Sunday, September 17, 2017

My RCA secret 2017

So much to say about this year's sale. Where to start. I suppose there is only place - the queue chaos on Saturday. I was lucky enough to be a guest of my daughter who won the raffle, will tell you further down what we bought. We were quite hopeful of getting cards high up on the list being in 48th and 49th place respectively.

Arriving outside the college we were greeted with what appeared to be an organised queue, smiling friendly staff brandishing pastries. I was curious as to how the queue would be dealt with inside but assumed we would be let into the exhibition in stages and be assembled in order inside. In the 3 queues outside there was no attempt to assemble people in order save for the division of the three queues.

It was a bonus when one of the organisers announced that we would be let in soon and could go into the exhibition.

Nowhere in any of the literature before the sale was there any suggestion that there would be a free for all once inside the building. Indeed the winning notice from the college assured winners:

"your place in the queue is guaranteed"

As we all now know though that was the colleges intention of how it would work once inside which led to anger, bitterness and a sense of being unfair and cheated. I can totally understand all these emotions. Whilst I was not badly affected by the issues, as we probably ended up in a similar position than we would have been had the queueing system been implemented as promised, it was inherently just so unfair, especially to those who had been drawn in the top 10 and ended up low down in the actual queue.

The college have apologised for this huge misjudgment and offered to consult with regular attendees going forward. Good for them for apologising, I'm sure they've been deluged with complaints from people most of which are entirely justified. The bottom line is now that it happened, mistakes were made, we all need to move on and hopefully there will be a more consultative process going forward. There's a lot of love for rca secret, we all want it to succeed and we all want positive news stories coming out about it.

Before I move on to happy stuff I thought I might share some of my thoughts about the changes. These are my views and you may well disagree.

1. The 250 raffle - this could have worked well if the college had properly enforced the queueing. I liked the fact that photo ID was insisted upon but cannot understand the illogical decision to allow people to win multiple places in the queue (even though I benefitted from it this year). It's much fairer to give each raffle winner one winning place in the queue at most. If the college want to stop queuing the more different people winning the raffle the better.

2. No in person viewing before sale day - I really, really don't get this. Last year only having 2 days to view was bad enough but this year not having any is completely baffling. Unless the college are going to release much more information about the media cards have been created in the photographs online are not sufficient to give people enough guidance about what the card is. We need to see them in the flesh.

3. No contributor information - only on the day before the sale were we told some of the contributors for the sale, and even then key contributors weren't mentioned. Was a decision made not to publicise the sale? It certainly felt that way, maybe because there is so much concern about queueing.

4. Drawing the blinds - a minor point but the decision to draw the blinds on the exhibition made it feel very dreary. That space the college have is so wonderful with those big windows and natural light. Why not show it off.

5. Too few cards - a decision was made to only send 2 cards to the vast majority of contributing artists and as a result there were only 1450 odd cards in this year's exhibition. Less choice, less money for the college bursaries. Less than half of the cards of some of the bumper years. A real shame.

6. No reveal at time of purchase - I thought the system of handing out the envelopes with the artists name at the time of purchase was great last year.  If collection day is still happening, which I remain unconvinced about, then please can we have that back?

7.  The quality of the cards - the card stock used this year felt a bit thinner than usual so as a result more cards curled or got dented. 

Anyway enough of that you want to know my experience!  Firstly the raffle.  I was obviously delighted with my daughter carys winning and she was equally as excited.  My 2 daughters have grown up with rca secret and for years have made their own lists and bought their own cards.  

On the day the cards were released I spent hours pouring over them online until my eyes were exhausted, having taken off a day at work to do so.  I'd spotted some I liked but it is so difficult online without the in person validation.

At least the night before the sale was spent in a nice warm bed but I did miss the cameraderie of the queue and seeing all the old (and new friends in it).  Some of the people I have met through rca secret have become close friends who I have seen every year at the sale, and at numerous other art events for the last 15 years- what's better than meeting someone who has the same interest and enthusiasm for art that you do?  

Anyway the morning of the sale arrived with the usual nervousness and excitement.  Would my favourite care be there when I got to the front.

Carys and I eventually got to the front of the queue.  She went first and picked 2 cards for her, one for her sister and one for her mother.  I'll let you know what she got too.

