Alexandra Buckle
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The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition letter

26 May 2011

I’ve been attending Zoe Day’s classes at Buckingham Art School for just over a year now. One lesson I was particularly fascinated by last year was the lino printing class where we learned to do reduction prints with more than one colour of ink. This process suited me perfectly – the right mix of precision and logical thinking was required to achieve perfect results. After the class I bought myself all the equipment required and reeled off lots more designs, including one I called ‘Gold Pavilion’ in a Japanese style which is an incredibly complicated design involving five colours.

After hearing that several students at Buckingham Art School were planning to enter the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, I thought I would try my luck too. My main artistic focus this year has been with portraits, so I painted a self portrait especially for the exhibition and I also chose to enter my Gold Pavilion lino print as I was so pleased with it.

Here are my two entries:

I delivered my work along with a few other hopeful Buckingham Art students on the 29th March, knowing that I wouldn’t find out whether I been successful for at least two months. That two month wait for the results was excruciatingly long – so long in fact that it was easy to forget I'd entered.

THE letter arrives...
However at the weekend I arrived home from a day spent with family to discover a letter from the Royal Academy sat waiting for me on the door mat. With some trepidation I sat holding the letter for a while, knowing that I was about to face a rejection and I wanted to ready myself for the disappointment. I finally ripped open the envelope and the first item I remove is a small card that looks like an invite – I notice the words “Varnishing Day” in bold. I tell myself not to get too excited at this stage as it’s possible that every entrant gets an invite like this one...

So I slowly unfold the accompanying letter and the first thing I noticed was the title "GOLD PAVILION"in capitals within the first paragraph. I quickly scan the first sentence, still not wanting to get prematurely excited... "With over 11,000 entries, the competition was extremely strong", just as I start to think I have got my hopes up, the letter continues "however I am delighted to inform you that you work GOLD PAVILION has been selected and hung in the exhibition."

I'm completely stunned! Some people try for years to get work in and don’t succeed and I've succeeded on my first attempt! The paragraph then continues to say "Unfortunately your other work was not selected." How funny! As if I'm going to be disappointed that only one of my entries was selected! I deliberately chose two very different pieces of work as I thought that would give me a better chance at selection, I honestly didn't expect either of them to get in!

A little history about the Royal Academy
The Royal Academy, at Burlington House in Piccadilly, was founded in 1768. The first Summer Exhibition took place in 1769 and it has been held every year since. It is the largest and most popular open exhibition in the United Kingdom, usually as many as ten thousand entries each year are whittled down to around a thousand exhibits by a panel of RA judges, so the competition is immense for nobodies like myself. Alongside the selected entries, the eighty Royal Academicians are entitled to exhibit up to six pieces of their own work.


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