A few members submit work to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition each year and we are usually lucky to get at least one accepted. This year it was the turn of Chrissy Norman with her carborundum print ‘Blue Door’ based on something she saw at Landguard Fort in Felixstowe that fitted the theme of ‘Only Connect’.

The Summer Exhibition is an annual event open to everybody with the opportunity to submit 1 or 2 pieces of work digitally. This all happens at the beginning of the year and then it’s a wait to hear whether anything gets through to the next round. Initial submissions are capped at about 15,000 of which approximately 4,000 are short listed. If you are lucky enough to get through the first round you are then asked to deliver your work to the RA. It’s then another wait to hear whether your work has been hung in the exhibition, around 1200 are successful.

If you do get that far, you are supplied with an Exhibitor’s Card and invited to the important Varnishing Day along with Private Views (also important) and free entry throughout the duration of the show.

Varnishing Day has been a tradition for over 250 years and originally gave artists the chance to visit the galleries to add final touches of varnish to their work. Today it remains part of the Summer Exhibition but it is mainly a day to celebrate the artists in the show. Everybody congregates in the RA courtyard at Burlington House and then they slowly form a procession along Piccadilly to St James Church for the ‘Service for Artists’.

Then it’s back to the RA for drinks and hors d’oeuvres and to see where your work has been hung. In Chrissy’s case it was in a very good place, just above eye level amongst one of her etching heroes Norman Ackroyd, in gallery VII hung by Eileen Cooper.

Waiting to join the varnishing day procession


Varnishing day service at St James’s Church