The secret postcard sale at the RCA is an exhibition and sale of postcard-sized artworks by a mix of acclaimed artists and graduates of the Royal College of Art. What is the Secret? Until the cards are purchased, the identity of the artist remains unknown. Cards cost £45 each and each person can purchase a maximum of four. Profits go to the RCA. People queue up and sleep outside the exhibition to get a chance to put their hands on a Yoko Ono, Grayson Perry or Tracey Emin. If they don’t manage to, they can always say that is was only a postcard.
Just over a week ago I waited, I froze, I did it.
Despite doing my homework – viewing the postcards the week before, on a bright Sunday afternoon, selecting 60 favourites and getting in the queue by 8 am on Saturday morning – I found the whole experience painful and a bit disappointing. By the time I got there I realized that I was inexorably late. In the courtyard of the Dyson building there were about 20 tents and more or less 150 plus people were standing ahead of me, inside and outside the building. They were all far ahead of the game.
I had a thermos of tea, a very buttery croissant and the Saturday edition of the Guardian. Three things that usually make me very happy on an average Saturday morning. Three things that I usually consume in bed, or sitting at a table, or in a café’ whilst I do people watching. They didn’t make me happy this time.
It rained, it snowed, and the ice (word was never more appropriate) on the cake was an incessant artic wind, with peaks of very high intensity.
I felt very sorry for the young architects that joined in wearing totally inappropriate clothes, plim sole shoes. Were they maybe thinking that the Freitag bag would be protective against adverse weather conditions? Or the Brompton bike would work as a wind screen?
I managed to get only one of my favorite postcards. It is now sitting happily by the windowsill, in a beautiful frame. It makes me feel proud, as I made my contribution to raise more than £120,000 for a fund that will support emerging artists from the RCA. Will I do it again? I do not think so. There are plenty of art fairs and pop art galleries around the world where you can buy affordable art. I will go there next, or commission one of the very talented emerging artists that graduated from RCA in the past decade and haven’t made it yet.