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RA Summer Exhibition

Key details


  • 7 August 2023


  • RCA

Read time

  • 3 minutes

Ken Nwadiogbu (MA Painting, 2023)

‘I was captivated by the utility of the cardboard box, and how it arguably reflects the migrant experience’ Ken Nwadiogbu writes in his RCA2023 showcase. Ken’s painting for the Summer Exhibition is entitled The Red Migrant. The self-portrait is now a standalone piece at the Royal Academy but it was originally part of a larger installation (shown above) entitled Journey Mercies.

The installation encapsulated the hopes and aspirations of African Migrants through their portraits. Whilst the towers of boxes placed each individual portrait in the context of a ‘global trade metaphor’.

Denise de Cordova (Tutor, MA Sculpture)

Denise de Cordova at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

The Severed Line is part of an ongoing series of embroideries on paper. ‘Whilst the stitching destroys the paper, it simultaneously repairs it, like a big darn. I like the contradiction,’ explained Denise de Cordova, a Tutor for MA Sculpture as well as an alumna of the College.

Two years ago, an online global Samhain ceremony prompted Denise to consider her maternal ancestral line. She describes this as ‘a matriarchal timeline which to my mind was umbilical, a female bodily rope.’ The line ends with Denise, who has sons but no daughters. ‘There's something enormous about thinking about the end of a maternal mother to daughter line linked by cords. And I should point out that it's OK too.’

The Severed Line is part of a body of work exploring this idea. Speaking to a former RCA student about the work, she was told she has many sculpture daughters, making the line intact.

Carolina Aguirre (MA Painting, 2023)

Come Through

Carolina Aguirre’s paintings evoke individual subjects as landscapes through a practice she describes as ‘both archaeological and psychoanalytical’. The resulting textural works reflect the earth as seen from above by ‘migrating birds, Gods and insects’.

In her work for the RA Summer Exhibition, she uses natural pigments, Sumi ink and charcoal on a wooden panel to create a drawing of an obscure figure sat with hand outstretched. The use of organic materials locates the subject within the context of the natural environment – interlocking practice with a theoretical notion of the subject as an ‘embodied and emotional access point’ to the wider world.

Fiona Curran (Senior Tutor, MA Textiles)

Glide above the grass

Dr Fiona Curran has been bringing her engagements with colour to MA Textiles since 2014 as our principal Mixed Media Textiles specialist. Her work aims to bring a more sensory experience of colour, and to this mission she brings her background training in philosophy and literature.

The piece she is showing at the RA Summer Exhibition entitled Glide above the Grass is inspired, like much of Fiona’s work, by reflections on landscape and colour. She is particularly inspired by Viriginia Woolf’s writing on her visit to Yorkshire to see the 1927 solar eclipse. Fiona writes that Woolf ‘captured the recuperation of light and colour in the landscape in trance-like terms, suggesting a complete renewal of the senses.’

Marie-Therese Dawes (MA Textiles, 2023)

Social Fabric (Sewing not Surgery)

Marie-Therese Dawes is inspired by the history of feminism, female artists and the women of her own family. She creates textile art pieces representing all the women who ‘chose to sew/knit/crochet/embroider and those who just as firmly elected not to.’

At the RA Summer Exhibition, Marie-Therese is exhibiting a glass cloth (inspired by her time working at pubs) embroidered with a quotation from Myra MacDonald: ‘Women are thought to have natural manual dexterity that makes them good at sewing, but not at surgery.’

The textile art piece (which you can purchase as a postcard at the RA) uses a traditionally ‘feminine’ craft and object of domestic labour to playfully pull at the implications of those past-times or labours that history has designated as to be for women rather than men.

Dick Jewell (Tutor, MA Print)

Formative Years, detail

‘My image is of a battle between lead and plastic fighters to conquer a desert atoll in a pixelated sea, as a thought toward the futility of war in the current days of the world wide web and global warming’ explained MA Print Tutor, Dick Jewell.

The work is titled, Formative Years, and came about, Dick explained, from thinking how toys given to children can be a precursor to later life; simplistically dolls for girls, guns for boys. ‘Though play fighting for boys these days is more commonly done on screen, whilst initially researching images of toy soldiers I found plastic mujahideen, Volodymyr Zelenskyy and green plastic female soldiers that have been produced after a plea launched by a seven year old girl to a toy company, so I felt the topic was still relevant.’

Along the road from the RA, at Piccadilly Circus, another work by Dick, ‘War and Peace’, is being screened with Circa, every evening at 8.23pm until 30 August. The piece will be simultaneously screened in Milan, Berlin and Seoul.

Thomas D Wright (MA Painting, 2023)

The Porcelain Tower

A DJ, set artist and tattoo artist turned painter, Thomas D Wright brings a broad range of creative experiences to bear on the visual language of his work. His RCA2023 showcase focused on imagery from medical settings and specifically of heart bypass surgery.

For the RA’s Summer Exhibition, Thomas is exhibiting The Porcelain Tower which he describes as ‘a strangely charming and humble painting.’ Depicting a urinal slightly obscured by his method of painting, the painting serves, Thomas suggests, as ‘a reminder that no matter who you are you are never more than a few hours away from moments of total vulnerability.’

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RA Summer Exhibition