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16 September 2015

Summer Exhibition

The Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition is the largest open art exhibition anywhere in the world. That means that ANYONE can submit their art. And quite a few do. Tens of thousands of works are entered every year. After a gruelling elimination process, the lucky few are exhibited in the county's most popular art show.

This year I went to see it for myself.

Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition 2015

Walking in feels electric.

The show starts with this crazy, psychedelic staircase by Jim Lambie. Can't you just feel the lines and energy pulling you upward into the gallery space; its amazing!

Also, look at this cute little lady photobombing my pic of the stairs. I can see my grandma wearing her exact outfit and I love it. I want to be this old lady when I grow up.

Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition 2015Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition 2015

At the top of the stairs you walk into a sculpture-filled rotunda, and immediately to the left is the show's centrepiece.

There, greeting you in vibrant bubblegum pink, is the largest room in the exhibition.

I had been watching the prep for this exhibition on BBC and I cringed at the thought of gallery walls sprayed down in pepto-bismol pink. But in-person, it was perfect. It felt playful, spontaneous and completely iconic of Michael Craig-Martin, the show's co-ordinator. 


I loved the piece above (it was one of my absolute favs from the whole show). 'Pinkerslift' by Frank Bowling went for a cool £125,000.

I continued through the hall and turned into two of my favourite rooms. There were artworks from floor to ceiling. I loved the way the pieces were so diverse in both subject and medium. There were works created with techniques I've never heard of, things like 'chine colle' and 'carborundum printing.' I honestly had to look them up to figure out what I was looking at.

As I'd come in the last days of the show's exhibition, all my favourite pieces were sold (so indicated by little orange and red stickers at the bottom of the works), but there were so many reasonably priced works. Many of the smaller pieces were in the £100-£200 range (of course this varied greatly as evidenced by the Bowling piece above).

Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition 2015Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition 2015

I observed this lady [below] from a distance for awhile (sometime I think the people in galleries are more interesting than the art). 

She had her little booklet (that each person is given at the door, with all the names and prices of the pieces). She was systematically going through and identifying the works which hadn't been sold yet, and was making calls to get them purchased. She just sat on her little fold-out chair and would explain each piece in very serious detail to the person on the other end. It was fascinating to watch.

Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition 2015
Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition 2015

In total there were 1131 contemporary works. In all those pieces, there was only one that I really found distasteful. But there again, I do believe that art is about asking questions and pushing boundaries. There was so much amazing talent to be seen.

It is pretty safe to say it is now my life ambition to create a piece good enough to get into this show. Maybe I'll apply this next year!

Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition 2015

Have you been to any exciting art shows/museums recently? Tell me about them!

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