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17 RCA artists selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2021

Bloomberg New Contemporaries is an annual event celebrating and supporting emergent art practice from the UK’s established and alternative art programmes. Of this year’s selected artists, 17 are students or alumni of the RCA. Their work demonstrates optimism, creative resilience and hope in challenging times.

The selected artists’ work will be exhibited at Firstsite, Colchester, from 25 September to 28 November 2021, then at the South London Gallery from 10 December 2021 to 20 February 2022. Their work will also be showcased through a digital platform and a range of online activities.

Each year the selection panel comprises influential art world figures including curators, writers and artists. The 2021 selectors were RCA MA Contemporary Art Practice Tutor Tai Shani, Sculpture alumnus Hew Locke and Michelle Williams Gamaker, who contributed a curated collection to RCA2021.

Shani described the selection process as being ‘truly special, and inspiring’, adding that ‘it was moving to see the resilience of the creative process and what it yields.’ Locke reflected that despite the art world facing difficult times ‘this whole process has increased my sense of optimism in a new generation of artists.’

The selection includes students who graduated this year from a range of disciplines.

Sarah Khan (MA Writing, 2021) is an artist and writer whose practice spans moving image, text, sound and performance. Khan is also the first Writing graduate to be selected for New Contemporaries. She describes her selected short film Inside Out as ‘a poetic montage of a spoken monologue and scenes of British-Pakistani culture [that] combine to explore the complexity and alienation of navigating a cross-cultural existence in a homogeneous Western society.’

For Khan, studying at the RCA ‘offered a dynamic view of possibilities’, which she intends to follow up with artist residencies, curating with her collective Baesianz, and continuing ‘to un/learn and remain ever unfolding.’

a figure dressed in white walks along a wall, this image is overlaid with the image of the top of a mosque
Inside Out, Sarah Khan 2020
film still

Susan Atwill (MA Information Experience Design, 2021) is a research-based artist and sound hunter from Sunderland. Her selected work Ear Plan: from an Imaginary Perspective is a research film inspired by the River Wear, her grandparent's homes and her roots in mining communities of North-East England.

Studying at the RCA transformed Susan’s practice, as she explained, ‘the Sound Design pathway on IED rerouted my previous practice of ceramics and casting and opened up the possibilities of sound as a material to tell stories.’

an a smiling image of a woman's face has been superimposed in an archival black and white photograph of a miner
Ear Plan: from an Imaginary Perspective, Susan Atwill

Anne Carney Raines (MA Painting, 2021) is a painter from Nashville, Tennessee. She has a background in scenic painting, which informs her interest in the stage and its many layers of reality, collective memory of space, exterior and interior environments, and transitional places.  

She describes her paintings as ‘staged spaces that change with either the presence or absence of the figures inside them.’ Adding that ‘there is an obsession with shadow in my work that has its root in trompe l’oeil painting. In this way I embrace the lies of painting and the fabrications of theatre to build a world within the works.’

a painting in blue tones of figures amongst a forest of trees
11:15, Anne Carney Raines 2021
oil on canvas
130 x 165 cm

Pete G. Donaldson (MA Photography, 2021) is a multidisciplinary New Zealand-American artist based in London. His work explores themes of hyper-consumerism and societal collapse, focussing on the psychological and existential effects of technology.

Reflecting on his time at the RCA he recalled that ‘the fantastic tutors and technicians have been extremely supportive in helping me to engage in new ways of working.’ He is currently working on another film.

a photograph of a sting ray lying on its back surrounded by broken glass
Lonesome Companion, Pete G Donaldson 2020

Janina Frye (MA Sculpture, 2021) lives and works in Amsterdam and London. Her sculptures and installations present a concept of the human as a transformative system with connections, overlaps and entanglements linking the body to the outside world.  

Frye is currently working on work for several exhibitions in the UK and The Netherlands and is planning a residency concentrating on metal as a material. Her time at the RCA helped her ‘develop new techniques and strategies’ and weekly lectures provided ‘theoretical input which framed the base of my work.’

an installation view of an exhibition showing two dark grey sheets with plastic tubing attached to them, leaning against a white wall
Phantom Feelings, Janina Frye 2019
Latex, vacuum compressor, metal, plasticine, pvc hoses
Photographer: Julia Biasi
The work of 2021 graduate Richard Burton (MA Painting, 2021) has also been selected. 

The other selected artists were current students:

  • Alice Bucknell (MA Contemporary Art Practice, 2018-present)
  • Haeji Min (MA Painting, 2020-present)
  • Hanne Peeraer (MA Painting, 2020-present)

and alumni: 

Full details of the Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibitions can be found on their website.

Find out more about our MA programmes in the School of Arts & Humanities and School of Communication.