Artful codger?

June 23, 2000

Elaine Williams writes that when David Hockney was a student at the Royal College of Art, he was supposed to complete a written assignment, but refused ("An optical disillusion", THES, June 16) . Not true. He completed the essay - it was on Fauvism - but it was well below the required word length.

She quotes David as saying that the RCA was unsure whether to confer BA or MA degrees. Not true. It was always postgraduate; the question in the 1960s was whether the college should have university status or not.

He goes on to say that the college does not teach drawing. Not true. It has run a very successful drawing studio, under a professor, for the past ten years. I have actually reminded David of all this on numerous occasions, but his RCA stories long ago achieved the status of folklore.

One thing he says about the college that is accurate is that our painting studios leave a great deal to be desired, which is why we are about to embark on a building programme to do something about them. But he can't resist adding: "The RCA won't like me telling you this." In fact, the last time I talked to David about the studios, I explicitly asked him to spread the word.

Oh, well. It is terrific to see that you can still be a very talented enfant terrible at the age of 62.

Christopher Frayling. Rector, Royal College of Art, London

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