Prince Charles’s old drawing school wins royal mark of approval

Name change puts East End academy on a par with Royal Ballet and RADA

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The Independent Culture

A drawing school has become the first artistic establishment to be given royal status for more than half a century, placing it on the same level as some of Britain’s most revered institutions. Prince Charles has announced that the Prince’s Drawing School has been given permission to change its name to the Royal Drawing School.

During a visit to the main campus of the school in Shoreditch in east London, he said that drawing was “one of the most direct ways of engaging with the world and, like music and dance, needs to be taught and practised throughout an artist’s life.

“I am determined that the Royal Drawing School will continue to grow as an educational resource open to all, regardless of background or circumstance,” he said. The Prince’s Drawing School is the sixth arts educational institution to bear the Royal title, but the first since the Royal Ballet School nearly 60 years ago.

First there was The Royal Academy in 1768, followed by the Royal College of Music in 1882 and then the Royal College of Art 14 years after that. The 20th century saw the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art bear the title from 1920 and then the Royal Ballet more than three decades later.

Catherine Goodman, who founded the Drawing School with Prince Charles in 2000, said: “This means we are now established. I hope it means permanence and excellence; we’ve worked hard to get here.” She added it would not make much difference to the day-to-day running or fundraising at the school.

The school has some presence in Scotland but is principally based in London. The head hopes to expand further to work regionally as well as pushing an international programme. “There were very few places for young art students to go and draw when we started,” she said. “It’s different now. Drawing has become much more recognised as a part of an artist’s education.”

The move reinforced the drawing school’s position as an “integral part of the arts education landscape”, a spokesman said, “addressing a permanent need for high-quality drawing teaching in the UK”.

It was founded with support from artists including current Royal Academy president Christopher Le Brun, as well as fellow Royal Academicians Humphrey Ocean and Timothy Hyman. Ms Goodman said: “All artists have drawn and will draw. In the Nineties it was almost as if it was discouraged at some art schools.”

Former students include Stuart Pearson Wright, who won the BP Portrait Award in 2001, Carl Randall and Rachel Cheung. Ms Goodman said she was “very proud that we have come so far” and continued: “I’m more and more persuaded of the need for a drawing school as a permanent part of the UK’s educational resources.”

Permission to use the title is granted by the Queen. William Feaver, who is on the school’s academic board, said: “The name change gives the school the seal of approval, not just royal but also national. We are pleased, touched and proud.”

Quick on the draw: top illustrators

Sir Quentin Blake The much-loved children’s author, well known for illustrating the books of Roald Dahl. Describes his style as a “freewheeling sort of drawing that looks as though it is done on the spur of the moment”.

Sir Quentin Blake shares his love of drawing with a fellow enthusiast at the Museum of Childhood (Teri Pengilley)

Tracey Emin She became famous for her unmade bed, and has worked in a number of media including drawing.

Adam Dant His work has been likened to Hogarth and he has had work featured in the collections of the V&A and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

David Shrigley One of last year’s Turner Prize nominees; known for his comic, cartoony drawings. One of his new sculptures is due to go up on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.