Royal Academy Summer Exhibition digitised in its entirety on WeTransfer wallpapers

The gallery’s oldest and largest exhibition is online for the first time featuring works by Grayson Perry, Cornelia Parker, Ai Weiwei, Yinka Shonibare and more on the WeTransfer background.

7 October 2020


The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition has been one of the institution’s most popular shows for over 250 years, featuring works by renowned and emerging artists alongside one another, all chosen by a committee. This year it received 18,000 submissions and chose 1,172 works to exhibit, but due to Covid restrictions attendance was limited. Like many big galleries, it has given the RA impetus to embrace online events, through a truly democratic display of its entire show on WeTransfer wallpapers. As a result it is expected the show will reach millions of people worldwide, extending the reach of the exhibition to its largest audience to date.

Put together by agency Uncommon, the collaboration between WeTransfer and the RA (its first ever digital partnership) sees every single one of its artworks digitised and displayed at random on the WeTransfer background. When users are waiting for a file to upload or download, they can enjoy a piece of art from the collection selected through a lucky dip format, or more than one by clicking “show me another”. You might be shown a piece by Grayson Perry, Anselm Kiefer, Cornelia Parker, Ai Weiwei, Yinka Shonibare, Marina Abramović or Bob and Roberta Smith, or it might be your new favourite unknown artist.

Each piece is presented in a dynamic grid layout designed to “reflect the actual walls of the RA” says Uncommon in a statement, featuring caption information you would expect on said walls, for instance the name of the artist and the artwork, the medium and dimensions, and the lot number. As new artworks appear, the wallpaper grid adjusts its dimensions to match the piece, “bringing the vibrancy of the exhibition to life”.

“The Summer Exhibition has taken place every year since 1769, even throughout the war years, and is embedded in UK culture, supporting the artistic community and art education,” says Edith Devaney, head of Summer Exhibitions and contemporary curator at the Royal Academy of Arts. “This open, inclusive and democratic show gives our visitors a much-anticipated display of creativity and joy. As some of our visitors may not be able to visit in person, due to Covid-19, this partnership will enable us to enhance the reach of the Summer Exhibition globally so that everybody can experience contemporary art made now.”

GalleryUncommon, WeTransfer and the Royal Academy: Summer Exhibition online (copyright RA, 2020)

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Uncommon, WeTransfer and the Royal Academy: Summer Exhibition online (copyright RA, 2020)

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny (she/her) is online editor of It’s Nice That, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output. She was previously news editor for five years. Contact her with stories, pitches and tips relating to the creative industries on

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