The mermaid of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

Varnishing Day….

It’s Varnishing Day, 13th June 2022. Me and my work. In Room VIII, selected by Grayson Perry.

It’s so so nice to be back. Syrrus and Lupestripe from At Home With The Furries made up up onto the walls of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition for the 250th edition, in 2018. That was the first time my work had been selected for the exhibition and it was a great experience.

Wind forward to today and things are so different from 2018, different and yet similar. We’ve lived through a pandemic for one and that is not far from people’s minds. And yet and yet behind that two years of making do with what we had, we’re here and we’ve survived.

This is in some ways the life of the self-employed creative, whether that’s a photographer, an artist, a musician, an architect, whatever your stripe is. We have managed up to now and hopefully we can keep going….if only for days like this.

And what a day it was. Varnishing Day is a tradition for the Summer Exhibition. I wanted to get there bright and early so I could experience the entire event. It starts in the courtyard of the RA and serenaded by the steel drums, led by the archbishop of St.James Church we led a long procession to St.James Church.

Once inside, I found a pew to the right and felt a hand on my shoulder, nice to see you Simon Roberts. He’s a photographer like me and had also got the memo about your best Haiwaiian shirt to be worn.

We sang hymns and listened to a great service by The Revd Lucy Winkett. It was a service for artists so spirtuality, yes, god, yes. But never too much. A fine line that with warmth and kindness seemed to strike a wonderful balance. Creativity and where we would be without art….not in a very good place.

After that we made our way back to the Royal Academy and then being given a guidebook to all the artworks, it was a case of shall we get a drink first or find our work on the wall.

Drink first! Always.

You might get lucky and discover your work on a wall as I did in 2018, but this time I checked the book and found it in one of Grayson Perry’s rooms, he has two this year.

I see you’ve kept the same yellow paint from 2018, Grayson. They must have loads of paint pots left from the last time he put the show on.

Seriously though so happy to see the work, in the room. At eye level too. I hadn’t been in another artist’s words, “skied” as in put at the top of the room.

It’s still there…1103.

I love that yellow, suits my work. Which is of course what Grayson must have been thinking when he curated both rooms.

To see Sirona Thorneycroft, the mermaid of Rottingdean Beach on show at the Summer Exhibition is a huge thrill. A part of me didn’t quite believe the print would be up on the walls until I saw it with my own eyes.

The rest of the room, the sculpture is by Yinka Shonibare. In the far corner, to the left of the door columns is a print by Emily Allchurch. Great to see my work with such terrific artists.

Of course it’s also massive for the project, Hope of the Water Spirits as well. It gives me a new renewed impetus to take this project forward and make more work.

The Summer Exhibition opens on June 21st and runs for two months, until 21st August.

If you’d like to support Hope of the Water Spirits and me, you can join my Patreon here. For a small monthly fee you’ll get access to insights and progress on the project.

Having the backing of supporters is absolutely key to taking Hope of the Water Spirits forward.

Perhaps see you at the Royal Academy this summer.