Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Here's a halloween postcard apparently from the show.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Some more RCA secret cards

The guardian also has some pictures of more RCA secret cards here

Friday, October 28, 2011

Article in the Guardian with plenty of contributor news!

Here is a link to an article that has been published in the Guardian this afternoon.  Presumably the hard copy will be in the paper tomorrow.  Text from the article posted below.

It is the usual mix of hard-up, unknown postgraduate students and established artists from a starry list that includes Tracey Emin, Yoko Ono, Anish Kapoor and Mike Leigh. But this year there is a distinct political edge to the RCA Secret postcard exhibition.

Who did what will not be known for a month when the charity fundraiser, which has established itself as one of the most interesting and fun events on the visual arts calendar, takes place to raise money for student bursaries at the Royal College of Art.

The curator Wilhelmina Bunn said the postcards were donated by professional artists, designers and illustrators as well as students on the RCA fine arts course. "It's going very well," she said. "At the moment we've got around 2,100 postcards, although I'm still taking calls from people saying: 'Honestly, I'm going to get it to you,' so we should have more than 2,500 by the time we open.

"It is a very tight turnaround and it means you don't know what the exhibition is going to look like until you're more or less putting it on the wall."

Each postcard is signed on the back so collectors have no idea whose work it is until they buy it.
All of them are new works and Bunn said she had noticed contributions becoming more overtly political. The portrayal of current events was more noticeably graphic, she said, and a fair number of this year's cards are a response to the August riots and the economy.

"We have got quite a lot of artists who do make political work but it has maybe been quite subtle, or more conceptual or humanist or spiritual, and then suddenly everybody goes: 'No, we're going to really talk about those things being reported.'"

This year there are names from art, fashion, design and film: contemporary artists include Grayson Perry, Olafur Eliasson, John Baldessari, Richard Wilson, Maggi Hambling and Christo; fashion is represented by Sir Paul Smith, Dries van Noten and Erdem; in design there are Sir James Dyson and Kenneth Grange; and film-makers include Mike Leigh and Nick Park.

This is Bunn's sixth year as curator and, as an RCA graduate herself, her 10th of putting in a postcard of her own. "I always feel very nervous because you're in such incredible company."

Bunn said most of the time contributors were not trying to trick people by emulating other artists. "Mostly people want to make their own work as you want to be able to stand by it. Although they are secret, the postcards are identifying you as an artist, they're a calling card of what you do and of course people will have the work in their home."

All the postcards will be available to see online as well as in person from 18 November but the event is still cheeringly old-fashioned in that you have to turn up on the day, Saturday 26 November this year, and it is a first-come-first-served queue, no sealed bids or reservations permitted.

Each card costs £45 and buyers are limited to four. Bunn said there were normally diehards who began camping three or four days before. "It is kind of crazy – in November. There are also some people who go to the pub on Friday night and end up queuing afterwards. And a lot of people come at say 5am and it is a really nice event because they're all into the same thing.

"We haven't heard of any marriages but people do meet and become RCA Secret friends and when they come back they have reunions."

The event, sponsored by Stewarts Law LLP, always involves a mammoth cashing up process with more than £90,000 raised last year for fine arts student bursaries.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Grayson Perry to contribute

Grayson Perry will once again contribute to RCA secret, having apparently drawn two cards last weekend whilst his wife Phillipa was tweeting!

Exciting news....

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kev F Sutherland Artist Interview

Here is another in the series of interviews.  This time with Kev F Sutherland.  You can find our more about Kev on his website.  Here is his blog as well.  Finally you can follow him on twitter. Many thanks to Kev for giving up his time to answer these questions.

How did you first get involved in RCA secret?

I honestly can't quite remember. I know that my wife, the sculptor Heather Tweed, was invited first and the following year I was contributing as well. Wish I could tell you more.

The drawings you did last year were from three different locations, dates and subjects.  How did you go about choosing the drawings you wanted to do?

I draw my cards in the same way as I draw sketchbook pages, capturing what I see very simply, and in biro. They're one part exercise, one part snapshot and the selection for the RCA secret cards is a large part random. Unlike my sketchbook pages, I can't ignore the failures. I draw straight onto the three cards in biro, so apologies to anyone who chooses the one that maybe didn't quite work. (This, of course, never happens)

Have you been to see the exhibition in the past?   What do you like about it?

Obviously the guessing game is inescapably marvellous fun. Who doesn't want to try and guess which is by the famous collectable artist and which is by a recent student? It's also inspiring / stroke / galling to see the use some artists have made of that tiny piece of card when all you've done is a sketchbook drawing in biro. I try not to get jealous.

What work appeals to you?

Anyone who has risen to the challenge and brought something of their work and themselves to this project. I've seen sculpture, all forms of painting, drawing, printing, cartoon, textile, conceptual. signwriting pretty well every medium on these cards (actually, have I seen a video piece? Or did I dream that?)

Have you ever bought anything from the sale and what did you get?

