The Royal Academy - a home to British art since the Eighteenth Century, its exhibitions and shows have been some of the most sought-after and fascinating art events in our history. For 247 years the academy has hosted a summer exhibition, and this one is bright, bold, fun and fabulous. The oldest open submission exhibition in the world, it attracts an exceptional range of art and artists. The exhibition showcases many well-known artists, but also many you won't know as well. Each room has been organised and hung by a different person, but the overall curation lies with Michael Craig-Martin RA.
The over-arching theme of this summer's exhibition is colour, and the whole environment hits you with it from the entrance onwards. Just entering the Academy grounds brings you into the exhibition concept, with towering steel clouds by Conrad Shawcross, 'The Dappled Light of the Sun'.
As you approach the exhibition, the very staircase is an exhibit. Called Zobop, it's the work of Jim Lambie.Stripes of colour cover the floor, echoing the architectural lines but also intensifying the feeling of movement, leading to a fun but disorientating trip up and down.
The colour continues in great blocks from the first hall (Wohl Central Hall). Matthew Darbyshire's 'Captcha No.11 (Dorpyphoros)' remodels the Ancient Greek kouros in multiwall polycarbonate and stainless steel. Every angle gives you a different colour and light perspective, modernising the ancient.
A clever piece by Cornelia Parker in room V plays on the practice of red dots marking interest in purchasing a piece, with layer upon layer of canvas, dots and catalogue numbers, provocatively entitled 'Stolen Thunder III'.
In this 800th year of Magna Carta, Anne Desmet celebrates it with a lithograph of details in room VII. Often it's the smaller works like this that you should look out for, but with 1131 works in total, it's quite hard to take everything in.
Over in the architecture rooms there are a number of fascinating models. Equally interesting are the ways the walls have been made into a display themselves, with quotations from famous architects painted in a running line at their base.
The exhibition revels in all kinds of artworks, from prints and paintings, to sculptures and architectural models. One particularly interesting work occupies a whole room (X). Tom Phillip's work 'Humument' (from W.H. Mallock's The Human Document) takes the text of Mallock's novel and reconfigures each page to bring out a story through its artistic interpretation. He has approached the book twice, and the exhibition shows not only the source text, but also, across 48 pages, the two different interpretations Phillips has made (1966 and now).
The materials which inspire people are many and varied. Reading the catalogue is sometimes surprising, but sometimes you can see what is going on. One particularly fine 'reuse' are the two heads by David Mach. Entitled 'Sunimi' and 'Buddha', they use coat hangers (covered in gold leaf for 'Buddha') to create head shapes. Striking and ingenious, they're a great centrepiece to the room (Room VIII). If you are looking for any central sculpture in the catalogue, it's at the end of the room's list.
Many articles have been on sale, but some are loaned in order to make the exhibition as rich and coherent as possible. A particular loan highlight is Paul Hosking's 'Mimic (Black)', a work of mirrored acrylic on aluminium which is not only beautiful itself, but mirrors the arched doorways stretching out opposite it from room IV.
Getting there is easy in London. It's a five minute walk from Green Park (Victoria, Jubilee, Piccadilly Lines) or Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly, Bakerloo Lines). The exhibition is even advertised there, so you're bound to find info! With 1131 artworks to see, this article only scratches the surface with some highlights. From Tracy Emin's fame (represented by some prints of animals), to new and award winning young artists, the whole British art world is represented.