- 4 July 2023
- 6 minutes
4 July 2023: From 13 to 16 July, graduating students from the Royal College of Art (RCA), the world’s leading art and design university, present RCA2023, an exhibition and events programme at East London’s iconic Truman Brewery, and online as a digital discovery platform – RCA2023.
Bringing together work from across the RCA’s four schools – Architecture, Arts & Humanities, Communication and Design – from MA students who started their courses in September 2021, the RCA2023 Graduate Show will feature an international student cohort of emerging artists, designers, architects and creatives.
Overall, the exhibition and events propose design solutions and artistic responses to problems affecting society and the planet today, with five themes emerging that tie work together: Timelessness, Togetherness, Consciousness, Thinginess, and Interactiveness.
Timelessness is a prevalent theme throughout RCA2023 with students considering the past, present and future as well as the passing of time. Mural-sized paintings, material evolutionary sculptures, sci-fi writing and large-scale installations by Historical Futurist Alyse Stone (MA Contemporary Art Practice) merge to build worlds that foreground the Black imagination in an entirely new terrain. Gregor Petrikovic (MA Photography) utilises a wind-up 16mm camera and stroboscopic lights to create projections that resemble an analogue film strip in motion to tell stories that speak to the embodiment of love, loss and the passing of time. In Folgelandschaft, Zibo Zhang (MA Architecture) explores the open-pit coal mine in Hambach, Germany, proposing a method of reclaiming these vast extraction sites that experiments with sand and processes at scales and timeframes that go beyond the realm of conventional architecture. Il Cherubino Crudo (The Raw Cherub) by Francesco Coppola (MA Animation) seeks to deconstruct images of childhood, using 3D animation and experimenting with algae gelatine to degrade each frame of the film and enhance its nostalgic qualities.
Thinginess, a focus on material reality, is expressed in a myriad of student projects including Yuhan Bai’s (MA Fashion) Hushellaste project exploring the development of biodegradable womenswear made from plant-based materials and agricultural waste. Annette Warner (MA Sculpture) looks at how we are taught to see in their work TBC (Touch, Breathe, Capture), which considers how our digitally captured memories redefine us and explores how we categorise ourselves in a digital age. Working with colour is the primary focus of Sophie Southgate’s (MA Ceramics & Glass) creative practice. Her sculptures, inspired by geometry, architecture and places of transition, translate 2D shapes into complex 3D forms. THE TREE by Zhengxiong Rong (MA Design Products) is a furniture series which builds on the English tradition of coppice, aiming at rebuilding the intimacy between living space and local environment, with each piece made from a single coppiced tree trunk, sourced locally and split by coppice workers.
Consciousness is at the heart of a number of projects at RCA2023, with diverse manifestations. Amber Jesson (MA Print) explores transformation, feminine power, and the traces which we leave behind. Documenting moments of self-reflection through designing and making her own pinhole cameras, Amber attempts to cross the threshold between the seen and unseen. Mariam Ibrahim (MA/MSc Global Innovation Design) has produced the Morning Meta-Muffin: a non-invasive metabolic screening kit designed for individuals at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes to create a unique nutritional fingerprint, to better understand their body's needs and effectively manage their diet. Mortality Matters from Subin Seol (MA Interior Design) is a combination of a pottery studio and end-of-life planning centre where people can plan their funerals, reflect on their lives, and create urns that truly represent who they are.
Interactiveness foregrounds the generosity that exists between the maker and the audience, bringing together works that explore interaction, participation and installation. Subject < — > Matter, by Yeshé Magar (MA Jewellery & Metal) is a sculpture that explores and reveals the interconnectedness of man and the material world by taking live bio signals from the body to move the ferrofluid matter inside. Xiaoyu Zhu (MA Textiles) uses the movement of the human body to serve as triggers in her textile work, demonstrating the potential physical and spiritual resonance between humans, nature, and technology. Dissonant Bodies by Ke Peng (MA Information Experience Design) is an immersive audiovisual installation exploring the relationship between matter and humans, using an audio feedback loop and magnifying intricate and unpredictable forms captured by live camera and projection. In Chime, a socially-engaged music therapy intervention, Henry Parkin (MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering) explores the therapeutic benefits of group music-making and how they apply to training working memory for people with macular degeneration - the leading cause of irreversible blindness.
Togetherness is a concept explored through many of the student works including those of Katie Tomlinson (MA Painting) who reflects on the united experiences of women and the dynamics of human connections including power structures, vulnerability and nuances of consent, exchange, and desire. In her multi-sensory installation work ‘Between You & Me’ Nadia Magda Abatorab-Manikowska (MA Photography) explores the intricate interplay between individuals, inviting viewers to reflect on the complexities of human intimacy. In Liberation of Gemstones, Tong Wu (MA Jewellery & Metal) creates a new relationship between metal and gemstones exploring the aesthetic possibilities of their use in design through infinite reflection. Ollie Cameron (MA Visual Communication) looks at the layered and diverse relationship we have with our landscape by exploring the oldest road in Britain, The Ridgeway, through a series of interviews, ranging from members of the travelling community to local archeologists. His research culminates in a short film documenting his own journey down the trail with a scroll box containing 87m of paper to take rubbings of the imprint we leave behind.
