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ARK: Words and Images from the Royal College of Art Magazine 1950-1978

Royal College of Art Critical Writing in Art & Design students have produced a celebratory book exploring the College's historic and influential visual arts journal, ARK

ARK: Words and Images from the Royal College of Art Magazine 1950-1978, published yesterday, is a wide-ranging anthology of articles and images from the College's long-running ARK magazine – an influential presence in British cultural life. 

CWA&D students have selected and  curated material from ARK's 54 issues, spanning nearly three decades, to give a snapshot of its bold and fast-changing design, and extraordinary cast of writers and artists that helped propel it to international attention. 

This new publication features a complete run of ARK covers in full colour including designs by Len Deighton and Alan Fletcher; a preface from design critic Rick Poynor; and a full index of the magazine's content throughout its duration, as well as rare texts and classic image essays. Together, the material offers a vivid overview of the changing attitudes and approaches to art and design in Britain in an age of considerable flux. 

ARK, a style and design journal created by RCA students, was part of an era of cultural transformation across fashion, film, television, advertising, newspapers and magazines. Such was the stature of ARK that it drew contributions from creative luminaries including Ralph Rumney, Lucio Fontana, Alison and Peter Smithson, Toni del Renzio and Reyner Banham.

In his preface, Rick Poynor describes this influence: 

'...ARK has become a vivid historical document. It records, narrates, evokes and recalls its moment (or succession of moments) with energy, eloquence and insight. There were other contemporary British magazines about visual subjects with elements of content or design in common – Motif, Typographica, the short-lived Uppercase, even The Architectural Review – but…none of them could match ARK’s twists and turns, its visual conceits and coups de théâtre, or its eclecticism of content during its heyday from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s.'

ARK: Words and Images from the Royal College of Art Magazine 1950-1978, designed by Jorg Schwertfeger (MA Visual Communication, 2014) and priced at £15, can be bought online here

ARK: Words and Images from the Royal College of Art Magazine 1950-1978 features:

  • The complete run of ARK covers in full colour – including the designs of Len Deighton and Alan Fletcher.
  • A preface from leading design critic Rick Poynor.
  • A full index of the content of Ark magazine throughout its history.
  • Classic image essays including Ralph Rumney’s ‘Psychogeography of Venice’ and
  • 'The Humming Birds’, by Scottish poet and novelist George MacBeth (reproduced in full length for the first time since its publication in ARK in 1965).
  • Cedric Price’s own essay on his utopian architectural project ‘Fun Palace’ of 1964.
  • Alison and Peter Smithson’s classic essay, ‘Today We Collect Ads’.
  • A long forgotten text by the British artist and eccentric, Bruce Lacey.