Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Susan Hiller RIP





We are very sad to hear reports that Susan Hiller has passed away.  Susan contributed to RCA secret on a great number of occasions and her cards were always highly sought after.  The art world has lost a very special talent.  

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Come in number 1655 your time is up







1654 cards online.  Names given for each of the artists of those 1654 cards on the website.  1654 cards on the scrolling display in the room with the tills.

BUT there was a 1655th  card tucked away in a little corner with 4 other cards.  It’s to be assumed this was the “late arrivals board” and the card shared its little space with two Richard malone cards, a sadie Hennessy and a Celia Hempton.  Illustrious company indeed.  So who did it?  And who bought it?  Can you solve this mystery? 


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Sunday, December 09, 2018

My RCA secret 2018

This year' version of RCA Secret again brought changes.  The show was back in Kensington again but in a different space, the senior common room on the third floor of the RCA's Darwin Building.

The front of the RCA building was all closed off and therefore access to the show was from the back in Jay Mews.

Moreover the college restored a viewing day (hooray!), scrapped the raffle and allowed people to buy more than their 4 card allocation on the Monday, the last day of the sale.

I was pleased about most of changes but nervous about how the queueing would work.  The college had said that camping overnight would be banned and that queueing would only be allowed from 8am (opening time on sale day was also changed to 12 noon).  I couldn't understand how this would work but in the end the college's security team agreed a very sensible compromise with those who wanted to queue for longer than 4 hours and, to the security teams great credit, they managed the queue and the queue's expectations extremely well.

It's certainly a different experience isn't it having only 2 days to look at cards?  I can't say I will get used to it as there is a huge amount to take in over a very short space of time.  I would still prefer the viewing to take place in the week leading up to the sale but understand that this is a big commitment of time for the college to manage.  Perhaps we could have online viewing for a few days before the sale?

Anyway online viewing opened on the Thursday before the sale on the Saturday so it was eyes down to review all the 1654 cards online.  Did others spot there was a 1655th card in the exhibition?  I'll do a post about this.


I was lucky enough to be able to take some time off to review the cards in person which was very useful.  I got a good chance to walk round the exhibition with John and Adam and various others pointing out cards we liked, speculating on who did what and generally taking it all in.

I also had the chance to talk to the show's two curators Janice and Anna.  Their love and enthusiasm for the works and excitement at curating this project was clear for everyone to see and I enjoyed speaking to them both immensely.  Those who went to the show will have seen lots of nice touches – a pink wall, a portrait wall, a political wall, close juxtaposition of Donald Trump images to dick pics etc.  Very nicely done and I hope that this is the start of a long association between Janice and Anna and the show.    

Others have commented that they found the numbering confusing and I do have to agree with that – for someone with my rubbish eyesight I had problems reading the numbers placed underneath the cards and the fact that they didn't run round the room in ascending numerical order did make it tough given the limited time and the poor lighting in the room.   It was also quite hard to see the cards on the top 2 levels as they were put too high up.






Anyway back to the art and despite some noticeable missing names from the list of contributors my view is that it was a very strong year in terms of the quality of the pieces on display.  There were some jaw droppingly brilliant pieces by both upcoming and established artists, young and old, identifiable and secret in a huge variety of media.  It's very hard to pick out just one as there were so many to choose from but as you would expect there were brilliant paintings,  some amazing ceramics, intricate pencil drawings and so much in between.  I was a kid in a sweet shop trying to choose between them.

Anyway I had a good Friday looking round the cards, having lunch with John in Wagamama's and then discussing with my daughter on Friday evening at home her favourites.

Out of deference to the college's request and for various other reasons I decided not to queue overnight and had a warm, comfy night in bed before arriving first thing in morning to the queue.  I think I was probably about 15 in the queue which, given there was no raffle, was very exciting.  I took my place just behind Kay and in front of a student at the college who was queueing for his first time.  As usual I met so many lovely people in the queue, some for the first time and a few for the 18th time and everything in between.  Was great to catch up with Chris again and to see Gerrard, Brie and far too many others to namecheck but hello to you all.  The RCA Secret queue is the friendliest in London. 

My word did it rain for a couple of hours.  The rain came sheeting down – drenching my little pop up stool and my bag.  I kept relatively dry through a rather bedraggled brolly and waterproof trousers.  Perhaps because of this awful weather and the missing contributors the queue wasn't long and by the time some other members of my family turned up after 12 it was still probably around 200 deep.  Even those who joined the queue at the end still therefore had at least 800 to 900 cards to choose from.  

Eventually the rain relented and the last hour of queueing was relatively dry.  Doors opened promptly at we walked up the stairs to the tills.  This is the most nerve-making and exciting part of the sale.  Are you going to get the cards you want?  What will be left?  

Once at the front of the till I spent some time asking for cards that weren't there and deciding what I wanted.  First card I asked for was the Peter Jones card and I was delighted and little bit surprised when I heard that it was available.  I then eventually made my mind up about the other three and was about to sort out payment when the person at the till said "Oh do you only want 3?".  It became clear that I must have misheard her about the Peter Jones and I subsequently discovered that it was sold to the first person in the queue.   Ah well.  I am lucky enough to have one of Peter's cards from another sale and some other works by him so I can’t complain.

So what did I get.  Well here we go:

A card that read on the front "A study for a Picasso Emoji… After Velasquez"  I had no idea who it was by at the time I bought it but subsequently found out on Instagram it is by Toby Ursell.   Toby very generously offered to send me another study he had done which is really above and beyond.  Thanks Toby!

2 cards by Gordon Cheung.  Avid readers of this blog will know I've picked up one of Gordon's cards before (albeit very different to his lovely tulips).  I was so pleased to get these.