I then bought.  I got the following cards

A painting, number 1349, a lot darker than the cards I would normally go for.  It and its sister painting were probably my favourite cards in the show.  I had no idea who painted it.  It was by Jim Threapleton 

 Card number 649, a lovely drawing by Olivia Sullivan.

Card 786 which was by Ann Christopher - a fine 3 dimensional example of her work

And finally this card 1082 which was second on my list. Very pleased to have got this card which is by the wonderful Kate MccGwire.

My daughter carys picked these card numbers - illustrations of which are through this post

162 - her favourite card in the whole show - a drawing of a bird.  She loves this so much.  It was by Ruth Addinall.

515 - a painting of an ice cream.  What's not to like. By Richard Davidson.

724 - this was for my other daughter Elodie.  It is a really interesting card and looks so much better in the flesh   By Mark Fenton Pearson.

763 - all the family liked this trio of cards depicting a girl and a bear which might initially appear quite twee but also have perhaps a sinister underbelly.  By Lucy Boyle.

Anyway enough from this marathon post.  As usual let me know what you bought and who it is by.  If you'd like to write something for the blog about the sale then please get in touch.  Until a (hopefully better organised) RCA secret 2018!

Friday, September 01, 2017

Raffle Dday

Today's the day we find out about the raffle.  Good luck everyone.  Do let me know whether you won and, if you'd like to, reveal what raffle position you are in. The college have said the winning emails will be sent out by 6pm tonight.

The college have also said winning raffle ticket holders will be allowed into the building at 7.30am to buy on the day of the sale.  This seems sensible as well so that by the time the sale opens at 9am to the public most of the raffle winners have been through.

Eyes down and game on!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The RCA Secret "14 Club"

From our own records, there are 14 Artists that have contributed to every one of the last 14 RCA Secret exhibitions. That’s every one from 2002, and including both 2015 and 2016 Dubai.

Over the next few days, we’ll post an image and a short bio from some of these. I wonder will they make it 15 from 15, and where each year's cards are now....

Alan Smith.

Alan Smith (2007)

Well, of course the Contributors names are provided as, well, names, and a quick Google of “Alan Smith” didn’t bring much clarity. However adding “RCA”  gave us the Alan Smith that was for 32 years a Printmaker / Etching instructor at the College. The keen eyed among you may have seen his work in the RA Summer Exhibition some years, but will you be able to spot his this year?

Anthony Meyer

Anthony Meyer (2013)

Anthony Meyer (2005)

Harder to identify, is this the renowned Gallerist of Oceanic Art? We don’t know either, maybe there are contact details on the reverse of each postcard? If you know which Anthony this is, do get in touch. What we can tell you is that landscapes and figures often feature in his postcards, and he hasn’t missed an RCA since 2002. Thank you Anthony, whoever you are!!!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Raffle results Friday

Good luck everyone with the raffle.  Results are out Friday apparently.   Given no queueing allowed the raffle is by far the best opportunity for everyone to get the cards they might want (even though we haven't seen any of em yet).  It's certainly a strange year.

Post a comment on here if you are lucky enough to win.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

First images of cards

Art rabbit has some card images on its story here   


Friday, August 25, 2017

Tracey Emin, Vic Reeves, Peter Blake and others contributors?

This article from London Calling suggests a number of contributors to this years sale.   They include
Tracey Emin, Zandra Rhodes, Paul Smith, Christopher Bailey, Peter Blake, Jim Moir, James Dyson

Jim Moir is of course better known as Vic Reeves.  Tracey Emin, if this article is correct, hasn't contributed to the sale since 2011.  Her return would be very much welcomed. 

Sir Paul Smith and Zandra Rhodes

Fashion designers Sir Paul Smith and Zandra Rhodes are the first confirmed contributors to this years RCA secret.   It's getting closer....

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Ron Fuller RIP

Sad news has only just reached us of the death of long time RCA secret contributor Ron Fuller.  Ron was a wonderful toy maker whose hand made toys were very popular, fun and beautiful.  This obituary is worth a read.

I first became aware of Ron's postcards at RCA secret when in 2013 I saw this postcard at the show:

The card depicted a young group of people from yesteryear described as my "RCA friends" - one of them being "Dave".  Surely that was David Hockney?

