Posts Tagged ‘Michael Landy’

There are some things in this country that are quintessentially British and come around on the annual calendar with seemingly ever increasing speed – The Royal Garden Parties, for instance, Wimbledon lawn tennis and the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy.

The latter opened for this summer season last week, so on Sunday we toddled off to London to take a look. Arriving at Burlington House in Piccadilly, flags heralded the celebrated event. The first exhibit can be seen through the open gates to the courtyard. A massive steel structure consisting of different sized tetrahedrons welded together, this sculpture by Conrad Shawcross is entitled “The Dappled Light of the Sun,” which is all very well but as we wandered underneath this colossal skeleton on an overcast morning, the artist’s intention I feel was all but lost.

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Burlington House, Piccadilly

The Summer Exhibition is the largest open submission exhibition in the world and has been staged by the Royal Academy every year since 1769 without interruption. It provides an unrivalled platform for established and emerging artists to display and sell their work. The Academy takes a commission from every work sold and this, together with ticket sales for the event, go towards funding post-graduates at the RA Schools.

The RA Schools was founded in 1769, and remains independent. This enables the Schools to offer the only three-year postgraduate programme in Europe. The pluralisation comes about because when it was first founded, students were required to master a number of different artistic elements in a particular order. Each element was known as a separate ‘School’. Today The RA is more flexible in its expectation but the original name has stuck.

There are around one thousand pieces on display, each having been through an arduous selection procedure, the first of which is done digitally on-line. If the artist is fortunate enough to go through to the next round, their artwork is put before a selection panel consisting of Royal Academicians.

Art work is priced from £100 to nearly £100,000 – and many of the exhibits were already sporting a red dot, signifying its ‘sold’ status. I loved this tongue-in-cheek work by Cornelia Parker – and the fact that it had got through the selection process. Just shows that artists have a sense of humour. I wonder who bought it though.

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Stolen Thunder III

Upon entry you get given a little ‘List of Works’ handbook containing the artists’ names, titles and prices of their work. I thought it would be entertaining to waft around, pick out the pieces I liked and check the provenance afterwards. Interestingly, most of the paintings I picked were by known contemporary artists which probably says more about me than the state of British modern art but there you go.

So here are a few of my chosen miscellany, sporting titles only. See if you can pick out the most and least expensive of my selection.

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Colony – January

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The old house dreams it is still there

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Mississippi River Blues

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Flower Window

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Afternoon Skaters

The show this year was curated by Michael Craig-Martin, a Royal Academician. His vision to paint the walls of one of the largest rooms a bright pink may shock some but I think it brought the hung paintings alive and complemented the gilding on the ceiling, showing off the classical architecture of this building in an innovative way. The Central Hall was also painted in a vivid peacock turquoise which looked opulent and fantastic.

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Wonderful pink walls. Those neon bubbles are by Michael Landy and are one of the few items not for sale.

In previous years the exhibits have been crowded together, almost jostling for position creating a chaotic, busy sensation. This year the whole effect is of calm but stylish order and while ideally I’d like the gallery to myself, by going early we avoided the crowds.

The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy runs until the 16 August and is open every day from 10am till 6pm.

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Time for a bit of a milestone celebration, I think – WordPress have just let me know, by way of a trophy style icon on my dashboard, that this blog is now one year old. Hurrah! Crack open the champagne, pass around the canapés and let’s party like it’s 1999.

On second thoughts, let’s not: I fell asleep then, before the fireworks. I’m not a fan of big parties where the music is so loud you have to shout to make yourself heard; where there is a sparseness of food which, when you finally get offered some, is usually bits of unrecognisable stuff slathered in runny sauce, mounted on flaky pastry that is impossible to eat while standing up, sans napkin, balancing a plate and glass precariously while already well oiled guests brush past with an abandoned lack of respect for your personal space.

Or maybe I’ve just been going to the wrong parties.

A Grayson Pot

A Grayson Pot

So, I got to thinking about dinner parties instead.

Perhaps I could have a fantasy one. Lots of people have listed their fantasy guest list – who would I choose? Hmm. Regular followers won’t be surprised to learn that Grayson Perry would be on my list. Eccentric, cross dressing British winner of the 2003 Turner Prize, Royal Academician Grayson was appointed a CBE in the 2013 Birthday Honours list for his services to contemporary art. Perhaps he’d bring me one of his ceramic pots as a thank you. It could be a rejected one, or even a chipped one, Grayson, I wouldn’t mind.

Next up, I’d invite Janet Street-Porter. Whatever you think of her (and I don’t think she’d care, either way), there is no denying her contribution to journalism and broadcasting. I’ve been a fan ever since she worked on the long defunct ‘Petticoat’ which was the first trendy teenage magazine I ever read and I was delighted to see her reach the final recently of British Celebrity Masterchef. The girl has many strings.

Jo Brand, English comedienne and regular panel show guest has me crying with laughter with her dry wit and deadpan delivery, would make a great dinner party guest, as would, I think Bill Turnbull, presenter of BBC’s Breakfast News. Bill makes quietly observed asides as he presents the news. He is informed, amusing and keeps bees. Perhaps he’d bring a jar of honey. That would be nice. I could put it in Grayson’s pot.

As my guest list begin to take shape my thoughts are turning to what I am going to feed them which is where this dinner party idea falls down, fantasy or otherwise. I might be creative in other areas but not in anything culinary. Spending hours over a complicated recipe holds no interest or satisfaction for me, to have it scoffed down in a matter of minutes. It makes me think that Michael Landy, the British artist who became famous for creating an art work called Break Down, (in which he destroyed all his possessions), should have been a chef – then he wouldn’t have had to reapply for a passport when he realised that while courting huge publicity for himself, it actually turned out to be rather inconvenient.

I manage to provide adequate and wholesome meals on a regular basis for my family who spend much of their time longingly watching the plethora of baking and cookery shows available at every waking moment, knowing that unless they have a bash themselves, the only way to experience food like that is to take me to a Michelin starred restaurant.

So I’ve decided to scrap the dinner party idea. Somebody somewhere said that we should never meet our heroes and I think there’s a lot of good sense in that. People in the public eye have a public persona that they hide behind and maybe as themselves, they’d be far less interesting than we are led to believe, although I’ll make an exception in Grayson’s case.

But I’ve just had a much better idea: because where would this blog be without its readers? I’d like to raise a glass to all of you, who have dropped in, who have followed, and most of all, who have commented and traded ideas, stories, jokes and banter. You’ve encouraged, informed and motivated me. It’s been great to meet you all and to dip into your worlds. I’ve travelled to far flung places from the comfort of my armchair, seen fabulous photographs and art works, been entertained and educated because of you all. So thanks to you all, very much.

Here’s to another blogging year – cheers!

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