Tag Archives: art

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2015

royal academy summer exhibition 2015

Gallery III of the Summer Exhibition 2015 (c) David Parry, Royal Academy of Arts

On a hot summer Friday night I found myself hanging out with the cool kids at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. I’d been invited to a Bloggers and Instagrammers event and the place was swarming with the best London Instagrammers around.

I know this because for the first time ever visitors were allowed to take photos at the Summer Exhibition this year, so I got to stalk their shots using the #RAsummer hashtag and I was seriously impressed with what I saw. The Instagrammers there on the night managed to create carefully crafted images that allowed me to see the art itself in a new light.

As for me, it was the first time I’d been invited to a gallery as a blogger, and the first time I’ve ever bothered to blog about a gallery in depth. I’ve dabbled in the past when I’ve visited Somerset House (for Mapping the City and a Nicholas Hawksmoor exhibition) but usually I’m so lost in the art at an exhibition that taking notes is the last thing on my mind.

Thankfully before we wandered through the exhibition we were treated to a very welcome chilled glass of wine in one of the many private rooms at the Academy so I could get my head in gear. We also received a comprehensive introduction to the Summer Exhibition which was delivered so passionately that I was positively brimming with excitement by the time it was over. The amount of people and work involved is bigger than I could have imagined, and gaining a better understanding of that has elevated this annual event even higher in my mind.

Michael Craig-Martin co-ordinated the Summer Exhibition this year and colour is at the heart of his strategy. Everything is eminently Instagrammable, from Jim Lambie’s multi-coloured staircase as you walk in to the vibrant walls of the main galleries.

As for the work on show, well, I’m not sure a blog post will ever do it justice. With 1000+ pieces of art on display including painting, sculpture, printmaking, architecture, film and photography there really is something for everyone to enjoy. And with most of the artwork for sale, you may even find something to take home and keep for good. Later this week I’ll be sharing five affordable pieces of art for sale at the Summer Exhibition so stay tuned for my top picks.

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2015

Date: 8 June – 16 August 2015
Time: 10am – 6pm daily, 10am – 10pm Fridays
Price: £13.50

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Mapping the City Exhibition at Somerset House

mapping the city exhibition at somerset house

Shepard Fairey, Berlin Tower

A couple of weeks ago I headed to Somerset House on a Saturday afternoon. Somerset House is one of my favourite London spaces; I love the neo-classical building, the fountains in the courtyard and the range of exhibitions.

That said, the last time I went to Somerset House was in August 2013. I managed to squeeze in three exhibitions that day: Blumenfeld Studio: New York 1941 – 1960; Miles Aldridge: I Only Want You to Love Me and Nicholas Hawksmoor: Methodical Imaginings. I vowed to go back more often so here we finally are, just a short eighteen months later, for the Mapping the City exhibition.

Mapping the City exhibition at Somerset House

Mapping the City at Somerset House Swoon Bangkok

Swoon, Bangkok

50 emerging and established artists have created cartographic representations of cities for the Mapping the City exhibition at Somerset House. All artwork has been created by graffiti and street artists, and themes range from the biographical (Spok’s I Need an Extra 25 Years of Youth) and figural (Sixe Paredes’ Barcelona) to the conceptual (Filippo Minelli’s Nowhere Forever) and the fantastical (Will Sweeney’s Cabott Square, Canary Wharf).

“If you look at your city from a different angle, you start loving it in a new way. You realise that the city is not only about the obvious. Its about the things out of our regular focus, usually somewhere on top or in a corner, somewhere hiding in plain sight”


Mapping the City at Somerset House Jurne Covalence

Jurne, Covalence

The usual major world city suspects get their five minutes of fame, but I found myself naturally gravitating towards maps that represented London and American cities. This certainly had more to do with my long-term interest in American cities and the fact that I like London so much I write a blog about it, and isn’t a reflection on the artwork on show.

I was particularly taken by Cleon Peterson’s The Weak and the Powerful and The Return which address the American inner city. I’m often drawn to dystopian images and these subverted the American Dream in an original manner.

On the other side of the American spectrum I loved Overcast Angeles by Augustine Kofie, whose soft colour palette and ephemeral style represented the global image of Los Angeles perfectly.

Augustine Kofie Overcast Angeles

Augustine Kofie, Overcast Angeles

As for London, two representations stood out to me. Tim Head’s biographical Forty Five takes you on a car journey through the streets of London. I’m rarely in a car in the city but when I am, usually at night, there is something special about seeing the city from a different viewpoint. The eco-warrior in me would love nothing more that to see the city turn of lights at night, but I can’t deny the atmosphere they create.

The second London map I loved was Cabott Square, Canary Wharf by Will Sweeney. I’ve always disliked Canary Wharf; there’s a bitter chill, the architecture is sterile and I find the area soulless. This representation, by ink and pencil on paper, warrants close inspection. There are a number of surreal elements that have replaced the ‘quotidian grind of the area’; in it’s place there’s the Canary Wharf that Sweeney would like, a ‘sometimes beautiful, sometimes blood-curling place of possibility’.

Your last chance to catch the exhibition is Sunday, so hurry on down.

Mapping the City
Somerset House
Until 15 February 2015
Free admission

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Sunday Selection


A few London things from the Internet that have caught my eye this weekend:

Start getting excited for late night tubes with this new map

A simulated plane crash to test emergency services

If you’re looking for another subtle reminder not to waste any food, take a look at these seven families from around the world and what they eat each week.

Love this New York City street scene painting

Explore the history of London on a pub crawl. Which other pubs would you add to the list?

Exhibitions at Somerset House

Somerset House is a beautiful building located on the Northbank of the River Thames. Until 1775 it was a Tudor Palace but today it is a neo-classical building and ‘an inspiring space for art, culture and creative exchange’.

When a building is this beautiful on the outside it is a shame at times to be confined to the inside. This is why I love how they use the outdoor space in different seasons, with open-air cinema screenings and water fountains in the summer, and London’s most romantic ice rink in the winter.

Over the next few days I’m going to blog about the inside, specifically three different exhibitions I attended recently. On the hottest day of the year and between numerous breaks for iced coffee I explored: Nicholas Hawksmoor: Methodical Imaginings; Blumenfeld Studio: New York 1941 – 1960 and Miles Aldridge: I Only Want You to Love Me.

I’ll do my best to translate my mesmerised thoughts into articulate prose over the next couple of days. Please feel free to chip in with your comments too – I’ll update the blog with your thoughts.
sunday selection

Sunday Selection: Valentine’s Day

I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day but I do love a good DIY craft activity! Here are four of my favourites from around the blogosphere this week.

18 Valentine’s Day craft projects

Framed quotes

Valentine’s Tags

Cute Valentine’s Day cards for boys

Do you have any plans for Valentine’s Day?

Copywriter vs. Art Director

I’ve been in love with Paris versus New York for a while. And as I have mentioned previously, design is a growing interest of mine. For many years words were all I cared about, but a chance experience has led me to value and appreciate design in a way I never could have anticipated.

Based on Paris versus New York and with the content a little closer to my heart, make sure you check out Copywriter vs. Art Director. Are you a copywriter or an art director? Do you think they are just stereotypes? Does it matter?

Paris vs NYC

Copywriter vs Art Director

A Miniature London in Sand

In recent years I have really enjoyed the sand sculptures at Glastonbury festival, located near The Park stage. Seeing how hard the artist works to create a masterpiece (often in less than desirable weather conditions) is a real pleasure, and I would have loved to catch a first hand glimpse of this miniature London that was built from sand in Tottori, Japan.

london sand

Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images

For more photos head to design you trust.