One of Debbie Lawson's red bears.  I rather regretted making this blog post when I say what Debbie Lawson's contributions to this year's sale was.  I loved her red bear at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and this smaller version is a delightful addition to my collection.

After completing my purchase I spent a few minutes in the gallery talking to others and then rejoined the queue (only to keep my mum and daughter company).  Those who saw me in the queue again and thought I might be trying to buy another set of cards I hope will be reassured that I wasn't and was just there to keep them company and give both young and old support if needed (more needed for the old than the young these days!).

My daughter who is now 16 has grown up with the sale and her bedroom walls reflect her changing age and tastes as she has matured into a young woman.  Its lovely to see her enthusiasm and excitement for the sale.  Some may know she has not been terribly well these last few years but she is on the mend now and one year she hopes to camp out overnight.

My other half was also in the queue, with her own list as well and buying her own cards.   This year she ended up, purely coincidentally, with one of Wayne Chisnall's amazing paintings, which she had high up on her list.  Years ago after a previous sale I bought her a Wayne Chisnall drawing of a Jellyscuttle after she missed out on it at RCA Secret.  Funny how these things come around. 

But But But that wasn't the end of the buying.  Due to the new rule for Monday I was back again on Monday buying more.  Not just for me but for others who couldn't make it.  I had 5 different lists to manage and tick off but I successfully picked up more cards for myself, my daughter and for 2 others.   What a great success this innovation was – I know I wasn't the only person to return and buy more (some really pushed the boat out).  It's a complete no-brainer to do this and I very much hope the college keeps this idea going next year.  I got some lovely cards including an amazing piece by Follie Gioir that is so beautifully intricate and delicate.  Going to be tricky to frame!

So all in all a wonderful RCA Secret yet again.  Thanks to the college for a great show and to the wonderful contributing artists.




Saturday, December 01, 2018

Sale day




A fabulous day at RCA secret today.  The predicted queuing chaos didn’t happen due to some pragmatic decisions taken by the RCA security team.  Hats off to them.

It was great to catch up with so many regulars.  So lovely to see you all.  A full write up will follow after collection day but I’m very happy with my purchases.

I would encourage anyone who hasn’t yet had a chance to go down there to pop down.  There will still be some great cards left.

Thanks to all at the rca for another great sale and thanks in particular to all the contributors.  The efforts put into so many of the cards was immense.  




Thursday, November 29, 2018

Minutes until the cards go live!!





Who’s excited?  I know I am.

Just a reminder for those who haven’t noticed SALE DAY IS SATURDAY AT 12 NOON.

Don’t be turning up expecting the sale to start at 8am as in previous years.  

The college have asked people not to queue before 8am so we should respect that.

Eyes down, have fun spotting your favourite cards and I will see you at the viewing tomorrow or the sale on Saturday. 


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Definitely over 2000 cards then




The college most recent article on the sale clearly says that over 2000 cards will feature in this year’s sale - a significantly increased number on last year.

Here’s the full text 

From 30 November until 3 December 2018 over 2,000 postcard-sized original artworks will be on display at the College’s Kensington campus. The annual fundraising exhibition offers the unique opportunity to own original artworks by some of today’s greatest artists and designers with each small-scale masterpiece available for a minimum donation of £60. The only catch, or perhaps what makes Stewarts RCA Secret so appealing, is that all postcards are displayed anonymously.

In the past contributors to the exhibition have included renowned alumni and friends of the College including Christopher Bailey, David Bailey, Sir James Dyson, Tracey Emin, Norman Foster, Thomas Heatherwick, Anish Kapoor, Mike Leigh, Steve McQueen, Grayson Perry, Zandra Rhodes, Sir Paul Smith and Yinka Shonibare. Current students and recent alumni are also invited to contribute to the exhibition, offering the chance to view and own works by the art and design stars of the future.

A huge range of approaches, subjects and mediums feature in the exhibition, demonstrating the creativity, ingenuity and innovation of RCA students, staff, graduates and friends. From photography and collage, to drawing, painting, and even sculpture and embroidery – the works on display offer something for all tastes, with the only requirement being that all artworks have to be postcard sized. Confirmed contributors this year include Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park; contemporary artist Bob and Roberta Smith; and painter and sculptor Maggi Hambling.





Stewarts RCA Secret was established in 1994 and is London’s original postcard exhibition. All proceeds from the annual event go towards theRCA Fund. This vital support enables the College to offer bursaries to students who would not otherwise be able to attend the RCA and benefit from its world-leading education. Through the support of the public, Stewarts RCA Secret enables the College to provide transformational experiences to talented individuals regardless of their background or financial circumstances and foster the next generation of RCA graduates at a formative time in their careers.

Images of all postcards in the exhibition will be released online from 9am on Thursday 29 November, 24 hours before the exhibition opens to the public. Stewarts RCA Secret will then be open for viewing from Friday 30 November at 12pm. Supporters will have the opportunity to purchase their postcards from Saturday 1 December to Monday 3 December.

In order to purchase a postcard, supporters must register on the RCA Secret website to obtain a buyer’s ID. Buyers will be able to purchase their chosen postcards, initially capped at four per buyer, throughout the exhibition from 1 to 3 December. On the last day of the exhibition, everyone will be welcome to come back and choose unlimited postcards. 





Purchased postcards can be collected in person on the collection day, Thursday 6 December, or posted once the exhibition has closed.


Stewarts RCA Secret 2018
Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU
Exhibition & postcard selection: Saturday 1 December 12–6pm; Sunday 2 and Monday 3 December 10am–6pm
Collection day: Thursday 6 December from 4–8pm
Viewing day: Friday 30 November from 12–7pm 

Stewarts LLP is proud to sponsor the RCA Secret exhibition. Stewarts is one of the UK's leading litigation law firms. They have built a strong reputation for innovative and ground breaking dispute practice