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By Juliette Goddard

Thursday, December 5, 2012.

Juliette Goddard’s artistic talent as a young student earned her a prized place at the Royal College of Art. Thirty years later she returned to meet up with other alumni who also had that royal seal of approval:

I remember in the 1980s, as a student, the chances of getting a place at the Royal College of Art (RCA) were very, very, very slim. I think it was five hundred applicants for eight places in the Printmaking Department, so competition was tough.

Art reflects all cultural standpoints. The photography work of Ekua Mcmorris and textile designs of Emamoke Ukeleghe both used a combination of culture and politics demonstrating the importance of using your heritage as inspiration; it’s not black art. Or white art, as Caroline Sardine showed - her work is even a little bit aboriginal, using found objects collaged together, giving the feel of the outsider's art.

So the recent gathering of alumni at The RCA Black Exhibition (put together with the African and African Caribbean Design Diaspora) saw some of the finest graduates (disparate, yet with a strand of cultural commonality) over the past 60 years under the same roof.

The exhibition featured twenty three outstanding artists and designers including Frank Bowling RA painter, Eileen Perrier photographer, Faisal Abdu Allah photographer, printed images and fashion designer Charlie Allen and the textile designer Althea Mcnish. Other RCA top brass include David Hockney, Tracey Emin and James Dyson which gives further muscle to the diversity drive that the college now seeks to embrace.

There were no black tutors when I was at the RCA, but it was John Hoyland who always wanted to change that politic and witnessing how difficult it was to do, it was fantastic to listen to current RCA Rector, Dr Paul Thompson re-iterate his wish to engage more talented students from ethnic minority groups, such as the African and Caribbean communities, as part of the ongoing bid to attract the best talent from across the nation.

The RCA Black exhibition will be followed up with exhibits at the Barge House Gallery, Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, London, SE1 9PH. Supported by the British European Design group and the African and African Caribbean Design Diaspora.
http://www.aacdd.org for full details.


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