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Wanstead House, London, 21 June 2015

29 June 2015

I’d planned my Sunday in two halves: from 10:30am until 12:30pm I would life model at Wanstead House; afterwards I would take the tube to Piccadilly and go for my annual grumble at the Summer Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts.

I provided four poses for the artists of Wanstead: 5 minutes standing, 10 minutes also standing, 45 minutes seated on a chair, and – after a long break for tea and chocolate digestives – 25-30 minutes seated on the floor.

The session was quiet but friendly. Here’s what a couple of artists made of me:

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As I sat on the underground bound for central London, I wondered how much better, if at all, would be those works favoured with a hanging at the RA. Well, on balance, this was a good year for the Summer Exhibition.

Previous years have disappointed by and large, and impressed by exception. In 2015, whole rooms were interesting, although in his celebrated rooms of vivid colour, curator Michael Craig-Martin seemed to created striking environments of art without picking very many works of individual merit.

As usual there was far too much mutual admiration between Royal Academicians. Oil works and sculptures were generally mediocre, whereas Room V (prints) and Room X (‘A Humument‘ of Tom Phillips) were filled with exquisite little gems.

Norman Ackroyd RA, Bernard Dunstan RA, Ken Howard RA, Emma Stibbon RA had outstanding works on display, as always. Stibbon in particular, but Dunstan alone provided works that might have come straight from a life drawing group.

The top three works I would have picked to take home, however, were:

  1. 3 – ‘I just want to be held‘, Deborah Brown, c-type print (£1,000)
  2. 2 – ‘Sanctum‘, Michael de Bono, oil (£9,200)
  3. 1 – ‘Noon fishing‘, Mick Moon RA, acrylic on canvas mounted on board (£18,000)

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Noon fishing – Mick Moon, RA

It had been a good day for amateurs and professionals alike.

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