Mervyn Dinnen and I had a wander round the Sensing Spaces exhibition at The Royal Academy this week. The exhibition, which is as much if not more about the space you occupy and the mood that emerges from that occupation, rather than art you look at, feels a little outside the Royal Academy’s comfort zone. You are encouraged to move around the exhibition in any direction you please, so we started with an ascent to the ceiling via an enclosed series of ramps and spiral staircases.
On top of the platform we admired the ceiling close up, and (mostly) kept our hands off the historical architecture.
We moved round the exhibition drifting through various degrees of light and shade, standing on and touching different surfaces (no keep off signs this time), occupying different spaces.
We continued our wander around and afterwards, stopped for a coffee (him) and a beer (me). As we spoke about the exhibition, Mervyn told me that one of the biggest impacts he observed while walking around, was how the mood of our conversation altered depending on the space we occupied. He was right. Earlier on, as we ascended to the ceiling we talked optimistically and enthusiastically in the bright open space. Our conversation became playful as we moved through a brightly coloured environment made of plastic straws. Here – you are given the option to play with the straws and integrate your work into a mass of colour. We drifted through darker spaces too, and just as the light dimmed so did the volume and tone of our conversation.
I enjoyed catching up with Mervyn, and the exhibition has caused me to think on about the spaces in which we work and play, and the extent to which their design can and does affect us. The exhibition runs until April 6th and if you find yourself in London with an hour or two to spare before then, it’s well worth a visit.