Wednesday, 3 July 2013


The Royal Academy School Show is another annual treat. But it is not for the faint- hearted.

First, the entrance to the School was blocked by a pantechnicon unloading works for a future exhibition. I follow a member of the technical staff around and under a fire escape in order to squeeze inside. The RA has been at Burlington House since 1868. Turn a corner and you’re up against a glass- fronted cupboard of elderly skeletons crouching, standing tall or in bits and pieces, which suddenly remind you how many distinguished artists have walked these corridors and  contemplated  those bones. The uneven stone floor leads you to a labyrinth of door less rooms, some of which open off each other like a telescope. Each wall is painted clinical white, while the ancient boards of the wooden floors are matching - it looks as though they've been given a quick coat of white distemper.Your reward after the heat and bustle of Piccadilly is a place full of light and air and space and surprises. 

This year  James Robertson's installation, bits of which are featured here, greets you head on as you turn into his room. He's one of the 16 postgraduate artists showing work from their final year:  sculpture, painting, installation, and photography. I want to look away. There is a child standing in front of me asking if the life-size cut outs of a topless feminist campaigner (the top right hand corner) are buried in the floor. Those at the back appear to be waist deep. Those nearer have sunk so far down that they are barely visible. They appear to have  'STILL NOT ASKING FOR IT' scrawled not on a bill board but on their skin. There are several black plastic buckets containing what looks like  unsavoury black liquid. Mag Master is scattered and screwed up over the floor. I realise I do not recognise much of the iconography. What, for example, is the significance of a Paul Jones tie which one of the women is wearing?  Most chilling of all is the legend 'Seeing Milton (Friedman) is like seeing a hot blonde getting gang banged'.

My mind goes back to Sept/Dec 2000 and the RA's exhibition Apocalypse: Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art. Robertson's work would not be out of place. To get a better view of this installation and to see his other work, click on to the link below. To read about the show in the Royal Academy Magazine 'In a Class of Their Own' page 46. What I would now like to see is something written about Robertson's installation so that my mind could catch up with the rest of me.,502,RAMA.html

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