The Royal Academy of Arts’ gallery is on Piccadilly, it is directly across the road from Fortnum & Mason.
The Academy was founded in 1768 by King George III. They have many varied exhibitions throughout the year. These include single artist exhibitions, for example, Hockney and Ai Wei Wei have been on so far this year. There are also themed shows containing many different artists. “Painting the Modern Garden” included works by Kandinsky, Monet and Matisse. Next years “Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932” will have Chagall, Rodchenko and Eisenstein among others.
The highlight of their year is the Summer Exhibition, on open submission exhibition, to showcase the talent of emerging and established artists. The first one was in 1769 and it has run every one of the 248 years since. This is a huge and wide ranging exhibition usually holding over 1000 pieces, of every shape, size and medium. Most of the works are for sale differing in price from a hundred pounds to hundreds of thousands.
The gallery is nominally free, but most of the exhibitions are charged, so choose what you wish to see.
The Summer Exhibition is good value, although I take off the voluntary donation and only buy one list of works for the whole party, the cost of these is automatically added unless you ask for them to be removed.
The Royal Academy is self funded so do as your conscience sees fit! Personally, I don’t feel too guilty as they charge 30% commission on any work sold.
Once in a while a series comes along that hits all the right spots. This eight part sci-fi show, on Netflix, does just that.
Set in 1983, in a small town in Indiana, a 12 year old boy goes missing on his way home after spending the evening playing Dungeons and Dragons with his friends. During the eight episodes, spent trying to work out what happened to him, it references many science fiction films, horror story books, and conspiracy theory TV series that you can remember from the intervening period.
The story is pulpy, which is just as it should be, but it is gripping – always making you want to know what the next episode will bring. The cast is great, Winona Ryder is perfect as the distressed mother and her interaction with David Harbour as the town sheriff is a joy. The dialogue is witty and knowing, and the soundtrack is spot on.
What made this series stand out for me, was all the nostalgic homages throughout the show; a set piece from ET, a scene from Stand By Me, quotes from the Exorcist, bedroom posters from 1980s horror films, people reading and talking about Stephen King books. The whole series is peppered with these references and spotting them added an extra dimension to our enjoyment of the show.
This is a great addition to the Netflix cannon, and if you are looking for easy, absorbing escapism, I recommend Stranger Things.
This is a comedy written and directed by Todd Solondz. If you know his name and like his movies you will know not to expect uplifting and light hearted comedy, and this one is bleak even by his standards.
It consists of four short stories about people whose lives are affected by coming into contact with a Dachshund. It is well written, beautifully observed and has some great performances. I thought Ellen Burstyn and Julie Delpy were particularly good.
However, I really did not enjoy the film. Almost every character is cruel, self-serving or damaged and the humour comes from the dysfunctional way they deal with their lives. This is certainly a movie where we are laughing at them – not with them. Most of the laughs fall into the “so horrible it’s funny” category. The fact that that the film is so well made and the characters and situations are so realistically handled, make the comedy darker. I laughed rarely, and when I did, I disliked myself for doing so. I left the cinema feeling depressed and dispirited.
It is said that “Great Art” is any which makes you feel strong emotions, either good or bad. In that case, this is “Great Art” but, if I were given the hour and a half back, I would choose not to spend it in that cinema.