Tried to buy a piece once but either got our bid in too late, or were unlucky.

Do you have a favourite card that you have donated to a previous sale?

I've drawn some pieces on my travels, one year I drew them in Norway I recall, and didn't keep a copy. It's things like that I'd love to see again. The year I drew the mantlepiece in my studio because it was deadline day I can take or leave.
One of the things we love about RCA secret is the diversity of contributors.  Any plans to do the Comic Art Masterclasses to the students at the college?

It would be a challenge to teach comic art to serious practising artists, given that I usually work with school pupils who often feel they can't draw and frequently have no awareness of comics strips and narrative art. When you're ready.

Tell us about the scottish falsetto sock puppet theatre?

Perhaps the best evidence that I actually went to art college (I have a degree in Fine Art, my degree show was video and conceptual work, and I've spent 20 years drawing comic books, most famously working for The Beano) the Socks are a comedy double act that have done 4 sellout years at the Edinburgh Fringe and have a growing international audience (we'll be playing the Adelaide Fringe next year). They've made the art I'm most proud of yet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wayne Chisnall artist interview

One artist who has really taken RCA secret to heart is Wayne Chisnall.  He will be well known to many people in the queue as he has often come down to have a chat with queuers and to hand out stickers etc.  In 2009 Wayne put in an overnight screenprinting and then signing 400 postcard sized prints which he then handed out, for free, to appreciative rca secret campers.  We caught up with Wayne for the next in our series of RCA secret artist interviews.

Wayne's blog is here    and you can follow him on twitter.  He also has an excellent flickr photostream.

You've really embraced RCA secret in the last few years, turning up on the day of the sale and handing out a limited edition print in the queue etc, what is it about the sale that you like?

There’s always a great buzz around the RCA Secret show and not just from the people who turn up to buy. I know a lot of other artists that submit work every year and they all look forward to it.

What do you think of the people who camp out all night, or even days, to attend the sale?

You've got to admire their dedication. There seems to be a great community spirit amongst the members of the little shanty town of tents that you see outside the show every year. I'm always tempted to join them just for the experience.  

Do you like looking round the postcards yourself?  What work appeals to you?

I love checking out everyone else's work. I'm mostly interested in the drawings and some of the painted postcards. I like to see evidence of hands at work and I think that drawings tell you a lot about the person that made them. It’s sometimes easier to hide behind a painting but drawings are somehow more telling. But saying that there are always lots of fantastic prints and photographs entered every year.

Have you ever bought anything from the sale and what did you get?

I've only once bought any cards from the show. It was the first time that I entered the raffle to win one of the first few places in the queue and my ticket got picked out of the hat. That year I only had time for a quick half hour look round the gallery before it shut so I just ended up buying 3 drawings that I liked but didn't know who they were by and a lovely painting by Elinor Evans. At the time I didn’t know who she was – I just recognised her painting style from seeing some of her full size work in a show earlier on that year. I do also have a Marc Quinn postcard but I won that years ago in a Time Out competition. 

Do you have a favourite card that you have donated to a previous sale?

I think that some of the ones that I did for last year’s show are among my favourites. I particularly liked drawing the tentacled orifice box postcard and the jellyscuttle one – a larger version of which I seem to remember someone, not too far away, commissioning me to re-draw for their wife’s birthday or xmas pressie (ed - It was Christmas and it now sits proudly framed on the wall!). I’m also fond of last year’s maudlin and sexually frustrated potato shoot creature which was a sort of sequel to the previous year’s ‘Love Is’ card. As some people already know, I submit a card or two every year under my other name, Chig, and I’m pleased with how the two Chig biro drawings turned out last year. One was a kind of winged torpedo and the other was a werecrow – a crow with human hands.

Tell us a bit about your work and what influences you?

As with most artists a lot of my influences come from outside of the field that I work in. My sculptures probably owe more to my childhood love of gothic horror movies and strange animations than to they do to sculpture. I’m a big fan of the short animated films of the Brothers Quay and of Jan Svankmajer. Their attention to detail and the materials that they use have definitely steered some of my work down a various paths.

There are also a lot of reoccurring themes or motifs that pop up in my work. I’m passionate about boxes, towers and things on wheels.

Some people have commented that they think my work is a too dark but I think it’s just a symptom of a very English sense of humour.

But ideas can come from anywhere really (it’s amazing what the subconscious mind will throw together) and I think that some of the most interesting work often comes out of a meshing of disparate themes.

You are clearly in love with drawing, where do you think that came from?

It’s something that I’ve done all my life. As a child I was obsessed with drawing – probably even more than I am now unfortunately. My father was a tattooist and used to paint so I guess that I got the creative streak from his side of the family as my mother claimed that she couldn’t even draw stick men.

I find that the process of sculpting tends to generate far more ideas for 3D works than I’ll ever be have time to make so I have piles of sketchbooks full of drawings and instructions for the construction of potential sculptures. But as long as the work exists in one form or other I’m happy – and it’s useful to have a back log of ideas that I can dip into whenever I want. I’ll sometimes flick through an old sketchbook from ten or twenty years ago and find something that I’d forgotten about but which might inspire a new piece of work. I suppose it’s all very self indulgent when you think about it.

