Principal of the Royal College of Art
Not long ago an African post-graduate who was preparing his thesis wrote to ask me how to run an educational institution successfully. I replied briefly that this was a perfectly simple proposition – all you had to do was to appoint the best senior staff in the country and then leave them to get on with their job without interference. I said nothing, of course, about those way- ward currents of experience which throw people together and seem in retrospect to have made a preordained pattern of our lives.
Chance drew Richard Guyatt and myself together in the first months of the war and with only an interval of a year or two we have worked with one another ever since. When I was unexpectedly given the opportunity to reorganize the Royal College of Art and it was decided to set up a new department providing specialist training in all the many facets of Graphic Design, I had no doubt at all that he was potentially the best man in England (though not at the time the most obvious choice) to think out the policies which should govern it and to implement them. I feel great personal satisfaction at seeing over the last fifteen years my judgement triumphantly vindicated. The exhibition of ‘GraphicsRCA’ and this publication which supplements it, set a seal upon a great achievement.
Professor Guyatt has during these years gathered round him a number of colleagues possessing talent and expertise that is almost as widely acknowledged overseas as in this country. All are well-known as designers in their own right, forming invaluable contacts with the professional world which make it possible for the activities of the School to flourish. It is their complementary talents as designers combined with their professional knowledge which moulds the training in the School. In this they are supported by the technical craftsmen in the various studio workshops who, by
maintaining high standards of skill in production whether it is in printing, bookbinding or camera work, give to the training a practical framework. Great credit also must go to the students who have worked in the School, no less than to the staff who have served it; they are respectively the flour and the yeast. But all would certainly recognize that it is Professor Guyatt’s own ruminative imagination, deceptively slow in appearance and carefully rooted in sound sense, which has been the dynamic behind their activities. It remains a fact that the foundation of the Lion and Unicorn Press as a self-supporting adjunct to the College, the promotion on an international basis of the student journal Ark and the inauguration of a productive department of Television and Film Design, are directly attributable to Professor Guyatt’s wide-ranging inspiration.
To promote developments of this kind on a scale which makes them unique so far as my knowledge goes among comparable departments in Colleges of Art throughout the world, while at the same time maintaining teaching standards at the professional level that is exemplified in these pages and in the exhibition itself, is an achievement to which the Royal College of Art gratefully pays tribute.