RA Magazine Summer 2011
Issue Number: 111
Where are they now?
As another crop of RA Schools graduates has its final show, Emma Crichton-Miller finds out how previous students have fared in the art world.
Rachael Champion tends her installation, Carrying Capacity, 2011, on show at the Zabludowicz Collection in Kentish Town, London Photo © Richard Dawson RACHAEL CHAMPION, GRADUATED 2010
‘The way I work – making installations – is less commercial than making objects, so I need institutional support,’ says Rachael Champion, who graduated from the RA Schools in 2010. That support has come from several sources. On graduating, Champion took up a Red Mansion Prize travelling scholarship to China, before being invited to create the inaugural exhibition for Copenhagen Place in London’s East End. Known for her large, interactive installations, using industrial, architectural and natural elements, Champion’s work is now on show at London’s Zabludowicz Collection, which commissioned her for ‘The Shape We’re In’, its show of emerging and established artists. For Champion, the tension between nature and industry, the overlap between the agricultural, architectural and technological, is a major preoccupation. Her installation, Carrying Capacity is made of an air vent covered in mosaic, shelves containing wheat grass, barley and corn, and components from industrial boilers on the floor. ‘I prefer to make whole experiences for an audience rather than individual objects,’ she says. She graduated from Purchase College, State University of New York in 2004, then at the RA Schools she started making interactive sculptures and installations. ‘I used a massive studio at the RA for my final show, exhibiting an installation I had been working on for five months. It went up into the rafters.’ Looking ahead, she takes part in ‘Bold Tendencies’, with Hannah Barry Gallery (www.boldtendencies.com, 30 June–30 Sep) in south London and has an artist’s residency in Finland next year.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye in the Corvi-Mora Gallery, London, with her painting, Aftersong, 2011, on the wall behind Photo © Richard Dawson LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE, GRADUATED 2003
Painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye says of her time at the RA Schools: ‘You go there because you have a lot of developing to do.’ A British artist of Ghanaian descent, she came to the RA in 2000 after graduating from Central Saint Martins, then Falmouth College of Arts. She says she wanted ‘to pull everything apart and build it up again’. Since leaving the RA Schools, her bold oil portraits of half-remembered, half-invented people and paintings of almost theatrical figures in landscapes have caught widespread attention. When in 2004 she was included in both the John Moores Painting Prize exhibition in Liverpool and the Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the Barbican, Guardian art critic Adrian Searle wrote: ‘Her paintings have a raw edginess, but a lot of sophistication and complications in them. And complications are the best thing a young artist can have.’
Her biggest breakthrough came in 2006. First she was awarded a £10,000 painting fellowship from The Arts Foundation, then a £30,000 Arts Council funded deciBel Visual Arts Award, enabling her to concentrate full-time on her work. Next she was invited to participate in the 2006 Seville Biennial: ‘That was a really big deal. The more I travel and see my work in different contexts, hearing peoples’ responses and discovering the range of other work being made, the more aware I have become of the specific impact of my work.’ A show last year at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York saw interest take off in the United States, while this spring she had a solo show, ‘Notes and Letters’, at Corvi-Mora Gallery in London. She is now preparing for the Lyon Biennale in September.
Alex Knell works on a print at the RA Schools print studio Photo © Richard Dawson ALEX KNELL, GRADUATED 2009
When he graduated from the RA Schools Alex Knell had the good fortune of having his work emblazoned on the side of a building, just around the corner from the RA. We Are Our Only Future (2009) was a vast text work and Knell was the winner of the first online art competition run by the RA Schools and the real estate company, Hines, who were developing the building. He came to RA Schools in 2006, after graduating from Goldsmiths in 2000, then juggling art and other employment. His work is still text-based but he stresses, ‘The text is always conceived as part of the visual realm.’ Knell was given a solo show last winter at Art First in London and he is currently making work inspired by love letters sent in by the public for his ‘Art on Poetry’ show at the Saison Poetry Library (020 7960 4200, www.southbankcentre.co.uk, 31 Aug–25 Sep).
‘I am making text-based posters that refer to 1960s rock band flyers and protest posters.’ He will also plant limited-edition prints at random inside volumes of poetry in the library for readers to find. What matters to him, he explains, are ‘notions of hope, of those moments when the world opens itself to new possibilities.’
NICK GOSS, GRADUATED 2009
At first glance, Nick Goss’s mythical landscapes and elusive interiors seem part of an English tradition of romantic painting. Yet there are odd fluctuations in scale, incongruous juxtapositions and strange lacunae. Goss begins with an elaborate process of photography, collage, sketch, and model-making, before the final painting is created. He used his time at the RA Schools (2006-09) to experiment: ‘Then at the end of the third year I completely changed. I realised the work had to be much more pared down and ghostly.’ Goss credits his tutors, and the inspiring direction of the Keeper Maurice Cockrill, with enabling this transformation: ‘I made the work for my degree show in the last six weeks – three paintings.’ Charles Saatchi bought two of them.
In 2009 he was included in ‘4 New Sensations’ at A Foundation in Shoreditch. Saatchi went on to buy two more canvases at Goss’s first solo show at Josh Lilley Gallery in 2010, which were shown at ‘Newspeak: British Art Now’ at the Saatchi Gallery. Goss has his first New York solo show at Simon Preston Gallery (www.simonprestongallery. com, 5 June–17 July). A residency earlier this year in Vienna has been good preparation: ‘My work has changed since then. I’ve been photographing those curious outskirts of the city where nature meets the urban environment.’ Goss is also contributing to a group show at Simon Oldfield Gallery (07970 719692, www.simonoldfield.com, 23 June–23 July) curated by fellow RA Schools graduate, Tim Ellis.
Nick Goss in his studio in Bow, east London Photo © Richard Dawson
RA Schools Show Schools Studios, Royal Academy of Arts, 020 7300 8000, www.royalacademy.org.uk,
22 June –3 July. Sponsored by Newton Investment Management.
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