Have you got any projects on the go at the moment?  What can we look forward to?

I’ve just finished a sculpture that looks like a tower block perched on top of a small planet. It’s based on some old sketches and was something that I made whilst working on a tall orifice tower which is nearing completion. I’m not sure when they’ll get exhibited but I am showing my City sculpture (the one that looks a bit like a mobile cabinet of curiosities) in a show at TROVE in Birmingham on the 21st October. The exhibition is partly organised by the Minnie Weisz Studio in King’s Cross and the show will be travelling to London early next year.

I’m also involved in a project with a tile company called Domus. They work closely with architectural firms and are building a new showroom in Clerkenwell that will include an art exhibition space. As well as showing some of my work in their new space once it opens I’ve spent the last few days working with a team of artists, painting a 33 metre long hoarding that I designed.

There are a few other projects in the pipeline but it’s still early days so I don’t have a lot to say about them yet.

I suppose that I should really make a start on my postcards for this year’s RCA Secret Show – the deadline for handing them in is getting uncomfortably close.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Peter Jones Artist Interview

Regular readers of this blog will know that one of our favourite RCA secret artists, indeed one of our favourite artists full stop, is Peter Jones.  So we were thrilled when Peter agreed to answer a few questions.  Do check out Peter's website and follow him on twitter.

You've been donating to RCA Secret for some years now. What is it that
you like about the show ?

I love the democratic concept of the RCA Secret and the exhibition which
to me has always felt like a Pop installation. More importantly though, I
admire the central cultural contribution of the event which is the
confidence it gives to new collectors.
What do you think about the hard-core fans who queue overnight or even
for days to buy work at the show ?

How can anyone not admire the friendly determination of the RCA Secret
punters ? Any artist would wish to find equally passionate collectors
queuing outside their studio.
Have you ever bought something or queued ?

The only time I've ever queued for hours and hours in the freezing cold
for art was many years ago in Paris to see a Georges de La Tour

The last time I bought a card from the RCA Secret was some years ago
during the afternoon after most of the cards and all of the queue had long
gone. It was by Sol le Witt.
Tell us about your work and influences.

I paint from vintage toys which I collect for the purpose. I am less
interested in the history of these found objects but instead I try to
suggest someting of the inherent symbolism of the subject.

All the artists who inspire me are too many to even begin to list, but I
am always fascinated by the obssessive commitment to a particular subject
by great painters like Monet or Morandi.
How long do you spend working on a postcard ? They seem to be as
finished as any of your studio paintings

The postcards usually take about three hours to paint. This relates to the
ten to twelve hours it takes to complete one of my paintings on linen or
wood panel. All my work is small in scale but I think three hours to
finish a painting is quick !
Do you have a favourite postcard you've contributed from previous shows ?

The White Lamb I painted last year marked the end of my series of Lamb
Portraits so I am fond of that one. However, the painting I have made for
this year is probably my favourite.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Victoria Bean Artist Interview

Here is the next of our RCA secret contributing artist interviews.  This time with visual poet Victoria Bean.  You can find out more about Victoria here or follow her on twitter.

You've donated to the sale for a number of years now what is it about it that you like?

 I like keeping in contact with the college (even if it's only once a year), and I like the fact that everyone involved gets something out of it - the artist, the college, and the person buying the postcard.
You studied at the college, how important is the sale and the money raised from it for the students at the college?
 Apart from the financial help it gave me as a student, the sale's a great model for self-funding.
What do you think of the people who camp out all night, or even days, to attend the sale?
The show wouldn't feel like such a big deal to the public if they didn't camp out all night. They embody the sense of anticipation.
Do you like looking round the postcards yourself?  What work appeals to you?
Usually the ones that couldn't work in any other size/scale, and I'm always drawn to the text pieces.

Have you ever bought anything from the sale and what did you get?
I haven't yet, but would like to.
Do you have a favourite card that you have donated to a previous sale?
I like the one I've just done because it accidentally made me resolve another piece of work.  
So what is visual poetry?  Tell us more about your work?
Visual poetry is the arrangement of the text on the page where everything's considered: the type size & shape, the white space on the page -  and when you look at a visual poem you can tell if it works by asking  - could this have been done any other way -  is it making the meaning of a poem too obvious? 
 Have you got any projects on the go at the moment?  What can we look forward to?
I've just had a poetry book published called Caught - which is a poet's perspective of a Magistrate's Court in London, and I'm off to Frankfurt where I'm having a show of my visual poetry with two other artists at the Klingspor Musem which opens on Friday 14th October.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Another secret postcard show

Looks like there is another secret postcard show going on at the Lilford gallery this month. Private view on 14th October 2011 with the show commencing the next day. No news of contributing artists but postcards will be £25.