Summer 2017 at RCA & London / by Salama Nasib

With this post I officially mark the end of first year at RCA :) 

What a quick and fulfilling year it was. Learnt a lot, met a lot of amazing individuals, and most importantly enjoyed my time a lot. Yes, I did have some difficulties and issues with few matters now and then, but then who doesn't really. RCA and London gave me more than I expected. 

End of June I submitted my final dissertation paper bound into a book. Results will come out either on September or October I believe. Unfortunately I hadn't taken any picture of it but will try to remember and do so once I receive my copy of it later next year. Oh what's the paper about you're asking? It is about the similarities between printmaking as a medium and memory as a study, talking about the notions of 'imprinting' and 'impressing' that affiliates both concepts, and how this affiliation inspired artists - such as Louis Bourgeois - to utilize both notions when creating printed artworks. It is more of a conversation that inspires the reader to understand the history behind both concepts, the scientific, philosophical, and the artistic studies behind both, and the importance of highlighting such comparison. That's in a nutshell! More on it in a separate blog post soon.

Above are further process pictures of "Transition" piece, in which I was working on in the last month before completely focusing on the dissertation paper. As mentioned in the previous post, this piece is mainly inspired by Her Patterns installation piece that was created for ADMAF last year. I wanted to continue this process of prints and cut-outs filling a space, and what better reference I could refer to than from my usual walks through the beautiful Battersea Park in London! The idea was to refer to an old photo of me and my mother where I take an element from it and just expand it outside the photo frame to occupy a space, and in this case it was the leaves and the branches. I had aspirations of building a space with these leaves and branches, but due to time limit and limited studio accessibility in the last two months I only managed to experiment in small size. Perhaps I could do it properly next year. 

I first tried 3D printing so I took actual twigs from the park and then me - alongside the technician - 3D scanned it then let the machine do its magic. It was an amazing and a clean print, but considering the scale of this project I wanted to explore other possible options as well. I then moved to the foundry and made a rubber mould for the twigs, using wax and silicon moulds with white resin casting. During that time I was the only first year student still working in the studios rather than writing the dissertation paper, so I had plenty of quality times with Shaun the foundry technician and with second year students finalizing their final pieces. The whole process took around two weeks, and have done my first ever resin's castings successfully. It was so satisfying and such an accomplishment, but had to stop due to writing. In addition, I received positive feedback on social media which pushes me to further explore this later when am back to school. All in all it was a great exploration, and definitely opened my eyes to using the other studios RCA is offering to us. I also took a laser cutting induction and laser-cut pieces of papers in the shape of leaves (which I haven't taken any picture of unfortunately). More updates will be shared in the next term so anticipate this project!     

Pictures above are for the final grad show. The quality of the work that was presented at RCA was of a great level, some are definitely exceptional pieces that should definitely go somewhere! I viewed most of the works that were showing in Battersea campus as most of the print department work was located there. Most of the Arab's group's works were showing there as well and it gave me a great feeling to see them completing their MA and finally graduating. A lot of clients came to view the works and a lot of them actually bought student's works - such as Burberry and Louis Vuitton - which was very promising and encouraging indeed. Pictures above are of works that I liked - more can be viewed on RCA's official website. 

In preparation of grad show the first year students had to empty their spaces and so there is a picture of my empty space above (with the crying emoji!). It was so sad for us to leave our spaces but in a way it was a great way to push us to focus on writing. The shameless self-portrait is of me post-handing the dissertation book, and the Galaxy chocolate was our reward from the school :)

In addition, I was trying to have some life outside school and managed to hit London's most anticipating Print fair at the Royal Academy. To me it was an amazing experience seeing all these various prints from professional, established, and emerging printmakers in one place. Some of the booths are publisher's booths in which they print and take care of publishing artist's prints such as Anish Kapoor, Grayson Perry, and Kiki Smith. Overall it was a rewarding visit and I anticipate next year's edition. 

I also participated in the Small Press Project at UCL where RCA had a stool and I showed my Kharareef books. The turn out was good and we had excellent feedback. Nothing got sold but we had fun :) Hopefully in the future we can be part of other fairs.

Post dissertation submission and grad show I took the chance to see London. I checked out some galleries here and there - such as The Serpentine - and absolutely fell in love with this year's pavilion designed by Francis Kere. As for the gallery, it was a solo show of Grayson Perry who's prints I've seen at London Print Fair and the show was definitely worth it. There were so many varieties with work presented ranging from large tapestry work, to customized vehicles, to small sketches of his ideas and processes. I also took the chance and visited House of Illustration for the first time - it's been on my list since day one but up until the last few days in London I managed to check it out. Was a lovely venue and appreciated the cute shop. A venue to check out more often for sure. Other venues I've visited included Tate Modern, The British Museum, and Eid in London celebration at Trafalgar Square! Wasn't bad at all. 

Furthermore and most importantly, I went to inspect some of the printmaking studios here and there during the last two weeks of my stay in London. I managed to check out three major print studios including: East London Printmakers, Thames Side Print Studio, and Paupers Press. I met the latter at London Print Fair and had a long conversation about printmaking in the UK and in the UAE. It was such an honor to visit their actual studio where all the printing of famous works is done at. So much respect to this place and their lovely staff. As for East London Printmakers and Thames Side Print Studio I felt so much joy visiting their studios and inquiring about membership possibilities and the facilities they offer despite the long journey it took me to reach there. I follow these two prominent studios since before, and being able to visit those locations physically rather than virtually is rewarding big time. Both studios are amazing with their facilities and the staff/ members in. I would probably work at both studios once I finish school next summer, if not before. There's more in my list to visit and check out so anticipate further studio's posts soon.

How do I feel finishing first year of MA studies? Hmm..It's a mixed feeling to be honest. Kind of  happy and proud of what I had learnt and accomplished, yet kind of anxious about the time left to produce - and see - more. It has been a great year so far. Can't wait for next year.