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The Ancestors

The Ronald and Rita McAulay Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts

7 Sep — 19 Jan 2020

Cathie Pilkington RA and Alison Wilding RA curate a new installation of busts from the our Collection, exploring the strangeness of portrait sculpture.

The installation celebrates the artistry of these works while also emphasising the peculiarities of portrait sculpture, prompting the viewer to ask questions about the sitters, the artists, and the historical practices of the Royal Academy.

Serving as a key symbol for the whole display is Goggle Head by Dame Elisabeth Frink RA, the first female sculptor to become an Academician – some two centuries after the Academy was founded. Frink sometimes displayed her Goggle Head sculptures on breeze block plinths.

The Ancestors borrows this practice of contrasting low-grade construction materials with precious bronze and marble to draw attention to the oddness of the viewing conventions that surround these artworks. Now that contemporary sculpture can be a urinal, a dinner party or a pile of blankets, where does this jumbled collection of handmade effigies fit in today?

7 September 2019 — 19 January 2020

Daily 10am – 6pm
Friday 10am – 10pm>/br>

Free, no booking required.

The Ronald and Rita McAulay Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts