Saturday, September 26, 2015

RCA Secret to open in Hong Kong for 2016?

Strong rumours reach us that RCA secret is becoming even more international next year.  2016 will see a show in Hong Kong as well as the traditional venue in London and last year's first time venue Dubai. 

Remember you heard it hear first....

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Letter in mind

News has reached us of this great secret art sale - Letter in mind - where contributors include Grayson Perry, Billy Childish and numerous others.

I've cut and pasted below all the information from the press release.  I will certainly be going along, looking forward to it.  You can also still buy some of last years contributions from the website.  Great art for a great cause!

Grayson Perry and Specials bassist Horace Panter amongst 250 contributors of artworks on envelopes for The National Brain Appeal charity’s ‘A Letter in Mind’ fundraising exhibition at gallery@oxo 8-18 October 2015

Following the huge success of The National Brain Appeal’s exhibition of artworks, created on envelopes and sold anonymously for £80, ‘A Letter in Mind - The Art of a Journey’ - returns to gallery@oxo for a second time (8-18 October 2015). Grayson Perry has again created an exclusive artwork for the event. He was also amongst last year’s contributors whose names are only revealed at the end of the exhibition, and helped to raise £22,000 for the charity which raise vital funds for The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, the UK’s leading centre of excellence for treating diseases of the brain, spine and nervous system.

The exhibition will also include pieces by artists Billy Childish, Catherine Goodman and Harry Pye, author/illustrators Polly Dunbar, Chris Haughton and Tim Hopgood, actors Joanna David, Phyllida Law and Kevin Eldon as well as Horace Panter, bassist of The Specials and professional artist. These will be exhibited alongside pieces from the creative community, local and international − from art studios, arts festivals, drawing clubs and social media-based arts organisations.

‘A Letter in Mind - The Art of a Journey’ invites artists to visually respond to a journey that they have experienced: whether emotional or psychological, real or imagined and to empathise with patients at The National Hospital who embark on their own journeys to recovery or in learning how to live with the effects of their illness or injury. The concept of a journey is specifically relevant to artists as it mirrors the production and culmination of an artwork.

All the artworks use a simple envelope as a starting point. All the envelope artworks will be identically priced at £80 and sold anonymously at the exhibition in aid of The National Brain Appeal. The artist’s name and biography be revealed at the end of the exhibition.

Theresa Dauncey, Chief Executive of The National Brain Appeal, said: “It’s fascinating to see the variety of artworks that people have created in response to the title ‘A Letter in Mind - The Art of a Journey’. There are some really beautiful, intricate and thought provoking pieces. The concept has clearly got people thinking about the relationship between the brain and the mind. The exhibition is free and runs for ten days so we’d love as many people as possible to visit. You could become the proud owner of an original artwork, perhaps by Grayson Perry, for just £80!”

Over 250 submissions have come from established and emerging names in the worlds of art and design, architecture, illustration, graphic design, film and the dramatic arts; the envelopes have been built in, drawn on, painted, written on, wired, collaged, sewn and had artworks sealed inside them. Examples include; a quilted envelope that reveals a fan letter to Grayson Perry hidden inside; a delicately hand-coloured drawing from a 1967 travel sketchbook created by a patient and retired museum designer who, due to her condition is unable to continue drawing and a beautifully sewn fishing fly created by the daughter of a doctor who tragically died from a brain haemorrhage when the artist was only six months old.

The exhibition makes visible the breadth of ways that brain conditions affect us all and how we can create extraordinary poignant artworks in response, in memoriam and in celebration of the lives affected.

‘A Letter in Mind - The Art of a Journey’ will be at gallery@oxo, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, London SE1 9PH from Thursday 8 October to Sunday 18 October, open daily from 11am-6pm. Admission free. More information:

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Oli Postcards Raffle now live!

The Oli Bennett Charitable trust raffle is now live and all cards have been posted on the website


The Raffle is now live!

You don’t need to be at the sale to win the raffle.  The raffle is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. 

The “beat the queue” raffle is now live.  Winners of the raffle will have the opportunity to purchase up to 3 cards in advance of the sale date.  Winners of the raffle still have to purchase the cards they choose at £45 each. 

Plus every raffle winner, regardless of how many cards they purchase, will get a free gift of a random card from one of our previous sales.

You can buy up to 25 tickets to the raffle at £1 each.  There will be 25 lucky raffle winners. 

You can purchase raffle tickets by making a payment of up to the charity through paypal.  Please make sure you tick the box notifying us of your email address so that we can assign you your tickets and contact you if you have won.

The maximum you can spend per person is £25.  If you wish to make purchases for other family members through one donation then please email us specifying how you want the raffle tickets broken down and the names of the participants.

