30 December 2012

175 years of the Royal College of Art

History made visible (image from here)
If in London, you have a few days left to catch the exhibition (10am - 5.30pm, till 3 January), and can see many photos here.

End of term frolic, 1894 (image from here)
The exhibition includes both student work and later professional achievements of many alumni and faculty:  Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden, Lucie Rie, Sir James Dyson, Eric Parry, David Adjaye, Tord Boontje, Ron Arad, Graphic Thought Facility, Neville Brody, Lady Elizabeth Butler, Dame Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, David Hockney, Eduardo Paolozzi, Tracey Emin, Chris Ofili, George Shaw, Spartacus Chetywnd,  Sir Hugh Casson, David Mellor, Lucienne Day, Robin Day, David Gentleman, John Piper, Thomas Heatherwick David Hockney, Peter Kennard, Ekua McMorris, Frank Auerbach, Felicity Aylieff, Ron Arad, Dunne & Raby, Konstantin Grcic, Gertrude Jekyll, Sir Edwin Lutyens, John Bratby, Jo Stockham, Stephen Farthing, Mary Restieaux, Bill Gibb, Zandra Rhodes, Ossie Clarke, Brothers Quay, Richard Wentworth. Etc.
In a Leicester Boot Factory by Sylvia Pankhurst (image from here)
A surprise was the 1907 watercolour of workers in a boot factory by suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst, daughter of Emmeline and sister of Christabel. During her studies she spent some time incarcerated in Holloway Prison, and after graduation went round northern England recording the conditions of women workers. (Read about the tour here.)

The design work of Christopher Dresser (1834-1904) was also a revelation - the kettle in the centre was designed in 1880 -
tableware by Christopher Dresser; image from here
The Government School of Design was created in 1837 to train young craftsmen and artisans for work in the ceramics, textiles, and ornamental crafts of Britain’s manufacturing industries. The great debate on whether the institution should include fine art in its curriculum was finally resolved when the school - long since renamed - attained independent status in the 1960s. Applied art had been seen largely in terms of its usefulness to industry and its ability to raise the standards of British manufactured goods and in turn, balance of trade. But the interests of its students were otherwise... Yet even now the RCA has a strong reputation on the design front.
Edward Johnston's font is still used on the London Underground (image from here)

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