by Leigh Hatts
DESPITE the controversial and allegedly haphazard selection procedure for the Royal Academy's Summer Show there is usually a theme which emerges. This year one is not immediately discernible, but there is a focus among the 1000 plus works in the form of a portrait of Richard Eurich commissioned by Bradford Art Galleries which has just fallen under the curatorship of the go-ahead John Sheeran.
Bradford-born Richard Eurich, the longest serving Royal Academician, is seen in his Hampshire studio by fellow Academician Leonard Rosoman who came fresh to the task after his commission for the Lambeth Palace Chapel mural.
Eurich is depicted earlier this year in his thatched studio near Beaulieu Abbey where he has lived with his wife for 50 years. Rosoman, who works with only a few sittings, shows his subject in the plant filled studio he loves and as an important part of the whole portrait.
Alongside the finished picture are the preparatory sketches and, after visitng Southampton and Ilkley galleries, the portrait will be added to the hall of fame at Bradford's Cartwright Hall where the eminent Bradfordians include J B Priestly and William Rotherstein.
No doubt Eurich is just ahead of David Hockney. Richard Eurich's own work at the RA (daily until August 7; £2.80) dwells on his adpoted home with
"New Forest Trees" and "Low Tide Beaulieu River".
Among other timely portraits are the new television watchdog William Rees-Mogg by Norman Blarney and also in oils the new Garter Knight Lord Hailsham from Ruskin Spear.
One of the most rewarding although often overlooked rooms in this annual exhibition is the architectural drawings and models gallery. Here, for example, are the drawings for the liturgical reordering of St Mary's, Derby and the resorted St Matthew's, Westminster. There is also a design for Le Corbusier's Firminy Church and a Devon Church conversion.
Most interesting are the drawings of the Financial Times pink building which is soon to be abandoned to a Japanese firm. Bracken House (named after FT chairman Brendan Bracken whose face looks out of the clock above the front door) is the post war work of architect Albert Richardson who used a palazzo in Turin as inspiration.
The Society of Catholic Artists is represented by Albert Herbert who has no less than three paintings on Old Testament themes in the Small South Room. Jane Dowling has still life and landscape.
Linda Sutton's "House of The Faun Pompeii" is one of the few to feature a cat — once a popular Summer Exhibition feature which would sell a picture quickly. Only Anthony Eyton recalls the October Hurricane, but both he and Linda Sutton have contributed to Kew: The British Garden at the CCA Gallery in Dover Street (daily except Sunday and Monday until May 31; free) where storm pictures have been gathered in a show which will benefit the Royal Botanic Gardens Hurricane Fund.
After visiting Kew, Ken Howard had a strong desire to turn from his interior figurative work and do something quite different. William Bowyer crossed the water from Chiswick to produce "Temperate House Reflections" and "Goldfish in the Temperate House".
Among the other artists are Norman Adams, Phil Greenwood and Linda Kitson. But it is not the 80 paintings that are the main attraction so much as six special prints on the Kew theme. The best is undoubtedly Norman Stevens' "Black Walnut Tree" screenprint sponsored by Pirelli. Stevens knew the tree before the storm and with warm rich colour shows is to us as logs on October 20.
Although the Dover Street exhibition closes next week the prints will continue on show and for sale at the Kew Gardens Orangery until June 20.