Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The meaning of life....

I did love these cards by friend of the blog and regular RCA Secret contributor James R Ford.

Monday, March 25, 2013

My RCA Secret 2013

I waited, it rained.  I queued, it froze.  I shivered it snowed. 

I've been coming to RCA Secret for around 13 years now but never have experienced such cold in the queue.  When the college moved the sale from November 2012 to March 2013 I was very disappointed that there would be no sale in 2012 but consoled myself with the certainty that it was bound to be warmer in the queue than in late November.  How wrong I was.

But more of that later.   Preparations for the sale were, perhaps in comparison with previous years, a little muted.  There didn't seem to be as much media coverage before, and not quite as many exciting contributors to get everyone talking in advance of the sale.  Nevertheless by the time the college released the cards on a thursday morning (after some problems with the website) I was excited, as I guess were many of the readers of this blog.

The new venue was, there is no doubt, a gem.  It's only drawback, being a long way from any tube, was more than made up for the contemporary feel of the venue and the natural light on the cards, even on a very grey day in March.  I'd been with the family as usual on the Sunday to check out the cards in the flesh and to buy raffle tickets.  The kids made a list in the hope that they might be drawn in the raffle that year as well.  The next few days were spend eagerly awaiting the sale date.

I turned up for the sale queue around 8am on Friday.  Already there were, I guess, around 15 tents in front of me, perhaps more.  I spotted a few old friends from previous years queues and renewed acquaintance as we waited for the doors to open for the last day's viewing.  Once opened everyone piled into the sale room to look at the cards and keep warm, it was already bitterly cold.  A happy day was spent viewing cards and checking on the tent to make sure it hadn't blown away in the seemingly gale force wind that was whipping round the courtyard where the tents were located.

Everyone was talking about the where the cards by Rego and Opie were hidden.  As this years big contributors to the sale they were the big "finds" and were, unlike previous years contributions from those artists, tough nuts to crack.  Of course there were many other quality offerings on display and we discussed the merits of numerous cards as we came to them.  Tipping out time came at 6pm and we went into the wilds of rainswept Battersea.  By that stage the courtyard where the queue was located resembled a scene from Gandhi as tents and people were everyone, milling around in little groups, anxiously clutching their mobile phones in their un-gloved and hence virtually frost bitten hands.  Alas no winning raffle call for me although Adam, one of my regular queue friends did get the call and quickly packed up his tent to go home. 

After a quick spot of food and some fortifying whisky I settled down for the night.  It was tough, I really do take my hat off to those rough sleepers on London's streets.  I have the luxury of a tent, sleeping bag, thermals, money in my pocket and the knowledge I can go home in 12 hours, how they do it day after day is simply beyond me.  I didn't sleep much.  It was too cold and wet and the constant drip dripping of water from my tent and the noise from the nightclub next door to the college put paid to any ideas of a peaceful night.  After a couple of hours of tossing and turning I got up and had a chat with some old timers of the sale and some newbies, exchanging advice and guidance and (wrongly it turned out) confidently advising what in my view was the Margaret Calvert contribution - sorry!

Eventually, finally, after a seemingly interminable wait, daybreak came.  And with it the snow, starting softly but eventually coming down in great white drifts, landing on our already wet clothes.  "Rather snow than rain" said a neighbour and I couldn't disagree.

The inevitable queue barger turned up, resolute in his refusal to see logic and common sense, determined that he had a god given right to push in past people who had been queuing for 4 days.  Predictably he got told by security to go, and eventually did, arms crossed and huffy.  Then after a few more minutes where my feet seemed to part company with my body we were finally into the warmth of the college, along a long corridor and into the sale room where the usual crossing off of card numbers from our lists began in earnest.  Within a few moment I was there at the front of the queue, with the majority of my first choices already sold.  Four cards purchased then into the sale room where the cards were collected.  And so I got:

I got a card by Ron Fuller who was a contemporary of David Hockney at the RCA. The card is a photo of Hockney in a waistcoat taken by Fuller. I'm very pleased with it as it is a piece of art history, and may write more about this later.