Then I saw this card also at the show:

This said "Heligan Wedding 1961".  Yes that was definitely a young David Hockney sporting a Union Jack Waistcoat.  I thought this was a lovely piece of art history and was hoping it would be available to buy when I got to the front.  After queuing for 26 hours, lo and behold it was.  So I bought it, took it home and framed it.  But that wasn't the end of the matter.  I wrote to Ron Fuller telling him I had this card and asking for the story behind it.  To my delight he wrote back and I set out below what he said:

"dear perry - thank you for buying my card - there was a group of us at the RCA in 1960 that used to hang around together - fred scott, richard bawden, shane weare -trench, geoff reeve, till, dave hockney, john furnival,mike adams, and others - i had a share in a cottage (no water or electricity) in the direlect heligan estate with mike adams - rent £25 a year - he decided to get married there - the nearest church was st ewe (vicars name was rev. rham (believe it or not!)) - i took the photo of guests arriving for the reception in ivor and brenda's cottage in heligan - till had this old swift car decorated with plants from the heligan jungle - the magic is all gone now - heligan is now a tourist attraction - such is progress - i have a disc of all the wedding photos which i can send you if you are interested - yrs ron fuller"

Needless to say I jumped at the chance and lo and behold a few days later a disk arrived full of absolute treasures of time gone past.  Below are just a couple of the amazing photos on it.  

What a joy RCA secret is that it can reveal these things, and what an amazing man Ron Fuller was to send a disk to a complete stranger of all these wonders.  RIP Ron Fuller, the world is a less happy place without you.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Online raffle

So it looks like the rca are going to shake things up again this year by having an online raffle for the top places in the queue.  It's unclear so far as to how this will work but I assume this means that tickets can be bought by anyone anywhere in the world provided they can get to the college on sale day to buy.

I guess an online raffle was inevitable given that the viewing will not be open at all prior to the sale commencing.

I have to say I still haven't really got my mind around how it's all going to work.  Camping has apparently been banned but I presume that just means tents aren't allowed and that people can still queue (after all the college will want a queue in order to sell cards and get media interest).  Perhaps this will be clarified closer to the time.  

I guess in a way the sale is victim to its own success -  I can see why the college want to try and stop those hardened campers who camp out for a week beforehand (although in truth they did little harm and plenty of good in terms of promoting the sale and media interest in it).   Lots of other British institutions - Wimbledon, last night of the proms, Harrods sale etc so have queues and campers and seem to find a way to keep everyone interested.

Anyway it promises to be an interesting month as more information is released.  

Sunday, March 26, 2017

RIP Leonard Manasseh RA

 Leonard Manasseh was an architect.  He died earlier this month at the age of 100.  Even when into his 90's he was a regular contributor to RCA secret and I know many collectors who prized his quirky cards.  

RIP Leonard and thanks for give so many collectors such fun.  

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Wake me up when September comes


A definite date and some definite information from the colleges site   The dates are confirmed for 9th September to the 15th September with the unpopular collection day back on the 16th September. 

The sale will apparently commence on 9th September, the same day the exhibition opens.

The venue has moved back to battersea, presumably to avoid a clash with the last night of the proms at the Albert hall.  A pleasingly no price increase this years, the cards will be £55 each.  

Here is the info:

Stewarts RCA Secret 2017

9 September 2017 to 15 September 2017 | Exhibition & sales 9–15 September, opening times tbc. Collection day: Saturday 16 September

Battersea, Dyson Building

RCA Secret will return to the Royal College of Art in September 2017. The RCA's annual fundraising postcard sale will feature over 2,000 postcard-sized drawings, collages, photographs and sculptures by some of the world’s most celebrated artists and designers, as well as by promising students from the College.

RCA Secret attracts high-profile art collectors and passionate art lovers. Each of the postcards on display is sold anonymously for £55, with the identity of the maker revealed only when the purchase is complete. All profits from the sale go towards the RCA Student Award Fund, which helps emerging artists at a formative stage in their careers by funding scholarships to the College.

Stewarts Law LLP is proud to sponsor the RCA Secret Exhibition. Stewarts Law is one of the UK's leading litigation law firms. They have built a strong reputation for innovative and ground breaking dispute practice.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

RCA secret will be in September this year


The college have posted on twitter that this years sale will be in September.  No definite date yet, possibly around 9th to 16th.  A little longer to wait but it will be worth it!  And warmer in the queue.