This year ‘s Royal College of Art degree shows are once again split over its two sites with Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, Textiles, Jewellery, Ceramics and Glass being held at the Battersea campus while the more product based courses are still housed in Kensington.
Expectations are high from these Post Graduate students as some of the Art world’s most influential and important artists and designers are RCA alumni including: Frank Auerbach, Peter Blake, David Hockney, Chris Ofili, Philip Treacy, Orla Kiely, Zandra Rhodes, Sir James Dyson and Sir Ridley Scott. The ceramics, glass and textiles are always of exceptional quality. As far as the Fine Art departments go, it seems to change year by year as to which course produces the most interesting and innovative work. A couple of years ago it was Printmaking that stood out but this year it was clearly the Sculpture students.
The first work that greets you as you enter the Sculpture building is Skirting Board by Vesta Kroese (photo above), which is exactly that: a skirting board that runs from the reception area into the main gallery comprised of local leftovers, skipped artworks and fascinates as you recognise various tiles, pieces of plaster and blocks of wood in the mix. I was captivated by the variety of materials used in the sculptures in the constant attempt to come up with something new. Jason Thomson even had a kitted out VW camper van in his piece called Journey (Top Photo) – all very Joseph Beuys (VW Transporter 1969),
Russell Hill used toothpaste to paint stripes down a wall, Aqua Fresh stripe I suspect. I found Freya Gabie’s description of the material used in her work far more interesting than the piece itself. “Carpet taken from the floors of an unoccupied flat and deconstructed down to dust”, for your information.
I also particularly liked Josephine Callaghan’s C-type aluminium wall pieces (Photo Above). Some of the disciplines tend to overlap. I was surprised that these works were Sculpture and not Photography or painting and Meg Rahaim’s hand-made digital image objects in crocheted yarn were actually Printing (see photo with toothpase painting).
I have to say that I was disappointed by the Painting this year. This might be because I expect so much from the RCA students but the work was, dare I say it, a bit dull. Always accomplished but there was little that stood out. Of note was Isabel Yellin’s painting on mixed fabric, oil, wire, steel, toothpaste (Above) (there we have it again!), tape, spray paint, acrylic, charcoal and grout and Yvonne Yiewen Feng’s expressionist figurative works In the Eileen Cooper mould (another RCA graduate). see photo below