Tag Archives: royal academy

Austerity Measure

I’m always excited about visiting the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy.

One past year had a huge gorilla constructed from coat hangers. Another year I offered to take a reader of this blog on a free tour of the exhibition. Padmini took me up on it. I’ve been a fan. A defender.

But this year… It’s just…

Great to see old favourites – Norman Ackroyd, Anselm Kiefer, Barbara Rae and others. But overall it just didn’t get me going.

It was the Austerity Measure from the Henningham Family Press that most caught my eye.

Like Continue reading



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Plummy voice is here

My voice as fictional characters.

Air hair lair, it’s old Plummy Voice here.

Something  bizarre and almost unbelievable has happened. Something odder than Rupert Murdoch giving us “the facts Ma’am, just the facts.” Something hitherto thought less likely than Ireland winning the World Cup – the football World Cup that is – not something easy like rugby or cricket. Something even more unusual than an honest politician Continue reading


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And the Word was made flesh (and charming with it)…

On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. Wasn’t there a cartoon to that effect? (Oh yes. There it is.)

Same with internet dating. That six foot blond Viking type you met online may have been literally telling the truth. You only get to see that he’s also six feet wide when you meet face to face. Which is when you also notice that he smells like a Viking who hasn’t washed since they used to rule England. (True, happened to a mate of mate.)

Speaking of smelly Vikings – did you know they used week-old horse wee to kill bugs in their hair? Couldn’t afford combs. It was the amonia in the aged equine urine that turned their hair blonde. Does that make you feel differently about ABBA?

But the main point is this – how can you be sure that anything or anyone on the net is who they say they are?

Or if they even exist at all?

Well, I can now officially confirm that Padmum does exist.

Remember I asked if anyone wanted to come to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy with me. Padmum – or Padmini as I now call her – immediately put her hand up.

And she came. All the way from Chennai in India. Chennai! In India! With her daughter Nitila. That’s them in the picture. In the flesh Continue reading


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Academicians, doxies, catamites and hangers-on take a savaging

This year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy feels brighter and more vivid than before – which is reversal of the trend of me feeling that each successive year was less thrilling tan before. Perhaps it’s the less dense hanging or the rearranged route through the rooms or the prominence given to photography. Or perhaps it was the transformed mood I brought in with me. Even the architectural models seemed more accessible than before.

But not everyone is happy. Notoriously cross critic Brian Sewell has been savaging this year’s exhibition -though he found some personal bright spots.

Aurora - lead - Anselm Keifer. I love it. But Brian says it's "a rare failure that could as easily have been made by a Namibian handyman or Uncle George in his garden shed.

So I’m posting his review as another little taster for Padmum. (By the way, when are you coming?)

So here’s Brian’s version:

Last week, on entering the Royal Academy’s courtyard to see its annual Summer Exhibition, I chanced upon a column of Academicians, their doxies, catamites and hangers-on Continue reading


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Some of it is just psychotic

Is it art or is it just psychotic? That’s the judgement call the organisers of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition are making again and again in the run up to opening day next month.

A previous year's selection panel. I think they're saying: "Not quite psychotic enough." Of course, now it's gone the other way. Be careful what you wish for, huh?

Just thought that Padmum  might like to be forewarned Continue reading


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Date for your diary

Winding River - William Steiger (USA) 1997 exhibition

And when I say “date” I mean it in both the calendar and the “let’s meet” sense.

The Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition opens on 7th June and runs till 15th August. It’s described (admittedly by the RA itself) as:

An essential part of the London art calendar, The Royal Academy‘s Summer Exhibition is the largest open contemporary art exhibition in the world, drawing together a wide range of new and recent work by established, unknown and emerging artists.

If that sounds good to you, dear Reader, and you’ll be in London, perhaps we can go together? Continue reading


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That gorilla has stolen my coat hanger…

David Mach's Silver Streak (coat hangers)

It’s step back, jaw-droppingly, massively impressive. It makes your twisty metal art mobiles and car aerial replacements seem, frankly, pathetic. Continue reading


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Sexy funny art

If it makes you jump, is it art?

If it keeps you laughing, is it art? If it’s a massive cast iron construction with a sign warning: Fragile, do not touch – Is it art? If it’s heaps of concrete squeezed out onto pallets… Well, it’s definitely Anish Kapoor anyway.

The Kapoor exhibition is currently on at London’s Royal Academy of the Arts till December 11th. It’s hilarious. You should go.

It’s mainly sculpture, but not as you know it. I was laughing at it most of the time. But with delight.You have the hall of mirrors reflecting light and sound. (Vertigo & others.)What distinguishes it from a fairground attraction? The posh hall. Nothing else. Choose your mirror to see yourself stretched, squashed or inverted. I saw a couple walk through the room. He was a walking Giacometti. She was round and teeny. That was without the mirrors. I kept a straight face then. The rest of the time I was laughing.

And there’s the cannon, which every 40 minutes fires a cylinder of red wax.  (Shooting into the Corner) Before each firing time a crowd squeezes close to watch. The cannon is loaded. Gas pressure builds up with a low hiss. On edge, we await the trigger. There’s a bang – the crowd jumps – the projectile leaves the barrel of the gun with a squiff, flies across the room and lands in the morass of previously fired red wax with a dull thud. Apparently it travel at 80km/h. Sometimes it hits the opposite wall. Usually it falls short. Oi! Kapoor! You’re making a mess of the place.

There’s a lot of sprinkled powder round and coating objects, black, yellow, pink and three colours red – cadmium red, alizarin crimson and blood red. Hindu Holi style. (1000 Names)

Slug - Anish Kapoor

If you’re a builder, don’t miss the room of wooden pallets piled high with concrete squeezings. They look like giant sand worm castes. (Greyman cries, Shaman Dies, Billowing Smoke, Beauty Evoked)

So leave the rough old twisting piles of grey concrete behind. Suddenly you’re confronted with huge orifices, glistening, shiny, red, intriguing, inviting. Don’t try to climb in, you’ll get told off. They’re combined with hidden chambers (Hive) or serpentine tubes resembling some intestinal tuba (Slug).

Svayambh - Anish Kapoor

What does it all mean? The biggest exhibit is a forty-ton red block of wax, paint and vaseline.  (Svayambh – Sanskrit for “born by itself” or “self-generated”.) It’s kind of train shaped. It travels almost too slow to perceive movement along tracks, through rooms, squeezing through archways, shedding and scraping off gloopy waxy lumps as it goes.

When shown in Berlin, it was associated with the Holocaust – cattle trucks to Auschwitz etc. In London it’s apparently associated with the network of railway tunnels under the city. And no doubt something plausible will be made up for the next place it’s shown.

So, all a load of nonsense. And the artist seems to agree. He says: “It’s not my role to be expressive. I’ve got nothing to say, I don’t have any message to give anyone.”

But I do. And the message is this. Don’t miss this life-affirming enjoyment.


Filed under art, life