Hang the Exhibition! Sir Norman Ackroyd Discusses the Royal Academy of Arts' 2013 Summer Exhibition

by FrancesSpiegel

Four hundred works by Royal Academicians, and nine hundred pieces by non-members from all over the world, feature in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition - sensational!

The Royal Academy of Arts 2013 Summer Exhibition features works by both known and unknown artists. Some 12,000 submissions were sorted and graded and some 900 were finally hung alongside 400 pieces shown by the members of the Royal Academy, the Royal Academicians (RAs). Key pieces by established artists, such as the magnificent collage ″TSIATSIA - searching for connection″ by El Anatsui; Anselm Kiefer's ″Melancholia″, a large-scale woodblock and collage, and Ron Arad's model of a Fiat 500, sit side-by-side with paintings, photographs, films, sculptures and other works submitted by artists from across the globe.

Bottle-tops, printing plates, roofing sheets and copper wire - WOW!

The first thing that strikes you as you approach the Royal Academy is the massive collage that hangs over the front entrance of Burlington House. Created specially for the Academy by renowned artist El Anatsui, TSIATSIA - searching for connection combines bottle-tops, printing plates, roofing sheets and copper wire, and measures some 15 x 23 metres. El Anatsui is well-known for his spectacular site-specific works in various media including paint, clay, metal, wood and other reclaimed materials. This magnificent collage glistens in the sunlight setting the tone for what is to follow.

El Anatsui, TSIATSIA - searching for connection, 2013

TSIATSIA - searching for connection, 2013
El Anatsui, TSIATSIA - searching for connection, 2013
El Anatsui, TSIATSIA - searching for ...
Barford Sculptures Ltd Photograph by ...

Peter Freeth RA, installing the Summer exhibition 2013

Photo credit: Benedict Johnson
Peter Freeth RA, installing the Summer exhibition 2013
Peter Freeth RA, installing the Summe...
Photo credit: Benedict Johnson

The Summer Exhibition Hanging Committee

This year's hang has been coordinated by Royal Academicians Sir Norman Ackroyd RA and Eva Jiricna RA, Other members of the hanging committee included Academicians Anne Desmet, Peter Freeth, John Maine, Humphrey Ocean, Mickael Rooney and John Wragg.


The Academy expresses its grateful thanks to Insight Investment for their support and sponsorship of this exhibition.

Anthony Caro RA, Shadows, 2013 Steel, 350 x 8000 x 310

Barford Sculptures Ltd. Photography: John Hammond
Anthony Caro RA, Shadows, 2013  Steel
Anthony Caro RA, Shadows, 2013 Steel
Barford Sculptures Ltd. Photography: John Hammond

Portraiture, Sculpture, Drawing, Painting, Tapestry, Film, Photography - Anything Goes


There are no rules about what media artists can and can't use - anything goes.


The display opens with the impressive steel sculpture Shadows by Anthony Caro RA. This sets the standard for the dozens of sculptures of every shape and size by artists known and unknown, including pieces by recently elected RAs Ron Arad, Sean Scully and Jock McFayden.


There is a room dedicated to portraiture featuring works by Frank Auerbach, Tom Phillips RA, Michael Craig-Martin RA and Alex Katz. Another rooms is devoted to photography and film.


The climax of the Summer Exhibition is a series of six tapestries, entitled The Vanity of Small Differences, by Grayson Perry RA. Perry presents a modern interpretation of the rise and fall of Tim Rakewell, inspired by Hogarth's A Rakes Progress. The tapestries, which reflect Perry's interest in aesthetic taste and social mobility, feature people, incidents and objects seen while travelling through Sunderland, tunbridge Wells and the Cotswolds.




Anthony Caro in Conversation

Grayson Perry RA, The Adoration of the Cage Fighters, 2012

Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre London and British Council. Gift of the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery with the support of Channel 4 Television/The Art Fund/Sfumato Foundation and AlixPartners.
Grayson Perry RA, The Adoration of the Cage Fighters, 2012
Grayson Perry RA, The Adoration of the Cage Fighters, 2012
Grayson Perry, Photography Stephen White

More by Grayson Perry

The Descent of Man

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Grayson Perry

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Grayson Perry: Smash Hits

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Sir Norman Ackroyd Speaks About Hanging the Summer Exhibition

Sir Norman Ackroyd answered questions about the complexities and the enormous privilege of hanging the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition.


FS: It must be an absolutely massive task, where do you begin?


Sir Norman: You can imagine the scale of this operation - we get over 12,000 submissions. The Royal Academy is a truly democratic organisation. When the 12,000 items were initially looked at we did not know who had done them. They are selected on the strength of how good they are as pictures, scultures, whatever. We don't really curate this exhibition, we just choose the best things and put them on the walls so that they enhance each other.


FS: How many items from the general submission make it to the Academy walls?


Sir Norman: About 900 works come from the general submission and these are mixed with 400 works by members of the Academy - the RAs. The general submissions come from all parts of the UK and from all over the world.


FS: How many works can an RA submit?


Royal Academicians can put in up to six works, but we have an unwritten rule that they don't put in six massive pictures or whatever. We need to leave space for the open submission. This is really what the show is about.


FS: Do Academicians exhibit in every Summer Exhibition?


Sir Norman: We have a legal obligation to exhibit every year. If we don't exhibit for six years running we forfeit our academicianship. That is strictly in the rules. It's also part of our legal foundation that we put this exhibition on, we have to do it.


FS: It must be very exciting to be part of the hanging committee.


Sir Norman: It's great, great fun.. it's hard work. This is an exhibition for artists, selected by artists, hung by artists in galleries that the artists own.


Visit the Exhibition

The 2013 Summer Exhibition will be open from 10th June to 18th August 2013. There will be an interesting programme of public events including photography workshops, family gallery tours and workshops, as well as special activities for younger visitors. Full details of all events, and tickets for the exhibition, can be obtained from the Royal Academy of Arts.

Prints and Print-making

Visit the Royal Academy

Exhibitions to Enjoy During 2013

Propaganda: Power and Persuasion at the British Library explores government propaganda programmes from the ancient Greeks to the modern day.
Mexico - A Revolution in Art explores relationship between political and artistic revolution in Mexico in the years between 1910 and 1940.
Updated: 07/05/2013, FrancesSpiegel
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Mira on 07/01/2015

I watched the video (the conversation with Anthony Caro). Great pick!

Mira on 07/01/2015

I enjoyed this! :) It's good to see the Royal Academy so involved in promoting other people's work :)

FrancesSpiegel on 06/10/2013

Yup - Norman Ackroyd is quite a character - he laughs all the time and speaks freely in a very down-to-earth way.

EliasZanetti on 06/10/2013

Interesting article and nice presentation. The video and the interview were amusing!

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