Royal College of Art
Royal College of Art
The Royal College of Art graduate show 2014, once again highlighted the outstanding talent of creative students in London. Across multiple disciplines and spaces at the Battersea campus, work spanned photography, painting, printmaking, sculpture and textiles. Historically, the show has been the launchpad for the careers of some of Britain’s most renowned creative names such as Moore, Hockney, Heatherwick and Emin.
In the sculpture building, where a neon café sign did indeed lead to a café (because you never know), the body, performance, public art and site remained traditional themes of this historic discipline. However this year there was also particular reference to sculpture’s relationship to architecture and landscape, where open and modular structures created layers of contrasting and conflicting materiality in the mostly open space. Although somewhat crowded, these curatorial decisions emphasised the power of interdisciplinary creativity and underlined the crossovers between sculpture, performance, painting and photography.
Amongst the enormous, the vivid and the obscene, however, the honestly simplicity of Light and Wind by Vesta Kroese stood out. A overhead projector lit a single sheet of aluminum leaf taped to the wall from below. The generated heat created gentle movement and refracted beams of light in a moment of calm.
Other highlights in this space included Russell Hill’s stripes of toothpaste on a wall producing a familiar minty smell upon inspection, and an elusive artist whose both work and name were invisible: at irregular intervals, a loud rhythmic rapping could be heard on the roof of the high-ceilinged space. Travelling at rapid pace, this alarming noise halted visitors as they looked up to find the source.
In the Sackler building, painters and photographers revisited cultural and historical staples such as landscape, portraiture and still life, but through expanded, sampled and exploded methods. In the modular individual galleries, photographers were paired with painters, creating unusual dialogues between the two disciplines. Of particular note was Anna Bernard’s Snow Queen, a sculptural painting containing layers of cut out canvas and board reminiscent of theatre sets. Other commendable work includes Dominic Hawgood’s Who are you?, a striking series of photographic LED light panels, and prizewinner Gabriele Dini’s Swarm Scale, a gravity-defying beeswax sculpture.
This year’s impressive and inspiring work from RCA students symbolised a culmination of exploration, experimentation, dedication and creative obsession, whilst emphasising the ever-present relationship between sculpture and the body, and painting and the body: that of the artist’s and the viewer’s.