My day at the RA: The Royal Academy’s 250th Summer Exhibition

A lot of people who know me will tell you that I’m not a very spontaneous person. I would choose careful, methodical planning over making rash and random decisions any day of the week. I like analysing things and weighing up all my options because I like to mitigate the likelihood of being disappointed. I don’t do this all the time as that would be exhausting, but I do tend to do this when planning what I want to do at the weekend, holidays and where I want to eat.

One of the pitfalls of being overly analytical (apart from being incredibly boring) is that you might miss out on opportunities because you spend so much time weighing up all of your options and pondering whether or not you want to do something that before you know it the restaurant/exhibition/concert that you want to eat at/visit/attend has gone. I’m also a serial procrastinator which doesn’t help matters either. Having said that, however, I have been trying to be more spontaneous recently to ensure that I don’t miss out on so many opportunities.

Earlier this summer I read an interview with Grayson Perry about the Royal Academy’s 250th Summer Exhibition, which he was curating, in the ES Magazine and I thought it looked like an interesting thing to see but I never made a plan to actually go. Fast forward two or so months later and I see a sponsored post on my Instagram feed telling me that the exhibition was due to finish in a few days #serialprocrastinator. Instagram was clearly stalking my search history as the timing of this sponsored post was too eerie to have been a mere coincidence. When I saw the post, I decided that I wouldn’t let this exhibition be another one that slipped through my fingers so on the last Friday of the exhibition I decided to just book a ticket so that I could go straight after work.

Now many of you might not think that this is spontaneous but for me it was a big step in that direction. I’m still a long way away from waking up in the morning, packing up all my clothes, travelling to Heathrow Airport and booking a one-way flight to New York but this was impulsive enough for me to consider it as slightly spontaneous #babysteps.

The exhibition itself was huge and was contained within three different spaces in the RA. A lot of the art was very topical and somewhat satirical in nature, but most of it was cleverly constructed, incredibly innovative and intricately put together. I’m not an art connoisseur by any means but I appreciate art which is humorous, has a hidden message or looks as though it has been painstakingly put together over the course of several months or even years.

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This dog was one of the best things I saw at the exhibition. It was made from what looked like recycled jewellery such as old watch heads, necklaces and brooches.

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This was another one of my favourite pieces. From afar it looked like a painting but the horses and trees were 3D and looked extremely life-like up close.

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As well as the art on show I also loved the atmosphere at the RA. It was buzzing and really felt like a Friday night at the museum. The space was bustling full of families, couples and lone ranger art enthusiasts who were soaking in all the work on display. There was also a bar serving an assortment of wine and prosecco; I’d never seen an art gallery or museum serve alcohol before. I didn’t know if this was happening because of the significance of the exhibition or because it was a Friday, but I didn’t ask why, I just got stuck in and enjoyed myself in what felt like my new happy place.

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This was one of the most unusual, yet interesting and fun exhibitions that I have ever been to and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. Have you ever been to the RA?

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