Work by George Storm Fletcher chosen for this year's RA Summer Exhibition
Graduating BA Fine Art student George Storm Fletcher has been selected for this year's Royal Academy of Arts (RA) Summer Exhibition, running from 21 June to 21 August in London.
Held every year since 1769, the RA Summer Exhibition displays works in a variety of mediums and genres by emerging and established artists.
The Summer Exhibition is the world’s oldest open submission exhibition and each year a Royal Academician, such as Yinka Shonibare RA, Grayson Perry RA and Jock McFadyen RA, coordinates the exhibition.
The works in the exhibition are selected and hung by Royal Academicians, who also exhibit their works, creating an eclectic mix of work by established artists alongside emerging talent and first-time exhibitors.
In recent years, the exhibition has featured new works by Royal Academicians, Honorary Academicians and artists, including David Hockney RA, Wolfgang Tillmans, Tracey Emin, Bruce Nauman, Wim Wenders and Ed Ruscha.
George Storm Fletcher, work in progress.
One of 62 graduating artists showcasing work at Sitting With It — this year’s BA Fine Art Degree Show at the University of Leeds — George Storm Fletcher is a printmaker and performance artist, originally from Ely.
George’s piece Force Your Parents to Make Funeral Plans was selected from 16,500 entries to feature in this year’s RA Summer Exhibition. George explained the background to their work:
“My Dad died very suddenly in September of 2020. As with any relationship, things are complicated. Importantly, Dad was a painter and decorator, and he taught me a lot about DIY, so I was looking at materials that seemed very familiar to me, such as emulsion paint from our garage. I was quite used to seeing big tins of magnolia, or tiny bits of plastic from when you strip wires. It was lockdown and I had moved back home, so those were the materials that were available to me at the time.
“I was acting compulsively. I was using memories and quotations. I painted the signs, stuck them in the window and photographed them. The first one happened in Leeds about a month after my Dad died. Then I made Force Your Parents to Make Funeral Plans in Ely.
George Storm Fletcher with I Love You Sometimes, Leeds, October 2020. The first piece in the ongoing series, made a month after their dad died.
“When I was making the piece, I thought it was a funny phrase, and I was probably angry about what had happened. But it changed when I put it into the windows, then it became less about me, and more about Ely, the bungalow, and loss; it became sad.
“When I make art, it feels instinctive. It’s an entry way to talking about some really hard stuff. I suppose now I look back, my Dad was quite an eccentric, odd man who was born, lived and died in Ely. I think my work is honest rather than funny, but maybe it’s easier for other people to focus on the humour as the reality is quite ‘a lot’.
“The work isn’t about everybody, it is specific, you have to remember why you are making the work in the first place. I’ve always tried to really nail down what I am trying to say, but I’m not going to apologise for that. Grief is nuanced, so of course making art about grief is complicated, and there are inevitable decisions about how personal, and honest one should be.”
After finding out they were shortlisted: George pictured with Isabelle Morse, in their University studio in Leeds, holding the canvases for Force Your Parents To Make Funeral Plans.
“I submitted to this year’s RA Summer Show as I had a string of no’s for other opportunities, and thought sometimes you have to branch out, be brave, ‘go big’.
“I am extremely excited about the prospect of turning left into the largest room at the RA and seeing my work, my childhood home, on the walls next to some of contemporary arts leading players.
“It was a daunting piece to make, with the judgement from my neighbours in Ely, so the idea of industry experts, artists and curators looking at my work is mainly thrilling — it feels like the hard work is over, and hopefully the fun is just beginning. Having been shortlisted for the show, I was excited to hear that Force Your Parents has made it onto the walls.”
George Storm Fletcher next to their work (middle, above) in Gallery V at ‘varnishing day’ of the RA Summer Exhibition, 13 June, 2022.
Dr Joanne Crawford, Head of the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, said:
“It is always a privilege to see our final year fine art students grow and develop as intelligent, creative and engaged young people. George’s work is a perfect exemplar of this; poignant, bold and confident in its deceptive simplicity. It demonstrates real confidence and emotional intelligence, which is why I suspect it has been selected for the RA Summer Exhibition.
“We are all so pleased for George. What an accolade and one that is richly deserved.”
Install shot of Magnolia by George Storm Fletcher, their degree show piece for the Sitting With It BA Fine Art Degree Show.
Dr Sam Belinfante, Assistant Professor in Fine Art, said:
“I am delighted that George has been selected for the RA Summer Exhibition, one of the most competitive and prestigious group shows in the country. But I am not at all surprised.
“Their work reflecting on grief and loss is both acutely and intimately personal and humorously universal and accessible. This will no doubt be the first of many high profile exhibitions of George Storm Fletcher’s work.”
George Storm Fletcher's I Love You Sometimes, displayed in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies for Sitting With It, June 2022. Emulsion on canvas.
The Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition opened on 21 June and runs for two months.
Force Your Parents To Make Funeral Plans by George Storm Fletcher can be found on the walls of Gallery V, in a room curated by David Mach RA.
Force Your Parents to Make Funeral Plans, the piece included in the RA Summer Exhibition. Digital Photograph of vinyl matte emulsion on canvas. Ely, April 2020.
See Force Your Parents to Make Funeral Plans in the RA Summer Exhibition catalogue.
Find out more about George’s work and the Sitting With It BA Fine Art Degree Show.
George Storm Fletcher with Force Your Parents to Make Funeral Plans, Ely, 2020.