Supporting the work of the Royal Academy of Arts
The 2009 First Year
The 2009 first year at the Royal Academy Schools represents another extraordinary group of young postgraduate artists. Selected from over 600 candidates this group celebrates a range of fine art disciplines from a diverse territory of experience; from the Philippines to Poland, Glasgow to London. Everyone has a first degree but many have had several years or more working in studios and exhibiting before returning to ‘study’, recognising the importance of a full time focused practice and the opportunity to meet the multitude of artists, curators, critics and thinkers that are a part of the Royal Academy Schools.
Every year is different, with a new dynamic, so that tutors and students alike are stimulated by new challenges in this small but specialist institution. Notably this year has a more sculptural presence, where the work made with the found object is in dialogue with an artist whose practice includes taxidermy, and biomorphic blobs encounter visionary portraits skilfully emerging through the use of egg tempera. Across the studio is a large noisy narrative painting of a social gathering, and not far away photographic images of memorials communicate to the living; sonorous and mournful. Pure delight in perception is encountered via the rumbles of a super eight film loop while strangely another piece of old technology is heard by the use of a typewriter. Describing just some of these very different artistic practices cannot encapsulate the breadth of ambition nor most importantly the high quality and indeed quantity of skills that are brought together in the studio. Conversations about the nearest timber merchants mingle with how Frieze looked this year or an essay on social anthropology.
'Duck and Cover', Christopher McSherry, First Year Student, 77 x 82 x 32 cm. Clay, plaster, paint, wood, 2008. Sculpture, Painting, Printmaking Photography, this year includes Typography, and Filmmaking and Installation all rub practical and intellectual shoulders with each other in a dedicated studio space. Although this is early in the academic year we have already had two days when each new first year has the opportunity to present a short talk on their personal practice and we have had one group critique with four 1st years showing work for discussion in the ‘Keeper’s Room’. So the peer group debate has begun and so have the workshops, some for bronze casting, whilst others have made use of silkscreen and etching and, of course, the Epson print facilities. One artist has booked the ‘project space’ for a week to make the biggest painting she has ever had the opportunity to do up until now.
We are three weeks into three years of artistic endeavour, and as I have the privilege of being ‘First Year Tutor’, I can only look forward to this talented group of young artists individually and in useful collaboration achieving their ambitions.