15 – 19 November 2010
11am to 5.30pm daily

Free Admission

Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU


Protected Characteristics is an exhibition marking the introduction of the Equality Act in October 2010. The exhibition brings together artists’ responses to the Act and features video, sculptural, photographic and performance works.

The Act introduces a duty for public bodies to eliminate discrimination and victimisation against people who have a ‘protected characteristic’. The duty also requires public bodies to advance equal opportunities and good relations between people who share a ‘protected characteristic’ and those who do not.

The exhibition examines the ideas of characterisation, categorisation, the politicisation of personal traits, and the identification of cultural and social value. The Equality Act identifies core human ‘characteristics’ that it aims to protect in law, these are Age; Disability; Gender Reassignment; Marriage or Civil Partnership; Pregnancy and Maternity; Race; Religion or Belief; Sex; and Sexual Orientation.

Policy questions have been raised about these categories and their impact on the community and the diversity of the equalities sector. This exhibition aims to bring these questions into the arena of art, giving artists the opportunity to make connections between social policy and its presentational value and ask different questions. What happens when we categorise? What is the force in a face, the body or in a characteristic? What is the nature of protectiveness as an aesthetic or relational characteristic? What does art tell us about inequality or diversity that law or policy does not?

The exhibition has been organised by the RCA Student Support Officer with the Students Union as part of DiverseRCA, a series of public events that examines different strands of human rights.

Curated by Jack Tan, all the exhibiting artists are RCA graduates or staff:

Gaea Todd (specially commissioned work for the exhibition)
Dick Jewell
Helene Uffren
James Green
Jessie Brennan
Jo Longhurst
Karolina Raczynska
Mark Hayward
Matthew Pagett
Mia Fernandes
Nicolas Myers
Nina Mangalanayagam
Rachel Louise Brown
The Methods Lab (Yanki Lee with students from RCA design departments and Media, Art & Design Facility, Genk, Belgium).


All talks and events take place at the Courtyard Galleries, RCA

Curator’s Tour followed by a Roundtable discussion on ‘Law and Policy: an artist’s or designer’s perspective’
Monday, 15 November 2010, 6.30pm

The works in the exhibition look at the way we categorise, see others and relate to our bodies or personal characteristics. They address relations and perceptions that are behind or prior to inequality. How does society through law and policy address or attempt to grasp these characteristics differently from artists or designers?

International Food Night and Private View
Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Join us for the private view of the exhibition where the Students’ Union will present a smorgasbord of international food.

Roundtable discussion on ‘Design Thinking for Social Inclusion’
Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Reflecting on this year’s Methods Lab project on Ageing, Yanki Lee (curator and Helen Hamlyn centre research associate) leads a discussion on design approaches and methodology for social inclusion.

Rethinking Soup
Thursday, 18 November 2010

Join Leah Capaldi and Rose Gibbs for a discussion focussed around gender, performativity and success over a warm cup of Potage Bonne Femme.



Images of each work in the exhibition:

Images of the Private View:

Images of the Curator’s Tour and Roundtable discussion:

Images of Exhibition poster, signage and private view invitation designed by Gregoire Tabeling:

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