The Working Class and The Institution

29 November 2018 | 6pm – 8pm

Battersea, Gorvy Lecture Theatre


The RCA Students’ Union have organised a series of round table events throughout 2018/19. These discussions explore socio-political ideas responding to issues that affect the institution. A diverse network of speakers have been invited to discuss their experiences, some from within the institution and others from beyond, in order to help us examine how we can improve the culture of the RCA.

This is the second event this academic year following on from 'Decolonising the Institution #3: Community'

In this round table discussion we will discuss issues facing those from working class backgrounds in UK institutions. Statistics show more working class students are attending university than before, but this group also has one of the highest dropout rates. How can we combat this? We will look at the culture of both the RCA and other institutions and how inclusive and supportive they are to students from lower income backgrounds.

  • To what extent does your family background impact on your education?
  • Is class assigned or self defined?
  • Does art and design use language to alienate rather than include?
  • Beyond the financial what challenges do working-class university attendees face?
  • What can the RCA do to welcome and support those from lower-income backgrounds.

Joining us for this discussion will be: 
Ayo Akingbade – artist 
Professor Dave Beech – artist
Jenna Young – This is The Uniform, fashion designer
Chaired by Mel Jordan – Programme leader for Contemporary Art Practice

Ayo Akingbade is a British Nigerian artist and filmmaker. She lives and works in London. Her film Street 66 (2018) profiles Brixtonite housing activist Theodora Boatemah MBE and her influence on the regeneration of Angell Town Estate. Ayo has twice exhibited as part of Bloomberg New Contemporaries and is a recipient of the Sundance Ignite Fellowship.

Dave Beech is Professor of Art at Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg. Beech worked as an artist in the collective Freee (with Andy Hewitt and Mel Jordan) between 2004 and 2018. He is the author of Art and Value, Brill 2015, which was shortlisted for the Deutscher Memorial Prize.

Mel Jordan is Head of Contemporary Art Practice at the Royal College of Art and Reader in Art and the Public Sphere. From 2004–18 she worked with Dave Beech and Andy Hewitt as the Freee Art Collective. She recently initiated the Partisan Social Club an on-going and continually reforming collective with its first presentation at Beaconsfield Gallery Vauxhall, London. Her research and subsequent art practice presents a critical examination into the degree to which public sphere theory can contribute to an expanded understanding of art and its publics.

Jenna Young is founder and creative director of the contemporary London based womenswear brand This Is The Uniform and has presented collections at London, Paris and New York Fashion Week. Alongside designing, Jenna works as an academic and lecturer. Her key research areas are the political and social drivers of fashion.