Monday, October 30, 2006

RCA Secret 2006 Times article

Here is an article that is published in the times today. For an online version click here. The newspaper version features a picture of one more of the postcards.

Incidentally the article is wrong (or alternatively Anthony Waites isn't as good a spotter as he thinks he is). As far as I am aware there was no Chris Ofili postcard in last years exhibition. I think Ofili has only done the show once before in 2000 but stand to be corrected?

Can you tell a wannabe from an Ofili? Test your eye at the RCA's secret sale
By Dalya Alberge, Arts Correspondent

TRUST your eye and, for £35, you could become the owner of an original work, by a famous artist, worth thousands of pounds.
The Royal College of Art’s Secret Postcard Sale and Exhibition, returns for its 13th year next month with 2,500 miniature paintings and drawings on show.

Published in The Times today is a selection of the works. They may include a Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin or David Bailey, or an offering by a fashion designer such as Sir Paul Smith or Manolo Blahnik, the shoe designer.

Others are by RCA students who might be the stars of tomorrow. Peter Blake, Emin, Chris Ofili, as well as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, are all graduates of the RCA.

Such is the draw of this selling exhibition, that visitors brave cold and rain, camping outside the building in South Kensington in tents, sleeping-bags and thermals. Last year one man endured a record two weeks on the pavement.

Although some of the featured artists command huge prices on the open market — a work by Hirst, his pickled shark, was reportedly sold two years ago for £6.5 million — RCA buyers are not buying for investment, it seems. The RCA has yet to hear of anyone selling a purchase.

The regulars come back year after year and say that they have no intention of parting with anything. The secret of the show’s success is that people can go home with original works by well-known artists with little financial risk.

Anthony Waites, 45, a postman from Mill Hill, in North London, said that, even when he spotted a card last year by Chris Ofili, the Turner prizewinner, he chose something instead that he actually liked.

Having visited the show five times, he has a built up a collection of 24 cards that includes a Mornington Crescent streetscene by Frank Auerbach, one of Britain’s foremost artists.

He told The Times: “They’re all on the wall, up the hallway, like a little gallery. I only buy something I really like. I wouldn’t sell any of them.”

Mr Waites started going to the RCA show because it was the only way he could afford to buy an original work of his own. One year, he camped out for two nights with a friend, their spirits buoyed up by the camaraderie of fellow art lovers.

Postcards can only be bought on a first-come, first-served basis. This year the RCA is introducing a system for the sale queue — a raffle for the first 50 places in the queue.

A spokeswoman said the RCA felt it was “a bit dangerous” to have art lovers camping out for days and nights on end.

The proceeds of the sale go to the Royal College of Art Fine Art Student Award Fund, which helps to support emerging artists during their time at the college.

Since 1994, Secret Sales have raised more than £650,000.

All the cards will be displayed at the RCA, Kensington Gore, London SW7, from November 17-24, followed by sale days on November 25 and 26. Potential buyers may also, from the first day of the show, view the postcards online at

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