Thursday, March 27, 2014

My RCA Secret 2014

So all over for another year.  Here is the story of my Rca Secret 2014.

A quiet year I think for publicity prior to the sale commencing.  A couple of articles in time out and the independent and a quick feature on ITV London news (which got a lot of the facts wrong) was pretty much all the information that we got before the show opened.  The college kept the guessing game going by posting tweets and facebook posts with references to loads of artists who had previously contributed.  Did this mean they were contributing again?  Without anything concrete to go on theories abounded and rumours started (including one by ITV that Banksy was contributing).  The media are strange about these things.  The sale does need a Tracey Emin or a Damien Hirst type contributor to give it the attention it deserves.  A shame really given the legion of artists who donate every year without fail.

Of course none of that stopped me from being ridiculously excited when the cards were released online.  I spent the next few days eagerly looking through and noting my favourites before a trip to see them in person on Sunday.  As usual this was the first chance for my two girls to make a note of their favourite cards and they spent a happy few hours writing their list and prioritising it.  This is why the raffle is so great.  My girls love RCA secret (see the drawing Carys did below) and with the raffle going on they actually get a chance to get the cards that they want, being too young to queue.

Eventually the day of the sale turned up and I woke bright and breezy and got a cab down to the college.  Directly in front of me in the queue was John, who’d just finished setting up his tent.  Adam was already there and emerged bleary eyed from his tent having camped the night before.  Most of the other usual suspects were around and it was good to catch up with so many friendly faces.

As usual the next few hours passed happily examining the cards with a break for lunch and regular trips out to check on the tent and the queue.  It was difficult this year as there were a group of tents outside the college but then the queue continued (after a huge break) turning right down a side road.  The big gap was due to one of the college’s officious neighbours who didn’t want the queue on their land (even though it was only for one day).  I tried to post on twitter where people should queue but it is entirely understandable that people didn’t get it and therefore there was a constant stream of people who had to be told they weren’t queuing in the same place.  The college promised some security for the queue but there certainly wasn’t anyone there for most of day or indeed for the night – I did see two chaps by the main door about 4am but they didn’t hang around and it was left to me and Chris to direct people arriving in the middle of the night.  If there are similar issues with the queue next year perhaps the college could post a sign or have some security staff on duty?

Once the college closed up we all hung around, mobile phones in hand, to await the winning raffle call.  I got a text to say that my daughter had won, she was so excited, and then news filtered through of others in front of me in the queue who had also had the lucky call.  Once all the raffle winners were notified off we went for a few fortifying drinks and then pizza with John and Chris (thanks Chris!) before coming back and polishing off a bottle of Chris’s excellent home made Sloe Gin.  I then managed to get a few hours kip before waking at 3.45.  Thanks to a queue neighbour for the excellent tip about the 24 hour garage serving coffee and thanks (again) to chris who, unprompted, came back with a cup of coffee for me.

Around about 6am everyone started packing up.  The fantastic blogger Lisa has pondered on her excellent blog why everyone feels the need to pack up so early.  I think Lisa the reason was there was a steady flow of people trying to join the back of the small queue outside the college and we felt that the best way of stopping this from happening was to form a proper queue.  I do agree that it is the worst bit though, the standing around in a proper queue and then seeing the raffle winners arrive to queue jump in front of you.

When the raffle winners did arrive there was a fair amount of confusion.  In previous years raffle winners have been called inside and then their names read out to join their place in the queue.  That’s certainly what happened the year I won it.  This year someone stood outside the college and called out the raffle winners names.  But they were all crushed up together and with the background traffic noise no-one could hear the names being called.  One poor winner, a woman was at the back of the crush, kept shouting “we can’t hear”.  Virtually inevitably it was her name that was missed so that instead of her being called to go up 3rd she ended up going in second last, although I gather she did manage to ensure that she was promoted back up the queue when going into the room with the tills.  This unpleasantness would have been avoided if the college had adopted the system them had in the previous years.  Hopefully they will go back to that next year J

Finally my daughter was called last, 50th Place.  I wasn’t too concerned as I thought she had a pretty good chance of getting the cards she wanted from there anyway.

The raffle winners were starting to collect their artworks from the gallery.  We could see the first person in the raffle queue collecting his 3 cards by Paula Rego and 1 by Grayson Perry.  News gradually filtered down the queue of other cards that had been sold.   My daughter eventually emerged and told me what she had which was:

Her favourite card which was a drawing of a blue bird (her favourite colour) by Jenny Graham.

A card for her sister who unbeknown to me had changed her mind overnight about what her favourite card was.  She had originally gone for a card of a dog with a multi-coloured ruff but then decided to go for this ingenious 3d keyboard work by an artist called Andrew Campbell.

A card for my other half, Lisa, which was an abstract painting by Paul Davis

And a card for me by Gordon Cheung.

Finally after a wait we were in and went upstairs.  It felt like an age waiting for me to have my turn but I eventually got to the front of the queue and bought for myself:

A painting by Caroline Walker, one of my absolute favourite cards from the show, which looks good online but so much better in the flesh.

A drawing by Rose Wylie of Nicole Kidman’s back and black strap.  I posted on this blog how much I like Rose Wylie’s work so was very pleased to get it.

The only card done this year by Mali Morris.  A fantastic abstract that is absolutely typical of her work – a miniature version of some of her paintings I have seen at shows before.  I was very surprised and delighted that this card was left.

Finally, a painting for Lisa, by Andor Komives.  I have to say I found these cards a little disturbing, but Lisa loved them.

So all in all another good year and I am very happy with the outcome again.  A few minor things for the college to please sort out (some security for the queue would be great!) but in general big thanks to the college (and the contributing artists) for another fantastic show.  Roll on RCA secret 2015.

Do let me know your RCA secret stories.


Gerard Darby said...

A good summary of Secret 2014. It was good fun and lots of memorable moments - wonderful to catch up with everyone again.

I entirely agree that RCA should have had some security people to help direct people and also just to help ensure their event was the success it should be. It is real pity they don't seem to get their act together on simple things like security.

Great blog post

pezlow said...

Thanks for your comment Gerard

Anonymous said...

Wow how did you get so lucky on the raffle tickets for you in previous year and your daughter in this ! Hope I get that luck this year.