RCA Secret 2010

Royal College of Art, 12–20 November

RCA Secret is an annual contemporary art exhibition and fundraising sale consisting of around 2,500 original postcard-sized artworks. All cards are made and donated by professional artists, designers, illustrators, students and graduates from the College.  The cards are sold to the public at a one-day sale, with every postcard costing just £45, regardless of whether it has been made by a famous name or a young art student. What’s the Secret?  Each postcard is signed on the back, so collectors wont know the identity of the artist until they have made their purchase. All monies raised goes to the RCA Fine Art Student Award Fund. For further information and details of how to pre-register as a buyer visit the RCA Secret website. The postcards can be viewed on-line from 12 November but potential collectors must attend the sale day in person.

photo: Reuters

The Show
RCA Secret is a unique annual exhibition and sale of original postcard-sized art, made by professional artists, designers and illustrators, plus current postgraduate students at the Royal College of Art.

The Secret
The postcards are displayed anonymously and are signed on the reverse, so that the artist remains a secret until after the cards are purchased and their signature is revealed on the back.

The Artists
Over 1,000 artists have donated work to RCA Secret this year, including Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry, Yoko Ono, Jake Chapman, Olafur Eliasson, Yinka Shonibare, Sir Peter Blake, John Baldessari, fashion designers Manolo Blahnik, Mary Quant and Sir Paul Smith, animator Nick Park, photographer David Bailey, film maker Mike Leigh and designers Ron Arad and James Dyson, as well as up-and-coming students and graduates from the Royal College of Art.

The Exhibition
The exhibition opens on Friday 12 November, then from Sunday 14 November until Friday 19 November, 11am-6pm, with a late opening on Thursday 18 November until 9pm. Please note we are CLOSED on Saturday 13 November due to Government security restrictions for the Festival of Remembrance. Free Admission. The postcards will also be available for viewing on this website from Friday 12 November.

The Sale
The cards are sold to the public at a one-day sale on Saturday 20 November, from 8am-6pm. Each postcard costs £45 and a maximum of four cards may be purchased per person. Postcards will only be available to purchase in person at the sale. It is recommended that you prepare a list of cards in advance, as the exhibition will not be open for viewing on the day of the sale.

You must have a Collector’s Number to purchase a card. CLICK HERE to get one.

The Raffle
There is a raffle for a chance to win a place in the first fifty people at the front of the sale queue. Raffle tickets will be on sale at the exhibition (with a maximum of 10 tickets per person) until an hour before closing on each day.

Where we are
Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU
Tube: South Kensington/High Street Kensington
Buses: 9, 10, 52, 452

Viewing days: 12 & 14–19 November. 11am–6pm daily (late night opening until 9pm on 18 November). Please note that the exhibition will be closed on Saturday 13 November.

Sale day: 20 November, 8am–6pm.

For more information, telephone: +44 (0)20 7590 4444 or email [email protected]

Some material may not be suitable for children

Proceeds to the RCA Fine Art Student Award Fund.


In the summer of 1840, the playwright and novelist, Theodore Hook of Fulham, London, dropped a small piece of card into his local letterbox. On one side he had written his own address and, on the other, he had printed a somewhat absurd and unflattering caricature of twelve men, gathered dutifully around an impossibly gigantic ink well. Each man appeared to be as ungainly and repugnant looking as the next. Each one concentrating, bleary eyed, on holding his quill.

It was unheard of for items to travel through the postal system without an envelope at this time, so this little piece of card was sure to attract the attention of every postal worker who was obliged to handle it. What did they see? The men depicted on the card were, in fact, postal workers. The joke was on them. And so it was for the solitary pleasure of a rather eccentric man that the picture postcard was born, not two miles from where you stand.

170 years later, this ‘postal innovation’ has come to epitomize our aptitude for communicating through images. A picture speaks a thousand words, or so they say. It can inspire and remind us. Calm or excite us. Or indeed make us laugh. A marker in time and place the picture postcard might remain on the wall for a lifetime.

Nicola Churchward
Critical Writing in Art & Design, RCA


An RCA Gallery employee puts the finishing touches to this years ‘Secret Postcard’ exhibition, at the Royal College of Art on November 11, 2010 in London, England. 2800 postcard size artworks have been created and donated by artists and designers including Tracy Emin, Yoko Ono, Grayson Perry and Jake Chapman for a charity sale, where the identity of each cards author is secret until after it has been purchased. The sale takes place at the Royal College of Art on November 20, 2010, with each card costing GBP45.