This weekend the Royal Academy of Arts will celebrate 250 years since its foundation in 1768. The institution has gone all-out to mark the occasion, with a large-scale expansion project providing space for major exhibitions, arts events and free exhibitions. This weekend (19th – 20th May), the academy will invite the public to free celebrations featuring performances, music, tours, workshops and even an Oscars-style after-party!
Art Today got the low-down on this major event in the 2018 arts calendar and the extensive works behind it…
Sir David Chipperfield – Royal Academician and Honoured Architect – was chosen as the eminent professional capable of fulfilling such a monumentous design brief. His firm – David Chipperfield Architects, based in London, Berlin, Milan and Shanghai – has been behind major projects such as the Americas Cup Building, Valencia (2005-6); the Elbtower, Hamburg (2017); The Hepworth Wakefield, W. Yorks (2003-11); and Morland Mixite Capitale, Paris (since 2016). Chipperfield’s architectural practice was set up in 1985, but before that, he earned his stripes working for greats like Norman Foster and Richard Rogers. Since then, his company has been decorated with various awards, including the RIBA Stirling Prize (2007), and Chipperfield himself has been appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (2004), Royal Designer for Industry (2006), and awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2009). In 2010, he was knighted for services to architecture in the UK and Germany, and in 2013, was awarded the Praemium Imperiale from the Japan Art Association, for recognition of a lifetime’s work.
The Royal Academy Development Trust, Chaired by Lord Mervyn Davies, has played a significant role in securing funding for the project. The redevelopment was funded with a £12.7 million grant from the National Lottery, along with private sponsorship, and donations from Trusts and Foundations (see names below).
The Royal Academy of Arts launched a public appeal ‘Make Your Mark’ to raise £3 million which helped complete its transformative redevelopment, realise the ambitious plans for its 250th anniversary in 2018 and to ensure the next 250 years of the Academy as Britain’s foremost independent, artist and architect-led institution. For further information visit: https://roy.ac/mym
Art Today’s Top 10 picks are:-
- Sarah Kate Wilson: ‘Rainbows’ – Interactive piece, performed with Beata viscera iridis – an arrangement of Pérotin’s Beata viscera for London based choir Musarc by Piper Haywood and Toby O’Connor. (15 minute performances between 2pm – 5pm, Saturday only).
- ‘Invisible Landscapes’ Exhibition Tours – Discover how digital technologies are transforming our lives and everyday environments in a series of projects inside the RA’s new Architecture Studio. (20-minute tours at 3pm and 4pm, Sunday only).
- The Uncollective: Decorative Movement – Site-responsive performance piece about queer bodies and decoration in architecture. (30-minute performances between 2pm – 5pm, both days).
- Architectural model making – Design and create your own model with artist Seb Harding. Seb will be leading a hands-on 3D workshop celebrating the iconic architecture of the Royal Academy. (Drop-in, 11am – 3pm, all weekend).
- Flying flags – Celebrate 250 years of the Royal Academy of Arts by designing your own flag to fly in our Courtyard. (Drop-in, 11am – 3pm, all weekend).
- Collections display Tours – 20-minute tours at midday, 2pm and 4pm, both days.
- Apples and Snakes: Pop-up poetry and spoken word – Poets Sumia Jaama and Joshua Judson perform new works inspired by the RA’s Collection. (Performances at 3pm and 5pm, both days).
- Rachael Plays Disco – Chill out to spangly disco, soul and funk from Rachael Plays Disco. (3pm – 6pm, Saturday only).
- Street Food – by The Cocktail Car Company, The Ginistry, Deviant & Dandy, Mother Clucker et al.
- Born N Bread: The Art AftaParty – Taking over the RA for an art-filled after-party, featuring DJs, live performances, installations and zine-making. Get your photo taken at their immersive installation to show your love of London and the arts!
For art aficionados:-
Alongside all of these must-see and must-do celebratory offerings, there are the Academy’s superlative exhibitions to take in aswell.
- Tracey Emin: I Want My Time With You – St Pancras Station. To celebrate both the Academy’s 250th anniversary and also St Pancras Station’s 150th anniversary, Tracey Emin RA has presented a free, public art installation suspended from the station’s glass roof. It features the largest text piece she has ever made, stretching 20 metres across the famous Barlow Shed roof and hanging directly below the station’s clock. Emin is the 4th Academician to grace St Pancras’ Terrace Wires with an installation, following in the footsteps of Conrad Shawcross in 2017, Ron Arad in 2016 and Cornelia Parker in 2015. See the clip here for more details:- Tracey Emin’s I Want My Time With You
- Multiple Thoughts: Artists Make Prints – The Keeper’s House, until 10th September. A selection of new limited-edition prints by Royal Academicians in celebration of the Royal Academy’s 250th anniversary. Including new prints by Norman Ackroyd, Stephen Chambers, Eileen Cooper, Anne Desmet, Paul Huxley, Chris Orr, Tom Phillips, Emma Stibbon, Christopher Le Brun, John Carter and Rebecca Salter.
- Tacita Dean: LANDSCAPE – Inauguration of Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries, Burlington Gardens, from 19th May – 12th August. With lead support from Art Fund, the exhibition is part of an unprecedented collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery in London. Showcasing the internationally-renowned visual artist and Royal Academician Tacita Dean, it will explore the genre of landscape in its broadest sense.
- Bob & Roberta Smith RA: Tips for a Good Life – The Ronald and Rita McAulay Gallery (not until September 2018 to September 2019). Site-specific installations by Royal Academicians. This focusses on the subject of gender within the RA.
Opening weekend: Saturday 19 May 10am-10pm and Sunday 20 May 2018 10am-6pm.
Exhibition opening hours: Open daily 10am – 6pm (last admission 5.30pm) and Fridays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm).
For further information on new opening hours for Burlington Gardens please visit: royalacademy.org.uk/plan-your-visit.
(See #RA250 on Social Media.).
Specific Expansion Programme Sponsors:-
Major support has been received from a number of private individuals, including Mrs Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler, Ronald and Rita McAulay, The McLennan Family, The Mead Family Foundation, Mr and Mrs Robert Miller and Sir Simon and Lady Robertson, as well as trusts and foundations including the Blavatnik Family Foundation, The Cadogan Charity, Clore Duffield Foundation, the Dorfman Foundation, Dunard Fund, The Foyle Foundation, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation, The Monument Trust, The Rothschild Foundation and The Wolfson Foundation.
[Credits: Feature Image – Royal Academy of Arts (londontown.com); davidchipperfield.com; royalacademy.org.uk; qctimes.com; Huffington Post]