London’s Most Colourful Summer Exhibition

royal academy summer exhibition
royal academy summer exhibition

When you think of a museum, what colour comes to mind? For me, it’s grey. Off-white walls, serious-looking picture frames made of dark polished wood, sombre Renaissance portraits. 

I’m a being of light, colour and a great deal of immature giggles which is why I tend to avoid environments with more than a hint of stuffiness. Still, I crave mental stimulation. When I heard of the Summer Exhibition (£13.50 entry) currently being held at the Royal Academy in London, I rejoiced. The brochure promised colours. Not just on the canvases – everywhere.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve never left an exhibition feeling more uplifted and inspired than after my short trip to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition! I won’t waste your time with explanations – this time the photos truly speak for themselves…

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Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.Oscar Wilde

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The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is contemporary, both in content and presentation. The Royal Academy’s neoclassical staircase has been reimagined as a psychedelic rainbow by Jim Lambie. There’s also a turquoise room, a magenta room, a white room. There are also more than one thousand works in the gallery, from crooked sculptures to hard-hitting photography so you certainly won’t be bored.

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If you have extra time in your schedule, you should also check out the “Wanderlust” exhibition (£10 entry) currently on display on the second floor. It’s a collection of Joseph Cornell’s life works and an interesting challenge in artistic comprehension.

Wandering around it I felt puzzled and frustrated. I just wasn’t getting it. Cornell’s main focus were shadow boxes with tiny memorabilia from faraway places… but he had never left the USA. Not because he had no opportunity to do so – simply because he feared that reality would not live up to the dream world he built up inside his mind.

I completely understand his fear and I’ve even written a post about why I’m terrified of visiting my dream destinations. Still, why would someone so clearly devoted to understanding the world around him choose to only experience it second hand?

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It was only at the last minute I finally felt like I understood – Cornell’s shadow boxes are effectively a reflection of his sheltered but extremely well-read mind. The glass-fronted containers separate perception and reality. The exhibition is an interesting exercise in distinguishing between what is and what is not. Smoke and mirrors, academia and tangible real-world knowledge.

Unlike Cornell I’m trying to face my fear of disappointment and feel the world through my own skin, but I can completely understand where he is coming from. If anything, seeing his works all in one place made me want to get out and experience more. Hopefully the exhibition can do the same for you!

PS: On Tuesday I’ll be uploading a full post about the outfit I wore to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, so stay tuned for more info. For now, follow me on Instagram for exciting photos from my journeys – like the Greek island of Ios where I’m currently travelling!

Do you often visit the museum? What do you
look for when searching 
for a good exhibition? 

  • I’m all for colors! The wanderlust exhibition seems interesting too. Dream places for a man who doesn’t dare to leave his own country. That sounds a bit sad as well. But may even places are better as a dream than real life? Who knows?

    • Right? It’s definitely an interesting (and difficult) question! I think what we dream up might not be as good as reality, but reality is also too interesting/complicated for us to dream of it in the first place.. 🙂 x

  • AdventureHan

    Wow, so many colours – looks like a great exhibition!

    That Adventurer

    • Yeah it’s pretty amazing – if you get a chance to go, you totally should 🙂 x

  • Foteini M

    Hi! thanks for following me on twitter and helping me discover your awesome blog!!! F.

    • Thank you! So glad you like it! 🙂 x

  • Love this – so different and vibrant. It’s a breath of fresh air to see actual colour on the walls behind the art – beautiful. Love the sound of the wanderlust exhibition also… a strong reflection of how so many people live their lives these days… dreaming of far flung destinations but afraid to leave their home because of ‘what might happen’.

    Gabby

    • Very very true! It made me a little sad, but mainly just determined to get out there and experience as much as possible 🙂 And what’s a better thing to feel after visiting a museum? Def recommend it 🙂 x

  • Katey W

    “Cornell’s main focus were shadow boxes with tiny memorabilia from faraway places… but he had never left the USA. Not because he had no opportunity to do so – simply because he feared that reality would not live up to the dream world he built up inside his mind.”
    …. Wow, that is so deep, and slightly saddening.

    I can’t believe I missed out on this exhibition when I was visiting London. I was there just last month! And the Royal Academy was so near my Roomorama apartment too. But anyway, thanks for the post. I loved what you wrote about Cornell and how you related it to your own experience, because it really speaks to me too x