….but we are all fabulous.

A day in London: RA Summer Exhibition and St James’s Piccadilly

After a break of a few years, my Mum and I went to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition a couple of weeks ago.


Dido Crosby – 5 sheep and a goat

We stopped going before because after 3 or 4 years we started to see variations on the same theme appear year in year out. There are only so many versions of words related to ‘love’ or ‘peace’ or whatever that you want to see in the format of the London Underground tube map or lithographs of ship’s hulls moving through water. It had started to feel very repetitive and unexciting, so it was with hopeful but muted expectations that I went along this year.

After Bruegel

Emily Allchurch – Babel London (After Bruegel)

I was delighted to find a newer take on the old themes. Michael Craig-Martin was the overall curator and his use of colour in the central rooms was fresh and effective. The usually hopelessly overcrowded Small Weston Room hung salon style with pictures from floor to ceiling more appropriately featured the work of one artist. I always felt sorry in the past for those artists whose work was hung near the floor or the ceiling and was largely overlooked. In addition, the architecture was not so much an afterthought as before when it was placed towards the end of the exhibition. This meant we were not too exhausted to be drawn in by an art form neither of us are especially familiar with and so this year we found ourselves captivated by intricate models and I was introduced to the Crawick Multiverse.


Ade Adesina – Adaptation

I always like to play the game of choosing a piece of art of take home with me if I had an unlimited budget and a rather larger house. This post contains some of the contenders. If anyone is unable to make it to the exhibition before it closes on 16th August, the exhibits are all online for the first time:


Leonard McComb – Jasmine Flowers Provence, Turkish Bowl V&A

After the exhibition, we went and had coffee and cake before making our way back to the tube. On the way we dipped into a few shops and into St James’s Church. The church has a lovely interior and is an oasis of calm and tranquillity despite being in Piccadilly. I am not religious, but this church moved me. Firstly there was this sign next to a section of pews:

St James

On the pews there were 3 or 4 people asleep, the sound of their breathing just audible in the quiet. This to me is what a church should be for – a place of sanctuary, yet so often they are locked or unwelcoming in other ways. Secondly, the mission of the church in their own words is as follows:

We understand ourselves to be called to –

gather as a body which welcomes and celebrates human diversity, including spirituality, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation

to create a space where people of any faith or none can question and discover the sacred in life through openness, struggle, laughter and prayer

to a common commitment to be in solidarity with poor and marginalised people and to cherish Creation

(We don’t manage it all the time, so we try again)

I particularly like the second section with the words “where people of any faith OR NONE can question and discover…”. In St James’s Church it felt as though these words were heartfelt and formed the basis of the community (not congregation) that exists there, not just empty shells used to create an image.

Truly, it seems, a space for all people.


2 comments on “A day in London: RA Summer Exhibition and St James’s Piccadilly

  1. Mairead Walsh
    August 6, 2015

    LOVED this post, Sue, both re the art exhibition and the church, and am very grateful for the link to the RA exhibition online. I didn’t know it was possible to view online.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: