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5 ways the RCA community are staying connected

We’ve been inspired by how our students, staff and the wider RCA community are staying connected while distancing and dealing with the fall-out from a global pandemic. 

Below we highlight five ways our cohort, past and present, are using digital technology to stay connected.

1. Students create a Radio collective to collaborate within the international art-school community

ExPort Radio
ExPort Radio, Roundtable
ExPort Radio is an experimental radio station led by MA Visual Communication, Experimental Communication pathway students Dougal Verinder Gedge, Louise Gholam and Maria do Carmo Ravara Pinheiro de MeloThere. Dougal explained the motivation behind the project:

‘ExPort Radio came from a merging of both Louise and my own collaborative practices. We realised that both of us are situated between the realms of experimental sound / fringe aesthetics – such as Artificial Intelligence and Expanded Cinema. We wanted ExPort Radio to constantly question the means to exist firsthand within both the physical and digital workplace. Started towards the end of 2019, ExPort Radio represents an opportunity to re-invigorate the public through worldwide collaboration and discussion, whilst also building bridges in a post-Brexit, mid-Covid-19 environment.

ExPort Radio poster
ExPort Radio poster

'Working within the confines of Covid-19 has actually enabled us to explore collaborations with other art schools and the wider artistic community. Working digitally and from across the continent via ZOOM has enabled us both to observe ExPort Radio through a different lens. We realised that it is not the duty of experimental practitioners to compromise when it comes to road-blocks such as Covid-19. Across the continent, and further afield, art-radio and student-radio stations are broadcasting and sharing music, conversation and discourse almost daily without fail.

'The RCA is a school which sets examples globally to the creative fields, and using this circumstance as a chance to collaborate felt more like a compulsion than a fun, disposable concept. Creativity is still out there, you just need the experimental ones to go and find it.’

2. Textiles students take up strength training with Tutor, Vicki Fong

Vicki Fong, strength training for RCA Textiles
Vicki Fong, strength training for RCA Textiles
MA Textiles Tutor Vicki Fong explains:

‘When Lockdown started I began to offer online strength classes to my RCA Textiles students, this is definitely not the norm and definitely outside of my job description, but I believe that exercise has great benefits on well-being especially in these unprecedented times that we find ourselves in. Over the last few months it has been brilliant to see an improvement in their press up game! (I'm not a trained instructor, this is just something that I really enjoy and am happy to share).

In addition to the group exercises I've also instigated monthly challenges where individuals who wish to participate focus on one thing that they show and tell at the end of the 4 weeks. Personal challenges ranged from individuals who couldn't previously do a press-up prior to lockdown doing a press-up from their toes, other individual challenges included headstands, handstands and splits. You can see how far they've come on my Instagram.’ 

3. ‘The Walkative – Cities in lockdown’

Walkative around Berlin
Walkative around Berlin

Co-founded in 2015 by Head of SculptureDr Jaspar Joseph-Lester and Simon King, The Walkative Project explores how walking can trigger processes of thinking, researching, making and collaborating. 

As the world went into lockdown due to COVID-19, the society set about continuing the walks in a virtual sphere. Since lockdown began they have ‘travelled’ to Berlin, Cape Town, Stockholm, Toronto and the Marshall Islands. Missed out? You can catch up here

‘The Walkative – Cities in lockdown’ are available to anyone that wishes to attend. They are advertised in the school newsletter, on Instagram and the Walkative Society newsletter. The Walkative Society is a Royal College of Art student-led society emphasising walking as a means of discovery and a place for dialogue and exchange. Each year the Society is led by two presidents from the student body. This year the Society has been led by Katharina Siegel (MA Sculpture) and Adalburto Lonardi (MA Interior Design) with designs by Max Albert Kohler (MA Visual Communication).

4. IDE bring their community together

IDE Zoom
IDE Zoom

MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering have been using the lockdown as an opportunity to get the IDE community – past and present – together to share ideas, advice and fond memories.

Catch-ups have included a tea-time talk with IDE alumni and past Head of Programme, Miles Pennington who discussed IDE life, research in design, design methodology, design interaction, and starting your own company.

Alongside the Zooms, two graduates Kate Strudwick and Timi Oyedeji, have created a platform for design challenges during this quarantine time called Isolated Inventors to keep their creative juices flowing. 

5. Fashion get Zoom ready 

Fashion Zoom meet-up
Fashion Zoom meet-up
When lockdown began current second year MA Fashion student, Jake Trenddenick introduced ZOOM parties that invited students and industry professionals to showcase their work. The events offered a way to experiment with digital presentations and provided live interactions with designers. 

Of the initiative Jake shared, ‘As designers we are constantly visually stimulated. The commute to College can sometimes overload your mind before you have even got your morning coffee. The escapism from machines and studio life has made me appreciate traditional craft and the importance of engaging with this when resources and facilities are restricted. I think it's great to see digital thriving, but actually I have realised through isolation, those sensorial interactions that are missing will be more important than ever when the restrictions are lifted.’

Jake is planning an event on 13 June at 8pm during London Fashion Week. The one hour event will be a casual drop in presentation where invited guests will join a Zoom Webinar where six screens will show six looks modelled remotely.

Click here to find out more about how the RCA community are responding to Covid-19.