Model of Tonkin Liu's Shi Ling Bridge, part of a body of work called "Shell Lace Structures" they've been developing with ArupSource: Tom Greenall
Highlights of this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition include an embroidered bedspread and a building disguised as a teapot.
The architecture room in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is always a problematic creature. Densely packed with drawings and models, it often seems like a cluttered jumble sale, a storeroom full of hopeless dreams.
Inherently handicapped by the scale of their discipline, architects can only exhibit representations of their work, a poor substitute for the real thing itself. In the carefully paced sequence of paintings and sculpture of the larger exhibition, it all too often seems like a riotous disruption, a distraction to be sidelined.
This year’s curators, Piers Gough and Alan Stanton, have risen admirably to the challenge and embraced the riot — aided by the generous positioning of the architecture room in Gallery VI, directly visible on the central axis from the entrance. No sooner have you entered the exhibition than you are blasted in the face with the curvaceous bowels of Zaha Hadid’s Riverside Museum of Transport, a vision in shimmering gold, and a vast undulating laser-cut model of Tonkin Liu’s perforate Shi Ling bridge.
Around this central form, and divided again by the transverse axis, the gallery is arranged into four corners, the work loosely themed in each. One corner is devoted to all things lean and wiry, its walls plastered with students’ dark Gothic visions - the elaborate hand-computer drawings of Tom Noonan, Dean Pike and Marialena Tsolka being particularly impressive.
Another corner is more concerned with faceted, jewel-like buildings - demonstrating the pervasive SketchUp vernacular - a third with materially driven projects (including some nice housing schemes) and a fourth with big stuff, including Make’s terrifying tower for Croydon, as well as some curvy-wurvy phallic things by Wilkinson Eyre.
In all, it is the usual splendid soup of stuff, but made more palatable by some thoughtful curatorial moves. Large format photos are positioned to relate to their accompanying models, while interesting parallels are drawn between unusual bedfellows - all set against a refreshing sky-blue backdrop, a calming pause between the other galleries’ shades of ochre.
And who can argue with an exhibition that includes the story of a project told through the medium of an embroidered bedspread (by Judy Liebert) and a model of Gough’s own Maggie’s Centre, disguised as a green ceramic teapot?
The 243rd Royal Academy of the Arts Summer Exhibition opens in Piccadilly, London, on June 7 and runs until August 15.
23 April 2012
2 June 2011 | Updated: 2 June 2011 10:18 am
8 February 2011