The procedure for drawing the raffle is as follows:
·        8pm Friday 12 June 2015 – Raffle closes and winners notified shortly thereafter and asked to provide a contact telephone number for the following day.
·        Saturday 13 June 2015 between 6pm and 8pm we will call raffle winners to confirm their provisional winning selections, subject to payment being received.  If you are unavailable during that timeframe you can still enter the raffle but will need to give us your list of preferred cards in advance.
·        Sunday 14 June 2015 – Deadline for payment of cards (£45 each) and postage charges for raffle winners.
·         Monday 15 June 2015 - website will be updated with cards sold in the raffle

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Secret 7" at Somerset House

Secret 7" is back this year and it looks like it will be even bigger than last year.  The event is at Somerset House rather than Shoreditch, with the sale being on bank holiday monday, May 4th.  You can view the sleeves now either in person or online.

I queued for a few hours last year and came away with some nice sleeves.  I spent a happy hour or so yesterday reviewing the sleeves from this year's event on their website. Not sure I'll be able to make it this year but I'm sure it will be another very successful for sale.  This year the charity they are supporting is Nordoff Robbins, a musical therapy charity.  This is what the organisers say about the event:
"We take 7 tracks from 7 of the best-known musicians around and press each one 100 times to 7” vinyl. We then invite creatives from around the world to interpret the tracks in their own style for every 7”. 700 sleeves are exhibited and then sold for £50 apiece. You don't know who created the sleeve, or even which song it's for, until you have parted with your cash - the secret lies within."

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Oli Bennett Secret Art sale is back!

Visit the website here

Yes, having had great success with this format before (shamelessly ripped off from the Royal College of Art’s RCA Secret) the Oli Bennett Charitable trust is running its Secret Art Sale again.
Sale date this year will be 18 June 2015 at Westminster School, London.  It is likely that, as in previous years, we will be running some form of  “queue jump” procedure in advance of the sale.
Due to a bit of a printing miscommunication this year the cards sent out to artists are slightly bigger (8 x 6 inches) rather than postcard sized.  Hopefully artists and collectors alike will enjoy the slightly larger sized artworks!

Over the years numerous artists have contributed to our sales including Sir Peter Blake, Invader, DFace, Faile, Anita Klein, Peter Jones, Ray Richardson, Patrick Hughes, Josie McCoy, Guy Denning, Remi Rough, Candice Tripp, Kipper Williams, Susie Hamilton, Wayne Chisnall, Michael DeFeo, Elinor Evans, Paul Benjamins, MOMO and Sandra Chevrier.  We’ve also had contributions from famous actors and other media celebrities and are very proud that one of our previous contributors, Eddie Redmayne, has gone on to win an Oscar!

Previous sales have attracted lots of publicity for artists and the charity alike.

Oli Bennett was a young man killed in the 9/11 world trade centre attack.

The charity is set up in his name to provide funding and grants for young people with business ideas, many of who are from an underprivileged background.  It operates in a similar way to the Prince’s Trust. 

The fund has helped a wide variety of young people in the past set up businesses as wide ranging as wood recycling, sports coaching, fashion designing, jewellery making, ceramics, Car valeting, cake making, furniture making, radio production etc etc!

If you are an artist and would like to contribute to the sale then your contribution would be very welcome indeed.  Please email and we will get an artists pack sent out to you.

Attendance on the night is free but will be by advance guest list only.  Due to security reasons we cannot accept walk up attendances on the night.  Keep your eyes peeled for details of how to attend the event closer to the time.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Albert Irvin RIP

Very sad news that Albert Irvin, a regular contributor to rca secret passed away this morning, 26 March 2015.  RIP BERT you will be very sadly missed.

Monday, March 23, 2015

My RCA secret 2015

Well another year over.  Here are my thoughts and musings on RCA secret 2015.

With very little publicity about contributing artists before the sale I didn't quite know what to expect when the cards were released on the morning of the the first day of the exhibition.  The fact that the college had engaged 23 (subsequently reduced to 22) curators to source artists for the sale was certainly interesting, as was the fact that the sale was also taking place in Dubai at the same time.  How would this effect the number and quality of contributions?  Who knew.

The day before the sale it became clear that there were 3000 cards in the London sale - the largest number of cards since the 1990s.  And a hell of a lot of cards to look through in just over a week.  With over 1200 cards in Dubai to also look through and review for similarities or omissions from the London sale it was clear there was going to be a lot to do!

It's a shame that there weren't more "big name" well recognised contributors.  It seems that these days with our fickle press they need someone who is a recognised name in order to report on the sale.  It doesn't matter that there are turner prize winners or established international artists - if the name isn't a press worthy name then the press just don't report on the sale.  What's happened to all those contributors who used to contribute to the sale year in and year out - Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin, Sir Peter Blake, Olafur Eliasson, Manolo Blahnik etc etc? They were the names that got the press excited - made them report the sale and therefore got more people turning up. 