I also got an Alan Kitching and a Ryan Mosley. My fourth card was a beautiful painting. I had no idea who it was by when I bought it and it is by Zadie Xa, an first year fine art student at the college.  I am delighted with my purchases which will be framed and go on one of the already art laden walls in my home. 

Would I do it again, you betcha, although I wasn't saying that until I'd thawed! 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Almost forgot

This Daily Mail article, worth a read if nothing else for the comments underneath which are quite hilarious.

How was it for you?

So RCA secret ends for another year.  Did you enjoy it?  I will, once fully thawed out and recovered, do my usual post about how it was for me.  But in the meantime here is a link to a few stories about the sale:

Firstly the telegraph cover the sale here.

Secondly here is a story by BBC London news.

Here is a piece in the standard.

And this is an ITV interview with Asif Kapadia, the director of Senna, who not only contributed to the show but also queued to buy postcards himself.

Finally the author of the artists has now been revealed on the college's website.  If you did get a card that you love why not email the artist and tell them?  I'm sure they would love to hear from you.

Speak soon...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

See you tomorrow

Hope to see you in the queue tomorrow or the sale on Saturday.  In the meantime a few articles were published today.

Firstly there was something in the Standard about the queue.  Hello Lee and Harvey!

Secondly there was an article in Elle with a chance to win the 51st place in the queue.

Finally a short article by yours truly in the New Winchester Review.

Have fun finishing your list and best of luck to the queuer's tonight.  It's bitterly cold.

Excited yet?

Whose excited now? Not long to go. Are we seeing things clearer now?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Brain fade

Do you feel like the picture? Lists, numbers, oils, acrylics, pencils, pen and ink. Birds, dogs, cats, rats, mice, hamsters. Statues, old men, old women, children with tattoos, pregnant women. After a while you can get brain fade.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Easy like Sunday morning

I went along for the first view of the cards in the flesh this morning and had a very pleasant few hours looking at them and inevitably catching up with a few old queueing friends along the way.

The new venue is great, really light and airy and very contemporary. The cards displayed on the street side in particular really benefited from the extra light provided by the huge windows, even on a dull day such as today.

Of course as always the cards look so much better in the flesh and there's quite a few that I'm beginning to fall for, although no one card this year that is an absolute stand out.

The show was pretty busy when I was there, at least 20 people on arrival just after opening and roughly 3 times that once we'd left.

Facilities in the local area are considerably better than the Kensington site with a number of restaurants and bars close by and a co-op supermarket virtually on site.

No tents yet and no idea where the queue will form, guess we will get a better idea of that next week. Have fun to all viewing.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Emin a contributor?

The metro is reporting this morning that Tracey Emin has contributed to the sale.  Check out hard copies for details as it isn't on their website.  All will be revealed in just a few hours time. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Have fun!

Well, it's been a busy day press wise with RCA secret.  The college held a press viewing and it has certainly generated a lot of interest. 

First up there were some more cards featured in Time Out this morning.

Next there was a great article in the guardian featuring interviews with Maggi Hambling, Pete Fowler and David Bailey.

The telegraph also featured some great photos of the gallery and some of the cards.

And finally the website has been updated to include some FAQ's and an essay about the sale.

Have fun reading through all these.  Maybe see some of you at the viewing this weekend.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pictures of the Dyson building

Another quiet day on the news front, sure to be press articles next week though.  In the meantime check out this great blog post about the Dyson Building where RCA Secret will be hosted this year.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Another card to see

Not too much to report from today's press.  The show is however featured in RA Magazine's pick of the week, together with a card we haven't seen before, shown above.  Hopefully there should be some pieces in the Sunday newspapers tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Known knowns and Known Unknowns

With just over a week to go now until the show opens a quick recap on what we know and what we don't know in advance of the sale:

Known Knowns

Contributors - so far we  know that the following have definitely contributed, either from the college's website, press articles or from artist's twitter and facebook feeds or blog posts.  I've tried to make this as definitive as possible but if you know of other contributors, or have contributed yourself, then do please post a comment.

