Yesterday morning I took this painting up to the Royal Academy for yet another attempt at the Summer Show. How many of us try hopefully each year, knowing that the odds are not favourable? I hurried through the Burlington Arcade, with its gleaming shop windows and neat little boxes of sparkling jewellery, pastel knitwear, expensive shoes in a variety of striking colours, and an aura of hushed exclusivity. I wondered where the other artists were, why no one was struggling with large paintings through the narrow walkway filled with shoppers.
It was the Second Day. I realised with a shot of panic that possibly most people deliver their work on the first delivery date. Do people believe that you have more chance if your painting passes along in the line of thousands on that First Day, while the selectors' eyes are still fresh and open to excitement? It's something I've always believed, but this year I was forced into the Second Day. As I reached the end of the arcade, and turned towards the Royal Academy back entrance, I noted the empty street. First Day delivery ensures a long wait in an ever-growing queue which frequently disappears out of view. Each foot of forward motion is wedged between interminable bands of non-movement. A sense of triumph follows the handing over of your work, and a quick exit passes the still-growing queue.
Yesterday I breezed down the long, narrow entrance to the Royal Academy, and unwrapped my small painting. Television cameras were there, filming an artist who was unwrapping a large canvas of purple flowers. As I left, small groups of artists were arriving, but the atmosphere was very different to First Day. The long queues seemed to emanate a sense of urgency and energy.
Afterwards I reasoned with myself that if one's chances are so small anyway, First or Second Day probably makes almost zero difference!
('One Among Many,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 41cm x 51cm )