Tuesday, 6 September 2016

RA Summer Exhibition

The Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition is a highlight in many people's summers and with it's longstanding success it is clear to see why. Featuring thousands of emerging and highly established contemporary artists, 2016 saw the RA host it's 248th Summer Exhibition.  

With summer slipping from our finger tips I had been encouraged by so many people to make sure we visit and I'm so glad we did. Having never been to the venue before were impressed by its beautiful and traditional architecture which makes the layout of the exhibition all the more surprising and satisfying. 

Often the way in which work is hung in exhibitions is incredible regimented with only double or triple hanging and x amount of space between each piece. These however were hung with four to six pieces, a huge range of styles, sizes and compositions. A style I would like to call organised yet higgledy-piggledy (contradicting I know). And. It. Was. Glorious. 

The whole exhibition had an air of playfulness and vibrancy that still maintained the level of 'seriousness' many expect from high end and prestigious institutions. It enabled art to become that much more accessible and to be looked at from all angles. 

Each room was curated with a different purpose in mind and allowed discovery. I couldn't believe how large the exhibition was however and it was a lot to absorb on a short visit on a work night. As we tired and decided to leave, we spotted the sculptures in the Lecture Room and it turned out to be my absolute favourite! I love immersive and interactive art. 

I almost overlooked The Bridge by Jimmy Cauty, a piece that looks like a shipping container until Bernard told me that there were tiny peepholes and I had to look inside. He wouldn't even say what it contained! 

At first it wasn't clear. My eyes adjusted and scanned around. There was a road accident inside! An intricate scene of tiny people on a suspension bridge, police officers, passengers and flashing lights. It was amazing! The further down you looked revealed the ocean, tiny search boats and rafts. For those who visited Banky's Dismaland, this is a smaller piece in the series from Cauty's The Aftermath Dislocation Principle.  

However, what impressed me most was the concept of the piece rather than it's individual components. It is a commentary on the nosiness of society. Whenever there's a car crash or 'disturbance' in our neighbourhoods, we stop and stare intently out of our windows. Detached from the situation at hand as if it were merely a TV show, fabricated for our imaginations. Relevant to the current horrors in world events, it questions how we perceive the calamity of others and at times, our sense of helplessness. 

The entire exhibition was incredible and truly inspiring. I urge everyone to attend next year as sadly this current show has come to an end. With so much to enjoy and discuss I wanted to include a few more photographs of pieces that stood out to me both as someone in the creative industries and as an inherent human being.

And let us not forget the RA courtyard..

2 comments so far

  1. I love the RA as a building, it's one of my favourite places to visit, but the Summer Exhibition frustrates me at times, there are often so many pieces of work that deserve more space. Such beautiful photos and I'm so glad you shared as I didn't get to visit this year :)

    erin | words and pictures

    1. It is SUCH a beautiful building! There's so many amazing places in London and with life being so busy I always feel that it's such a shame we can't just live as tourists. I only get a chance to visit my favourite places every few months if that! That is definitely a fair point. With so much work on display it can be pretty overwhelming and difficult to focus on the individual pieces.


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