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  • 10 April 2024

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  • 4 minutes

With more than 25,000 RCA alumni all over the world, our graduates form a unique international network of artists, designers, and creators. Many are trailblazers and innovators, recognised year after year for excellence in their fields.

Read on to discover just a few of the many great things our alumni have achieved over the last 10 years.

Fine art awards

Over the last decade, RCA alumni have been awarded the Turner Prize – an annual prize awarded to an artist born, living or working in Britain, for an outstanding exhibition or public presentation of their work – an impressive three times. In 2019, Helen Cammock (Photography MA, 2011) and Oscar Murillo (Painting MA, 2012) teamed up with RCA Tutor Tai Shani and Lawrence Abu Hamdan to form a collective and jointly win the Turner Prize. This disruptive action was an act of solidarity in turbulent times, recognising the collective importance of their work.

Naming the Money, Lubaina Himid 2004 Installation view of Navigation Charts, Spike Island, Bristol, 2017 © Courtesy of the artist, Hollybush Gardens, and National Museums, Liverpool | Photographer: Stuart Whipps

Cammock and Murillo were following in the footsteps of Lubaina Himid (MA Cultural History, 1984) who was awarded the Turner Prize in 2017. Himid was nominated for several projects addressing pertinent questions of personal and political identity, including solo exhibitions Lubaina Himid: Invisible Strategies at Modern Art Oxford and Navigation Charts at Spike Island in Bristol.

Assemble Architecture Collective

In 2015, Assemble was the first design studio to win the Turner Prize. Assemble was founded by a group of around 20 individuals working across various artistic disciplines, including RCA alumni Anthony Engi Meacock, Giles Smith, Paloma Strelitz (all Architecture MA, 2013), and Jane Hall (Architecture Research PhD, 2018).

It is not just the Turner Prize where our alumni have succeeded. In 2019, Lina Lapelyté (Sculpture, 2013) was one of the artists chosen to represent Lithuania at the Venice Biennale. With Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė and Vaiva Grainytė she created Sun & Sea (Marina) – an opera-performance that won the 2019 Golden Lion for best national participation at the Biennale, the top honour of the festival.

Blood of Adonis (death and rebirth), The Truth is in the Soil, 2018

Ioanna Sakelleraki (Photography MA, 2020) was the recipient of The Royal Photographic Society Bursary Award 2018 and the winner of a Sony World Photography Award in 2020. And Lydia Hamblet (MA Print, 2020) won the 2020 Clifford Chance Printmaking Purchase Prize recognising the best printmaker completing their MA studies at a London art college.

Excellence in film

In the world of film, our alumni have collected many accolades over the last 10 years. In 2015, Asif Kapadia’s (MA Film & TV Direction, 1997), Amy (2015) – exploring the life, career and struggles of Amy Winehouse, through archived footage and testimonies from friends, family and peers – won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, the BAFTA for Best Documentary, as well as a Grammy for Best Music Film in 2016.

Sir Ridley Scott (alumnus 1961) won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy in 2016 for The Martian (2015), alongside the Directors Guild of America Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017 and a BAFTA fellowship in 2018.

Our alumni are celebrated throughout the film industry, with Jacqueline Durran (History of Design MA, 1996), was the winner of Best Costume Design BAFTA for Little Women (2019).

Kathryn Ferguson - NOTHING COMPARES still

More recently, Maryam Mohajer (Animation MA, 2007) won the 2020 BAFTA for Best Short Animated Film for Grandad Was a Romantic, a Persian love story with a playful twist. And Kathryn Ferguson (Visual Communication MA, 2011) won the inaugural BFI & Chanel Award for Creative Audacity, as well as Best Feature Documentary at BIFA (British Independent Film Awards) in 2022 and IFTA (Irish Film and Television Academy) in 2023 for Nothing Compares (2022), her first feature documentary.

Award-winning writing

Across topics and disciplinary perspectives our alumni excel at storytelling and communication with the written word. In 2021 Writing graduate Jeremy Atherton Lin (Writing MA, 2015) won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography for Gay Bar, his personal history of queer nightlife.

Jeremy Atherton Lin

In 2020 Douglas Stuart (Fashion MA, 2000) won the Booker Prize with Shuggie Bain, his debut novel about a boy in 1980s Glasgow trying to support his mother as she struggles with addiction and poverty.

A more recent graduate Chloe Shang (Architecture MA, 2023) won the RIBA Dissertation Medal for her RCA dissertation Poems from the Patient Patient \ Finding Amor Fati, which explores the architecture of healing drawing on her personal experiences of hospitalisation. It was the first time a student from the Royal College of Art has won the Dissertation Medal in its 187 year history.

Chloe Shang

Design with impact

The environmental impact of our design alumni has been recognised in recent years.

Notpla, a company founded by Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez and Pierre-Yves Paslier (both Innovation Design Engineering MA/MSc, 2014), is seeking to eradicate plastic packaging with sustainable and compostable alternatives. In 2023 Notpla was announced as a Grand Prize winner of the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize and in 2022 they won the £1m Earthshot Prize, in the category ‘Build a Waste-Free World’.

Notpla Paper_Food

The Tyre Collective, founded by Hanson Cheng, Hugo Richardson, Siobhan Anderson (all Innovation Design Engineering MA/MSc 2020, have received recognition for their innovative solution to air pollution caused by vehicle tyre wear. They won the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Awards in 2020, as well as the National winner of the James Dyson Awards 2020 for the UK, and were one of four winners of the Terra Carta Design Lab 2022.

The Tyre Collective

At the forefront of Fashion

Over the last 10 years our fashion alumni have been disrupting the industry, from championing sustainability to exploring new materials and expressions of identity.

In 2020, Christopher Raeburn (MA Fashion Womenswear, 2006) won a Fashion Award. He was selected as one of the Honourees of the Environment category, in recognition for his commitment to sustainable fashion.

Bianca Saunders working on a sample of her commission for 'The Missing Thread' at her Hackney studio.

Bianca Saunders (Fashion MA, 2017) was awarded the New Establishment Menswear Designer at The 2023 British Fashion Awards, as well as the 32nd Andam Grand Prix Fashion Award in 2021, in recognition of her unique approach to menswear.

Saul Nash (Fashion MA, 2018) won the 2022 International Woolmark Prize for his use of Merino wool in activewear. His collection, which focused on minimising waste and emphasising movement, challenged preconceived ideas surrounding sportswear.

Saul Nash Woolmark Prize 2022

Architectural accolades

6a Architects – founded by Tom Emerson and Stephanie Macdonald who studied Architecture MA at the RCA – has collected several awards over the last decade.

The studio’s third phase of work with South London Gallery, Peckham, was awarded an RIBA National Award and the expansion of MK Gallery was named Building of the Year by the Observer and won an RIBA Regional Award in 2021. Tom and Stephanie were both recognised with an OBE for services to Architecture in the 2021 New Year Honours 2021.

Andre Kong (Architecture MA, 2014) founded his eponymous studio in 2021, and has already been collecting accolades. The studio was 2023 Surface Design Awards winner in the Temporary Structure category and the Housing Exterior category.

PoOR Collective Mural

Power Out of Restriction (POoR) Collective won the Emerging Design Medal at the 2023 London Design Festival. POoR Collective was launched in 2019 by Architecture MA graduates Larry Botchway, Shawn Adams and Ben Spry, and accountant Matt Harvey-Agyemang, to elevate young people in design. This award recognises the work they are doing to bridge the gap between the privileged and disadvantaged in order to promote diversity in architecture as an industry.

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Works on display at the RCA2023 graduate exhibitions and events, credit Royal College of Art copy