Norman Foster becomes President of the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust  

0888_fp607233Lord Foster of Thames Bank O.M. has been appointed President of the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust, with effect from 15 January 2018.

Announcing the appointment, the charity’s Chairman, Lord Palumbo, said:

“We are delighted that Norman Foster has agreed to serve as our President. Britain’s most eminent architect, renowned across the world as a master of his profession, he combines huge accomplishments with a laser-sharp strategic vision of how our cities should develop. We look forward to working with him to help ensure that the good design is seen across the country, especially in the context of the Northern Powerhouse, as something that both creates and enhances economic growth”.

Lord Foster took the opportunity of the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust’s annual lecture in Manchester just over a year ago to argue that the cities of the north could once again drive growth and innovation in Britain, but were being hampered by short-sighted planning strategies. “It is ironic”, he said, “that one of our prime exports – design and engineering skills – continues to fuel investment and growth globally, while being restricted by indecision and short-termism in the UK.” He challenged decision-makers to rediscover the traditions of intelligent design, innovation and civic pride that had provided a blueprint for growth in the rest of the world.

Lord Foster’s predecessor as President of the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust, The Rt. Hon. Lord Carrington K.G., G.C.M.G., C.H., M.C., has been appointed the charity’s first Patron.

The architect Sir Terry Farrell and Dr. Maria Balshaw C.B.E., Director of the Tate Galleries, have been appointed to the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust’s Advisory Board for three-year terms beginning on 1 January 2018.


Photographs of Lord Foster delivering the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust’s annual lecture can be downloaded at at


New publication: ‘Decorating Parliament’

Decorating Parliament cover

When the seat of the British Parliament was destroyed by fire three years before Victoria came to the throne, the task of commissioning paintings and sculpture for the new building was ultimately entrusted to a twenty-two-year-old who not long before had been a student in Bonn. It was a risk, but a calculated one; and it turned out to be an inspired choice.

Our new publication explains how, as Chairman of the Royal Fine Art Commission, Prince Albert deftly handled the politics, personalities and practical difficulties that beset the project from the start. Not only did he leave a remarkable artistic legacy that retains to this day its symbolic power, but he honed the skills that helped turn him into one of the great Renaissance Men of the nineteenth century.

Decorating Parliament: Prince Albert and the first Royal Fine Art Commission 1841-1863

Published by the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust 2017. On sale via Amazon and Waterstone’s

£10, ISBN 978-1-5272-1332-6, 52pp, illustrated in colour.  


Architectural Drawing Summer School

Bushra Mohamed of Kingston School of Art, part of Kingston University, takes students through items from the drawings archive at Drawing Matter Trust, based at Shatwell Farm, Somerset.  

Our 2017 Architectural Drawing Summer School, held in Somerset in association with Kingston School of Art and Drawing Matter Trust, gave a talented group of 17 year olds from across the country an intensive, hands-on introduction to the art of drawing.

Taught by Professor Andrew Clancy, Bushra Mohamed and Nana Biamah-Ofosu from Kingston and Niall Hobhouse from Drawing Matter Trust, the course (funded by the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust) was offered free to students between the first and second year of A Levels and nominated by their schools. Sixteen students – about 60% girls and coming from a mix of comprehensive and grammar schools and sixth-form colleges – were selected on merit from over fifty applications.

Students were accommodated in Vicars’ Close, Wells, the only intact mediaeval street surviving in England, from where they enjoyed privileged access to Wells Cathedral and other historic buildings.

Photographs from the summer school are available to view here. All photos © Ed Dowding.

Architectural Drawing Summer School – Open Review Session

Sat 2 Sept 2017, 2 – 4 pm

This Summer the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust, with Kingston University, is running an Architectural Drawing Summer School for A-Level students, in association with Drawing Matter. This one-week course will focus on architectural sketching and drawing, offering students a defining experience at a crucial point in their intellectual and personal development, and creating opportunities for pupils who might otherwise lack them.

The Summer School is based at Shatwell Farm, home of the Drawing Matter Trust, and at Wells Cathedral School. At the end of the week, Hauser & Wirth Somerset will be hosting an Open Review where visitors will have the chance to view the work that has been produced and meet the students and staff to explore their drawings and discuss their experiences.

The Open Review will take place in the Implement Shed at Hauser & Wirth Somerset and refreshments will be served.

This is a free event, no booking necessary.

2017 Architectural Drawing Summer School: call for students

The Royal Fine Art Commission Trust is running an architectural drawing summer school in Somerset from 26 August to 2 September 2017.

We are delighted that our academic partners for this event will be Kingston University (, winners of the 2017 Guardian University Award for Teaching Excellence. Expert tuition will be led by Andrew Clancy, Professor of Architecture at Kingston, and will be based largely at the Drawing Matter Trust near Bruton (, which will provide special access to its unique and extensive archive of architectural drawings.

We are keen to make this opportunity available as widely as possible and would like to hear from students between their first and second year of A Levels this coming summer who wish to be considered for a place. There is no charge to students and board and lodging will be provided free at Wells Cathedral School.

Our intention is to provide an opportunity to gain insights from professionals about how we see, how we record what we see and how we use what we see when we make things. The opportunity may particularly suit young people who are thinking about a career in architecture or the built environment, or who have shown aptitude in those directions, but that is not a requirement: we expect the skills learnt at the summer school to be fully transferable.

If you would like to be considered for a place, please email or dropbox Robert Bargery, Executive Director of the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust, at by 5pm on Thursday 11 May 2017. Please include:

  • a brief (200 words maximum) statement saying why you would like to attend
  • a scanned sample of your work, in the form either of written work (up to 1000 words) or artwork. Work does not need to have been done for this purpose or be related to architecture, but should help demonstrate your suitability for the summer school.

Please note that there will be competition for the fifteen places available, so this supporting material will be a key part of the selection process.

Offers of places will be made on 19 May 2017 and will be conditional on parental consent where necessary. Students attending the summer school will be invited to a concluding exhibition and lunch at the Hauser & Wirth contemporary arts centre, Bruton, on 2 September.

Questions and further information: Robert Bargery,

Foster: UK must think big to lead the world (video)

30780220142_278a6b9ba1_oGiving our Lord St John of Fawsley Commemoration Lecture in Manchester on 9 November, the eminent architect Lord Foster pointed out that although the UK’s design and engineering industries were contributing to infrastructural growth in other countries around the world, the UK itself was ‘missing out’ on tapping this valuable resource because of its short-sighted infrastructure planning strategies: “An optimistic belief in the future, and its embodiment in creating infrastructure for generations to come, is in evidence today but regrettably far from our shores. The common denominator that links our past heritage and emerging futures elsewhere is primarily one of an attitude of mind. It is ironic that one of our prime exports – design and engineering skills – continues to fuel investment and growth globally, while being restricted by the lack of planning, indecision and short-termism in the UK.”

Watch the video of the lecture

Ideas Competition / Turn your Small Change into Big Money


FIRST PRIZE : £4,000

See our competition PDF for full details: small-change-ideas-competition


We’re looking for simple practical design changes in any of the three fields of urban design, architecture and highways/traffic management that would measurably improve quality of life. What small interventions could relatively easily be adopted and have a beneficial effect on daily life?

Entries will be assessed by our world-class panel of intellectuals and design practitioners who straddle the two cultures of art and science.

Deadline for entries: 5pm on Friday 10 March 2017 (extended deadline). It is free to enter.