Sunday, 25 November 2012

Royal Academy Access Events on Bronze Exhibition

I attended 2 access events for the Bronze exhibition.  The first was an In Person event on a Friday evening on 9th November and the second was on the 12th November and was an early entry audio description around the exhibition followed by a practical discussion on casting bronze, lost wax process, patina and secondary treatment of finished bronzes with alabaster and colouring.  

9th November 2012

After a few introductions from Beth Schneider and Molly Bretton, the new Access Officer, we introduced ourselves and met some of the volunteers. I met Sylvia and Alice and then had a chance to talk with others in the group over some drinks. 

Left to right, Molly, Prof and Beth
Royal Academy In Person
9 November 2012
The programme was led by David Johnson and Carlo Keshishian and was a mix of doing 3D works with some sculpture or staying mainly with 2D drawing, cutting and sticking, with Bronze as a theme.  There were some prints around for inspiration and plenty of help in describing. 

Group discussion
Royal Academy In Person
9 November 2012

David gave a visual presentation of some of his work followed by Carlo who did likewise before we were set off in starting a work and then passing it on to another participant.  I started in 2D and was working away with graphite sticks and experimented with imprinting coin shapes and figures on to others’ works. I carelessly put the graphite stick in my pocket with the coins at the end.  (I had several hand washing moments of crying out “Out damned spot” as I did not find the graphite stick until the Saturday lunchtime the next day!)

Art Jam
Royal Academy In Person
9 November 2012

During the sessions Carlo was doing a sound workshop and there were all sorts of noises … er … sounds emanating from the corner as people were trying out some of the instruments in rehearsal for a take.    Sylvia was meanwhile telling me about a recent visit to a sulphur mine in Indonesia.  I had a yellow crayon in my hand and started adding yellow cube shapes and the chemical symbol of sulphur S.  When Sylvia mentioned how little the miners were paid I converted the S to $. With the music I had added musical clefs and notation. 

Prof with Janie, holding up sculpture
Royal Academy In Person
9 November 2012

I joined Janie in the sculpture table and we started and added to other works.  Working with clay is something I had tried and it is fun learning some of the techniques such as coil and pinch pot for some work.  Again taking the theme of the Bronze exhibition we were adding to the works on process/progress.  The music had stopped and I tried out some of the instruments and had great fun with a Thumb Piano. 

Left to right, Beth, Carlo and Prof making music
Royal Academy In Person
9 November 2012

This was an enjoyable evening and we were able to spend about 90 minutes in the Bronze exhibition, making this my 3rd visit and a chance to concentrate on the portraits and more of the gods.

Art Jam and wine
Royal Academy In Person
9 November 2012

12th November

The Royal Academy programme for the visually impaired is popular with an early entry, an audio described visit to some highlights and a handling workshop with coffee, tea and Bakewell Pudding!

I went to this one on my own and it was a 9am start.  I arrived about 0845 and was asked by the staff in Piccadilly if I was going to the RA.  (Another great case of Front of House - I have noted this before at the RA if there is any change of forecourt layout and access to the building)

Quite a few of the regulars had gathered and we went to the Reynolds Room where I met Alice and Sylvia again, as well as Molly from the RA.  Leaving coats and bags we left on tour with Bridget Crowley.

We stopped at the dancing satyr and Bridget described it from her standing position.  We then stopped at several bronzes: a statue of St Elizabeth, the elephant, a bas relief of Vulcan, a statue of Ganesh and the Bulgarian King with fine eyelashes, alabaster eyes.

Returning to the Reynolds Room we had an interesting talk with examples arranged with Bridget and Harry Baxter.  At a previous meeting over the Hockney exhibition, Harry had gone into detail about Lead White and how Lucien Freud had apparently bought up the stock.  Passing around copper sheeting Harry had tried to get some tin to share with us though it contains lead.  Alabaster was in short supply as Anish Kapur had bought it all up!

 Harry Baxter with Prof Whitestick trying out materials for casting bronze
Royal Academy audio described event

12 November 2012

There were lots of questions as we passed around a mould for a bronze and tried to guess what could be cast from it.  Bridget had arranged to get some bronze sweeps from a Limehouse foundry and we were given A3 photos of some of the bronzes.  Harry described the secrecy to this day of the chemistry of the patina.

This was my 4th visit to this bronze show and one learns so much on each occasion. Alice patiently allowed me to zigzag as we went from description and we discussed some of the other objects which we both liked such as a Brancusi and a Henry Moore piece which I find myself liking more. 

The RA website has more information on the In Person event series here:,1671,AR.html

The next In Person event will be held on Friday 1st March, 6-8pm led by Harry and Zoe Baxter.  More details will be available nearer the time.

Many thanks to the RA, staff, volunteers and other participants in making this art form both informative and accessible and yes, enjoyable.

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