ARTiculation 2020: Ambassador reviews The Royal Academy of Arts (Lara Smith)

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ARTicle by Lara Smith, ARTiculation Ambassador (Nottingham Trent University)

As an ARTiculation Ambassador I am involved in a range of exciting events, working with young people to develop their interests in art and design and important skills like public speaking. One of these was the second regional heat of the 2020 ARTiculation Prize, situated within the impressive Royal Academy of Arts in London. I was amazed by the talent that emerged from the ten participants.
Initially we were flooded with an evocative and colourful talk about Mark Rothko’s Rothko Room from Esme Lynch. She addressed the emotional impact in these pieces as well as the narrative behind them; a very a rousing talk. Unity Saunders then pulled us into her chosen piece, Leon Kossoff’s Willesden Junction – Autumn Afternoon. Using her personal experiences of the area and the artist’s methods, she dove into aspects like colour and line to unravel the painting. The atmosphere then transitioned with Elmo Shash’s portrayal of Canaletto’s Bacino di San Marco from San Giorgio Maggiore. Describing his revelations whilst researching this Canaletto piece, Elmo touched upon subjects including the historical context, use of light and shade and the chosen composition. Exploring the manipulation of the imagery within the piece he neatly brought us back to the present day, highlighting that this kind of manipulation isn’t such a new technique. Once again, the audience was drawn into a contrasting world of art, this time with fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s collection titled Highland Rape. Delving into McQueen’s process and concepts, Lucas Taberna explored why he believed this was a misunderstood yet poignant subject that incorporated many topics from Baroque to punk. Following this was Elle Neal Sharp’s passionate and clear approach to Paul Nash’s wartime painting Totes Meer. Utilising many questions directed to the audience she engaged us in looking deeper into the painting and considering the historical context of it.
Following a short interval, the audience were instantly recaptured with a colloquial talk from Chloe Yaffes about the history and stories captured within Jaques Louis David’s Death of Socrates painting. She captivated us with a deep exploration of the details within the painting. Magdalena Gawlik took us through the tender life of Francis Bacon and explained how deep and mysterious some of his work was as a result. Connecting the art to literature she effectively explored the presented themes across a range of media. Next, we were taken on a journey of revelation with Margherita Bossi’s story of discovering the world of architecture within art. Emphasising her encounter with Antonio Gaudi’s Casa Mila as the pivotal moment in this discovery, she enticed us with the details of Gaudi’s work, demonstrating its intricate beauty. Thence we were swept into the world of Keith Haring with the evocative words of Dylan Sweet who explained the language of graffiti and the meaning behind Haring’s work by carefully explaining the themes and emotion behind the art. This made it relevant and understandable to us. Finally, we were given a passionate presentation from Vasilisa Adukonite who tenderly explained the grave topics approached by Marina Abramovic in her Balkan Baroque piece. Using emotional language, she analysed the performance piece, relating it to the feelings she had when experiencing some of the artist’s work in person. This was a provoking talk which related the art to the artist’s life as well as the history surrounding it.
The event was inspiring to attend with a lot of talent and enthusiasm on display from the young speakers. It was clear to see how the ARTiculation prize encourages people with an interest in art and design to speak out about their opinions and create something to be proud of. Public speaking is an invaluable skill to learn and the ARTiculation scheme is providing the opportunity to develop this skill. With many more Regional Heats & Finals to come in 2020, ARTiculation will continue to reach a wide range of different people and engage them in speaking about art.

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