What makes the RCA Special
First thing on a grey Monday morning in January the RCA launched ’GenerationRCA’ at its Kensington Gore building - famously designed in the ‘1960s brutalist style’ by RCA tutors Hugh Casson, Cadbury Brown and Robert Goodden… and tweeted the question ‘What makes the RCA so special???’
Since the days of a small campus located around Exhibition Road, Queensgate and Cromwell Road the College has extended its ‘property portfolio’ to Battersea and WhiteCity. Its student population has also extended from 250 students to 1,500+ and increasing year on year by an intake from around the world.
However, the RCA is still quoted as the only wholly post graduate University in the World, acknowleged as the top arts university, and commands a reputation for producing cutting edge and dynamic works from a dazzling spectrum of Fine Art and Design practices.
The Launch of “Generation RCA’s” ambitious five-year programme is heralded in with an ‘heroic’ video made by (famous alumni) Ridley Scott . The promo weaves across the art and design practices studied at the College and represents some of the most significant developments in art and design since the College was founded in 1837.
The brief behind ‘GenerationRCA’ propels the RCA’s radical new academic vision by focusing on three key pillars: ‘Places, Projects and People’.
Central to these is the physical development of the College which includes extending the Battersea Site to some 16,000 sqm of studios, workshops, labs, research centres and provides a dramatic double-height hangar space – "an ‘agora’ where large-scale works can be assembled and displayed, and students can gather for talks or performances." Exciting times ahead for the College… and its good to see that socialising and intellectual interaction between the various disciplines is being ‘physically’ encouraged. Exciting times ahead…. but….
Interaction and connectivity has been an unresolved problem at the RCA for many years. During the days of the eminent ones, ‘featured’ in Ridley Scotts video, Professors jealously guarded their ‘dominions’ and ‘department hopping’ was frowned upon. Students then, through the students union, did challenge their "feudalistic lords" and some things changed, new approaches were acknowleged by the emergence of 'Environmental Media' - this brief encounter with progress was 'shut down' in 1984 at the same time Ridley Scott produced his iconic 'Apple Mac' promos... ! Now technologies and disciplines have converged - jurisdictions have been broken down, commonalities between practices are encouraged and there is a strong resistance to pigeonholing. Contemporary barriers are the physical distances between schools, huge increases in student numbers, lack of time and a potential for cultural ghettoisation generated by language barriers.
What makes the RCA Society special...?
The RCA Society cuts across many of the social/economic and professional issues which impact on both graduates (and current students). RCA Soc Members represent cross generational approaches and understanding - from those who studied during a time when education was encouraged and supported by the State - and when ‘winning a place’ to study at the Royal College of Art was an acknowlegment of ‘talent’ - through to a generation of financially priveleged students who ‘bought the dream’ but are uncertain of their talents.
Of course the majority of the young people now studying at the College are undoubtedly talented and ‘streetwise’ enough to ‘perform’ as artists and designers But, for the ‘long in the tooth’ artists and designers who experienced the RCA, the danger observed now is that art & design education is in the province of the ‘financially comfortable’…. and cultural output will reflect this.
Everyone should be concerned about the direction art and design education is heading and take action as much as possible to keep art and design practice at a level which is truly challenging whilst maintaining integrity.
TWEET Q … What makes the RCA so special???
Watch a 3-minute film that celebrates every past, present and future generation of RCA students and staff from @RSAfilms, @alumniRCA Ridley Scott’s production company.
Watch in full: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5w6kTK_BgM … #GenerationRCA