Programme Overview


The Painting programme invites applications from the broadest range of practitioners. With each cohort of students we enjoy a diverse group of people from many different countries, backgrounds and experiences, all of who have taken very individual routes to be together for an intense and rewarding two-year journey.

We select our future students during applications and interviews on the strength of their work, looking for attributes that are a continual focus of the programme. That is to say, work that points towards its future potential, work being driven by a reflective and critical agenda, painting as an active process of re-appraisal and an intense exploration of the possibilities of painting.

All our energy and supportive networks then support each of our students as they immerse themselves in realising their own ambitions and what is vital to them. This period of self-reflection and exploration is enriched through the lectures and seminars that support each student’s dissertation during their first year, and is accelerated as students actively support one another.

Historical, cultural and critical experiences contextualise and expand upon the studio practice, playing a major role in artist presentations during our teaching placement scheme in the second year of the MA. Our research culture continues to grow, attracting practising artists to the College to develop their ideas through our MPhil and PhD programmes, with a substantial statement exhibition as they move towards completion.

All staff, including the course administrator, technicians, our regular staff, staff across the College, and visiting lecturers, work together and give their time, effort and experience to support students to work through these challenging two years. This extends across the College, with Painting students working with technicians and academics in Printmaking, the Sculpture foundry, Ceramics & Glass, Textiles, RapidformRCA and Critical Writing in Art & Design.

Beyond the RCA, Painting students are supported by many eminent institutions through our teaching placement scheme, and are continually making connections with leading galleries, curators and critics at the forefront of contemporary art. In recent years students have exhibited at or collaborated with the Royal College of Music, Frieze Art Fair, Arensky Chamber Orchestra, Cadogan Hall, Pump House Gallery, the A Foundation at the Rochelle School, the ICA, Whitechapel Gallery, Moscow Young Artists Biennale and the Blyth Gallery at Imperial College London.

During the two years there are also opportunities for exchanges and residencies with leading international institutions, such as EWHA University, Seoul, Dusseldorf Academy, Hunter College in New York, Rhode Island School of Art and Design, Urbino Academy, Italy, The Paris Studios at the Cité des Arts, Cove Park in Scotland, the Burren College of Art in Ireland, and recent study trips include Venice, Madrid and Berlin.

In the past two years Painting students have worked with the British Council collaborating with emerging artists across the Middle East, travelling out to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, overseeing residencies and running seminar groups.

Painting Alumni include:, Philip Allen, Frank Auerbach, Helene Appel, Peter Blake, Varda Caivano, Gillian Carnegie, Dinos Chapman, Spartacus Chetwynd, Nigel Cooke, Dexter Dalwood, William Daniels, Tracey Emin, Alistair Frost, Anthea Hamilton, Sophie von Hellerman, David Hockney,Katy Moran,Ryan Mosley, Ian Kiaer, Ansel Krut, Merlin James, Katy Moran, Oscar Murillo, Chris Ofili, Chris Orr, Bridget Riley, Damien Roach, George Shaw, Jamie Shovlin, Daniel Sinsel, Neal Tait, Ionnis Varelas; Sam Windett.

british musuem painting visit
Visiting the Archives of the British Museum

Installation view of Show 2015
Installation view of Show 2015, Cibelle Cavalli Bastos