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Rewriting art history: Black Artists and Modernism research project launches

Sonia Boyce photo Paul Cochrane
Acclaimed artist and UAL joint Chair of Black Art and Design, Professor Sonia Boyce MBE, today launches a major national art research project which is set to rewrite modern art history and show Britain’s national art collections in a new light. Titled Black Artists and Modernism, the research project will be led by UAL in collaboration with Middlesex University, funded by a £722,000 award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The research has been profiled in The Art Newspaper, The Independent and The I newspaper.

The Black Artists and Modernism research team will begin a three year art hunt that will take them the length and breadth of the country, investigating the hidden story of black British artists in modern art history. Partnering with cultural institutions across Britain, including Tate in London, the Herbert in Coventry and the Bluecoat in Liverpool, the Black Artists and Modernism research will bring new light to the UK’s national art collections.

“Without black artists there would be no modernism”
With this powerful statement, Sonia Boyce distills the fundamental importance of the project. Artists of African and Asian descent have been making art in the UK at least since the early twentieth century, however, a problem exists where art criticism continues to serve the artworks of these artists inadequately. The research team state: “a peculiar kind of eclipsing has taken place where instead of considering and talking directly about the work, the discussions have emphasized the ethnicity of the artist, and the general problematics of race and identity politics within the art establishment, deflecting attention away from how these art-works relate to or have influenced the story of twentieth century art”.

Illustrating the little known history of black artists’ fundamental role in the conception and development of modernism, the research project will use exhibitions, a dedicated website, symposia, a monograph, and potentially a television documentary, to share the story of modern art in a new light. The project’s findings will also be used to create the first database to reveal where works by black artists can be found in the nation’s public art collections, and will link to the BBC’s Your Paintings website.

Support for the project has come from high profile artists and academics around the world:

Kellie Jones, Associate Professor, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Colombia University
“Black Artists and Modernism is a magnificent project. It presents a timely exploration of amazing early work that was the base of explorations for so much that has come later and changed the face of how we view art in the world.”

Courtney J Martin, Assistant Professor, History of Art and Architecture, Brown University
“For several centuries Britain has introduced some of the most important art and artists to the world. Despite this rich history, the art history of the nation’s own black artists (a term that exceeds the limitations of race to encompass political and cultural solidarity) remains under-recognised nationally and internationally. … Black Artists and Modernism will re-write British art history and set the contemporary record straight for a generation to come.”

Kobena Mercer, Professor, African American Studies and History of Art, Yale University
“This far-reaching initiative promises to give us a deeper and richer understanding of Britain’s place in the global and local networks that made 20th century modernism a dynamically cross-cultural phenomenon.”

Kenneth Montague, Director, Wedge Curatorial Projects (Toronto) / Tate Trustee
“The Black Artists and Modernism project is a long-overdue, absolutely essential resource – for too long, the importance of this work to the British arts scene has been overlooked. This initiative is about legacy… setting the record straight. As a collector of contemporary art that explores black culture, I fully support this urgent and essential addition to the scholarship around identity and representation.”

Melanie Keen, Director, Iniva: The Institute of International Visual Arts, London
“Reconsideration of artistic practice, artworks and exhibitions are as central to the BAM project as they have been to Iniva for the past 20 years. Debates around margin and centre or the insistence of the western canon are about to be thoroughly unpacked so that any lingering questions around the legitimacy of art made by Black British artists will have to be grappled with head on, no dismissing, no diminishing.”

Launching on 27 November at University of the Arts London, the project will conclude in May 2018.

Read more about the UAL Chairs

Speakers announced for AHRC 10th anniversary debate

UAL is delighted to announce the speakers for its debate Books and the Human, which is part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)’s 10th anniversary celebrations series, The Way We Live Now. UAL was selected from over 40 universities to take part in this prestigious series, and the debate will take place at Central Saint Martins on Wednesday 16 December, 6-8.30pm.

