UAL students will be taking over The RA in an epic birthday party on 8 December to celebrate its 250th anniversary and examine museums of the future. The event, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will be curated by UAL students, injecting a modern take on the RA’s history, collection and archive.
Here we talk to the 12 student curators, selected across each of UAL’s six Colleges, who have masterminded the multisensory immersive event. Set across the RA’s two acre site – the event will showcase installation art, performances, DJs, immersive experiences and film screenings at this one-night-only carnival of art and music.
Scott Castner, Performance Design and Practice, Central Saint Martins, UAL; @gxthboi
Scott Castner is an international student from the United States. Drawing from his background in theatre, Scott works primarily with the human voice and dance in order to investigate and challenge our modern understanding of identity. His performances ask audiences to address their discomforts by addressing his own discomforts. He also works as a Director for Theatre.
On being selected as a UAL student RA curator: It feels so exciting. To have the opportunity to peek behind the curtain of such an amazing institution, and to then interpret and share that with my peers is exhilarating.
On programming the RA event: I worked on the 2268 Ball and the Collections Gallery Takeover.
On the importance of art and design: I love having a physical, tangible way to work through things I don’t understand.
Dream job post-graduation: As long as I’m paid and making art I’ll be happy.
Elvira García, Culture, Criticism and Curation, Central Saint Martins, UAL; @_elvira_garcia
Elvira Garcia studies Culture, Criticism and Curation and understands the curator’s role as a bridge towards new narratives which enrich both artworks and audience. She aims to build accessible exhibitions and gatherings that arouse empathy and reflection.
On being selected as a UAL student RA curator: Having the opportunity to reflect my curatorial interests with the support of an institution such as the RA – which, since its foundation as an Academy was devised as a place not only to display, but also learn – is particularly relevant. Getting such a close and practical understanding of the RA is a privilege which constantly complements my experience and learning within cultural work.
On programming the RA event: I curated ‘Hidden Archives’. Audiences are invited to encounter human knowledge as one looks into the starry night, drawing their own constellations. For this, I made a selection of evoking fragments from the RA Archives, which music producer Glows transformed then into a soundscape. The starry night will be projected into the ceiling, while the individual, is invited to lay, and encounter the archives far from its static character, but through the closeness of oral tradition.
On the importance of art and design: What fascinates me most about art is its capacity to remind us that an absolute picture does not exist. Each individual has the ability to create their own images, their own interpretation of the world.
Dream job post-graduation: To build relevant bridges between artwork and individuals – to assemble cultural work that arouses empathy and reflection.
Helena van Krieken Vannerley, Graphic Design, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL; @mayd_oll
Helena Vannerley is a self-proclaimed ‘accidental art student’ whose research-led work combines elements of graphics and traditional photographic techniques with a focus on creating pieces to share and explain.
On being selected as a UAL student RA curator: It has taught me a lot. I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to learn at the RA and it has helped me to work out more who I am as a designer as well as furthering my love for archives and collections within museums
On programming the RA event: As part of a team I designed and curated the RA Birthday Party.
On the importance of art and design: The ability of art and design to preserve moments and capture feelings is a wonderful thing. The subjectivity of perspective and interpretation means that art and design as disciplines are always in the moment and moving forward. I’m constantly surprised and excited by developments in the art and design world.
Dream job post-graduation: I’d like to study more after graduation, and develop my practice.
Freddie Wise, Fine Art Painting, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL; @mrcameronlee
Freddie Wise is a painting student at UAL from Stroud, Gloucestershire. Having finished his first year at Camberwell College of Arts, he has developed his interest in using found memories and thoughts to expose abstraction in figuration. His most recent work has involved swimming pools, pool tables and picnic blankets. Freddie’s work uses the material qualities of paint to explore objects as symbols through form, creating scenes not out of place on a cinema screen.
On being selected as a UAL student RA curator: I feel really lucky to be a part of the curating team. I’ve met some really great new people who I’ve learnt lots from and had fun with it.
