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Hanging the Summer Exhibition — not the Royal Academy

Published on 27/06/2018

  • Hanging the Summer Exhibition — not the Royal Academy
Flowers and Fruit  CAROLINE BAILEY RSW


SUMMERTIME AND THE LIVIN' IS EASY...so goes the Gershwin song. Well summer seems to have well and truly arrived this year with temperatures even in north east Scotland soaring into the high twenties.

We always look forward to our Summer Exhibition as we take the opportunity to introduce new artists to the gallery. We have frequent approaches from artists of all types wishing to exhibit with us, from young art school graduates to talented amateurs to full time professionals. But it is very rare that we can accept their work. All the artists we show take part by invitation and we have limited opportunities because we already represent a large number of artists to whom we are committed.


Andy Cross — White on White

White on White  ANDY CROSS


When it comes to hanging, we have a reasonable idea of the style of work which will come in but not the specific paintings. Only when the work arrives can we begin to plan hanging the show. We have no idea of the size of paintings submitted, how they will be framed or what their subjects will be. 

Any mixed exhibition, with varied styles, subject matter and sizes, can be a challenge to hang. But we do not perhaps face quite the challenge of the annual Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Around 20,000 works were submitted this year. These then had to be pared down to a few thousand and whittled down even further when it came to the actual hang.   


Garry Harper - Female Study

Female Study  GARRY HARPER


Although on a completely different scale from the Royal Academy show, we do share certain experiences. Indeed, we share certain artists. 

There was a documentary recently about the show, presented by Kirsty Wark and Jayson Mansaray. They challenged each other to select their four favourite works from the submissions to see which, if any, the selection panel would choose. Among Kirsty’s choices was a piece by Robert Mach, a Tunnocks wrapper collage of Ronald Reagan, which had previously been exhibited with us. The selection panel also liked it and it is currently hanging in the Royal Academy. Unsurprisingly, it has sold.


Robert Mach - Bonzo's Dad

Bonzo's Dad  ROBERT MACH


Kirsty Wark chose well — all four of her selections were hung.

We do not have a band of Royal Academicians or gallery assistants to hang our show. There is just Danny and me to unwrap everything, assess work and decide what should go where. Sometimes we hang together, sometimes we hang separate rooms.


Quiet and Still by Val Thomson

Quiet And Still  VAL THOMSON


I was amused to read an article about hanging the Royal Academy show. It told a familiar tale.

Competition can also manifest itself between the hangers. “You might come back after your tea break and find that the picture that you have prized has suddenly disappeared!” says Jones. “You go sleuthing to find who has just come in and purloined a picture because it’s going to fill the right space in their room.” 

Even with just two of us, there can be competition. A painting I had earmarked, curiously, is just the right size to finish Danny’s wall!


Ann Ross RSW Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas  ANN ROSS RSW


So it’s a challenge and a very busy time but it’s all worthwhile once the show opens.

With this wonderful summer sunshine, we are fortunate to be in a rural location with a large garden as we always have outdoor sculpture in the summer show. Visitors can take in the paintings in the gallery and also wander around the garden.


Illona Morrice — Whale



Because we have many holidaymakers visiting in the summer, the Summer Exhibition is a “takeaway” show. If you are on holiday from the south of England, you are not going return in three weeks’ time to collect a painting. Of course, we can always arrange delivery if your car is full or you have come by train or plane. 


Chaffinches by Alanda Calmus

Chaffinches  ALANDA CALMUS


Being a “takeaway” show, the exhibition changes throughout the summer as we replace work which has sold. It’s going to be fun to see what the response is to our new artists. Positive, we hope.


Blog by Joan Ross



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