Gordon Peter Pickard Travel Award 2016 Funds Communication Students' Travel to Zanzibar, New York and Dorset

The Gordon Peter Pickard Travel Award is awarded annually to two first-year Visual Communication students. The award enables the recipient to carry out a research trip to a place relevant to their study. This year, it was divided between three students: Latifah Al Said, Christy Burdock and William Davey.

Latifah Al Said used the bursary to travel to Zanzibar, the home of her paternal grandmother. In Zanzibar, Al Said created a series of drawings of the town and its inhabitants. Over the course of the year, Al Said will weave these drawings into a graphic novel and an animation exploring the area’s complex colonial history. During the trip Al Said also looked closely at Kanga, a traditional cloth often hand-painted with illustrations of popular Swahili proverbs, political slogans or personal quotes which is handed down from generation to generation. For Al Said, the Gordon Peter Pickard Travel Award was invaluable. ‘Visiting a site or space influences you in ways that you can’t predict’, she explains. ‘The people and the place have left a lasting impression on me and my work.’

For Christy Burdock it was the mode of travel – rather than the destination – that was important. Interested in closed or close-knit communities, Burdock spent 11 days on board The Queen Mary II, a cruise ship travelling between Southampton and New York. While on board, Burdock got to know both guests and staff, including the ship’s resident magician and comedian. Later, working from memory, Burdock translated her experiences and observations into subtle and unsettling works on paper.

Rather than travelling abroad, William Davey undertook a tour of Britain. This tour took the form of a number of individual excursions carried out over the weeks and months immediately following the EU referendum. During these trips, Davey paid attention to the notion of a British national identity. He explains that ‘my intention was to collect as much data as possible on societies, the landscape, personal narratives and communities. 

Davey is particularly interested in sites of military or industrial importance. One of the many drawings he made during his tour was of Orford Ness – a former military testing site, which is now an eerie, windswept nature reserve. Davey believes that the time that he spent recording this and other similar areas of Britain helped him to change the way that he was drawing, and begin to work on a much larger scale.

All three students will present the work made during or influenced by their travels at a forthcoming Visual Communication seminar and plan to stage an exhibition of selected work in the RCA's Hockney Gallery at the end of November.

Rathna Ramanathan said 'Gordon Peter Pickard is a former RCA graphic design student, who set up this fund to promote the importance of drawing within communication disciplines. This interplay between perceived subject areas (graphic design and illustration) as well as the importance of craft in both digital and analogue realms is fundamental to the programme’s expanded approach to visual communication. The chance to travel offers our students the opportunity to place their work in a context beyond academia, and we have seen fantastic results..'

Applications for the next Gordon Peter Pickard Travel Award will open in April 2017 for enrolled students. 

Find out more about Visual Communication and how to Apply.