On programming the RA event: I helped to program the UAL Film Festival as well as the balloon installation.
On the importance of art and design: I love the opportunities to work on projects with people and share the excitement of creativity.
Dream job post-graduation: Self Employed
Marco Pini, Graphic and Media Design, London College of Communication, UAL; @glowssound
Marco Pini is a graphic and sound artist. His work focuses primarily on manipulating digital recordings and printing processes. His current work is released through his GG Skips monkier and focuses on inventing new visual languages and scores to create generatively designed soundscapes. He also runs the label and events collective Slow Dance and releases music under Glows.
On being selected as a UAL student RA curator: An incredible opportunity to be part of such a great institution having come here for years.
On programming the RA event: I curated the music across the RA.
On the importance of art and design: It fills the void from day to day, the world is there to play with when you are a creative.
Dream job post-graduation: Events organiser
Cameron Lee, Film Practise, London College of Communication, UAL; @mrcameronlee
Cameron Lee is directing and producing a feature film set between his hometown of Chorley and the remote Scottish island of Jura, starring Krautrock legend Damo Suzuki. 2018 has been his most artistically satisfying year to date.
On being selected as a UAL student RA curator: It’s a great privilege to have been offered the role of UAL RA Curator and has offered me invaluable experience for my future career.
On programming the RA event: I helped to programme the UAL Film Festival, working with others to choose the films and put them together into what I hope will be a really good showcase of the variety of film making skills throughout UAL.
On the importance of art and design: I think it’s okay for art to be aesthetically pleasing and nothing else. Personally, I’m drawn to works which reflect thoughts, feelings, and ideas which are difficult to express in non-arts based forms. I’m also an fan of Oxford comma usage and think that it should be taught in schools as mandatory.
Dream job post-graduation: Ideally I’ll be able to fund my life off the back of making my own narrative feature films and freelance producing other people’s ideas – being self employed is the dream for me.
Calvin Cho, Creative Direction for Fashion, London College of Fashion, UAL; @Calviincho
Calvin Cho is currently in his second year studying Creative Direction in Fashion. He has completed an Advanced Diploma in Fashion Marketing and Management at Raffles College in Malaysia. During his academic pursuits, he has garnered skills in fashion branding, marketing, event planning and content curating.
On being selected as a UAL student RA curator: I feel very honoured that I got this opportunity to curate something to memorable and amazing.
On programming the RA event: The BRIT school
On the importance of art and design: Two people can look at the same thing and have different perspectives and both be right.
Dream job post-graduation: Fashion Curator
Gilly Hernandez, Fashion Public Relations and Communications, London College of Fashion, UAL; @londonhummingbird
Gilly Hernandez is a first year student studying Fashion Public Relations and Communications. She grew up in Trinidad and then moved to New York at 18, where she lived for over 10 years before landing in London. After studying pattern cutting at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and working as a commercial display designer then later raising a family; she decided to return to full time education. In her spare time she writes on events in and around London with a focus on fashion.
On being selected as a UAL student RA curator: Being a fashion communication student, I feel privileged to have been chosen as an RA UAL Curator. Returning to a degree after raising a family has been both challenging and wonderful and it’s an honour to be a part of the RA’s 250th Anniversary and be surrounded by such artistic students.
On programming the RA event: I’m part of a team that programmed an art experience called the ‘Playground’ in the RA’s gilded Fine Rooms. I created a layered streamer installation that acts as a photo backdrop for social media.
On art and design: Design for me is a beautiful form of communication that makes me feel alive! To quote Coco Chanel, “When I can no longer create anything, I’ll be done for”
Dream job post-graduation: Entrepreneurship
Tobi Alexandra Falade, Fine Art Painting, Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL; @afalade
Tobi Alexandra Falade is a painter who’s practice includes mixed media such as collage, drawing, sculpture and photography to create works that draw on her Nigerian heritage and childhood in England. Her work is a merging and juxtaposition of these two cultures.