Events available to browse on the RCA2023 digital discovery platform include:
- Beauty. Empathy. Disability. Angelica Ellis (MA Fashion) in Conversation with Claudia Walder on the topic of exploring aesthetics and beauty when designing for people with disabilities.
- Borderlands: Augmented Nature, an immersive mixed reality performance from MA Textiles students that integrates the human body, physical materials, and digital media for real-time interaction.
- Alyse Stone (MA Contemporary Art Practice) will be hosting a performance reading from her Black Alchemisphere work at the Shoreditch Arts Club at 7pm on Saturday 15 July 2023.
The Graduate Show at Truman Brewery is part of RCA2023, a series that included Exhibitions & Events at Battersea and Kensington from 30 June - 3 July 2023 from MA students who started their programmes in September 2022.
Times and dates
12pm to 6pm (last entry at 5.45pm)
13 to 16 July
RCA2023 will be open until 5pm on 13 July (last entry at 4.45pm)
RCA2023 will be open until 7.30pm on 14 July (last entry at 7.15pm)
RCA2023 The Truman Brewery
The Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane
London E1 6QL
RCA2023 digital discovery platform
Collections will be drawn together on the RCA2023 platform, specially-curated by RCA BLK and the Design Age Institute, alongside Societies from the RCA Students’ Union including Disabled Students’ Network, Queer Society, SustainLab and Working Class Collective.
Purchase of works
A selection of works from RCA2023 graduating students are available for purchase through
RCA Sales, a special sales platform which will be open until 5pm on 17 July
Imagery is available here
Join the event on LinkedIn for updates.
Notes to Editors
Other projects of interest include:
Constance Riley (MA Design Products) uses the dimensions of the standard UK letterbox to lead designs for her brand NoBell. Her products Umbrella Lamp and Spring Lamp include mechanisms to allow them to be packaged up to a size which will fit through a letterbox.
Constance Riley, Spring Lamp, 2023
Marie-Therese Dawes (MA Textiles) has been stitching along the themes of the history of feminism, female artists and the women of her own family, provoking us to consider how our view of women’s labour is maligned by historical circumstances.
Co-designed with street food vendors and commercial food establishments in Delhi, India, Channi by Priyanshu Mukhopadhyay (MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering) is an accessible and adaptable water based particulate matter filtration system for capturing emissions at-source. The project seeks to drive sustainable innovation, with the goal of preserving cultural livelihoods and habits, while helping to reduce air pollutants in transitional phases for developing countries.
WeBility, designed by Amruta Supate, Juilee Ingle, and Yalena Yang Sun (MA Service Design) is a transformative service that harnesses community solar electricity to deliver affordable local services. Innovative local hubs, meticulously designed to cater to community needs, democratise solar energy, the cheapest source of electricity.
Sarah Cohen (MA Contemporary Art Practice) interrogates the relationships we forge with the sediment left by a person’s death, re-working found audio of now dead relatives singing and using AI chatbots as a digital clairvoyant to speak with her personal ghosts.
About the RCA2023 visual identity
The visual identity for RCA2023 has been designed by RCA alumnus Sebastian Koseda (MA Visual Communication, 2015) and a design team at Flying Object, featuring Charles Rickleton (MA Visual Communication, 2015) and Will Fairbrother (MA Information Experience Design, 2015).
The team have produced distinct identities that are contemporary, cutting-edge and innovative, weaving together 3D modelling and animation with pressing, student-led statements on the future of art and design.
About the Royal College of Art
Founded in 1837, the Royal College of Art is the world's leading university of art and design. Specialising in teaching and research, the RCA offers degrees of MA, MPhil, MFA, MDes, MArch, MEd, MRes, Graduate Diploma and PhD across the disciplines of architecture, arts & humanities, design and communication.
A small, specialist and research-intensive postgraduate university based in the heart of London, the RCA provides 2500 students with unrivalled opportunities to deliver art and design projects that transform the world.
The RCA's approach is founded on the premise that art, design, creative thinking, science, engineering and technology must all collaborate to solve today's global challenges.
The RCA is home to more than 700 of the world’s leading academic and professional staff who teach and develop students in 30 academic programmes. RCA students are exposed to new knowledge in a way that encourages them to experiment.
The RCA runs joint courses with Imperial College London and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
InnovationRCA, the university's centre for enterprise, entrepreneurship, incubation and business support, has helped over 81 RCA business ideas become a reality that has led to the creation of over 800 UK jobs.
Alumni include such major figures as Dame Barbara Hepworth, Bridget Riley, Henry Moore OM, David Hockney OM, Sir Peter Blake, Sir Ridley Scott, Dame Zandra Rhodes, Sir Frank Bowling, Sir James Dyson OM, Tracey Emin RA CBE, Chris Ofili CBE, Sir Anthony Finkelstein, Francesca Amfitheatrof, Erdem Moralıoğlu MBE, Bianca Saunders and Thomas Heatherwick CBE RDI.
The RCA was named the world's leading university of art and design in the QS World Rankings 2023 for the ninth consecutive year (QS World Subject Rankings 2015–2023).