The Perfect Place to Grow: 175 Years of the Royal College of Art
The Royal College of Art (RCA) is a world renowned post-graduate art institution. During the course of its existence, the RCA has opened its doors to produce and nurture some of the greatest minds in art history and contemporary practice. The Perfect Place to Grow: 175 Years of the Royal College of Art is an exhibition of works produced by college staff, students and alumni which highlights the excellence of arts education at the establishment. It is a celebration of success; a showcase of the finest minds and a visual delight.
With alumni including Alan Fletcher, Henry Moore, Tracy Emin, David Hockney, Christopher Bailey, Sir Ridley Scott, Bridget Riley and the Chapman Brothers, an exhibition of works spanning the institutions was always going to be a monumental success of intrigue and creativity. The exhibition consists of four parts: Personal Expression, Political Expression, Art for Industry, and Public Purposes. These sections highlight brilliantly how the RCA has changed the surface of art across the board. From the painters whose work transformed the way we viewed British Industries, to the political activists who were jailed for their work, there is not a dull moment among the vast selection of pieces.
With so much to choose from, it is hard to pinpoint certain moments of excellence. The expanse of work is all of exceptional quality and creates a real history of the art industries over the past 175 years. The Personal Expression section of the exhibition was filled to the brim with wondrous works; a personal favourite was the piece present by Jake and Dino Chapman. The infamous art duo’s mesmerising sculpture, consisting of a symmetrically exciting four-headed woman, was a thrill to see. The excellence continued with works by David Mach, Richard Wentworth, Gavin Turk, Ian Dury and many other artists.
A great surprise was the Public Purposes section. Curated with fantastic finesse, works involving hospital beds, signage, and other useful applications are exceptional. With a museum-esque feel, the section captures the excitement that many historically-themed collections lack. The RCA manages to make this section a wondrous journey through time, filled with outstanding examples of what can usually be considered mundane transformed into the art that they actually are.
A thrilling exhibition from start to finish, visitors should reserve an entire day to revel in the delights of one of the best art institutions in the world. A celebration of practical application, creative thought, and technical excellence, I hope that the RCA continues to produce the art elite for many years to come.
Photos: Martin Evans