Entering the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

11 June 2012

Edited 23/06/2015

Last year a group of Buckingham Art School students, myself included, decided to submit work to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Amazingly one of the pieces I submitted was accepted and hung in the exhibition, my linocut Gold Pavilion. See my blog posts from last year for the full story. All of my prints sold very quickly so I also printed Gold Pavilion #2 and #3 for those customers who were unable to purchase one of the first prints.

After this success I felt it would have been foolish not to enter the Summer Exhibition again this year. After printing Gold Pavilion #2 and number #3, I was inspired to try few other linocuts. I had three possible candidates for this yearís entries, from which I needed to select two. Japanese Tea Garden, The Speakerís House, and Sunlight Through Redwoods. All had their merits and I found it hard to choose between them. I tried to think about what qualities the judges might have found appealing in Gold Pavilion. Was it the size, the colours, the technique, the subject matter, or none of the above? As I didnít have this information at my disposal I just had to go with what felt right.

I chose Sunlight Through Redwoods first as it was smaller and therefore easier for them to find a space for! I then had to choose a second piece. This I found harder. I settled on Japanese Tea Garden, but I forget what ultimately led me to that decision, perhaps it was the similar Japanese theme to Gold Pavilion.

The entry forms had to be posted to the RA mid March and the work had to be delivered at the end of March. I had just over two weeks to get the pieces framed. I was quite looking forward to a day in London, delivering my prints to the RA, but as it turned out, I was unable to deliver them myself as we were moving house.

The Summer Exhibition slipped to the back of my mind while my husband, our puppy and I settled into our new home. We busied ourselves decorating and unpacking and organising Benís new office my new studio (very exciting to have my own space to work!) After six weeks or so it occurred to me to check the Summer Exhibition entry forms to see when I would hear from them and I had just over a week left to wait.

Four days later I was surprised to see THE envelope on the doormat. I picked it up tentatively and felt its thickness. There was definitely something other than just a sheet of paper in it (same as last year!) I ripped it open to read "With over 11,000 entries, the competition was extremely strong, however I am delighted to inform you that your work SUNLIGHT THROUGH REDWOODS has been selected and hung in the exhibition."

Getting into the Summer Exhibition once was incredible. It was the most amazing experience, and as I was experiencing it I was resigned to the fact that I probably would never experience it again. I thought at the time I would have to submit work the next year but that I was unlikely to succeed again. So when it came to making the decision to buy the entry forms I was a little scared of feeling the failure. I thought that maybe I should just leave my record at entering once and getting in once and then that would be a perfect record, entering twice and getting in once...? Entering every year from then on and never getting in again...? I think I would have found that hard to accept, and I also think people would have found it difficult to understand why I was struggling to accept it. Luckily Iím spared from having to care this year! Next year I figure Iíll be going through the same feelings.

I go to Varnishing day on the 28th May. I canít wait! I wonder where my work will be hung this year...

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