On being selected as a UAL student RA curator: I feel privileged to be a RA student curator because it was a rare opportunity to get a real insight into a unique arts institution, and the workings behind the scene, from archivists, artists and curators. Also to be able to have my ideas realised at such a renown institution with full creative freedom. I’ve learned a lot from visiting speakers and I have gained lots of skills to take away and develop.
On programming the RA event: I programmed the “The Collaged Academy” architectural handout, Scenography, Signage, and the Brit School .
On art and design: I love art because of the way it reveals our inner intuition, through an external visual creative process. Through art you can share this process with the world and find others who can relate, which is very special.
Dream job post-graduation: Practising fine artist and curator.
Beatrice Morris, Production Arts For Screen, Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL; @beatricetheace
Beatrice Morris uses set design to communicate a critique of society. Using a range of medium, her work ranges from miniature sets to full blown parades. Though bright and visually spectacular, her work will also be loaded with a deeper narrative. Concerned with atmosphere and the ability to evoke emotion, Beatrice creates both sets for screen, and interactive installation pieces, always exploring themes of identity, and the tension between past and future.
On being selected as a UAL student RA curator: Obviously it’s amazing working with the RA, an institution run by artists. Being asked to be part of it all, help promote fellow artists as well as art itself, just makes you feel a little proud. Proud of yourself for getting it, but also of all these incredible artists we work with.
On programming the RA event: I’ve got in installation up named ‘form’ that plays with the architecture of the RA. I’ve also been on the team curating the nostalgic birthday party in the fine room. If you come on the night, you’ll catch me there hosting a balloon life sculpting workshop.
On the importance of art and design: There’s often things that can’t be express in words, so we design.
Dream job post-graduation: A production designer is my dream career. But a dream job I’d say are the smaller projects I plan to squeeze in between films. I hope I’ll be able in a position where I can occasionally offer my set design services to charities maybe building them Christmas grottos or crazy golf courses – they’re the jobs I’m most looking forward to.
Jessica Timbs, Fine Art, Chelsea College of Arts, UAL; @jessicatimbs
Jessica Timbs is currently studying Fine Art, having completed her Foundation Diploma at Camberwell College of Arts. She makes, records and writes about objects, exploring our relationships to material things.
On being selected as a UAL student RA curator: The chance to work with such a high profile institution in curating these events is an amazing opportunity, especially since a career as a curator is a path I have been considering for when I graduate. I was really happy to be selected. It was a great opportunity to learm more about curation from the staff at the RA and also be to be part of something that would have a much wider impact than my studio practice at university.
On programming the RA event: I’m helping coordinate the UAL film festival.
On the importance of art and design: I love that art makes me think more critically and exposes me to alternative ways of approaching things.
Dream job post-graduation: Anything where I’m paid to make interesting things.
Jennie Foot, Fine Art, Chelsea College of Arts, UAL; @jennie.foot
Jennie Foot uses sound and moving image to construct installations that imply a narrative, as part of her Fine Art studies. Most of the themes within the works are derived from books or archival material that is re-contextualised in a gallery environment. More recently, she has been exploring public environments and liminal spaces, utilising this interest to create unsettling, evocative atmospheres.
On being selected as a UAL student RA curator: I feel very lucky to have been a part of such a wonderful opportunity. I feel intrigued and excited at the opportunity to be involved with curating and working within a team at an institution such as the RA. I have always been interested in curation, and find myself considering the dynamics of art spaces whenever I visit exhibitions. The idea of working within events and immersive experiences is perfect to me. Studying Fine Art at Chelsea has developed my interest in immersive installations, which is the practice I am currently exploring. I am inspired by places, events and installations that submerge the viewer into a different, memorable world.
On programming the RA event: I helped with the birthday party.
On the importance of art and design: The diverse range of different influences and concepts that inform work
Dream job post-graduation: To be a part of a collective with people from various creative backgrounds