ARTUNER is pleased to announce that Rebecca Salter RA has been elected as the Keeper of the Royal Academy Schools.
“What is your favourite part about being the Keeper of the RA Schools?”
“It is hugely enjoyable to be able to get to know the students and to be able to contribute to their experience at the Royal Academy Schools. Working with the next generation of artists is a privilege and endlessly fascinating.” – Rebecca Salter RA, Keeper of the Royal Academy Schools
One of the four RA Officers, the role of the Keeper is unique to this Institution. Indeed, they are entrusted with overseeing a vital part of the Royal Academy, its Schools. The first Keeper was the Swiss artist and enameller George Moser, who was also one of the founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768.
In the past, the Keeper of the Schools would also be a teaching Professor. Today, their main focus is to oversee the Schools more broadly, as well as, contribute to running the Royal Academy as a whole, along with the other three Officers (the President, the Secretary, and the Treasurer) and the Council.
The elected Keeper can serve up to three consecutive three-year terms. Rebecca Salter’s predecessor was the painter and printmaker Eileen Cooper, the first woman ever to be elected Keeper of the Schools.
The Keeper is also given a studio within Burlington House, in the wing called the Keeper’s House so they can continue creating their work. Earlier in the Royal Academy’s history, this part of the building used to be the Officer’s actual place of residence while on their term. However today most of it has been transformed into the celebrated modern British restaurant of the same name, and only the Studio remains.
The Keeper’s Studio is a beautiful space, steeped in the history of painting: as if frozen in time, it remains curiously, yet gracefully at odds with the evolution of contemporary art and painting. Even a quick look around will reveal that there is not enough space to work on the large-scale canvases that most of our contemporaries privilege.
Rebecca Salter elegantly acknowledges this, by positioning one of her delicate small scale abstract works on a robust, practice-worn easel.
Rebecca Salter RA
Elected Royal Academician in 2014, Rebecca Salter is like water: a quiet force of nature.
In the 1970s, after graduating from the Bristol Polytechnic as a ceramicist, Salter moved to Japan to study at the Kyoto City University of the Arts. There, far from home, Salter struggled to integrate herself with the rest of the student and artist community: she had to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers first. She spent six years in the country, putting herself, her practice and Western history of art into question before deciding it was time to go back home to the United Kingdom.
The result of such a journey of (re)discovery is her incredibly beautiful and distinctive abstract work on canvas and paper. Found at the intersection between Western and Japanese traditions, her practice seeks to bridge a gap between two fundamentally different conceptions of art. In her paintings and drawings, Salter applies notions of mark-making that, traditionally, pertain to calligraphy; the distinction between front and back of the canvas disappears, as the artist focuses on creating an object existing in space, rather than a painted surface; she revisits the great Romantic tradition of landscape and weather painting, through the use of the line, rather than colour.
Her works can be viewed as obsessive, meditative, delicate, or forceful but they are all, ultimately, bewitching.