Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Up in the big smoke..

I've spent more time in London in the last week than I have in my own home which is most unusual for a country girl. But, wow, it's good for the soul. Ticked a few new things off and did some old and familiar ones  - either way there's always that warm fuzzy feeling when I'm there.

A few weeks ago I had a slight rant about modern art - or perhaps it was more specifically about the Tate Modern and its peculiar contents because this week, after a day of meetings, I found myself at the Royal Academy for the Summer Exhibition. I'd never been before but once I found out you could buy stuff, I was there like a shot - it's just window-shopping but with the added bonus that, if you felt the sudden urge you could part with some cash that might be burning a hole in your pocket and invest in something that you might regret for the rest of your life because you were under a spell at the time. Unfortunately, it does seem to be the case that, if you don't turn up on the first day and aren't a Russian gazillionaire, there's nothing left to buy by day three.

The Summer Exhibition has run every year without interruption since 1769. It's had its ups and downs - Gainsborough withdrew his paintings from the 1784 exhibition as he didn't like the way they were going to be hung and a suffragette attacked a portrait by Sargent in 1914 - but the idea is that it raises funds to finance the students of the Royal Academy. I have no idea why artists are always referred to as struggling because the prices they ask for their works can be astronomical. Whilst some of the more exhorbitant exhibits (north of fifty grand) were still unsold yesterday, pretty much 99% of all works in the thousands and tens of thousands bracket had been snapped up - what recession??

I didn't realise that anyone could exhibit at the Summer Exhibition - well, at least if you have your work accepted, so it did occur to me to submit my paper-cuttings and ask a few hundred each for them but now that I've checked the website (don't accuse me of not being pro-active, I did vow to not put everything off until tomorrow), I note that you probably need to be an up and coming artist of merit and not a slightly desperate mother of three trying to fund some teeth-whitening.  Might still give it a go - if you don't ask you don't get. Of the 11,000 works that get submitted, 1100 are shown and 100 of those are from previously unknowns. I think they should make them all unknowns, from a purely selfish point of view.

Big Lens; How clever is that...
Of course the next best thing is to create your own version of the SE by getting a new app on your phone. My Dad, who has the national collection of camera apps on his i-phone, made me download "Big Lens" so that I could take photos of the artworks and then blur out all except the one you want to highlight. So I've done some practicing. Honestly, proper photographers must despair of people like me who spend hours taking decidedly below-par photos on their phones and then try to turn them into a retro-tastic work of art.

Unfortunately I did find one work I fell in love with. Even more unfortunately, the limited edition of 50 had sold out. Or, fortunately I suppose, from my teeths' point of view. I left feeling gutted (still do which means that I must have REALLY REALLY wanted it) but it did make me want to pick up a paint brush. One work looked like a giant Paul Smith hankie and was priced at 54K so it must be a great money-making scheme. I would need that much money to finance breakfast at Soho House. Luckily I was treated there on Friday but they charge 3 pounds there for half a grapefruit. As it's the venue where Sadie Frost's daughter famously picked up and swallowed a "discarded" ecstasy table, I can only imagine the person missing their "E" had dropped it in shock when they asked how much a piece of buttered toast was.

And so now I am home again. Still broke, though not quite as broke as I might have been, but sated for another few days and just about to call the dentist.

Only 14 weeks until the half-marathon. Perhaps I should get my priorities right.

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