Monday, 1st June, is Varnishing Day at the 2015 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Traditionally the day when exhibiting artists could put finishing touches to their displayed work prior to the official opening, these days it is a celebration for the exhibitors. There is a parade along Piccadilly from the RA to St James’ church, a service in the church, and then exhibitors gather for a reception and a first look around the exhibition. Very exciting, being part of a very old tradition – this is the 247th year – and mingling with fellow amateur and professional artists and with esteemed academicians. And most exciting of all is to see one’s work exhibited. Last year I successfully submitted just one piece, Mark Rothko’s Barn. By the time Julie and I attended the preview, it had been sold (see the very gratifying red dot next to the display number). Following Varnishing Day and the press review days, there is Buyer’s Day (which exhibitors may attend) on Thursday. So from that day onwards, artworks for sale may be purchased.
This year I have two pieces on display – The Old Cricket Field Barn and Bridget Riley’s Barn. I submitted both this year as sculptures, given that they are shaped from blocks of wood and then painted. Last year, I described the entry as a painting, as more time is spent on this than on the shaping. Difficult to know which they are as they are both sculpted and painted.
I have several series of ‘barns’ under way. The Bridget Riley piece obviously follows Mark Rothko’s Barn in the Artists’ Barns series. I am currently working on several others, amongst them Vincent van Gogh’s Barn, Jackson Pollock’s Barn (based on the actual barn studio where he worked), and Magritte’s Barn. Each is an homage to an artist whose work I admire.
The Old Cricket Field Barn is a portrait of a ramshackle building on the outskirts of the village where I live and work. It looks as though it might blow down in the next strong wind. It occurred to me some time back that, having admired so many barns (particularly those in dilapidated condition), it would be good to make some sort of record of any that I could, before they do collapse.
So, now I am looking forward to sharing in a bit of pageantry and hoopla, to a celebratory glass with fellow local artist, Claire (who also successfully submitted two pieces), and to seeing my work on show. Next weekend, Julie and I will attend one of the previews, and maybe we will find a couple more of those gratifying red dots.