I usually like to take a couple of visits to the RA Summer Exhibition as there is so much to see. I also like to walk around the exhibition in reverse - so that I'm not too tired at the end. A wonderful thing happened when I went to the exhibition this Friday however - there was a guided tour just starting up. Not knowing whether it was free or by booking only, I joined in at the back. While my friend found it quite hard to follow, I was riveted. Artist and tutor Paul Brandford took us on an unexpected and unorthodox tour of both the exhibition and the art world.
Picking out only a handful of pieces, Paul took us through why artists don't always want to sell their work, why the most hideous piece in the exhibition is also the most interesting, and how a piece which depicts a celebrity will always rank higher in the minds of the judges than an equivalent work depicting an unknown figure. All of this was delivered in an unapologetic, sometimes confrontational manner, but always filled with humour and irreverence. Also helpful was narrowing down the overwhelming choice to focus in greater detail on only a few pieces.
If you have a chance to go on one of his tours I would highly recommend it. And the best thing is that they are free with your entry ticket. Running each Friday at 7pm until 18 Aug, it's a great way to see the exhibition and to start exploring.
The Summer Exhibition runs until 20 Aug - read more about it here.