The Perfect Place to Grow: 175 Years of the Royal College of Art
Until Wed Jan 2
© Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby
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Time Out says
Mon Sep 10 2012
The Royal College of Art may not be the first thing you think of when you're in a public lav with your hands down a Dyson Airblade; nor when sitting in a ubiquitous polyprop stacking chair; nor, indeed, when a new-shape Porsche 911 purrs by in the street. Yet the institute is responsible for the post-graduate education of the designers behind all three: James Dyson, Robin Day and Matthias Kulla.
Looking to inspire a little recognition, the RCA will be highlighting work by this trio, as well as dozens of other alumni, as part of its celebratory exhibition, 'The Perfect Place to Grow: 175 Years of the Royal College of Art'. The show aims to demonstrate the impact the school's alumni have on our visual and industrial culture. It also hopes to chart the history of an institute that, though best known for its stellar art and fashion graduates, actually originated as the publicly funded Government School of Design in 1837 with the sole aim of teaching teenage boys to design for industry. Since then, it has allowed fine art (and women) on to campus, and has been turning out an impressive number of accomplished product, graphic, vehicle and textile designers, as well as architects and artists.
This breadth of talent means the show's curators have plenty of work to choose from. Pieces by early graduates – including a painting by suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst who was jailed midway through her decorative painting course – will be featured, while the morphing character of modern art will be plotted via works by Henry Moore, Bridget Riley and Tracey Emin (her installation of the same name lends the show its title). There'll be paintings by Blockhead honcho Ian Dury, as well as iconic fashion by Philip Treacy and Christopher Bailey, plus influential design by Thomas Heatherwick and former Royal College of Art tutor Ron Arad.
From just this brief selection, it's obvious that the RCA has an extraordinary knack of its own: for nurturing cross-disciplinary talent – the type of creative who can breathe art into industrial design, and purpose into art. Zena Alkayat