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Gordon Peter Pickard Travel Award Supports Journeys into the Historic, Political and Geologic

Three Visual Communication students are exhibiting work made with the support of the Gordon Peter Pickard Travel Award at White City from 7 to 14 May 2018. Last year the award enabled James Gosnold, Emma Harry and Rachel Sale to make independent research trips to Athens, the Isle of Skye and Mexico. Awarded annually to first-year Visual Communication students, the Gordon Peter Pickard Travel Award assists recipients in carrying out a research trip relevant to their study.

‘This fund was set up by former RCA graphic design student Gordon Peter Pickard to promote the importance of drawing within communication disciplines,’ explained Head of Visual Communication Dr Rathna Ramanathan. ‘The chance to travel offers our students the opportunity to place their work in a context beyond academia and explore expanded approaches to visual communication within specific contexts. The exhibition is a great opportunity to see the diverse range of techniques, technologies and materials used on the programme, as well as providing a chance for students to test how their ideas can be framed, transmitted and received by an audience.’

Rachel Sale used the award to attend a six-day meeting of the Zapatistas – a revolutionary political organisation that has spent the last 25 years defending the rights of indigenous communities – in Chiapas, Mexico. She explained: ‘I wanted to go to the gathering in Chiapas to learn about communities that are highly creative in the ways that they resist neoliberalism and colonisation – I guess I wanted to try and learn some new tactics for myself.’

‘I used portraiture in an attempt to slow down and deepen my interaction with what was going on around me; giving myself the chance to really focus on the other people in that space and my feelings towards them,’ Rachel continued. ‘Upon return to the UK, I felt unhappy that I had done so much soaking up of my surroundings and not so much in the way of giving back to it. So I decided to try and find the people I had made portraits of and share the images with them. I was able to find one women, Aude, via the internet. I sent her the portrait I made of her and explained my work – she liked it! And now we chat every now and again on Whatsapp.’

James Gosnold used the award to focus and reflect on his visual practice over two weeks in Athens. He documented the architecture of the city, including streets and ancient ruins through traditional drawing documentation techniques, photography, 3D scanning and mapping. ‘The thing that really interested me was how I could record and re-appropriate the classical architecture within this prestigious city and the ruin sites, in a way that was specific to me and within expanded drawing and illustrative practice,’ James said.

Emma Harry spent a week using drawing and video to explore the unique rock formations of the Isle of Skye where she became particularly interested in the distinctive texture of a cliff that is over 150 million years old and has been altered by honeycomb weathering. Emma is exploring these geological mysteries through installation and video, which is informing a wider exploration of erosion and the effect of time on the landscape.

Emma’s trip also inspired an AcrossRCA workshop exploring islands, community and isolation. Describing her experience on Skye, she said: ‘The sense of community was so apparent. People greeted me and by the end of the week I felt like a local, having been welcomed into the community. Contrastingly at times I felt so far away and isolated, the sea acting as a physical and mental barrier.’

The call for interest in the Gordon Peter Pickard Travel Bursary 2018 is now open to current first-year students.


Find out more about the Visual Communication MA programme in the School of Communication at the RCA.