A fitting post to kick off to this blog – a look at the RCA Show 2012 or if we’re being official – Show RCA 2012 (#ShowRCA12). The RCA is an incomparable institution. It is the world’s oldest university of art and design (in continuous operation) and the only one that operates exclusively at postgraduate level. Its cachet remains undiminished and the end-of-year show is always a treat (and even got a mention in Tatler’s Bystander recently).
The RCA Kensington campus is home to the ‘School of Material’ Shows – that is – ceramics, glass, goldsmithing, silversmithing, metalwork, jewellery and textiles.
So on with some highlights….
A piece by Nina Khazani
Nina Khazani’s pieces made from human hair were extremely beautiful. Rings with lustrous ponytails attached, earrings of layered hair of differing shades and shoes with long blonde hair cascading from the soles. Beautiful – yet ever so slightly creepy. On the head – hair is part of our identity and can symbolise fertility and health but once it isn’t – our relationship with it changes. I had to ask the obvious question – where does she get the hair? From (very generous) friends apparently.
From the Vanitas Vanitatum series by Tamsin van Essen
Tamsin van Essen is known for her eerie medical pieces but she explained that, quite understandably, she didn’t want to become known as ‘medical girl’. Her new work is about the transience of beauty and that specific moment when things turn from full-bodied vitality into decay. The Vanitas Vanitatum series is a change in direction for Tamsin but it still retains an unsettling and dark edge that she does so well.
From the Baroque series by Jo Woffinden
It was the colour and texture of Jo Woffinden’s concrete pieces caught my eye. Inspired by Baroque architecture the shapes of the pieces are constructed in order to draw your eye inwards. The smooth exterior and lunar-like interiors made my fingers itch to have a feel (I did) and result from her experiments with concrete and its properties.
Ceremonial dress by Hannah Truran
A little bit Bat for Lashes, a little bit Lady Gaga. Hannah Truran’s body pieces are ‘designed for a futuristic warrior huntress’. Nuff said.
Contuse by Jane Hunt
Jane Hunt’s glass pieces seem familiar in shape despite their abstract nature – the fluid lines, gentle curves and subtle colouring hinting at the human body (the piece above reminded me of an ear). By manipulating small bubbles of hot glass she expertly creates structures within the skin of the vessel.
A cup of Au by Alice McLean
Alice McLean’s work is incredibly delicate and concerned with the expressive power of materials through process. I love tea which is probably why I like cup of Au so much. Notions of value and material all swirling around in a gossamer tea bag.
Movement tests still by Larisa Daiga
Larisa Daiga combines digital film and ceramics. The film of a spherical vessel rolling around the floor eventually coming to a standstill on its neck had me hooked for a fair few minutes. I was bracing myself for it to smash and wondered whether it had been filmed in slow-motion (it hadn’t). Sound and ceramics are not obvious bedfellows but the films were nonetheless compelling.
Silver dollar by Laurie Schram
Laurie Schram’s pieces demand close inspection. She describes them as small interventions through which she adjusts the material world around her. Her use of money and precious materials raises questions about value, commodity and worth. George Washington’s head peeps through a layer of electroformed silver in ‘Silver Dollar’ a piece recently acquired by the British Museum.
- In three words: hirsute, Gaga, B+
Show RCA 2012, RCA Kensington, 20 June – 1 July