The twentieth anniversary of the The Royal College of Art’s annual ‘secret’ postcard exhibition and fundraising sale opened last Thursday . 2,900 postcard-sized artworks by over 1,000 artists have been donated to help support young art students. Contributors including Grayson Perry, Paula Rego, Yinka Shonibare, David Bailey, musician Jarvis Cocker, architect Zaha Hadid, fashion designers Sir Paul Smith and head of Burberry Christopher Bailey have all produced mini masterpieces that will be up for sale at just £50 each.
What’s the secret? Each year, the Royal College of Art asks professional artists and designers, plus up-and- coming art students and graduates to make and donate a piece of work. Artists may choose to paint, draw, sketch or even produce a 3D sculpture as long as it’s postcard-sized. Each postcard is signed on the back, so collectors don’t know the identity of the artist until they’ve handed over their cash.
Sir James Dyson, Provost of the RCA and regular contributor to the event, said: ‘The RCA postcard exhibition is a reminder of how inventive one can be with a small piece of paper. Set a challenging brief, the Royal College’s bright minds, both past and present, have a habit of thinking unconventionally.’
The last two decades have seen contributions by some of the biggest-selling and highly collectable artists in the world such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Gerhard Richter, David Hockney and Peter Doig. Regular visitors to Stewarts Law RCA Secret have been able to purchase a collection of art works that would be the envy of the art world.
Don’t worry if you’re not an art expert, chances are you’ll go home with something you’ll love, to hang on your wall. Although it can help to know the difference between a drawing by Paula Rego and a sketch by Grayson Perry, a lot of it is down to pure luck with many collectors not knowing whose work they’ve chosen. Moreover for just £50 you could buy something by a young art student who may be the next Hirst or Hockney.
Potential collectors will be able to view all the postcards in person at the RCA’s Dyson building in Battersea, south-west London or on-line at www.rca.ac.uk/secret. All postcards go up for sale for one day only on Saturday 22 March at the RCA. Postcards can only be bought on a first come, first served basis, with no sealed bids or reservations in advance. There will be a raffle for collectors to win a position in the first fifty places in the queue.
The fundraising event began in 1994 with just 400 postcards and since then has raised over £1 million for the RCA Fine Art Student Award Fund, helping thousands of emerging artists at a formative stage in their careers. This year’s event has headline sponsorship from long time supporters Stewarts Law. John Cahill, Managing Partner at Stewarts Law, said of the partnership:
‘We are delighted to sponsor the Stewarts Law RCA Secret exhibition and fundraising sale. It’s a fantastic annual event enjoyed by thousands of visitors and importantly raises money to support young artists with bursaries and scholarships through the College’s Fine Art Student Award Fund.’
Exhibition open: Thursday 13 March to Friday 21 March 2014, 11am–6pm daily (late night opening on 20 March until 9pm)
Sale day: Saturday 22 March, 8am–6pm (raffle winners will be admitted 1 hour before general public).
Information: www.rca.ac.uk/secret or Twitter: @RCASecret