Summer in London promises many things, among them: parks full of contented sunbathers, bowls of strawberries and cream, and the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition. The world’s longest-running open-call show, the Summer Exhibition has been a key seasonal event in the capital for the past 247 years. This year, it received 12,000 entries for consideration, which were then whittled down to a final 1,200. If that still sounds like more than you could possibly take in during a single stay at the Chesterfield Mayfair, never fear – we’ve narrowed it down even further. Here’s our curated list of 10 must-see pieces to admire at the Summer Exhibition 2015.
The Dappled Light of the Sun, Conrad Shawcross RA
Commissioned to occupy the RA’s courtyard, The Dappled Light of the Sun will be making its debut appearance at the Summer Exhibition 2015. Pause and admire the installation on your way through to the Main Galleries, where the rest of the show will be held, and marvel at the fact that Conrad Shawcross’s steel “clouds” each weigh an incredible five tonnes.
Rabbit, Tracey Emin CBE RA
Tracey Emin channels Beatrix Potter? For an artist known for courting controversy, Emin’s submission to the RA Summer Exhibition 2015 is pretty tame, considering it’s a small print of a rabbit. She is, of course, best known for her provocative 1998 installation My Bed; this piece capture’s a decidedly different side of the YBA’s style.
Duplex Etching: Yellow, Orange, Ian Davenport
This work from the Turner Award-nominated abstract painter (and peer of Damien Hirst) Ian Davenport is definitely worth finding in the Main Galleries. Not that it should be difficult: given its rainbow vibrancy and large-scale dimensions, it’s bound to be a standout.
The Blue Ground, Gary Hume RA
Consider yourself a jet-setting culture vulture type? You may just have caught Gary Hume’s critically acclaimed solo show at the Tate Britain back in 2013. If not, be sure to pop along and discover The Blue Ground, one of the artist’s most recent works. (A hint for seekers: it isn’t actually blue. You’ve been warned.)
A Humument 1966 – Tom Phillips CBE RA
One of the unabashed highlights of the Summer Exhibition 2015, A Humument took artist Tom Phillips decades to create – 49 years, to be precise. He altered every page of WH Matlock’s book A Human Document by painting, drawing and collaging to create this unique and momentous piece.
Mississippi River Blues, Richard Long CBR RA
Get a glimpse of the world through the eyes of artist Richard Long with his piece, Mississippi River Blues. The Bristol-born artist creates by experiencing – by taking photographs on his walks through nature, and turning his vision into tangible pieces of art.
Love in a Time of War 1, Yinka Shonibare
A fellow YBA alongside the likes of Emin and Hirst, conceptual artist Yinka Shonibare is no stranger to bold, political statements. His latest pieces take on war as their central theme, all while evoking the colourful graphic design of the 1960s.
Sofa, Michael Craig-Martin CBE RA
The man behind it all – Michael Craig-Martin, the coordinator of the RA Summer Exhibition 2015 – is showcasing a piece of his own this year. Take a peek at Sofa, which is, yes, a print of a sofa.
Walking in the rain, Seoul, Julian Opie
You may not need to see an artistic representation of “walking in the rain” during a visit to London, but this one is worth seeking out anyway. This work is indicative of artist Julian Opie’s bold, distinctive style, and thanks to its bright colours, it’s actually far cheerier than its name suggests.
Red Studio, Rose Hilton
Brilliant colour, masterful abstraction, and a style that’s reminiscent of various 20th century movements, from the Abstract Expressionists to the Fauves. There’s no doubt about it: Red Studio by St. Ives School artist Rose Hilton is definitely one to watch out for.
Header Image – The Lambie Stairs © The Royal Academy