The theme for this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy is Climate. This will be the fourth year I have submitted – one successful acceptance to date – so I thought I would share some of my thoughts about the process and the joy of creation.

The first point I should make is that although they accept around 1000 pieces of art for the exhibition, over 16,000 are submitted. So, it is pretty competitive. Every year there is an appointed RA coordinator and they choose the theme. I have learnt that only when I have a strong connection to the theme will I be successful. Last year the theme was all about, ‘Reclaiming Magic’, with particular reference to primitivism. If I have lost you at this point, I understand. I was lost at first. Much research and consideration later I produced two pieces for submission that if I’m honest were technically sound, but lacked heart. I believe that I was not really attuned to the theme.

This year’s theme of Climate is a little more straight forward. It is something that we can all relate to on a variety of levels. So, earlier this year I set out to create and collate some photos that spoke of climate change. Some were photos I had already created and just needed a little editing. Others were created from scratch. All of the photos were created using in camera Multiple Exposure, and some corrective editing in Photoshop or Lightroom. I’m going to share five that made the shortlist with a little detail about their creation and which two I chose to submit.

Climate Photos

Climatic 1

You may have seen this photo before. I was created as part of my Pandemia Exhibition. However, I always felt that its global appearance spoke of the massive changes we are living through. The link between the ivy and melting globe seems to speak of the impact of climate change on nature. I do love the photo, and I have a copy of it hanging in my house.

Climatic 2

This is my most recent creation and speaks of a flooded globe and firey chaos. I used extreme white balance colours to create the apocalyptic colours and it took several visits to Brynmill Park, Swansea over a few days to arrive at this final version.

Climatic 3

This one was created last year, but at the time I was trying to symbolise the simple idea that the climate was broken. I used to two combined images of a blue sky and the concrete floor of an old bandstand, where I was stood.

Climatic 4

This one was also created a year ago, when I was holding the world up! The original colours were created by using the Additive Mode, but I have adjusted the hues in Photoshop, to create this more apocalyptic vision.

Climatic 5

This last photo was created to evoke the risk that climate change brings to our continued presence here. It was created in a two stage process, two exposures combined in camera (again at Brynmill Park) and then blended with a photo of my Mum holding my sister in 1963. I was trying to convey our fragility.

I wonder which of the five photos you prefer? I have submitted Climatic 1 and 2. I’ll let you know how I get one. BTW if you want to submit to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, applications are open until early March.

4 replies
  1. Ann Barker
    Ann Barker says:

    Thanks for this Lee. Interesting subject and great photos. My shortlist would be Climatic 2 and 5, with Climatic 1 a very close 3rd.
    Let us know how you get on.

    Reply
  2. Miles
    Miles says:

    Hi Lee
    Love these. Very interesting to hear your thinking behind them. I think one and two are the strongest but I really like four which, to me, had a kind of angry Banksy feel to it, don’t ask me why. Good luck!

    Reply

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