The Royal College of Art closed its doors over a year ago in response to the ongoing pandemic, leaving many art students with no means of getting their work, materials or learning resources back. Months later the RCA gave students a short time slot wherein they could return to collect their things before new students took their place – for some, this would have meant travelling across the country, or even the globe, because so many London students left the city through lockdown to escape the astronomical housing prices.
Quickly, the RCA announced plans to fix this issue with an independent storage company’s help. This news was met with applause from the hundreds of students that the RCA supported, however the joy was short lived – upon returning to collect their work, students came to find unmarked, unsorted stacks of work, with the majority of their work lost or completely broken into pieces.
Farvash Razavi, a conceptual artist that moved back to Stockholm after the closure, spoke to Dazed’s Thom Waite on the whole ordeal. “Each box that I opened, I found shattered artwork, shattered research, high tech materials, all completely destroyed, And the sculpture I came for was gone, all of it was thrown away.” For Farvash, restarting the artwork is near impossible; she lost the entire contents of her studio, including work she’d created prior to joining the MA in an effort to further her career.
A student-led initiative headed by Arabella Hope – who estimates that she lost over £20,000 in materials and work through the RCA’s disastrous handling of the situation – is demanding proper compensation and answers from the college. As of right now, the college has issued a “goodwill gesture” through partial compensation that doesn’t even begin to cover the true costs, a move that Hope says “prizes profits over art or education”.
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