The Royal College of Art puts on an annual special exhibition and sale of original postcard-sized artworks, by internationally acclaimed artists plus up-and coming graduates from the Royal College of Art. It’s your chance to get your hands on original works of art for a tiny price.
The exhibition usually involves over 2,000 original postcard-sized artworks by over 1500 artists. The contributors include current RCA postgraduate students, alumni and internationally acclaimed artists — whether they be painters, fashion designers (Manolo Blahnik and Paul Smith) or just celebrities (or semi celebrities –Yoko Ono). The secret is, the postcards are signed only on the reverse, so the artist of each work remains a secret until after the cards are purchased, each one for the same price of £45.
It’s definitely worth the gamble. A postcard painting of a man in a canoe by Peter Doig that was bought in 2000 for £30. It sold for £42,000 at Sotheby’s in 2007. In the same sale, a Damien Hirst sketch of a skull, bought in 2004, sold for £15,600. A pen drawing of a figure by Tracey Emin sold for £16,000 in 2008. As well a painting of a woman by Gillian Carnegie sold for £6,000. It was bought in 1997, when the artist was still a student at the Royal College of Art.
So how does it work? You can visit the RCA during the exhibition and decide which postcards you like – and try to spot the masterpiece. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.
By the looks of the artwork by established artists, go for the ugliest you can find. And as they’re sold on a “first-come, first-served” basis, with a four-per-person limit, I’d highly suggest buying the raffle tickets for a chance to win a place in the First Fifty in the queue. Otherwise, be prepared to queue up very early in the morning of the sale. And let me tell you, it’s not fun. Usually the sale is in the winter, and it’s miserable. Art lovers will literally camp out in the snow and rain to get their mini work of artwork.
Now in its 20th year, the sale is expected to raise more than £100,000 for college bursaries for RCA Fine Art students in financial hardship, at a pivotal time in their careers.