Each year the Summer Exhibition brings success to new and upcoming artists from around the country, and this year’s show was no different. RA Magazine’s Andy Murray looks back on some of the stories that have made headlines in the regional press
The RA’s Summer Exhibition showcases some of the most eminent artists: German artists like Anselm Kiefer and Georg Baselitz, British artist’s like Damien Hirst and Antony Gormley, and American artists like Ed Ruscha and Cy Twombly. But what makes the show so special is that it brings amateur, regional and young artists to rub shoulders alongside the most famous of art’s stars.
Anyone can submit work, and each year the work of hundreds of previously little-known artists are admired, are sold and win prizes in an exhibition that draws global attention from critics and collectors. Not surprisingly, these artists’ stories often make the headlines in their local papers.
One of the greatest success stories was Patrick Gilmartin, from Netherhall Gardens, north London. He shared his surprise with the Hampstead and Highgate Express on winning a drawing prize worth £5,000 for his drawing of a police horse saddle: ‘The funny thing is I haven’t sold a painting for about 19 years, not since I was a student. I’m not sure what I’ll spend the money on yet but it won’t be anything practical.’
Georgina Rowbottom Bournemouth Daily EchoOnly 1,200 works are selected from more than over 10,000 submissions, and many of the artists selected this year have earned their place in the show afters years of determination and persistence. Sylvia Paul, an artist from Colchester, told the Colchester Evening Gazette how it took six applications before she was included in the show: ‘It’s something you do try for, without massive hopes because there are so many entries.’ Another artist, Georgina Rowbottom, whose successful entry this year was her third submission, couldn’t keep her excitement from Bournemouth’s Daily echo: ‘Many people try for years and years to get a painting hung in the Royal Academy so I am delighted.’
Other young and developing artists are accepted in the show with their first submissions, which is a great boost for their forthcoming careers. Paige Sinkler, 42, from Guildford, has had one of her photographs accepted the first time she entered. She talked to the Surrey Advertiser about her developing photographic career: ‘I’m going to see if I can get shows or exhibitions. I’m also looking into trying to make note cards or some prints for people so that the photos are accessible.’ Similarly, Architect Matthew Bedward has had one of his designs for a new bus Station in Slough included, which is a tremendous achievement for the architectural firm that he set up only last year. He told the Maidenhead Advertiser how his work was inspired by a desire to make town-life better for the people of Slough: ‘At the moment it is a draughty, dirty environment which causes difficultly for pedestrians. We as a company, and our collaborators like to make places that we want to be in.’
Of course, the RA’s submission process is only a minor challenge compared to the hard task many artists undertake in refining their creative practice. Judith Lockie told the Ipswich Evening Star how she was drawn to Japanese woodblock printmaking: ‘I was about twenty in the late-1960s, and found myself in France with my brother in the student riots. The upshot was I left art school without a clear direction. I got interested in [Japanese woodblock prints] from various exhibitions, so I went to Japan and found a teacher. I taught English as a foreign language to fund myself and I started to learn the woodblock printing techniques. When I came back, I started exhibiting my own work.’
So let’s look forward to next summer’s show, and another chance to celebrate famous names and the work of less familiar faces who are destined to be local heroes.