On June 21st 2022, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition makes its return to Piccadilly. After two years being held during winter, the largest open submission art exhibition is back where it should be – slap bang in the middle of summer.
In today’s blog, we’re revealing a little more about one of the most unmissable events in the art world calendar, and hearing from a couple of Enter Gallery artists exhibiting in the show about what being a part of the event means to them.
What is the RA Summer Exhibition?
Amazingly, the RA’s Summer Exhibition has been running for over 250 years, since 1769. The exhibition is a showcase of art in all its forms – from photography, painting and print, to architecture, sculpture and film.
One element that makes the show so special is that alongside invited artists and Royal Academicians, anyone can enter. This makes the show one of the best representations of the current artistic landscape, with work from established, contemporary and emerging artists all exhibited together.
Who is coordinating the show?
Each year, a different Royal Academician is selected to coordinate the show. Previously, we’ve seen Grayson Perry and Yinka Shonibare take up the helm, and this year, it’s the turn of one of Britain’s foremost sculptors - Alison Wilding RA.
Since the 1970s, Wilding has been challenging expectations of sculpture. Her pioneering practice sees her combine a wide-range of materials, techniques and forms to create pieces that examine contrasts – be that stability and instability, entrapment and mobility, or containment and concealment.
What’s this year’s theme?
Every year, the show tackles a different theme, and this year that theme is ‘Climate’.
Speaking of the theme, Wilding says: “Whether it presents as crisis or opportunity, nightmare or memories, or simply our everyday experience of weather, climate is a huge, all-embracing and urgent subject.”
What to expect from the show
This unmissable exhibition represents everything that’s happening in the art world right now, giving attendees a unique glimpse into all areas of the contemporary art world. Highlights include two rooms of prints selected by Grayson Perry RA, a large-scale immersive installation by Spanish artist, Cristina Iglesias, which brings nature and water to the Royal Academy’s courtyard, and a structure made entirely of elephant dung.
Also, if you’re looking to snap up some art, you’ll be pleased to hear that most works are available to buy. All proceeds go to supporting exhibiting artists, and the RA’s charitable work, which includes training the next generation of artists at the Royal Academy’s schools.
Which Enter Gallery artists can you see at the RA Summer Exhibition?
While strolling around the exhibition, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for artworks from Enter Gallery artists, Nathalie Kingdon and Craig Keenan – both of whom have had artworks selected to be included in the show.
We chatted to Nathalie and Craig about their artworks, and about what being part of such a prestigious art event means to them.
100 Degrees, Nathalie Kingdon
“I applied while in the process of making a new series of work based on shapes drawn from the sixties and seventies. While nowadays the sun reminds us of the threat of climate change, I grew up at a time when it wasn’t a global concern. The sun and its heat were viewed positively – as forces of good for the skin, mood and soul.”
“The aim of the print is to create an immediate feeling of incandescent heat, and to re-associate this heat with pleasure, despite the danger it represents. A little like the temptation to look directly at the sun knowing it can damage our eyes.”
“I was blown away to be shortlisted, and then simply overjoyed to be selected for this year’s exhibition!”
View Nathalie Kingdon’s artworks.
Jarred Orcas, Craig Keenan
“This piece is the second in a series of pieces I’ve made of whales in jars – the first being a humpback whale, and this time, a pair of orcas. When the RA put out the one word brief, ‘Climate’, I felt that this piece hit the right notes. It’s suggestive of the fragility of nature, and of man’s influence over it. The idea of literally selling orca whales in a jar, like goldfish in a bag from a fair, is something humans would undoubtedly do. This makes me sad, but it is also ultimately something I probably would have wanted!”
“It’s an absolute delight to be showing my work at such a prestigious exhibition. I’m honoured and grateful to have been chosen, and am very excited to go and see it there.”
Albero in Fabrica and Effeto Serra, Gina Soden
Here is photographer, Gina Soden, standing proudly in front of one of the two pieces she has featured in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.
Given Soden's preoccupation with the boundaries of beauty, decay, nostalgia and neglect, her haunting photography is the perfect choice for the exhibition's theme.
The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is taking place from 21st June to 21st August. Don’t miss out.