Every summer for the past 247 years any member of the public able to wield a brush has been able to submit their work for consideration for display at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition alongside the work of the best artists of the day. Within my memory, the Summer Exhibition has followed a familiar path, loved by the public, loathed by the critics and walls so densely packed with pictures that is hard to discern the colour of the walls. This year all that has changed. Change is apparent before you even enter the galleries as the grand staircase has been given a coat of many colours by Jim Lambie.
Vibrant glowing colour greets you once you’ve made your way past the shop and into the show. Turquoise green walls surround you, glance left and magenta pink walls beckon and to the right, sky blue. Above your head hangs a multi-coloured mobile filtering down multi-hued light. The paintings and sculpture are pretty good too. Somehow, painting the normally white walls has induced a warm feeling of joy.
Red dots abound at the Summer Exhibition. Most works are for sale and the prices are shown prominently in the catalogue. This year, to add to the fun, most works are available to view online and all you have to do is click to buy. Mr CW is currently more than a little worried that my credit card finger is hovering over a rather tempting John Duffin print. Also very lovely is a head of Buddha made of wire coat hangers by David Mach RA that could be yours for £29,500.
Now to lunch. I’m very fortunate in having a friend who is a Friend of the RA. If you don’t have such a thing then I urge you to find one or sign up now. You get unlimited access to all the exhibitions at the Academy but more than that you can go through the door that leads to the Friends Room, Garden and even restaurant. On this occasion we had a fine light lunch finished off with an indulgent slice of lemon and poppy seed cake.
8 June — 16 August 2015
Main Galleries, Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD
Open: Saturday – Thursday 10am – 6pm, Friday 10am – 10pm
Admission: £12, Friends of the RA and under 16s go free.