Paula Rego
Julian Opie
David Bailey
John Baldessari
Nick Park
Mike Leigh
Sir Paul Smith
Orla Kiely
Manolo Blahnik
Wayne Chisnall
Angela Lamb  
Broughton and Birnie
Annabel Tilley
Rosalind Davis
Andrew Tyzack
Dallas Collins
Emma Russell
Fiona Shaw
Tomi Vallauschek
Nadege Meriau
Niamh Clancy
Louisa Chambers
S Kurdika Davenport
Masayo Matsuda
Lee Borthwick
Barrie J Davies
James R Ford
Llorraine K Snape
Richard Colson
Karoly Sandor Aron 
Arina Orlova 

We also know that there are 2700 cards this year.  This is slightly down on 2010 and 2011 which were absolutely bumper years but is more than the college habitually get - the shows between 2000 and 2009 had around 2300 to 2600 donations as a rule.  Great to see that despite the change of venues and timing the show has still been very well supported by the contributing artists.  I am sure it will remain equally well supported by the art buying public!

Known Unknowns

Contributors - The college tend to drip feed contributor news as and when donations are received and to keep the press interest in the sale going.  We reported on this blog that another blog was saying that David Hockney, Tracey Emin and Yoko Ono had agreed to contribute to the sale.  We've had no confirmation of that from the college and therefore it must be treated as speculation.  It's worth observing that there are a number of regular or semi regular contributors who have yet to feature in any press release.  These include the three mentioned above but we would add to that list, in no particular order,  Sir Peter Blake, Quentin Blake, Grayson Perry, Olafur Eliasson, Lawrence Weiner, Maggi Hambling, Anish Kapoor and Franz West all of whom have contributed in the recent past on more than one occasion.  Readers can probably think of many others.   Hopefully a few more of these names will be added.  Who knows we may get a complete surprise contributor like in 2009 when Gerhard Richter contributed.  There's likely to be press articles on the sale this weekend so keep an eye out for them and check this blog regularly.

How is it going to work - we guess this is the biggest unknown.  With the change of venue will there be any changes to the way in which the sale is conducted?  Where and how will the postcards be displayed?  Where will we queue?  All these questions will only be answered once the sale opens.  Bring it on!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Article in Vogue

The sale was featured on the Vogue website today. Nothing extraordinary to write home about but a few more images we haven't seen before. Full text reproduced below.

MANOLO BLAHNIK, Paul Smith and Orla Kiely have each created a postcard-sized artwork to go on sale for just £45 at the Royal College of Art's forthcoming Secret Postcard annual event. Visitors will have to spot them among the other 2,700 postcards on display, designed by an array of students, professional artists and designers.

"We're thrilled with the number and quality of postcards that have been sent to us this year," said RCA Secret curator Wilhelmina Bunn. "The breadth of artistic styles will make for a really stunning exhibition, with contributions by artists and designers from all walks of life displayed next to each other. At a time when arts education funding is being cut we're even more grateful for this support, with donations helping the next generation of artists coming through the college."

Each sketch, drawing, painting or sculpture is signed on the back by its creator. Other participants include photographer David Bailey, film director Mike Leigh and visual artist Julian Opie. The collection will go on display on March 14 at the RCA in Battersea and will go on sale on March 23. Proceeds will go towards the RCA's Fine Art Student Award Fund, which provides financial assistance to emerging artists.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

RCA secret queue bingo

Here are 10 phrases that you are bound to hear people say at RCA secret.  See if you can cross off all 10 whilst whiling away the hours in the queue.  And yes I've said all of these many times myself.
1)    I got one of my numbers wrong
2)    I don't think my list is long enough
3)    I've never won the raffle
4)    It's not a vintage year
5)    Does anyone know how to fold up a pop-up tent?
6)    My feet are soooooo cold
7)    Is he pushing in?
8)    Do you remember that year when....
9)    I wish there was somewhere round here to buy coffee
and the oldest chestnut of all:
10)  Buy what you like