Taking a new approach to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 2021
Time and tide wait for no man – and so it comes to pass that once again, The Royal Academy have relieved me of £35 by way of my entry fee for this year’s Summer Exhibition. Those of you who follow my artistic adventures closely will no I am no stranger to not getting selected for this show, and this will be my fifth attempt.
Previously I’ve submitted works on canvas and board, made using acrylic paints, spray paints, and varnish. This year – after a brief conversation with local art shop owner Jackie Khan, who suggested I might choose to see this as an opportunity to experiment…I settled on something different.
This year – I’ve chosen to submit a book of magic, titled Spellbound. I’ll be using some of the zen doodling techniques I’ve learned to create illusory drawing patterns – and I plan to add various other icons as I create the work. Instead of canvas I am using a concertina sketchbook made up of 20 panels each approximately 17cm tall by 9cm wide, plus a similarly sized hard cover at the beginning and end.
Progress is slow, these designs take time to build up, and the deadline of May 24th already feels like it is looming large. At this moment I can’t tell if this is one of the best or daftest ideas I’ve had – maybe it’s a combination of both! Importantly – I’m enjoying seeing the work come into being, and I’m pleased that I’m on a very different, exciting path for this year’s entry – wouldn’t it be great if the judges feel similarly to me this time too?
I’m fortunate to live close to many parks and woodlands and I’ve just returned from a chilly morning walk. Pretty much all along the way I was accompanied by birdsong, and I spotted wrens, robins, great tits, blue tits, blackbirds, thrushes, goldfinches, pigeons and more.
As I wandered – I resolved to write something on my return. I used to blog regularly – and after I took time out to process my post fraud anxiety, I wound right down. I wasn’t short of ideas – but I had no motivation or energy to write, choosing instead to focus on getting better and keeping my creative practice ticking over through my art.
As the gap between blog posts got longer, I convinced myself I had no business scribbling anymore. How long is too long? Have you ever had that experience before now – where you’ve left something so long you end up believing you ‘can’t’ go back to it? I suffer from this tendency – and having got over myself a few times lately and been pleasantly surprised by the results, I’ve decided to stop suffering and get on with it.
I’m sitting here flexing my fingers, tapping away, and enjoying the experience – feeling the rust crack from the hinges of my hands. Coincidentally I’m listening to an interview with Dave Gregory who has just responded to a question about getting stuff done by suggesting that rather than find ‘time to spare’ to practice, we should dedicate time instead. I think part of my drift has been made easier through not scheduling writing time – so I’ll experiment with putting something in the diary and see how I get on.
What to write about? I have a strong desire to explore and write about the subject of fairness, so I’ll do some work on that. I’m also tempted to share aspects of my creative process too. I learn a lot from my experimenting and I’m curious to see what happens if I share more about that.
Spring is advancing – and though it is still cold out, it’s lovely too. There are bright greens in abundance as the trees come into leaf, which is beautiful. It is getting harder to see the birds, but I can still hear them, and they’ll be back.
The last physical free art drop I made was way back in March 2020. I didn’t think it was right to continue the game during lockdown, so apart from a few online drops – the project has been dormant for a while.
October 10th is World Mental Health Day, and as someone who has benefited from counselling to help with anxiety and depression – this feels like a good time to restart. The mental health charity Mind is inviting us all to do one thing for better mental health – and this free art drop is my one thing.
I’ve sprayed my newly commissioned ‘HumanKind’ design onto an LP – I’ll hide it somewhere in the neighbourhood over the weekend. This is the only time this design will be released as a free art drop – a unique opportunity to get your hands on one of my favourite recent pieces of work.
It feels good to be back – and I hope you will do something for better mental health too.