Ah!! We had made it to the RA exhibition once again this year, as symbolised by the amazing rose-petal macaroon tower in one of Burlington Arcade’s corner shops. As we turned into the RA courtyard, we were welcomed by Anish Kapoor’s red-disc tribute “Symphony for a Beloved Daughter”. And, once in, hiding unobtrusively up the stairs lay Mike Nelson’s award-winning sculpture, “Untitled (public sculpture for a redundant space)”. The work comprised a sleeping bag full of rubble, symbolising the destruction of Manhattan’s High Line elevated railway line, which once provided shelter for homeless people. I loved the conceptual depth of this work, and the atmosphere it conveyed.
Grayson Perry and his committee headed up the exhibition this year, with the emphasis being on spontaneity and “Art Made Now”, which cuts across contemporary art and includes art from the established art realms as well as from amateurs. Close to 20,000 entries were received by the committee, and within a week these were knocked down to 720 accepted artists. The rest of the 1,500 or so accepted works were from the Royal Academicians themselves or their invitees.
My highlights were the print room, and the lemon room (Gallery III). My favourite artworks were the red bear carpet, surrounded often by school-children in high-viz vests discussing their interpretations; the bejewelled poodle and Blewitt’s Gnasher dog made of metal objects and nails; Perry’s own woodcut “Selfie with Political Causes”; Anatsui’s aluminium and copper curtain; Beattie’s oil and wax ladder; Vasconcelos’s Royal Valkyrie 625-cm-high fabric sculpture; Paula Rego’s Human Cargo inkwash; and many others in the print room, which was a spectacular space. Gillian Ayres’ (1930-2018) seemingly Matisse-inspired works are always a joy – how sad she has passed away this year.
Thank you Grayson Perry and the 2018 committee for a wonderful exhibition – and thank you for injecting the exhibition with such COLOUR. In munching on a rose-petal macaroon, and heading home on the underground to our regular B&B, I felt pleased to have witnessed Perry’s “raucous celebration of chromophilia”.