250 years of The Royal Academy of Arts is being celebrated with a set of six stamps released by Royal Mail, each designed by a revered artist and academician. The list of creators includes Grayson Perry, Tracey Emin, Yinka Shonibare, Fiona Rae, Norman Ackroyd and Barbara Rae, with Perry and Fiona Rae’s costing just 65p (the price of a first class stamp) and the rest between £1.25–£1.55.
According to The Guardian, Royal Mail gave the artists an open brief for the miniature artworks with the caveats that they couldn’t be offensive or political.
Perry’s – titled Summer Exhibition – is a self portrait of his alter ego Claire showing the artist as a blocky figure, inspired by the style of Eduardo Paolozzi. He is standing in the Royal Academy surrounded by walls packed with his own works of art in various artistic styles, as if reinterpreted by other artists, including a Jeff Koons version of Claire.
Queuing at the RA by Shonibare is inspired by a photograph from the RA’s archives, showing crowds waiting in the rain to see a Turner retrospective in the 1950s. Shonibare has reduced the image to outline drawings of the umbrellas and the surrounding building, adding vivid block colours and one patch of African print.
Queen of the Sky by Fiona Rae and Inverleith Allotments and Edinburgh Castle by Barbara Rae are similarly vibrant; the former, an abstract composition and the latter more scenic.
Saying Goodbye by Tracey Emin is in direct aesthetic contrast: a black gouache portrait painting of the artist’s mother; while St Kilda: The Great Sea Stacs by printmaker and etcher Norman Ackroyd is also muted in tone, depicting shadowy seagulls around crashing waves in the Outer Hebrides.
Buy the stamps and other prints of the artworks via Royal Mail here.