Art enthusiasts brave the snow for 'secret' sale
Nearly 1,000 people queued to buy an original work for just £45. Tom Alvarez joined them
Sunday 24 March 2013
Snow fell steadily on to the shoulders of a scruffy queue of people outside the Dyson building in Battersea, south London, at 9am. They muttered anxiously among themselves and clasped cups of coffee to warm their hands.
Upwards of 1,000 people braved the snow yesterday for this year's Royal College of Art (RCA) "Secret" sale, where art lovers can buy original pieces of postcard-sized art by acclaimed and up-and-coming artists for £45 a pop.
However, there's a catch – the artist's name is revealed only once the work has been bought – encouraging buyers to base their choice on the art itself rather than a name attached to it. In this 20th-anniversary year, the main attractions were photographs by David Bailey and works by painter Paula Rego, and Wallace and Gromit's creator Nick Park.
The sale is, perhaps, unique in the crowd it attracts: families and middle-aged folk make up the bulk of the queue outside the RCA. There is not a single asymmetric art student haircut in sight. The curator, Wilhelmina Bunn, said: "The main thing is that people don't feel intimidated at the gallery. The works range from abstract, challenging pieces to more straightforward crafts, so there's something for everyone".
Dennis Doherty of Battersea, who has been coming for 18 years, camped overnight to buy one of the 2,700 postcards. "It was the most horrible night with non-stop rain and snow," he said. "I'm also a little disappointed with the range of artists this year, and am gutted I didn't manage to buy one of the pieces I had my eye on."
Similar sentiments were voiced by other prospective buyers, along with complaints about the lack of tea-making facilities and concerns over the organisation of the queue.
But students Tess and Charlotte were delighted with their postcards, and are already planning a strategy for next year. "This time round was more of a learning curve, so we've got to be more organised and get here earlier next year," they said.
Finally, after two hours of queuing, The Independent on Sunday got its chance to buy a work – a piece by Reading-based artist Kate Corde. We joined the throng of mostly satisfied punters back on the cold streets.
TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies
Eurovision 2015Australian Idol winner unveiled as representative Down Under
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 GamerGate: developer Tim Schafer provokes rage with joke about online gaming activists at industry awards
Fifty Shades of Grey banned by Indian censors despite sex scenes being edited out
The 9 rules every Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoon had to follow are wonderfully pedantic
Toy Story 4: Pixar promises a romcom storyline 'separate' from the much-loved trilogy
India's Daughter: BBC Four documentary provokes outrage on Twitter
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests