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

A new publication from Critical Writing in Art & Design Students 

Launch Event: Wednesday 25 June, 6-8.30pm, RCA Kensington


ARK: Words and Images from the Royal College of Art Magazine 1950-1978 is a wide-ranging anthology of articles and images from ARK magazine. This material has been selected and introduced by current students on the Critical Writing in Art and Design MA programme at the Royal College of Art. This new publication offers a vivid overview of changing attitudes and approaches to art and design in Britain in an age of considerable flux.

During its 54 issue run, spanning nearly three decades, ARK was an influential presence in British cultural life. A magazine created by students at the RCA, ARK attracted international attention for its often bold and fast-changing design as well as the extraordinary cast of writers and artists who contributed to its pages, including Ralph Rumney, Lucio Fontana, Alison and Peter Smithson, Toni del Renzio and Reyner Banham, in addition to College students and staff.

From his preface to the book, design critic Rick Poynor writes:

'… ARK has become a vivid historical document.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.'

The book 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.

Date of publication: 25 June 2014
Price: £15
184 pages
48 colour / 51 black and white illustrations
Design: Jörg Schwertfeger
Distribution via Big Cartel –
ISBN 978-1-907342-87-5

The launch of ARK: Words and Images from the Royal College of Art Magazine 1958–1970 will be held as part of the Critical Writing in Art and Design symposium on 25 June, 6-8.30pm in the Senior Common Room, Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW2 2EU.