black and white butterflies

‘Butterflies’ by James Wilde, MA Photography

As the RCA’s virtual graduate show comes to a close, LUX explores its diverse offering of curated collections and events

Over the last few months, art schools across the UK have been heavily criticised by students for digitising their degree shows. Whilst it’s true that something is inevitably lost in the process of viewing art virtually, digital shows can also provide a unique creative opportunity for young artists to present their work in a different format to different audiences.

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In the case of the Royal College of Art, the school has launched an entirely new ‘digital discovery’ platform, bringing together around 850 emerging artists, designers and creatives from the departments of Architecture, Arts & Humanities, Communication and Design. The platform profiles the students and groups work together in thoughtfully curated collections alongside a programme of events which run throughout the day in the form of Q&A discussions, presentations and screenings.

cake painting

‘Bittersweet’ by Olivia Sterling, MA painting

“This is a show that is unlike any other. It marks the culmination and conclusion of work that was made in extraordinary times. It was work made in flats and apartments and homes around the world. Work made on the dining room table. It somehow marks – I think – a victory for creativity, for ideas. And for excellence, regardless of the circumstance…,” said Sir Jony Ive, RCA Chancellor, whose curated collection entitled ‘Optimistic, Singular and New’, features a small series of bold artworks that employ a variety of different artistic mediums.

landscape photography

‘Untitled’ by Lowena Poole, MA Photography

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Artist Es Devlin has curated another intriguing collection of work entitled ‘Towards a Digital Placeness.’ “I came to this impressive final year online show at the RCA with a mission: to find the artists, thinkers and makers who might become the builders and cultivators of digital ‘placeness’,” she says. “I was looking for those who might help those in my generation emerge from the shady limbo-land of half-in-half-out, half in the car, half answering emails, half talking to a friend, half flicking through Instagram. I was looking for those who might help us cultivate a more honest, more full-bodied commitment to our digital presence.” The works that she has chosen engage with topics of the future such as AI and eco-anxiety, expressing a tension between familiarity and otherness through the creation of new and striking visual languages.

explosion of pink

‘In the Pink’ by Rosa Whiteley

The spontaneity and slowness of a physical gallery experience might be missing, but the virtual sphere offers diverse audiences a rare opportunity to access and engage with the next generation of artists. All you need to do is open your laptop and click the link: 2020.rca.ac.uk

The RCA 2020 graduate show runs until 31 July 2020. For more information on the school, visit: rca.ac.uk