Hung by Mick Rooney, this room ranges freely from the work of little-known artists to that of senior Academicians. Among those who have submitted this year is 25-year-old Michael De Bono, whose Second Sight is a highly skilful and precise painting of a muse in period costume holding a bell and a candle. Symbols of mortality, including a skull and a clock, further intensify this meditation on transience.
Installation view of the Lecture Room, Summer Exhibition 2009 Photo: John Bodkin
Works by older artists seem, paradoxically, far lighter in mood. Dame Elizabeth Blackadder contributes a lyrical painting of fruit floating in space. Octogenarian Ursula McCannell depicts flame-haired figures in dreamy landscapes, while 93-year-old Mary Fedden is showing calm still-lifes. As for Rooney himself, his modest-sized, poetic paintings depict domestic scenes. Childhood memories inspired his image of a Hornby Train Game, and poems by Cavafy lie behind another of Rooney’s dream-like works.
Ambitious floor-based sculpture also commands attention in this room. John Maine’s work consists of five immense stones, powerfully suggestive of a primeval landscape. Michael Sandle’s large limewood carving is reminiscent, at first glance, of a pietà. But then we realise that the seated woman’s head is covered by a bag, and her plight bodes ill for the child in her lap. The title of the sculpture suggests that Sandle is driven by political considerations. It is called, disturbingly, Iraq: The Sound of Your Silence.