Masterpiece & Royal Bank of Canada

Celebrating 7 years of Principal partnership with Masterpiece London, Royal Bank of Canada's Senior Curator Corrie Jackson talks about RBC’s commitment to supporting Canadian artists since 1929; collecting strategies; and the role of their 5,000-object strong art collection in inspiring cross-generational dialogue.

Find out more about RBC's commitment to the arts.

Corrie Jackson will be joining the Masterpiece Online Talks Programme on 26 June at 5pm BST, exploring Women Artists: Past & Present.

Corrie Jackson, Senior Curator, RBC Art Collection

When did RBC start to develop the collection?
Corrie Jackson: The RBC Art Collection was sparked with a commitment to Canadian Artists in 1929, and has always focused on showcasing the best of Canadian Art. The first curator was brought on in the early 80’s to bring a new focus, energy and oversight to the collection. Ever since, the collection has been a key element of how spaces at RBC are experienced. When we started the RBC Emerging Artists Project in 2007, the collection doubled down on its commitment to supporting the work of living artists (many being in the early stages of their careers), and now over half of our acquisitions every year focus on artists in the very early stages of their career. We know the impact these aquistions have on the artists themselves, and they bring new, innovative energy to the collection.
What is the collection (scale, formats, display, artist’s highlights)?
Corrie Jackson: The collection is comprised of over 5,000 artworks that reside in our RBC offices internationally. There is a significant breadth and depth in the collection – from video works and site-specific installations, to photography and paintings. Our goal is to ensure that the artworks complement and support the work of RBC’s employees – and the experience of clients when they visit our offices. To see a small selection of the collection, you can visit our website (rbc.com/visualarts).

RBC Offices with work by Elizabeth McIntosh

What are RBC's main criteria to add artworks to its collection?
Corrie Jackson: In general, we look to acquire works from artists with ties to Canada for the collection. As a global collection, seeing Canada’s presence in the international art community is quite impressive. There is a vast network of exceptional artists around the world who we’ve been fortunate to work with. In terms of our criteria, we aim to have the collection spark conversation while reflecting RBC’s values by supporting innovative and diverse perspectives. Each artist we look at acquiring has a truly distinct and important approach to making art that we feel is essential to be championed within the collection.

The artwork we acquire are assets that we track and care for, but also investments in the intrinsic importance of artists, their productions, and the impact of the arts on our communities. It’s important to mention that we also look to support the works of artists whose work has been championed by their peers and exhibited in public intuitions, embedding the artists and their work as part of a larger cultural dialogue and reflecting the social value of these works.
Why is RBC committed to building such a collection?
Corrie Jackson: At RBC, we are committed to helping our clients thrive and communities prosper. Through our art collection, we demonstrate our understanding of the role artists play in our communities and society at large. They are catalysts for dialogue and discourse – reflecting on where we’ve been and where we’re going. Supporting artists means supporting vibrant communities. Bringing their works into the RBC collection supports their livelihood – but also brings these conversations into the spaces where we live and work.
At RBC, artwork is acquired and installed with a focus on creating and inspiring cross-generational conversations. Why is this important, and what do you want people learn from cross-generational conversations?
Corrie Jackson: Given the deep history of the RBC Art Collection, cross-generational dialogues have become an important part of how we navigate the collection. We look to focus deeply on the acquisition and support of emerging artists, but always look to contextualize their works alongside the artists who have been their mentors and teachers. These threads of thought and influence are so important to understanding how perspectives evolve.

Thinking about how ways of looking and making develop and change over time is so valuable to understanding our own biases and assumptions. When we look at work from different moments in time, we can think to the context of their making, and how the content might have been read at the moment the work was made vs now. Great art seems to have a way of always feeling relevant throughout time, and brings us back to ourselves.
At Masterpiece, artworks of different eras and categories are presented together. How do you find the "cross-generational" spirit is reflected through the fair?
Corrie Jackson: Masterpiece truly looks to navigate the role of art and artefacts across time. Many contemporary artists draw from art history in their reference points and source material. Cross-collecting lets us bring together reference points, and create a deeper narrative between objects. Seeing a historical object alongside something from the contemporary allows us to think about the many ways our relationship to objects and art has changed, and at times stayed the same. Additionally, it can help us see the arts relationship to the political, the cultural, the religious… as well as shifting approaches to patronage. Through these objects we can understand the influences that have been developed across generations. This brings perspective to contemporary art which helps us be more aware of the many threads that lead us into our current moment.

Young generation and the future (RBC’s commitment to citizenship and working with young people; Workshop with the Prince’s Trust promoting entrepreneurialism to young people at the fair)

Leading a discussion around the next generation of arts innovation and leadership at Masterpiece 2019 for the Prince’s Trust

Both RBC Emerging Artists Project and RBC's workshop with the Prince’s Trust at the fair are to empower the younger generation. Why are young people the focus of RBC?
Corrie Jackson: It was such a pleasure to present to the Princes Trust on the ways that the Arts industry continues to innovate and bring new ideas and voices forward. The world of working is changing – and young people are largely unprepared. Our mission is to help give them a chance through an initiative called RBC Future Launch. It’s a 10-year, $500-million commitment to help young people gain work experience, grow their networks, learn new skills, and enhance their mental well-being.

Working together with young people, RBC Future Launch is bringing community leaders, industry experts, and educators together to help design solutions and harness resources for young people to have a more prosperous and inclusive future. Our partnership with The Prince’s Trust in the UK – and its chapters around the world – is a good example of that as we help young entrepreneurs turn their ideas into a reality.

You can find more information on RBC Future Launch on our website (rbc.com/futurelaunch).
Why does RBC believe visual art is crucial to the development of the young generation?
Corrie Jackson: It’s important to remember that the arts are in many ways part of the heart of our communities – they help us process, express, and articulate shared experiences, and keep us connected. This connection is more essential than ever. Supporting the arts and the role they play in building vibrant communities and strong economies is key for RBC.

RBC ‘s Emerging Artists Project supports organisations that offer opportunities to advance an artist’s career trajectory across visual arts, music, theatre, performance, literature, and film. To date, more than 13,000 artists have participated and now make up our project alumni network. You can read more about the initiative on our website (rbc.com/community-social-impact/emerging-artists-project).
Why does RBC partner with Masterpiece?
Corrie Jackson: Masterpiece is an exceptional partner for RBC for so many reasons. It is a wonderful opportunity to share our deep commitment to the arts with our clients – while including them in the innovative, reflective, and impactful conversations that the arts inherently spark. The team at Masterpiece also create a truly exceptional atmosphere that brings together so many leading galleries. Their commitment to research, presentation, and excellence is industry-leading. We are extremely proud to be a longstanding partner of the fair.