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Art review: RSA Annual Exhibition

RSA Annual Exhibition 2016 ****

RSA, Edinburgh

The Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture is the full title of our senior art institution. It has always counted architects among its members and every year in the annual exhibition architecture has a presence via models, plans, photos and drawings of the architect members’ recent work. Mostly though, this has rather taken second place to the more portable visual arts. It may seem unfair, but there is a good practical reason for this apparent relegation. The Academy depends for its income on sales at its exhibitions. While they can generally hope to sell pictures off the walls and even the occasional piece of sculpture, there is not much sales potential in architects’ drawings and models, attractive though they so often are. This year, however, all such base commercial considerations have been thrown to the wind. For the 190th annual exhibition and in honour of 2016 as the Year of Architecture, the architect members have been thrust centrestage. Under the leadership of Robin Webster RSA, most of the main galleries are occupied by Home, described as “a large curated exhibition of leading Scottish and international architects”.The form is that a chosen group of academicians each invite outsiders to join them. Consequently, the home team have been joined by architects and partnerships from as far afield as Nova Scotia, Holland and Brazil. The curator’s job has been to give all this some shape and in this he has been very successful. The rooms, though filled with architecture, seem spacious and inviting.

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