Both Russell Tovey and Marina Abramović were on fine form yesterday evening at the inaugural Claridge’s Royal Academy Schools Art Prize. Actor Russell and performance icon Marina turned out, along with a star-studded art crowd, at Claridge’s to present the award to winner Daria Blum who bags £30,000—which includes a production fund—and a solo exhibition at Claridge’s ArtSpace gallery.
In these cash-strapped times, note that RA Schools, an integral part of the Royal Academy since 1769, offer a full-time, three-year programme to 17 early career artists each year and (wait for it) there are no fees. Dapper Tovey, standing in for an injured Stephen Fry, told a cheering audience that “the cost of higher education is skyrocketing… the cost of studio space is absurd”. Marina says: “I find it incredible that there is an art school on Piccadilly in the heart of London, one that does not charge its students fees and hasn’t done for 255 years. Institutions like this are key to keeping art alive.”
Swiss-born Blum—who writes characters, music and text for her live performances—looked suitably pleased to win the top gong (the announcement was greeted with whoops and roars from the appreciative crowd). Eliza Bonham Carter, curator and director, Royal Academy Schools says in a statement: “Absurd, messy, serious and funny in turns, I greatly look forward to seeing Daria’s work develop with the support of the Claridge’s Prize.” The new prize will be awarded annually to a graduating student at the Royal Academy Schools; the winner will be selected by a panel of judges during the RA Schools Show each summer.