RCA Society

Meeting up with the Prizewinners

Each month the RCA Society's management committee meet together. These meetings - tho mainly intended to oversee the 'day to day running of the society' - are also an opportunity to socialise and discuss ideas and plan activities. One of the activities that has become central to the Society is the annual 'Artbook prize' run in collaboration with Thames & Hudson Publishers. The process of selecting the prize winners is a great opportunity for members to engage with the work of "new" graduates as well as introduce previous graduates and the Society to a new generation of artists and designers. On Sunday, 10 August, we held a small social event where prize winners and members who participated in the task of "judging" got together for 'afternoon tea' at AND Association's "EventSpace" in Whitechapel. A bonus to the 'afternoon tea' was an opportunity to experience John Latham's "Skoob Box" (circa 1960s) which was rebuiconstructed by AND with John Latham in 1994. The Skoob Box can be seen 'on appointment' at AND EventSpace. The Society kept the tradition going of informal 'on the hoof' get togethers with great food on a "good weather day"!! It was encouraging to see such a good turn out of winners and members especially during the holiday season and a nice occasion to get to know more about this group of recent graduates, discover more about their work, their thoughts on art and design, and their ambitions for the future. Of course the wide range of members and new graduates and the accumulated years of experience amongst us all led to comparisons being drawn between 'our day' and theirs... what opportunities now exist, the role of artist and designer in society and of course the perennial difficulties and burdens from finding ways to survive. Was there ever an automatic right to a "good job" for graduates? Will the recent slump in the world's economic situation have a severe impact on R&D? As this is central to the creative industries will we hear again the incantation of the philistines that 'art is a luxury' ? Summer also brings out the numerous issues that surround current further and higher education(particularly within the art & design disciplines). The high expectations of a generation who pay a 'high financial price' to study and the difficulties to place those skills in what seems to be a decreasing market place is a huge issue. Continual criticisms of 'vocational' courses are heard and the drive backwards to elitist approaches in education has begun:

" ... Tory plans call for "harder" A-levels, such as maths and physics. Their proposals for England also suggest awarding fewer points for subjects seen as easier, such as media studies... " (BBC 6 Aug 09).

There is an urgent need to address this issue and to revisit the premise 'Is art education dying...?" as discussed in the RCA Society Symposium 1996. It is also timely to review the watershed event as embodied in the 'RCA Red-efined" (1971 - aka 'Yellow Pages'). Take part in pulling together a further debate by sending in your comments. The website is a good place to start a discussion going - add your comments to this article or send in your information for publication. Also see the calender for an interesting range of coming events.