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RCA Artistic Community in Response to Covid-19

The following article is part of a series examining how creatives in the RCA community are responding to the unprecedented challenges posed by Covid-19.


Between refreshing BBC News for hours on end, virtual queuing to order essential items and reminding Netflix that, yes, you are still watching it is important to find moments of hope, community spirit and resilience. That’s where the arts can come in. 
Below we’ve highlighted how our community of artists and creators are finding ways to support key workers, bring brightness to a dull day and help keep idle hands busy.

Show key workers some love

London Stands Together by Sir Peter Blake. Courtesy The Evening Standard
London Stands Together, Sir Peter Blake
© Evening Standard
The legendary British pop artist Sir Peter Blake (MA Painting, 1956) has made a moving tribute to London as a symbol of hope for the city. The rainbow was inspired by the many rainbow drawings made every day by children being kept home from school. Sir Blake’s work was shared by the Evening Standard and is downloadable from their website. Download it, print it (if you’re lucky enough to own a printer) and post it in your window as a bit of friendly competition with your neighbour’s children.

Not a fan of rainbows but want to show the NHS some love? Jake Tilson, (Painting, 1983 and School of Communication 1987–1999) has designed a poster in support of the NHS which can be downloaded for free.

Meanwhile, Visiting Lecturer Mark Titchner has created a colourful, morale boosting, poster called ‘PLEASE BELIEVE THESE DAYS WILL PASS’ that is currently on display in cities around the UK. The poster is also available to download.

Lucy Joyce (MA Sculpture, 2013) has been creating new work in lockdown and selling it to raise money for @batch.works, who are raising money to make PPE equipment for the NHS. Of the work, Lucy shared, 'writing and making in clay is hands on – making these ceramic paintings has felt more comfortable, and a direct way to communicate at this moment in time.' Discover the work and buy to support Batch.works here. Follow the link to find out more about how 3D printing facility Batch.works has been collaborating with MA Design Products alumnus, Milo Mcloghlin-Greening and healthcare design studio Cellule to produce face shields for COVID-19 front line workers.

Fresh from a Turner Prize win, Contemporary Art Practice Tutor, Tai Shani has released the soundtrack to Tragodía – a play about two old sisters and their very elderly mother, a ghost, and a cat – to raise funds for The Trussell Group. Available now via Bandcamp.

Tai Shani
Installation view of DC Semiramis 2019, Turner Prize 2019 at Turner Contemporary, Tai Shani
Photographer: David Levene

Get inspired

Get your daily dose of animation. Head on over to MA Animation’s Twitter feed for a little comfort, distraction or inspiration in these uncertain times. With daily postings of their recommended shorts, it’ll be the entertaining short break you need in your day.

Alumni release new work

From David Hockney to David Downes (Communication Design, 1996) and many more, RCA alumni are sharing work they have made from lockdown that respond to the pandemic. While Hockney shares a message of hope with, Do Remember They Can't Cancel Spring, David Downes has shared his vibrant works depicting a range of scenes featuring virus forms, which float in the sky like alien balloons. 

Activities to keep you busy

Dan Castro (MA Animation, 2018) has released Idle Hands, a free print-at-home activity and colouring booklet to help provide activities for children during lockdown. Work has been contributed by Dan and a number of artists.

Looking for some mindfulness colouring? Emma J Shipley (MA Textiles, 2011) is giving away colouring pages to keep people busy

Emma J Shipley
Emma J Shipley

Firstsite Gallery has been creating a survival pack – Art is Where the Home is – to entertain and engage children and young people during the lockdown. Artists are adding to the pack on a weekly basis, with alumni Idris Khan (MA Photography, 2004) and our 2014 Honorary Doc Grayson Perry already sharing their contributions.


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