Royal Academy 251st Summer Exhibition 2019 was curated by Jock McFayden RA (b.1950). The animal-themed ‘menagerie’ starts in the Central Hall, where there are inventive and inspiring sculptures and works of art in all sorts of mediums. Works by RA artists as well as other established contemporary artist such as Antony Gormley RA, Bill Jacklin RA, to Honorary Academicians such as James Turrell and Banksy to name but a few, that are mixed in with general public’s successful submissions at this auspicious annual event.
When visiting the exhibition, it is overwhelming, fun and busy! I find, for me, it is best to react to a piece that catches my eye, something that draws me in. I was drawn to some pieces that were obviously brilliant, such as the huge and compelling work by Emma Stibbon, RA – Caldera Overlook, 2019, four part woodcut on Japanese paper. The work, through sheer scale, felt like you could almost walk into it! With the trees in silhouette the light seems to glow behind the trees. I found it inviting and magical; is it dawn or dusk? This monumental woodcut is striking but equally, and in contrast, I found myself drawn to a tiny work of art by Midge Maylor, Cabinet, in mixed media.
Emma Stibbon, RA – Caldera Overlook, 2019, four part woodcut on Japanese paper
Midge Maylor, Cabinet, in mixed media, 2019
The exhibition has many works of art which appear at first to be made in one medium but on closer inspection are not what they seem. For example, David Hepher, Hey Wayne on the Meath Estate, acrylic, oil, spray paint and concrete on canvas. This piece looked like a huge photograph from wall to ceiling with bits coloured in here and there. In fact, it was acrylic painted on a thick concrete slab. I loved the way the material reflected the grittiness of the scene; one I can relate to having been raised on an estate.
David Hepher, Hey Wayne on the Meath Estate, acrylic, oil, spray paint and concrete on canvas, 2019
After this exhibition I had some thoughts, which I jotted down and these questions I think will be helpful when visiting further exhibitions and considering how works of art are created. This is particularly true of the many sculptural pieces dotted around the exhibition that used materials to really highlight the transitional or delicate sculptures for example, Nicola Hicks, Miniature Bear from a Dump Circus, plaster. This piece is engaging in scale, you can get up close and see the straw covered plaster and the tyre which the ‘bear’ is balancing on, this had an emotive response to the obvious and very real concerns of global warming and its impact on life on earth.
Nicola Hicks, Miniature Bear from a Dump Circus, plaster, 2019
I, like most people, could not view all the work and therefore missed lots but at the end of the day I came away feeling stimulated by the exhibition and inspired by so many of the pieces. As a result I had some thoughts from the visit…
With more information does your view change about the piece?
Is it fun to guess the medium before finding out?
Is it interesting to guess whether a RA established artist or not?
The exhibition got me thinking about trying out different mediums.
With regard to a work of art/sculpture does the title matter?
Artists that I marked in my List of Works 2019 RA Summer Exhibition booklet and want to find out more about are:-
Virginia pope – wood to weave oil on tweed
Fredrick Cuming RA – Will O’ Wisp, Romney Marsh, oil
Cherry Pickles – Centre Stage, Self-portrait as Harvey Weinstein, acrylic
Ken Howard RA – Interior, St Clements Studio, oil
David Edmond – Sheppy, oil on board
Paul Regan – Dancers Lane VII, acrylic on paper
Karen Martin – Lake Hokerum, collage with mixed media
Rosemary (hoyle) North – Fires on the Moors, feltwork (love!)
David Hepher – Hey Wayne on the Meath Estate, acrylic (great!
Ishbel Myserscough – Lily and Quaye, oil
Michael Porter – Vanitas Series 25-03-17, oil and acrylic (love!)
Ben Johnson – The Space Between Revisited, acrylic
Francesca Colussi – A Lesson in Confidence, hand embroidery on vintage card
Ann Christopher RA – Changin Spaces – 1, carbonundum print hand-finished with graphite and pen
Richard Wilson RA – Slickwork 4 acrchival ink
Hew Locke – Souvenir 3 (Albert Edward Prince of Wales), antique Parian ware and mixed media
George Merton – Precious Metal, linocut and gold etching ink
Marian Leven – Memory of North (Diptych), watercolour
Bill Jacklin RA – Square at night with snow, oil, Dance of the Clouds and Breezes VII, monotype and Fog and Rain on the Bridge 1, monotype
Stuart Mackenzie – Species: Coelacanth (Diptych), monotype
Elizabeth Magill – Wildflowerheads 2, oil on screen
Stuart Mackenzie – Capercaillie, monotype
Mick Moon RA – Anticapting, acrylic and mixed media on calico mounted on board
Norman Ackroyd RA – Burnham Beeches, etching and also Mingulay from Pabbay
Barbara Rae RA – Sea Shard, etching
Stephen Lawler – And England’s Dreaming and Active Shooter, etchings
Tim Shaw RA – Raven 1 and Raven 2, photopolymer etching
Jim Dine Hon RA – Blue Artists at the Bahnhof, six colour woodcut and The Artichokes, lithograph on hand-coloured paper
Andrrzej Jackowski, At the Lining, mixed media
Anna Jung Seo – Cool Boys, oil on paper on board
Philip Sutton – Hello Don Quixote, oil and Shakespeare’s Flowers, oil
Ian Chamberlain – Transmission V, etching
Peter Frith RA – Flag, aquatint
Alice Mara – Town House, digital print on ceramic
Barbara Walker – Vanishing Point 2 (Van Herp), graphite on embossed paper (how?)
Miriam Elia – We Go To the Gallery – There is nothing in the room because God is Dead, gouache, watercolour and digital illustration
Antony Eyton RA – Staircase to Garden, oil
Hughie O’Donoghue RA – The Full Heart of the Sun, oil on tarpaulin
Christopher Oldfield – Graduation, oil
Radek Husak – Mirrored XXIV, pigment transfer, gouache and carbon pencil on sandblasted aluminium
Rose Wylie RA – Snowhite (2) One Day her Prince will come, oil
Olwyn Bowey RA – Cardoons, oil
Luci Eyers – Mythical Creature (Helical Tusk), watercolour..thought this didn’t even look like watercolour
James Butler RA – Sleeping Girl, pastel
Melissa Scott-Miller, Islington Back Gardens with self, oil