The Royal Academy’s annual summer exhibition enables both established and emerging artists to showcase their work. This creates a wonderfully vibrant and contrasting selection of pieces to be marveled at by the general public, giving lesser-known artists the opportunity to exhibit their work to a wide and varied audience. The works featured range dramatically in terms of style and medium, allowing you to experience various paintings, photographs, sculptures, and installations. This year, the talented contemporary artist Grayson Perry and his committee co-ordinated the exhibition, handpicking 1,300 pieces to create a “celebration of making stuff” (in the words of Perry himself). Perry’s influence on the collection doesn’t go unnoticed, with the bright yellow walls of gallery three and the array of “high-impact”, political, and humorous pieces.
The summer exhibition is truly unique as art from the likes of David Hockney and Banksy can be seen alongside pieces by Harry Hill and Joe Lycett. The pieces chosen by Grayson Perry truly highlight the subjectiveness of the art world as you find yourself loving some pieces but absolutely detesting others, whereas the person next to you might feel the complete opposite. Whilst walking around the galleries I found myself being drawn to the less “in your face” pieces and instead the ones that, for me, symbolised British culture on a more real and everyday level. This is no real surprise as the majority of my A-level photography course revolved around Martin Parr and Richard Billingham, studying how they capture the quirks of British society. So here are my favourite pieces that appear to have a similar objective.
FLAT by Richard Kolker (Print, 179)
I love everything about the composition in this photo, from the cup of tea in the corner to the perfectly positioned toy racing car on top of the TV… everything has its place. The green sofa creates a somewhat muted pop of colour in the warm-toned colour palette, whilst the bareness of the room almost has an eerie feel. Plus, the glass panel door is reminiscent of a similar one that’s in my Nanna and Grampa’s house.
SEND THEM BACK by Sarah Maple (Photograph, 200)
This photograph uses imagery and colour that is heavily inspired by Martin Parr. However, Maple adds a political twist, linking an image associated with ‘Britishness’ to a more negative concept.
HUNSTANTON NIGHT 1 by Yolanda Crisp (Photograph, 177)
This photograph just screamed ‘home’ to me for some reason as the street looks like it could be from a million different suburban towns in England. The colour palette is gorgeous too, capturing a balmy evening just as the sun is finally setting. Plus, the Japanese Kozo paper gives ink an amazingly rich look as well as a slight texture that prevents the photo from looking too flat in my opinion.
STEVE’S B&B (FOUR WINDOWS, THREE DOORS) by Julia Abele (Painting, 212)
This is the (unintentionally) only painting in my list of favourites! But this cute oil painting features two businesses that can be found in nearly every British town, a B&B and a Fish & Chip/ Kebab shop. Despite being quite small in amongst the other pieces in gallery three, the bold colours of the yellow and red really stood out, inviting you in to take a closer look.
HARRODSBURG GAUGUIN by Douglas Wallace (Photograph, 391)
This photograph captures the opposite side of British culture, the upper class. The fur hat, silk scarf, facial expression and the fact it is captured outside of Harrods reflects a certain image of wealth we associate with Britain, but whether this is a positive or negative representation of the British upper class is down to the individual viewing the photo.
PARTY by Miyako Narita (Photograph, 331)
I feel like everyone who lives in Britain can relate to this party, whether it has been a birthday, wedding reception or wake, we have all found ourselves in some kind of community hall doing some dodgy dancing after a sandwich buffet. The perfectly arranged tables and chairs along with the jazzy (and probably sticky) carpet, the disco lights and helium balloons perfectly capture the ‘calm’ before the storm that is the guests of this 60th birthday party.
I hope you enjoyed my selection of pieces from the Royal Academies Summer Exhibition 2018, let me know your favourites or have a browse on the website and explore the broad range of work that was featured!