Everyone has there own symbols of Summer. One of mine is the opening of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. For 247 years the RA has openly invited contemporary artists to submit work to this annual exhibition. Some of the earliest exhibitors included the likes of Reynolds, Constable and Turner. Most of the works in the exhibition are for sale giving you a chance to own some original art while also supporting the historic Royal Academy schools; artwork sales help to continue the free tuition the institution has offered for nearly 250 years.
The Summer Exhibition has hosted some of the most accessible and challenging artworks in the industry yet the way in which they have been displayed has rarely changed. Almost always, they have been wall mounted or free-standing against white walls. Not this year though. This year, the exhibition is co-ordinated by Michael Craig-Martin RA – a leading artist of his generation and the teacher who nurtured the talents of many of the Young British Artists such as Gary Hume, Sarah Lucas and Damien Hirst. The walls are a riot of purple, blue and yellow, and far from detracting from the art the rainbow backdrop enhances them.
For me the star of the Exhibition was the gallery’s main staircase. A familiar sight to many visitors, the stairwell was always a grand entrance. Currently, however, the marble steps are carpeted with straight strips of multi-coloured tape, ordered lines complimenting the hazy patterns on the sunset pink pillars. Like when a classic dish is given a new direction with the addition of a different ingredient, the familiar was given a new pizazz.
Challenging the familiar is what makes us advance, this can be made easier by looking at things with someone else. Stella and her family have been living in my street longer than my family. She soaks up any art form, like me, yet looks at them from her own perspective which is imbued by from personal experience. She was the perfect ‘plus one’ to take on my Buyers Day invite. At one point we were looking at a picture of a simple shack in a desolate snowy landscape. This image made Stella feel desperate and lonely, yet to me the sight of warmth in the wilderness was comforting.
The ever impeccably minded and dressed Stella.
William Kentridge is a South African artist best known for his images and films commenting on the Apartheid government. He has been a family friend, the son of my mum’s former boss, all my life. I knew he had a room to himself at this year’s Exhibition and expected to spot it instantly. It was not so. William was challenging all I had known about him as an artist; he was so much more witty and optimistic in this work. Collages composed of newspaper pages (as in the title image) posed philosophical life questions.
Florals are the most adopted Summer motif but why not try stripes instead, they are as bold and bright. Long has been the argument that horizontal stripes make you look wider whereas verticals create the illusion of a learner silhouette. If either seems to striking then try adding them to an accessory or your nails.
Nail art as seen in the Sunday Telegraph Magazine.