For many years the RA Summer Show has been a tradition for me and my grandpa; every summer we would visit without fail. We had intended to go about a month ago, but Grandpa wasn’t well enough. A month later, after having a heart bypass and a valve replacement, we made it a week before it closed.
It seemed like they were trying to shake things up a bit with the exhibition this year, and I’m not sure if it was entirely successful. As you first enter you are hit by an intimidating wall of sculpture. The information said it was supposed to ground and orientate you, but I felt distinctly disorientated. The next rooms featured large paintings, spread evenly across its walls in a pleasing arrangement. I loved the giant vintage postcards from Italy, peeking out of equally giant envelopes (see above).
I love Mary Fedden’s work (below) so it was sad to hear she passed away last year at the age of 96. This will be the last time her work is displayed in the summer exhibition.
The next few rooms were to dedicated to the art of printmaking. There was some fantastic work but it was really crammed in, practically from from floor to ceiling. You really needed binoculars to see some pieces. One of my favourite exhibits was a beautifully rusted metal donkey. When you turned a hand it drew a portrait of itself! I was pretty smitten with this little guy.
The small paintings room is usually my favourite, but this year two walls were almost empty and the paintings that were up were a strange selection. I don’t think it’s a good sign when you can’t tell what’s purposely naive and what’s just not good. There were a few I really liked though.
For me the highlight was seeing Grayson Perry’s series of tapestries, exploring British ideas of class. I forgot to take a photo, so here are some images I found online. I loved the documentary about their creation and was really disappointed to have missed them last time they were exhibited, so finding these at the end of the show was a lovely surprise.