If these contributors aren't coming back then I would suggest that the college make the sale again last 2 days as it used to rather than just the one, and allow people to buy another lot of 4 cards once the queues have gone.  They stopped doing the second day of the sale because there was so little left in the past.  That isn't the case now - there were loads of cards left after the sale this year (see this picture taken the day after the sale ) and I for one would have loved to have come and buy some more.  One of the cards featured in this picture was one of my daughters favourites and I am certain that if we had gone back on Sunday we'd have come away with it, and others beside.  It seems such a shame that beautiful works of art which the artists have spent so much time on are going to waste.
Perhaps also a factor in the number of cards left is the price rises recently.  £55 is getting to be quite a lot for a postcard sized art work.  Obviously it is OK if you are buying a card you absolutely love but I know it's putting people off either from coming to the sale at all or buying their maximum allocation.  The price has gone up £10 in the last two years at a time when salaries aren't rising.  That's far more than inflation and I would urge the college not to raise the price again next year.

Finally on the rant side of things I did hear quite a lot of negative talk about the sponsorship of the sale.  I totally get the need for the college to maximise revenue from the sale for the benefit of the bursaries that the sale provides.  Does is have to be called "Stewarts Law RCA secret" though?  It's a bit like changing the name of the FA cup.  Maybe it's uncommercial of me to say so but I kinda like the fact that RCA secret was so stand out different from the rest of the highly sponsored commercial contemporary art world.

Anyway I certainly don't want any of my comments to be seen as critical of those organising the sale who once again did a fantastic job.  Well done to the college.

After only having had a fleeting glimpse of the cards on Sunday, when I came with my two daughters and spent most of the time helping them perfect their lists, I was eagerly looking forward to Friday and a day spent browsing the cards.  I turned up first thing on Friday morning and pitched my tent one behind Mike and one in front of John who turned up a few minutes after me.

As usual a happy day was spent with the usual suspects reviewing the cards - pointing out likes and dislikes and generally catching up with RCA secret friends old and new.  In addition to the usual suspects it was great to meet Lisa - whose written a fascinating  blog post about her sale experiences and the cards she bought.

Turfing out time was soon upon us with the the box of raffle tickets being taken upstairs.  We then turned to what John described as the "phone stare of despair" with everyone standing around looking intently at their phone screens and waiting for the call that we were all hoping for.  The raffle certainly does add an additional element of excitement to the end of the day.  I didn't get the call but news filtered through that my dad had, as had queue regular Chris and John's wife Eunju, together with a number of others dotted around us in the queue.

Once all the raffle winners had been notified we sloped off for a drink in the local pub and then a pizza, as Chris told us what he was likely to try and pick up in the raffle.

I didn't sleep much at all that night, a combination of the noise from the nearby nightclub bunga bunga and the fact that despite it being warmer than previous years it was still pretty cold sleeping on the street, I think I need to follow the tip of mark who said he slept really well with a sleeping bag plus three duvets on top of him.

Anyway come 6 ish I became aware that people were beginning to pack up their tents and form an orderly queue (really not sure this needs to be done so early but there we are).  By 7ish, after my usual agonies of folding my pop up tent back up (thanks to the helpful fellow queuer for his assistance) we were lined up outside the college.  Is it me or was this the coldest part of the day?  By the time the college opened up the doors at 8.11 I could barely feel my feet.

In a new innovation raffle winners were processed in a different location in the sculpture building before being taken via the front entrance of the college.  This actually worked really well and was far better organised than last year so hats off to whomever came up with that plan.

By the time I got to the front of the queue I hadn't had time to cross of many cards on my list (college - can we have screens in places where the queuers can see them - makes a big difference to how long someone is at the sales desk?).

It was mostly a family year as I chose my daughters two favourite cards amongst the four picks which were:

A lovely doggie by Holly frean.  My daughter's favourite card which will go nicely with the art menagerie that is her bedroom - dogs, cats, rabbits, fish, chameleons etc.

A card by Alison Wilding which really shows off her sculptural talents I think.  I was really pleased to get this.

A beautiful blue landscape by Joanna whittle, my other daughters favourite, but it got the whole families seal of approval.  Such a fantastic little painting.

And finally a blue jellyfish painting by Mimei Thompson (although possibly partially inspired by cactus roots).  Such a great painting.

And my dad.  Well, he did rather well too!

So all in all another fantastic year. Despite the minor gripes and suggestions for the college, we all love and are passionate about the RCA secret sale.  I look forward to getting my cards framed and seeing you all again for RCA secret 2016!

Rca secret Dubai

Here's an article about rca secret Dubai on artslant