Gallery Visits and Reviews

The Summer Exhibition 2010 at The Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, London
14 June - 22 August 2010

There are a few events that I try to make it to each year in London and the Summer Exhibition is one of them, (as a garden designer as well, the other is The Chelsea Flower and Hampton Court Flower Show). I find all three of them inspiring and they give me drive to do more of what I love; paint and design gardens!

This is now the fourth Summer Exhibition I have made it to (although it is in it's 242nd year!). I always get a buzz walking into the courtyard off of Piccadilly and seeing the outside sculptures on show there. It is a lovely peaceful place to have a cup of tea outside if the sun is shining!

The theme of the Summer Exhibition is 'Raw' this year and there were 11,000 entries from hopefuls. (One year I might become one of those hopefuls!)

As with all art exhibitions there will be work there that annoys and frustrates as well as uplifts and pleases and the Summer exhibition is no exception to this rule.

I will say at the outset that I am no fan of Tracey Emin's work. I feel it is a case of 'Emperor's New Clothes' and many are too embarrassed to admit that they do not like or understand her work.  I feel I am a broad minded lady who can accept much of the bizarre in the art world, but I can find no redeeming feature in her 'art'. However, her small etchings can be spotted from the other side of the Great Weston Room as they are the ones covered with little orange dots along the bottom as, at £175 to £275, they are a relatively 'cheap' way to own a 'Tracey Emin'. Not something I aspire to!

The larger painting below, further on in the exhibition, had a cluster of puzzled viewers standing around it when I was there and audible gasps when the price was looked up in the little book; £125,000 followed by, the often heard phrase; "My 6 year old could do that!"

'But I think I love you' Acrylic on canvas 83x183cm Tracey Emin RA 

But there really are some fabulous and talented artists displayed at the Royal Academy every year. Some of my favourites this year were; Ken Howard RA, Bill Jacklin RA, 
Diana Armfield RA, Stephen Chambers RA, Elizabeth Magill, Ben Leven RA, Frederick Cuming RA and Philip Sutton RA.

In the Scented Breeze (detail) - Philip Sutton RA £36,000

 Ken Howard RA (not the chap looking at the book!) Look at the play of light on the polished floor boards!

Ken Howard RA Light effect, Campo SS. Giovanni e Paolo Oil on canvas 175 x 210cm

This painting was from 2008 Summer Exhibition but it is one of my favourites! I love how Ken Howard can portray light as it is something I am always trying to do. He makes it look so easy!

Diana Armfield RA Roses on the Kitchen Table £7,500

I have admired Diana Armfield's painting for some years now at the exhibition. I love her loose brush work and again her use of light. 

Close up showing brushwork from Flowers in June in the Moustier Jug, Diana Armsfield RA.
(Last year's exhibition)

Finally, for the artist I have spotlit as my all time favourite and  who has inspired me; Frederick Cumming RA. I find my self standing in from of his large canvases and being sucked into the atmosphere of them. He has a wonderful sence of colour and he landscapes are almost abstract. Really beautiful!

Old Friend in the Sun - Oil on linen board 141 x 141cm (£23,000) Frederick Cuming RA

February Clouds Camber - Oil on canvas 140 x 140cm (2009 exhibition)

There were many other artists work which I enjoyed and the giant Gorilla made from metal coat hangers is a real show stopper as you stare at it and ponder how someone could ever come up with such an idea and execute it so masterfully! (David Mach RA, 'Silver Streak')

The highlight of The Summer Exhibition for me is always the Small Weston Room where beautiful little gems of paintings are tightly hung on the walls right up to the ceiling. It really is like stepping into a chocolate box of visual delights! (However, anyone else who goes, can you please explain why, a very poorly executed painting of what looks like Corfe Castle in Dorset, has been chosen?! (Right hand side as you walk in the door)


These are some which caught my eye:


The Lecture Room had one of the best Architecture displays I have seen at the Summer Exhibition for some years. I wonderful collection of scale models of soaring towers and ergonomic buildings stunning as art-objects in their own right. 

I am a garden designer professionally and am always drawn to plans and technical  drawings. This beautiful drawing stood out for me and reminds me of work by Geoffrey Jellicoe who I much admire and has inspired me with my design work.

Holbourne Museum (detail) Pen - Eric Parry RA 85 x68 cm

I even loved how this title was written at the bottom of this sketch!

The Summer exhibition runs until 22 August 2010 at The Royal Academy, Piccadilly, London and really is a must for all artists and art lovers! Go and be inspired, amazed, shocked, annoyed, amused, disgusted ............ isn't ART wonderful!