Saturday, 13 June 2009

Letter in the Daily Mail newspaper

This is the text of the letter I had published in the DAILY MAIL newspaper on Thursday, June 11th 2009, as the main letter on the letters page, along with a photo of myself and this painting:
'As the Royal Academy opens its annual Summer Show this week, thousands of artists across the country will still be nursing frustration at not being accepted. Like myself, they will probably be wondering why.
It was my 8th attempt. I entered an oil painting I felt quite optimistic about. I've been to many previous Summer Shows and have a fairly good idea about what gets in. My small painting, called 'Waiting,' was a metaphor for the way most people in life are waiting for things to happen. I am a practising artist, I've had many exhibitions, (and have work in 3 shows this month, including a solo show), but like many artists, I always hope for the day my work will hang proudly in the Royal Academy Summer Show. (The closest I've got so far is carrying a rejected painting in a bag around the exhibition.) While most artists realise that submitting work is like entering a lottery, we submit work year after year with a 'Maybe this time' attitude. We are lured by the promotional material that suggests there is a chance for us too.
Year after year, I see work by the same established artists, or artists I know of, artists whose style is known on 'the Circuit.' I wonder how many newcomers actually have a chance of a second glance as their work passes before the glazed eyes of the Selection Committee? Space dictates its own restrictions, but when a whole room is given over to a famous artist to curate or show his/her work, our chances dwindle even further. It's certainly not an even playing field, and each year I see many worthy and impressive paintings go on to hang in the excellent 'Not the Royal Academy,' at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery. Many times, as I wonder why a particular painting was rejected by the Royal Academy, I find this alternative show contains the more exciting work.
In my opinion, the Royal Academy Summer Show is an exclusive club. The Show seems to be funded off the backs of hopefuls, who pay their £25 per painting submission fee, and at the end don't even get a free ticket to see the exhibition. There seems to be no control or checking of the selection process, so the final decision once again comes down to the arbitrary likes and dislikes of a few artists. I would like to see a few members of the Public on the Selection Committee, to break with the traditional loop . Let's have some new thinking on the selection process!'