Secret postcards get the first-class stamp: Britain's top artists contribute to the Royal College of Art's annual sale

Buyers queue in their hundreds for the chance of a bargain Grayson Perry, Paula Rego or Jeremy Deller that are among the 2,900 postcards exhibited anonymously

It is said attention seekers will turn up at the opening of an envelope to further their own promotion, but it takes an extra special kind of discernment to queue three nights in the open air for a postcard.

Not any postcard it should be said, more a postcard-sized work of art from artists ranging from Grayson Perry, Paula Rego and Jeremy Deller to photographer David Bailey, architect Zaha Hadid and fashion designers Sir Paul Smith and Christopher Bailey. Hundreds of art lovers queued up outside the Royal College of Arts for a chance of buying an art bargain among the 2,900 postcards by 1,124 artists exhibited anonymously.

Each postcard is signed on the back, so collectors don't know the identity of the artist until they've handed over their cash. Each year, the Royal College of Art asks professional artists and designers, as well as up-and-coming art students and graduates, to make and donate a piece of work. Artists may choose to paint, draw, sketch or even produce a 3D sculpture as long as it's the size of a postcard.

Works by musician Jarvis Cocker, inventor Sir James Dyson and the late Tony Benn are also exhibited as well as many by current postgraduate students.

Grayson Perry's postcard Grayson Perry's postcard As the two-week exhibition came to an end yesterday, organiser Wilhelmina Bunn said: "It's first‑come-first served for visitors, but we run a raffle for the first 50 places in the queue. We sell about 3,000 raffle tickets, and then about 2,000 people queue throughout the day. All postcards are £50, and most people will buy four, which is the limit." The predicted take of £100,000 goes to bursaries for fine art students.

The postcards are vary massively, ranging from London skylines, to caricatures of famous faces via still lifes. Unusual pieces include some with written messages. One postcard had the message: "It is a pity that we have to do this to enable those on a low income to attend University." It was later revealed to be by Turner prize-winner Jeremy Dellar.

Despite the potential to cash in, said Ms Bunn, most cards are kept. She explained: "People do not usually have the opportunity to buy a work of this calibre."

David Bailey's postcard David Bailey's postcard Chris Johns, 57, an art lover from near Abergavenny, South Wales agreed. "For me it's about choosing what you like," he said. "If they are of high value, all the better." Mr Johns was number nine in the queue outside, and was among a select bunch of enthusiasts who come from far and wide to arrive early each year and sleep in the 30 or so tents erected at the RCA entrance.

He left home in Wales with a friend at 5.30am on Wednesday, but said this is nothing special. "I know people who've spent a fortnight here in previous years."

First in the queue this time was a gentleman who flew in from Ireland to spend a week in the queue. Mr Johns said: "There's a great camaraderie – and competition. An unwritten rule of the queue is that you do sleep in the tent."

Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific