Friday, 2 July 2004


Posted by Hello
I got into London on Monday with enough time to take in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, though humping my bag through hot and sweaty London streets, given my current limp, was not a lot of fun.

I can't say the Exhibition was a lot of fun, either, though it had its moments. The usual ragbag really, but the Academicians seem to be taking over the place. Considering the show was set up to allow open submissions from the country, it pisses me off when the RAs decide to load it with their own works and invite "Honorary" RAs from abroad to show too.

There were the expected delights in the Small Weston Room, where very small pictures by your average Joe are skied alongside better-known names like Craigie Aitchison and Jane Corsellis.

The Large Weston Room was also good, being given over to prints as usual. It always fascinates me to see which subjects are given the long line of red dots treatment. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to see more red dots on an etching of a cute grey seal than on a colossal woodcut of Zeppelins attacking London.

In Gallery V David Mach had found a good use for hundreds of postcards of the Clotheshorse Princess. He'd cut up lots of Diana postcards, as well as others depicting fruit, grapes etc, and collaged them all together to form a reclining nude called "Princess."

Tom Phillips presented a typically idiosyncratic arrangement of 40 sheets of Minutes from RA meetings on which he'd doodled quite exquisitely.

Drawing seems to be making a comeback. Gallery VI was stuffed with them, many very good indeed. I don't include in this the two Tracey Emin monoprints of quite extraordinary ineptitude. I begin to think she may be dyslexic. But as Patsy123 puts it, while dyslexia should not be a barrier, it should also not be an excuse for lack of ability. Anyone unknown presenting such dross would have no chance of having it accepted.

Emin's crap was more than made up for by a beautiful Dennis Creffield charcoal drawing of Skenfrith Castle, Alessa Avelino's New York Drawing 1, Mary Fedden's two unfashionably precise pencil drawings, and On the Moors, a lovely poetic semi-abstract landscape in pencil, acrylic, oil stick and chalk by Victoria Petterson-Turner.

Too much to go into in any more depth. There was a huge polychrome sculpture of an owl in one gallery. Must have been 15 feet high. "No dear," said one deaf old lady in a loud voice to her equally deaf old friend, "it wouldn't go in my sitting room."

Anthony Whishaw, whose work I've always looked forward to, disappointed me by producing pictures in what I took to be simply black and white acrylic. Then Patsy123 pointed out how he'd painted over a heavily textured red underlayer which gave a fascinating effect apparently Not to my red/green defective vision, unfortunately.

There was some kind of function on that night, so we were thrown out at 5.30.

Time to shuffle and drag ourselves through the crowds outside to a pub with no beer, where we'd arranged to meet the Big Dave, True Rat, Buddy K and Suzie Sue. The Expected Welshman wasn't able to make it. Then on to an excellent meal at a Turkish restaurant. Lamb shanks all round, despite True Rat's suggestion that it might be Cockney rhyming slang for something offensive.

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