Study Visit: The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2017

I will simply pick out a few personal highlights and an overview of this exhibition.

Obviously there are so many pieces in this exhibition and the fact that many rooms are curated with floor to ceiling hangings, makes it hard for those “vertically challenged” like myself, to be able to take it all in.  Thus I found myself wandering around certain rooms over and over again.

Having a love of Elisabeth Blackadder’s work, I was very happy to see my favourite piece of hers:



‘Venice, Fish Market’ – 2012.  Size:  20cm x 29cm

My own sketchbook notes from on site:

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Technically a rather humble piece, I love the narrative, almost comic book setting.  We see a story set in frames.  It is not the subject matter which could influence my work as such here, but rather the telling of a story, a narrative, as I have been dealing with in this course.

It is almost a diary of a travel experience and looks as fresh as the first time I came across it in 2012.

Limited colour palette conveys restraint; the black, white and red tones holding fort.

I found myself drawn to the more impressionist, abstract portraits, rather than those with a more “exact” representation.  Here are a few examples:


Sketchbook notes alluding to this:

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I question myself, why am I drawn to facial views along with figurative forms?

I believe it is because in their own way, they too tell a story and the more loosely figurative they are, the more we can interpret them personally.  We can define their stories just by viewing them.

The other thing that I noted was the paper grounds used.  Often not white, which I enjoyed and wondered if this is something I could implement into my own work, as I have in slight form previously.  Maybe this is something I could build on.

The third piece up had an interesting tactile idea with the stitched line.  Note it is a dark colour to highlight the edge.  The black thread bounces off and acts as a frame.

Fabric as per normal is less used within the exhibition pieces; yet it does still have its place.  The pieces which are exhibited are unusual and think past the traditional.

Below:  Canvas with care label, dyed crochet and woven faces:

The canvas with the care label seemed to be a talking point; which brings me to another point to mention; that of art which seems to be created as just that, a talking point.  I noticed certain pieces were discussed and debated over.  Such as a jewel statue of Amy Winehouse; the never ending question being:  ‘Would she like it?’.  This way of making your art stand out really works in another form, as it lasts in our minds visually as well as vocally.  The more we discuss it the more we remember.  The “risky” could be seen as risk taking, as it sets itself up to be judged and pulled apart; for good or bad.

One last point I noted was to do with framing of work.  Many were humbled in style, certainly not costly.  Some would have not passed my own perfectionist eye.  But they were good enough for this exhibition, thus it made me rethink my own expectations and what I view as important, the work or the way it is displayed?

I do hold to the fact that when a piece is framed well, you do view it in a different light.  However as we train our eye, maybe we need to discard the display and see beyond the glass.



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