The Secret to a Good Life
This special project by Bob and Roberta Smith RA explores the story of women artists and the Royal Academy – through the lens of his own family history.
Bob and Roberta Smith RA’s mother, the artist Deirdre Borlase, regularly exhibited in the RA’s Summer Exhibition. She thought she was more likely to be selected if she submitted works without her first name, to avoid giving away her gender.
In this special project to mark the RA’s 250th anniversary, members of Borlase’s family explore her story, and some of the other – sometimes strained – relationships between women and the Royal Academy over its history. The display will include a selection of historic paintings by Deidre Borlase from the 1940-80s, as well as a portrait of her by her husband, Frederick Brill.
Three new sculptures include This is Deirdre Borlase ARCA, 2018, by Bob and Roberta Smith RA and sculptures of the Academy’s female founders, Mary Moser RA and Angelica Kauffman RA, created by Smith in collaboration with his wife, Jessica Voorsanger, and their daughter, Etta Voorsanger-Brill.
Bob and Roberta Smith’s sculpture, This is Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA, 2015, previously exhibited in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, will also be on display, along with painted text panels that he has created especially for this project.
The accompanying book Bob and Roberta Smith: The Secret to a Good Life explores the role of women artists, the sexism of the art world and the benefits of drawing every day. Find out more and pre-order.
4 September 2018 — 3 February 2019
Daily 10am – 6pm
Friday 10am – 10pm
The Ronald and Rita McAulay Gallery, Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts
The secret of a good life is to get a good pencil: a 2B or a 3B, not an HB. HBs are for architects.
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