Summer of love

Sandwiched between the Chelsea Flower Show and Wimbledon comes that other great middle class pursuit – the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

In the courtyard, you are confronted by the most enormous sculpture, The Virgin Mother by Damien Hirst. It continues his anatomical obsession – this time a cutaway section of a full-term pregnant woman revealing her inner world. I was relieved that it was in bronze rather than his usual flesh and bone. Inside, the show is a fusion of Hoxton Square and Bayswater Road.

The Royal Academicians, as always, hijack the premier gallery spaces and don’t have to suffer the humiliation of seeing their work literally dragged before the selection committee for consideration. But, amid this extraordinary mixture of styles and genres, you can always find some gems, such as those pictured above.

There is a tradition of including the work of architects, but this year they are so shoe-horned that it makes a mockery of the discipline. I’m reliably informed that art galleries are a major pick-up point for those seeking a more intellectual and creatively minded relationship. No luck for me on my outing, but, I have to say, this annual pilgrimage is as much about viewing the visitors as the works on display.

Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition runs until 20 August, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1

Latest articles