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University of Chester student’s painting shortlisted for celebrated Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

Joy Parker with painting- fe news

A painting by a University of Chester student has been shortlisted from more than 15,000 entries for a renowned Royal Academy exhibition which has previously featured works by the likes of David Hockney and Tracey Emin.

Joy Parker’s painting titled ‘No Connection; No Exit’ has been selected for the final round of judging, for inclusion in the Royal Academy (RA) of Arts Summer Exhibition.

Running since 1769, it is the world’s oldest open submission exhibition – meaning anyone can enter – and each year a Royal Academician, such as Grayson Perry co-ordinates the exhibition.

Joy, who is 71 and from Cheshire, is studying a Master’s in Fine Art at the University. Joy’s painting was shortlisted among up to 4,000 entries and has been delivered to the Academy in London for the final round.

Each year, a different committee of RA artists and architects choose more than 1,000 works for display. This year, the committee is led by the celebrated British painter, David Remfry.

Royal Academicians also exhibit works in the exhibition, creating an eclectic mix of work including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film by established artists alongside emerging talent and first-time exhibitors.

In recent years, in addition to Hockney and Emin, the exhibition has featured new works by artists including Wolfgang Tillmans, Bruce Nauman, Wim Wenders and Ed Ruscha.

Joy said: “I was surprised and excited when my painting was shortlisted. I could hardly believe it when I took my painting into the Royal Academy building to be considered for their Summer Exhibition. I felt as though my feet were not touching the ground. Even if it is not selected, it has been a tremendous experience.”

At one time the show was known simply as ‘The Exhibition’, where artists such as Gainsborough and Reynolds, Turner and Constable sharpened their skills against each other. Today, the galleries at Burlington House make an unrivalled setting for artists to display and sell their artworks, while art fairs, commercial galleries and contemporary exhibitions are open.

For the Summer Exhibition 2023, artists were invited to explore the theme ‘Only Connect’, inspired by a quote from the novel Howards End by EM Forster (1910), and echoed in a moving contemporary retelling of the story, On Beauty, almost 100 years later by Zadie Smith.

Adding more about the shortlisted painting and her wider work, Joy said: “Many of my paintings of interiors have an expectant, sinister feel.

“The three chairs in this painting remind me of Jean Paul Sartre’s play, No Exit (1944), about three people condemned to hell. Superficially, the room they are sent to live in seems comfortable, even if they may not leave. It becomes clear that ‘hell is other people’, as they get on each other’s nerves but cannot escape each other’s company.

“The theme running through both Howards End and On Beauty is ‘Only Connect’ – if we get human relationships right, life runs smoothly. There are lots of misunderstandings and life does become hellish.

“The painting has only a skylight and we can’t see down the staircase, which also has mesmerising decoration. There’s a migraine inducing op art cupboard. Long term, the room could be hell.”

She continued: “I usually work in acrylic paint but have introduced some vinyl, cut on the university’s vinyl cutter. This allowed me to achieve exceptionally sharp edges. With the staircase, I have incised the vinyl and lifted out areas to create the pattern.

“I hope to have a partnership with the viewer, that they will bring their own experiences into what they see and bring to it their own interpretation.”

The RA, founded by King George III in 1768, is due to announce the successful artists featuring in the Summer Exhibition on May 24. The exhibition will run from June 3 to August 20, 2023.

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