‘There was only one possible theme’: Alison Wilding on her climate crisis Summer Exhibition


Focus / Culture 18 Views comments

Environmental change is the subject of this year’s Royal Academy show in London but, says its curator, ‘there is a celebratory aspect’

Selecting the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is one of the biggest curating jobs in the world, but it is done by artists not professional curators. This year’s boss is Alison Wilding RA, not someone you might think of as a showy or grandstanding public figure but a deeply sensitive and thoughtful abstract sculptor, who has twice been shortlisted for the Turner prize. She has not picked out art at random but imposed a subject that’s far from the Summer Exhibition’s cosy suburban image. “I thought there was only one possible theme,” she says. “Climate.”

Dedicating this sprawling event, in which famous artists are hung next to first-time exhibitors in the grand salons of Burlington House, to the climate crisis did strike some of the more genteel Royal Academicians as a tad radical. “Some thought it could morph into a very dystopian exhibition,” she says. Obviously there is plenty to be dystopian about, but Wilding has been surprised by how much pleasure and joy she found. Alongside mourning the destruction of nature, the art here is full of reverence for Earth’s landscapes. “There is a celebratory aspect,” she says. The result, she thinks, has “dark corners, but also really beautiful areas as well”.

Continue reading...