An artist's guide to the Summer Exhibition
In 2012, more than 300 first-time 'open submission' artists had work in the Summer Exhibition, almost 1,500 entries were shown and more than two thirds were by non-Academicians.
The Summer Exhibition acts as a survey of what’s happening in all areas of the contemporary art world. The works are selected and hung by a panel of accomplished practitioners working across the disciplines of fine art.
Tess Jaray RA has chosen to hang the walls of the grand Gallery III with small-scale works to showcase emerging talent. Photo © Richard Dawson.
The show gives independent artists the opportunity to display their work in an exhibition of international repute, held at a major venue; artists and gallerists have the prospect of making sales during the otherwise quiet summer months.
It is a unique event where the works of emerging and established artists, from students to celebrated names, are hung together. In recent years exhibitors have numbered the likes of Anselm Kiefer, Michael Landy, Tacita Dean, Gillian Wearing, Cathy de Monchaux, Callum Innes, Tomma Abts, Phyllida Barlow, Grayson Perry, Patrick George and Anish Kapoor.
Benefits to exhibitors
Selling and buying work
Summer Exhibition Prizes
Summer Exhibition Testimonials
A selection of last year's entrants talk about why they are submitting work
Watch video here
Nuala O’Donovan, Artist
Nuala O’Donovan, 'Banksia, Dynamic Layers', 2012. High fired unglazed porcelain. Photo Sylvain Deleu. This was my first time entering work and exhibiting at the Royal Academy Summer Show. I was thrilled when my sculptural piece, ‘Banksia, Dynamic Layers’ was selected. The Royal Academy is such a prestigious venue that it felt a little surreal to see my work there when I visited the exhibition.
I think that the Summer Exhibition is unique because of its inclusiveness, created by the mix of genres and artists. I love its bravery in showing such a range of work. Although many viewers may think that they like a particular type of work, the range and proximity of the works opens opportunities for a very democratic dialogue about all contemporary art practices.
I found everyone that I came into contact with to be helpful, courteous and understanding. There was a sense of the show being a group endeavour including the work of curators, organisers and all the artists. It was a very positive experience and I really enjoyed being part of the Exhibition.
Annie Morris, Artist
Annie Morris, 'PEG PAINTING', 2012. Watercolour and wooden pegs. Image courtesy of the artist. My experience of the RA Summer Exhibition couldn't have been better!
The submission of work was easy to understand. The dropping off of the work was a delight and as my piece was in a room with one of my all time favourite artists Anselm Kiefer, I couldn't have been happier.
My piece sold to an important collector in Barcelona so from the start of the whole process, things on my side were just one big success! Many thanks to the Co-ordinator Tess Jaray.
Tom Hackney, Artist
Tom Hackney, 'Chess Painting No. 16 (Duchamp vs. Menchik, Paris, 1929)', 2011. Gesso on linen and oak frame. Image courtesy of the artist. It was great to exhibit my paintings in the 2012 Summer Exhibition – a thoroughly enjoyable experience and an exciting process to have been part of. Tess Jaray’s curatorial approach placed greater emphasis on smaller works by young and emergent artists alongside the more renowned and familiar, which made for strong showing.
The Summer Exhibition is quite unique - the volume and variety of work on show resists any specific thematic organisation. Instead, the show has a kind of nebulous randomness that encourages the work to operate on a primarily visual basis. This, and the superbly lit historic galleries, makes the Summer Exhibition an excellent opportunity for an artist to see their work.
Rana Begum, Sculptor
Rana Begum, 'No. 283'. Paint on mild steel, H118 W146 D40. This was my first time exhibiting at the Royal Academy Summer Show, and being invited to submit work was definitely exciting. I think Tess Jaray’s sense of colour and form came through in the curatorial approach and created a buzz around abstract art!
I loved seeing both my works in two different settings (one in with the smaller works and the other in the architecture room) and I was thrilled when I got the news that I had won the Jack Goldhill Award for Sculpture. It still has not sunk in!
I think the RA Summer Show is unique in that it brings an element of positivity, excitement and surprise all under one roof. It is also an excellent opportunity to see your work amongst a different array of artists, ones that you might never show with. Furthermore the visibility the show has is immense and rewarding.
Daniel Burn, Architect (Hawkins\Brown)
Daniel Burn, Summer Exhibition architecture room. Hawkins\Brown were delighted to be included in the Summer Exhibition. We were first time exhibitors with two works displayed. Varnishing day was a hugely enjoyable experience. It was great to see our work alongside such a wide-range of other exhibits both from architects we know and admire and new exhibitors we were yet to discover.
Our model, produced for an architectural competition for the Wellesley Road and Park Lane masterplan in Croydon used fabric and stitch to describe our design intentions, an unusual method of architectural representation. I must admit to listening in to the reactions of other visitors and was pleased to hear that our work captured attention and drew a great deal of positive comment.