Royal Academy of Arts Varnishing Day

Just a short post this week to share some of the photos from my day at the Royal Academy.  It is the first time one of my paintings has been accepted for the summer exhibition. So, on Sunday we drove down to Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire and on Monday hopped on the train into London.  The weather was glorious so hanging around in the courtyard with other successful artists, listening to the steel band was a delight.  The anticipation just adding to the excitement and specialness of the day.

Royal Academy of Arts Courtyard

Service for Artists

At 10.45 we all headed over to St. James church for the Service for Artists.  Now, I’m not a religious person and other than weddings, christenings and funerals I can’t think of the last time I attended a church service. But regardless of your religious (or not) biases, you couldn’t help but be moved by the experience. 

Service for Artists, St. James’ Church, Piccadily

Much of the service delivered by the Revd Lucy Winkett, focused on the experiences we have all endured through lockdown. Recognising the tragedy and human cost of the pandemic.  The service was a time for personal reflection. And the architecture of the church created by Christopher Wren is beautiful and serene.

Exhibition Preview

After the service we were invited to a preview of the exhibition.  Being in the Royal Academy when its not jam packed full of other visitors was a treat in its own right.  Being offered a glass of fizz whilst walking around was just perfect. You can’t help but feel that sense of tradition and heritage.

I love the summer exhibition. The variety of works. The stunning setting, and the way the pieces are curated in a clever, but at times higgledy-piggledy way.  I don’t mean this to be negative about the curators. But there is a very different feel to a gallery with paintings filling the walls, often 4-5 images high versus the more normal exhibitions with lots of white space between works. 

Royal Academy of Arts, Varnishing Day Preview

I get that the format perhaps doesn’t showcase individual images as well as the normal type of exhibition.  You don’t have lots of white space.  But it does give you an overall sense of excitement and creative stimulation. Truly unique to the summer exhibition.  Personally, I love the ‘stack em’ high approach. It forces you to move closer to the images that appeal to you, so you pick up on the subtlety and detail. 

Such a Thrill

When we entered artists were shooting off to find their works. I did try to avoid doing this. But as I walked around the second gallery I realised I wasn’t really taking in the art.  So, like everyone else I walked through to find my painting.  I fully expected it to be up high in a corner of a wall so was thrilled when I found it near the door in gallery IV at a level where people could see it fully.  It was such a thrill, I really wasn’t prepared to feel so excited and proud.

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2021

I spent a couple of hours walking around but I’m not sure my concentration was as focused as it would usually be. So, I will definitely book to go back down to visit again. I did take a few photos of the works. One of which was a little sculpture of Dorothy’s ruby red slippers. The Wizard of Oz piece was created with Tunnock’s Tea Cake wrappers and really made me smile.

The Wizard of Oz Ruby Slippers

What is very memorable of the exhibition is just how colourful and joyful it is. Such a contrast to the doom and gloom of the past year and for that alone its worth a visit.

All in all, a pretty spectacular day!

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