London Galleries 2015

We arrived in the heart of the capital and walked a short distance to Trafalgar Square, which was heavily populated with ‘levitating’ street performers outside The National Gallery.

The BP Portrait Award, within the National Portrait Gallery, provided our first opportunity to sketch. Students took time to engage with the selection of fifty-five of the most outstanding and innovative new portraits from around the world. From informal and personal studies of friends and family, to revealing images of famous faces, the exhibition features a variety of styles and approaches to the contemporary painted portrait. The wide range of styles served to challenge students’ preconceptions of traditional portraiture painting.

Within Cork Street, students studied and sketched from Julian Opie’s latest print exhibition at Alan Cristea. Opie’s inventive urban and rural lenticular panels and bold screenprints depicting global human activity, aptly uses computer technology creatively to reflect contemporary life.

During the afternoon, students also visited The Royal Academy's annual Summer Exhibition; the world’s oldest open-submission show, having enjoyed an unbroken run for 247 years. The Academy’s Annenberg Courtyard greeted us with a dramatic, cloud-like weathered steel sculpture titled ‘The Dappled Light of the Sun’ by Conrad Shawcross RA. Inside, the original stone staircase leading up to the Summer Exhibition has been strikingly transformed by Jim Lambie into his latest psychedelic floor installation.

Within the gallery spaces this year, an unashamedly ‘modern’ display of contemporary art, was perceptively coordinated by Michael Craig-Martin RA. Students took time to ponder over the merits of the exhibited art and enjoyed comparing work by established famous artists, against unknown artists who have successfully submitted work to the show. 

A highlight of this exhibition has to be the room dedicated to drawings and prints by recent Honorary RA, William Kentridge. Here, students were able to learn about Kentridge’s powerful use of imagery to portray social and political commentary regarding his native South Africa.

Click here for a gallery of images.