Thursday, November 27, 2008

A raffle winners story

Here's an account of Christopher's experience of the sale.

In the end I got my purchaser number in good time - the college emailed me late on Wednesday morning with it, and late that day I popped down to the college to have a look at the postcards in person.

Whilst I was there, as my list of favourites was looking a little short, and my purchases would be surprise birthday/Christmas gifts for friends and family, I thought I'd try my luck and entered the First-Fifty raffle. I was informed that if my name was drawn they'd call me between 18.00 and 19.00 on Friday

Fast forward to Friday ... my mobile rings at 18.35 - number withheld; normally I'd leave it - friends' numbers come up on the screen, so normally it's either a marketing call, but if it's not, my theory is that if it's important the caller will leave a message; however, what with the raffle taking place I took the call "Congratulations this is the RCA you've won a place in the First-Fifty raffle!".

Wow - I couldn't quite believe it ... Instantly thoughts ran through my head - Maybe I should change my game plan? I've got a real opportunity to bag a big name now! The Quentin Blake and Nick Park cards are really obvious to even a layman like me; with a little bit of research, I could probably work out which are the likes of the Grayson Perry and Paula Rego's cards ... you fool! I can't believe you even contemplated cashing in! I'd chosen my original favourites on artistic merit and because they appealed to me and I know that they would appeal to the friends/family that I'm buying them for ... It would serve me right to try and bag a big name, but the postcards turn out to be imitations by unknowns, and end up with 4 cards that I don't even like. How sad to end up with 4 postcards on the wall that one doesn't especially like, but is justified having up on the wall just because it's by a famous name!

A quick browse through the postcards on the RCA website confirmed that my top 4 cards still meant the most to me and touched me more than any of the other cards - even with the knowledge that I could potentially give up the opportunity to bag a big name. A final look through Quentin Blake's cards confirmed that none of his cards particularly appealed to me - had his subject matters been different, then maybe I would I have jumped at the opportunity, but unfortunately none of them especially jumped out at me apart from the fact that they were obviously Quentin Blake, a shame, but you never know, I might get another opportunity in the future, and at moments like this I like to believe in Karma.

With my mind made up and cards chosen, I slept much better than expected. The alarm went off at 6.30am and I quickly switched it off - my girlfriend slept through it before it kicked in to really loud mode. Now, problem number 2 (number 1 being yesterday evening's slight temporary slip of conscience after winning a place in the First-Fifty); one of the cards will be a surprise Christmas present for my girlfriend - the one now lying asleep next to me in bed! I lay there for a few moments, listening to her deep breathing, making sure that she was still in a deep sleep; satisfied that she was, I very slowly slid out of the bed.

I then tiptoed to the sitting room and got dressed into the clothes that I had carefully hidden behind the sofa the night before. Whilst brushing my teeth, I logged on to the laptop and the RCA website to check for the umpteenth time that my postcard numbers on my list matched the postcards that I wanted. Website down - oh well, I had checked them too many times to remember just before I went to bed, so I'm sure that all will be well.

I hopped on to my pedal bike and enjoyed the refreshing crisp ride to the college, excited with anticipation.

I arrived just before 7am as instructed and headed to the front of the queue. I asked the girls at the front if they were each one of the First-Fifty too; they were, but it turns out that they didn't realise that there is another mini draw for the First-Fifty winners to determine the order of the winners, instead they assumed that it was first come first served as per the main queue, so they arrived over an hour ago in the hope that they would be the first of the First-Fifty; oh well they didn't appear too disheartened, to be one of the First-Fifty is still a fantastic opportunity anyway.

After more chit chat it turned out that 2 of the girls nearly missed out on being in the First-Fifty; on the tickets it states "Winners will be notified by telephone between 6-7pm that evening and must be available to take the call." one of the girls was on the Tube when she received the call - luckily she had a signal and she didn't go into a tunnel during the call, and the other was at home and doesn't normally answer her mobile when at home, fortunately, unbeknown to her, her husband was in the same room as her mobile, answered the call, found her in another part of the house and passed the phone to her saying "It's the RCA, they say you've won a raffle ..." So all in all, I think the girls were happy to make in the First-Fifty regardless of where in the First-Fifty they maybe placed.

Soon after our chit chat the doors opened to the lucky fifty.

The results of the mini draw placed me 29th in the queue, but bizarrely enough, a couple of people hadn't turned up, so I was in actual fact about 27th. I got chatting to the gentleman in front of me; he had been coming for a few years now, and this was the first time he had won a place in the First-Fifty, but his wife had won a place a couple of years ago. Over the years they had manage to accumulate a collection of works by an artist whose name I didn't recognise, but whose style had caught their eye years ago, and they were hoping to add to their collection this year. Behind me I got talking to another man, who turned out to be Wayne Chisnall.

As mentioned in Jules' blog below, Wayne is an artist who has previously exhibited in the RCA exhibition and has also contributed to this year's (see postcards 1022, 1650, 1996 and 2108). For those unfamiliar with him, he has been somewhat controversial in that he made public which were his entries to this year's sale, shunning the secrecy and anonymity of the postcards' origins. Well, I'm happy to report that he didn't use his insider knowledge to purchase any big names, instead, in the spirit of things, he bought what had caught his eye, which turned out to be by relative unknowns, and although his very first choice card was gone, his next four were still available and he appeared very delighted with his purchases.

With regards to my choices, I managed to pick up 3 of my top 4 cards, missing out on a card that I had chosen as a present for my mother - card number 303 by Brian Tattersfield; however, I was very pleased with my other purchases. Unfortunately, I won't reveal which cards I bought, in fear that my friends happen to stumble across this blog/entry while surfing the net ... Well ... ok then ... as my girlfriend is a technophobe, I suppose that I can at least reveal that I managed to pick up one of the Nicola Hicks cards for her - number 305, just don't tell her! And if you happen to be one of my friend's reading this, sorry but if I've bought a card for you, you won't find out if you're one of the lucky ones until your birthday, and don't hold you breath, I didn't land a big name (apart from Nicola Hicks if you're into sculpture that is, which I was very pleasantly surprised and chuffed with), but I guarantee that you'll still love you card!

Overall, I can say that everyone in the queue was very friendly. Everyone that I spoke to appeared to be there in the spirit of things, and to quote Jules, they all appeared to be after cards that "were chosen on the basis of being really drawn to them, wanting to have some gorgeous original artwork, & supporting the RCA to boot" and I can happily report that I didn't come across any eBay-Hags or profit vultures.

It was also great to see that as well as Quentin Blake, Manolo Blahnik also entered 6 cards, giving fans a much higher chance of picking up one of their works.

I hope everyone had as much fun as me, and managed to pick up at least one card that they were after. Looking forward to next year already, and can't wait to read Perry's blog/entry on his recommended method to frame the cards so that both the front and back are displayed.

By the way, it was fantastic reading everyone else's accounts of the sale - I hope you enjoyed mine.

See you all next year!

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