2017 RCA Secret: Guide to the Show
We tell you how to buy famous art and get the most out of the Royal College of Art Secret Postcard sale
If you think you could pick a modern master out of a crowd, then the Royal College of Art Secret Postcard Sale is for you.
One of the highlights of the London contemporary art scene, the annual exhibition and sale of 3000 anonymous postcards at the RCA Battersea outpost is an opportunity to buy work by current students, Royal College of Art notable alumni and famous names. And with the ‘hush hush’ aspect of it all, you won’t have a clue who you’ve bought until you turn the postcard over on sale day.
From the super conceptual to the down right lewd, all of the money raised goes to the RCA student bursaries. Emerging and famous artists alike love the show, because buyers treasure their postcards rather than reselling on the fluctuating art market. And its a very social affair, with visitors that come back every year to find work that they can cherish forever.
RCA Secret Postcard Sale: How to beat the System
With queues round the block and camping out over night, there’s an art to playing the game at the Royal College of Art, if you want to get your hands on a David Bailey or Damien Hirst original. For one thing, the hard-core who have been coming to the RCA exhibition since it began in 1994, will know each other and will certainly be comparing notes in the queue.
- Rather than risk camping, beat the crowds by winning a raffle ahead of time and be one of the 50 first people into the sale. Pick up a £1 raffle ticket during the exhibition (20 max per person) to be in with a chance of skipping the queue on sale day.
- A lot of buyers will be experienced RCA Secret goers that do fervent research on each famous artist before seeing the show. If you want to catch the big names, make sure you do the same!
RCA Secret Postcard exhibition 2017: big names vs. emerging talent
If you’re scanning the room for Tracey Emin’s handwriting or Paula Rego’s illustrations, you may be disappointed as famous artists are not given any special treatment. Take a risk and you'll definitely find it pays off because the RCA graduates of today are the movers and shakers of the art world tomorrow.
- Don’t expect the famous artists to be front and centre. They have been carefully placed so that each artist gets a look in
- And there are course tricks to the curating that organiser Marianna Keating can’t reveal. "There might be reasons certain postcards are next to each other and themes…and then again there might not!" Infuriating, but we’ll play along...