Gather up your friends and visit one of the most prominent art events on the UK calendar. The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition takes place every year, and has since its debut in 1769. The event is the world’s largest open exhibition, featuring over 1,100 works by established and emerging artists. Join art collectors and art lovers and snap up some of the best pieces of contemporary art, and who knows? You might even discover a rising star or a hot new talent.
The first piece of art you see is Conrad Shawcross’ stunning and immersive sculpture in the courtyard. As you approach the Royal Academy’s entrance, you walk underneath the colossal steel construction and look up in wonder. You enter the front hall and stop to admire the dazzling staircase that has been revamped by Jim Lambie using hundreds of brightly coloured vinyl strips. Your friend points the way and urges you to follow the alternative yellow brick road to start your journey through the 14 rooms upstairs. Each has been designed by a different artist, and you’re keen to discover what they all look like.
You turn left to enter Gallery I and are overwhelmed by the eclectic collection of small artworks on the walls. You see paintings, drawings, and a tapestry by Grayson Perry, all carefully positioned to create a monumental mosaic. You notice there is a balance in the seemingly organised chaos and suitably impress your friends when you point out that the room juxtaposes abstract works on the right with landscapes on the left.
As you continue your way, you enter Gallery III and admire the magenta walls that highlight the golden arches and complement the artworks. You spot a captivating drawing by Jasper Johns that he based on a photograph of Lucian Freud. As you study it, you see the crease in the middle and realise the artist created his Rorschach-style ink drawing by folding the paper onto itself, revealing the skull in the middle by chance. Gallery IV feature an unusual garment hanging on the wall that catches your eye. On closer inspection you find it’s a corset made from the artist’s own hair. You wonder if this hair shirt by Clancy Gebler Davies would leave the wearer itching and your friends don’t expect to see this style in the High street shops any time soon!
In the circular Wohl Central Hall, you are mesmerised by Liam Gillick’s multi-coloured installation using giant pieces of Plexiglas, which are accentuated by the turquoise walls. Matthew Darbyshire’s life-sized sculpture of a man, made from layers of polycarbonate, stands proudly in the centre of the hall, watching you, watching him. After an inspiring day you leave the exhibition satisfied, not only because of the great art you saw, but because the proceeds from your tickets go towards fully-paid scholarships for Royal Academy art students, the artists of the future!