Outside In artists at the RA Summer Show 2021

Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA) in a room he has curated at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition. Credit: David Parry

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2021 is being co-ordinated by Yinka Shonibare and explores the theme of ‘Reclaiming Magic’ to celebrate the joy of creating art. Here we showcase some of the Outside In artists whose work has been selected for the exhibition which opens on 22 September and runs until 2 January.

The 253rd Summer Exhibition is described as ‘a unique celebration of contemporary art and architecture, providing a vital platform and support for the artistic community’.

Speaking about the theme, Yinka Shonibare said: “This exhibition seeks a return to the visceral aspects and the sheer joy of art making. It will celebrate the transformative powers of the magical in art and transcend the Western canon which formed the foundations of the Royal Academy, seeking to restore value to marginalised practices as equally valid forms of enlightenment.”

Outside In director Marc Steene said: “‘It is encouraging to see that the Royal Academy is continuing its approach to a wider inclusion and diversity in the type of artists and art it includes in the Summer Show and we are delighted that work by our artists has been selected for display. There is still much more to be done to move excluded artists to the main stages and spaces of the art world, but we celebrate the RA’s steps in the right direction.”

Our congratulations to everyone involved.

Laura Miles has spoken to artists Jan Arden, Colin Cameron, Bianca Raffaella and Goldink100 about their work and their experiences of being selected:

Jan Arden pictured with his work at the RA

Jan said: “My inspiration comes a love of folk art. I find folk art and outsider art and art brut is really authentic because it’s coming from a real deep space within ourselves. And it’s real self expression as compared to commercial art, which is produced for monetary gains.

“I love folk art because that’s the real tradition of art. And if you go back 1000s of years, people who were artistic within a tribe, they created the artworks, and some of the artworks are just really amazing. You look at Egyptian hieroglyphics. You look at the stylized Japanese art and Chinese art, men who went to sea, sailors, they created art on whalebone. You know, people use wood to create statues and sculpt different things that they saw and experienced in life.”

Due to Jan’s passion for work to connect with feelings and experiences, the titles are linked to emotion. This is a poem he has written to go with Prema Love:

Love is pure when we take a chance to seek to share and enhance what we are and to become this love I know is for everyone.
It’s within our hearts never to leave its why we express the need, the need to be as one in spirit free from the shackles of what to do, this love is pure this love is true.
This love is for me and you.
So with an open heart inquiry bound listen to the sacred sounds dance within natures bowers embracing lifes many showers.
For peace cannot come from things if within your heart you do not sing.
It’s within the pleasure be a transcendent love that sets us free.

This year’s Summer show should be called The Outsider Art Summer show because there is so much of it on show!!!

Jan Arden
Family, Picking Noses (above) and Mourners, Picking Noses (below) by Colin Cameron

Colin said: “I am still astonished, as I had had no aspirations to this when I painted these pictures a few months ago. I paint, principally for my own amusement, in acrylics on canvases. My characters are slightly ridiculous and a bit grotesque – a bit like most people in real life.

“My paintings are based on old black and white photographs – mostly dating from the 1950s and 60s – I buy from a stall at the flea market held every weekend at Tynemouth Metro Station in the North East of England. There are hundreds of old photos here, jumbled together, having been endlessly fingered and thumbed by rummaging strangers. Discarded photos collected from clearances of people’s houses after they have died. Superfluous, redundant memories. Family groupings, courting couples, just married brides and grooms, proud parents, lads on a day out, Gran and Grandad, all the girls together. With what pleasure these photos will have once been pored over. How pleased the people in them will have once been to be regarded, gazed at, to have had their normalcy validated. Now they are forgotten.

They were each saying “Look at me!” Celebrating their individuality. Viewed now, though, among all the other figures in the photos at Tynemouth Market, what stands out is their sameness. The poses, the expressions, the ways of comporting and holding themselves – each is doing more or less exactly the same as everybody else. What is absent is difference. Each displayed their normalcy, demonstrated how well they fitted in.

I find painting pictures of nondisabled people with their fingers up their noses liberating. It is a way of emphasising their grotesqueness. However absurd I might think my paintings are, the fact that two of them are currently shortlisted by the Royal Academy suggests there must be something to all of this.”

Gold by Bianca Raffaella

Bianca Raffaella said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been selected for the Royal Academy summer exhibition 2021. This years summer show theme, celebrates diversity and inclusivity in the visual arts. As a registered blind artist and designer, I overcome my visual impairment by creating art and addressing topics such as body perception and diversity within my paintings and drawings.  My unusual method of painting is adapted to my level of sight and I use palette knifes and muted colours that mimics my level of vision. 

This is my first ever public exhibition and I feel so proud to be exhibiting one of my favourite portraits “Gold” Acrylic on canvas 2021.

I was overjoyed and excited to have met Royal academicians Yinka Shonibare CBE – RA coordinator of the summer show 2021 and Mali Morris RA – Curator of room VI where my work is hanging.  I have designed and created a website that features many more of my paintings and drawings.” 




What inspires your work

I have been painting since the age of six years old, I am self taught. My art does a lot to me mindfully, when I am painting I am meditating. These methods I have inherited from my ancestors. It is expressionist art, it is all personal expressions – it is a lot of family and friends.

I don’t just do one kind of art, I do different art – I communicate with my colours. When I see what I have created it makes me feel proud and makes me happy, it gives me ambitions to do more.

I like critics of my art as it wakes me up and I like good feedback too, I compare notes to carry on creating good art in the future.

How did it feel to be selected

I am very grateful to Cornelia and Dannielle for putting me forward. I feel very happy to be selected, it’s a privilege to know I am doing something right and it is good for my art to be recognised.

Why do you think the exhibition is important

It’s very important, Yinka has done a good job. It is clear he thinks people need to know about what these artists do.

How did it feel to visit the exhibition?

When my dad heard about the exhibition he got on the plane from Africa to come and see it. He was very proud and wanted pictures with my works. It was special seeing my art with a red dot to say it has been sold before the opening – that was very rewarding. I can’t thank people enough, I am so grateful that people have noticed it and are interested in it.

Use the slider arrows below to see more work by Outside In artists on display.

If you would like to add work to this page, please contact Laura.Miles@OutsideIn.org.uk.

4 Comments about this

  1. Rose Knox-Peebles

    I think it is right, and overdue, that these artists should be shown at the RA

    I think there have been a few before, but these make an impact, and the idea of magic is perfect – these artists seem able to access and make magic however problematic the circumstances.

    I m hoping that many people who visit the exhibition – especially people with galleries, will take notice and spread these artists all over the art scene

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  2. Ivan Grieve

    It all looks totally fabulous, huge congratulations to everyone involved, artists and the the enormous support that Outsidein affords us all .Best wishes x

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