RCA Secret Postcard Sale: Guide to the Show
The RCA Secret auction opened on the first weekend of December. Check back nearer the time for more details.
Last year the auction opened on the first weekend of December. Check back nearer the time for more details.
One of the highlights of the London contemporary art scene, the annual exhibition and sale of 1800 anonymous postcards at the RCA Kensington outpost is an opportunity to buy work by current students, Royal College of Art notable alumni and famous names, which, in past years has included Grayson Perry, Sir Paul Smith and Ridley Scott. And with the ‘hush hush’ aspect of it all – famous artists are placed next to emerging artists in a pick 'n' mix hang – 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 it's 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
RCA Secret Postcard Sale 2018
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.
- Register in advance as a Secret Supporter. In order to purchase a postcard, you must register on the RCA Secret Postcard Sale website and note down your ID number.
- 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!
- With your research complete, carefully browse the postcards for sale online. Images of all postcards in the exhibition are released online ahead of the sale.
- Postcards will also be available for online viewing, ahead of the preview, typically 24 hours ahead of the auction going live. Although there is plenty of time to snap up the postcards you love, prepare a list of back-ups in case you are beaten to the post.
RCA Secret Postcard exhibition: 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 of course tricks to the curating that the organisers 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...if it means bagging a bargain.