing out loud.
After visiting for a few years, you begin to recognise some of the same artists (probably RA fellows). I recognised the styles of many of the artworks in this corner…
My nude lady painting was also pretty near this slightly strange embroidered blob. I tried to take as many pictures of the textile pieces in the show as possible, but this one really didn’t tickle me. I can appreciate the skill that went into making it but the “face” (if that’s what it is?!?) really creeped me out.
There was another artist who cross stitched on top of vintage photos. These were quite nice, but I’d have liked to have seen some bigger and more in-your-face pieces. It was quite easy to miss these small artworks even though they were quite lovely.
The Queen was quite a big theme in this year’s show – perhaps because of the hype around the Royals with the Royal Wedding? Either way, I thought this artwork of The Queen in colourful clothing was just what the doctor ordered. She sure can rock a shirt dress.
One of the great things about the RA Summer Exhibition is that you’re continually finding corners and clusters of beautiful and colourful artworks. It’s a truly immersive experience.
The next couple of rooms weren’t my favourites, but I’ve picked out a few pieces that I think are worth mentioning. Plus, it’s all subjective anyway so maybe they’ll turn out to be your favourite rooms!
Gallery IV and Gallery V:
The centrepiece of Gallery IV was this giant painting, which looked like the buildings I’d come across in Uzbekistan. I wouldn’t have it in my home, but it certainly made a statement as you walked in….
The below artwork took me back to childhood games of “Operation”, so I guess that’s a good thing 🙂
These rooms weren’t quite as jam-packed with art as the previous ones and later ones. That may be why I wasn’t quite so keen.
And just for a little bit of light-hearted entertainment… comedian, Joe Lycett submitted “Chris” to the exhibition this year. Chris would set you back £12,500,000, but don’t worry as the deposit payable today is only £4,500,000.
The entrance to Gallery V was flanked by two bejewelled guardians including Rufus 3rd…
In Gallery V, two of the walls had been covered with silver reflective material to change the feel of the space. This gallery had some interesting pieces, but many of them were a little bonkers for my taste.
There were more sculptures in this particular room…
The below artwork didn’t photograph very well because of the reflective glass, but the colours and textures were very rich and beautiful.
Hats off to my friend Kate for noticing these old Sooties. This piece is called “Cabinet Members” by Sharon Wilson, which I have to admit is a pretty hilarious name.
I obviously have very expensive taste because one of my favourite pieces in this year’s exhibition was Le Village Hollandais by Jock McFadyen, which would set you back £45,000. Hmm, maybe not…
I’d love to know how Debbie Lawson went about making this particular artwork as it seems incredibly difficult technically.
The below painting is one that you may just have skipped over, but I thought it was quite fun.
The next room in the exhibition was put together by Piers Gough RA. The architectural gallery is never my favourite room in the show, but this year’s space was more engaging than normal as Piers Gough wanted visitors to wander through the models like a city (that’s why they’re at eye level).
Do you love or hate this idea of multicoloured skyscrapers?
The room doesn’t just have models in, there’s also plenty of art dotted around. I like the name of this particular piece “A Kerfuffle of Collisions”.
And why not display a series of vases with glasses…
Gallery VII had a lot of sculptures in as the curator, Phyllida Barlow, chose to complement the previous architectural room with sculptural forms.
I never really got to the bottom of this particular artwork by Lee Cutter, but I suspect that it has to do with artworks and expressionism in prisons, which I thought was an interesting idea that I’d never thought of before. The more you looked at this piece, the more intriguing it got…
Gallery VIII and Gallery IX:
Gallery VIII held one of the two hooked pieces in the exhibition, which was made with wool rather than rags. I think it was supposed to look like a PDF of a letter (or something like that) based on the name.
I immediately recognised this vase as being one of Grayon Perry’s works. I like how he uses classical shaped pots with modern topics. Hilarious name too “Stupid White Thing”.
Generally I’m drawn to bright colours and bold shapes, but everyone needs a detox sometimes…
I think this particular piece is one of those “hmmm, what is art” pieces of art…
But it’s so shiny!!!
These fell into the bonkers, but brilliant category for me…
And who doesn’t like a good candle tower…
One of the main galleries of the Summer Exhibition is the Lecture Room – it’s technically the last room in the show and who wouldn’t want to go out with a bang? The Lecture Room is normally full of big statement pieces and this year was no exception. One of the artists I particularly like last year was Bill Jacklin and this artwork of his was in pride of place the Lecture Room.
This particular artwork reminded Kate and I of a delicious eton mess… maybe with a touch of mint… 🙂
An artist who I come back to time and time again is John Wragg. His work is so deep and vibrant. I featured some of his gorgeous paintings in my highlights from last year and this year, I continued to be drawn to his work.
I didn’t particularly like the artwork below, but I did like the colour combination of the yellow on the lilac wall.
I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to curate something as diverse as the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, but the below paintings are an example of what a great job the curators did. These were two different artists, but their work complemented each other so beautifully.
Once again, I’m a sucker for good colour combinations and the yellows and blues with touches of black, cream and red just worked for me…
The Lecture Room was dominated by a couple of incredibly large artworks by David Hockney. This is only a small section of one of them, but you they were hard to miss.
And here our mini tour ends I’m afraid. The first time I visited the 2018 show, I accidentally missed all the Sackler Galleries on the ground floor… ooops! I did wonder why it felt so much smaller than previous years, but it’s probably for the best that I did it in two bursts as it’s definitely a marathon rather than a sprint. Sooo, I don’t actually have any of my highlights from the Sackler Galleries in this post, but you can browse them here if you’re not too arted out.
Most importantly though, there’s still time to visit in person – my photos don’t do the artworks nearly the justice they deserve! The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2018 is on until 19th August, so head over to Green Park soon to not miss out on this delightful cornucopia of art 🙂
So what did you think?
As always, these are just a few of my highlights from the show (some that I actually like and some that I’m not quite so moved by). I’d really love to know which paintings you particularly liked. So, if you’ve visited the exhibition yourself or just browsed through my highlights above, which artworks stood out to you? Please comment below with which ones you loved (or maybe even hated!). xx
A Big Thanks:
Thanks to my friend and art partner in crime, Kate, for joining me at the exhibition this year and bearing with me while I moved through the exhibition at the speed of a snail 🙂 This kind and kick-ass lady is one of the best friends a girl could hope for and she better come back from Aus next year to go around the show with me again xx
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As always, happy rag rugging!