MA in Sculpture Sculpture is a spatial art, intensely practical, yet essentially philosophical. It has always been closely associated with architecture and public space, with
MA in Sculpture Sculpture is a spatial art, intensely practical, yet essentially philosophical. It has always been closely associated with architecture and public space, with ritual and the ceremonial. It is a private art that is often over-publicised. Sculpture at the RCA has been a longstanding programme, and one component of the Fine Art faculty. However our staff and students understand that there is a wider fine art intelligence that falls outside the faculty structure. The debates around painting, often via drawing, and the raw side of printing are closely associated in the minds of good students. The arts of photography, filmmaking, sound and performance, if not quite as much as dance, theatre, the sciences, engineering and urbanism, are habitual reference points. In the same vein, the sense of London as a destination, the physical circumstances of the Sculpture site, its unusual proximities, the perceptions of the programme’s culture, and the imprimatur of the institution, all are the evident triggers for our RCA applicants. Students, staff and visitors join a mix that is set against these variables, and against the economic contingencies at play. The crafts and trades most readily associated with the production side of sculpture usually enjoy prominence in other disciplines and professions. But historically, sculpture has perfected the knack of purloining the material to hand and extending the performance of different media away from their conventional processes. The drift away from handwork and handtools (where the production process is visited direct upon the material and at a much less spectacular speed) to industrial production has swelled the world of RPM-fixed machines. However, within the programme, the energy may be more concentrated directly on the work itself, on the space whenever installation (in all its senses) is involved, or – perhaps – it manifests itself as time-honoured bench work. In all these instances, the play involved in the processes of production is as much technical as it is philosophical. A successful art school is somewhere in which the students and staff and visitors thrive. There needs to be a sense of occasion: lots of gathering and witnessing, and concentrated debate about the academic endeavour and content of RCA Fine Art enterprises. Presence must be understood in a sophisticated and variegated way, not as a simplistic physical opposite of absence. Limitations are not the same as confines, and a sense of inventing protocols and new forms is a great collective vehicle. A climate of enabling needs to prevail where the force of expectation is centred on content and proximity, not on procedure. To the prospective student, the pace of the 18 months of a postgraduate course must be seen as a sophisticated transaction in time- and space-management. The culture of an art school is legible the moment you enter the door. It needs tending and managing on a daily basis, by all players, without exception. The programme offers: associations with a broad constituency of artists, architects, designers and thinkers across the RCA an expectation that the wider discourse this community represents should be a dynamic foil to the work and development of all aspiring RCA Sculpture graduates engagement with the debate over the historical means of production and the material (and dematerialised) processes across different cultures (This is a moment when 50 million Chinese people are joining the world's labour force every year.) dedicated studio space for each student college-wide workshop facilities, including the RCA's celebrated foundry housed in the Sculpture building, and recognition that some of the profoundest contradictions of our time can be confronted in the debate that these very opportunities generate a precedent of graduates in the later twentieth century including John Panting, Hamish Fulton, Alison Wilding, Boyd Webb, Tony Cragg, Richard Wentworth and Drhuva Mistry, and more recently Jake Chapman and Alice Channer.