The book

The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects,  Marshall McLuhan, Quentin Fiore, 1967

The panel of distinguished speakers, who will be introduced by UAL Vice-Chancellor Nigel Carrington, will approach the topic ‘the book’ through the various lenses of philosophy, history, politics, literature and creative practice (the making of books). Speakers announced today (with more to be confirmed) are:

•  Stuart Kelly (Chair), Writer, critic and Books Editor of Scotland on Sunday
•  Professor Johanna Drucker, Professor of Bibliographical Studies in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA
•  Dr Catherine Eagleton, Head of Asia and Africa Collections, The British Library
•  Tom Uglow, Creative Director, Google Creative Lab

The debate will discuss:

• The book in all its forms and how it connects us to the past, captures the present and looks to the future.
• The intimate relationship between books and knowledge and between books and human beings is fundamental and crosses times and cultures
• In an age when digital technologies and e-books in particular are challenging the traditional forms of the book, how do these changes impact on our relationship with it?
• What does the book as an idea, as a repository of information and as a physical object mean to us any longer?
• What does our changing relationship with the book say about ‘The Way We Live Now’?

Alongside the debate, additional events taking place on 16 and 17 December 2015 will explore how books are conceived, crafted, experienced and shared. These events will include bespoke tours of the British Library Ritblat Treasures collection, object-handling sessions looking at specially selected items from Central Saint Martins’ extensive letterpress archive, bookbinding workshops and a Penguin Books round-table discussion.

The debate, together with these events, will question the intellectual, experiential, practical and public aspects of books and how they shape who we are, offering us an opportunity to reassess what the book means to us, as well as to explore its future as an ongoing part of human culture and life.

Programme Director and Course Leader of MA Communication Design at Central Saint Martins Rebecca Wright, who was part of the team to put forward UAL’s successful application, said of the debate:

“We’re delighted that UAL has been chosen to take part in this debate series to celebrate ten years of AHRC. The Graphic Communication Design programme at Central Saint Martins has a long and rich history of association with typography and book design, dating back to 1896 as the Central School of Arts and Crafts. Hosting this AHRC national debate provides an exciting opportunity to explore the form, function and future of the book from the perspectives of making and thinking, integrating design with the wider humanities. Our interest is in how the book is intimately linked to the way we live now.”

Full programme, booking links and further announcements can be found here.

This debate is a collaboration between UAL and the AHRC.

#thebooksandthehuman #AHRC10

UAL and fossil fuel divestment

University of the Arts London (UAL) plays a leading role in research, teaching and industry collaborations on environmentally sustainable fashion, arts and design.

UAL was the most improved major institution in the Green League 2015. We achieved a Gold Award for sustainable catering and were nominated for a 2015 Observer Ethical Award for applying the Chartered Institute of Procurement Specialist Sustainable Index to our supply chain.

As part of our sustainability strategy, UAL has scrutinised the management of our endowment assets with regard to investment in fossil fuels. The endowment assets are donations to UAL and our colleges for teaching and research, and constitute a small fund of £3.9m.

UAL plays a leading role in environmentally sustainable fashion, arts and design and is now divesting from fossil fuels. (Tara Baoth Mooney, MA Fashion and the Environment 2011 photography Sean Michael. Image courtesy of Centre for Sustainable Fashion)

UAL plays a leading role in environmentally sustainable fashion, arts and design and is now divesting from fossil fuels. (Image: Tara Baoth Mooney, MA Fashion and the Environment 2011. Photography: Sean Michael. Image courtesy of Centre for Sustainable Fashion)

None of UAL’s endowment is invested directly in fossil fuels. Mindful of the impact of climate change, UAL will strengthen our investment policy to ensure that we do not indirectly invest in fossil fuels via managed funds.

As a framework for our investment policy, UAL will sign up to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. We will disinvest from any fund which does not comply with the UN Principles.

The UN Principles are internationally recognised standards that ensure environmental, social and governance issues are an integral part of investment policy. They have been adopted by other universities as well as major investors and pension funds.

Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor of UAL, commented: “UAL’s commitment not to invest in fossil fuel helps our strategy to put sustainability at the heart of everything we do. We hope it will be welcomed by our staff and students.”

Signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment include Harvard University, Edinburgh University and CCLA, fund manager for universities including Birmingham City University, Cranfield University, Heriot-Watt University, the University of Hertfordshire, the University of Portsmouth and the University of Westminster.

Chair of BAFTA and former Universities UK President announced as UAL Governors

Chair of BAFTA Anne Morrison and former Universities UK President Sir Eric Thomas have been appointed to the Court of Governors at University of the Arts London (UAL).

Anne and Sir Eric will join the UAL Court of Governors, who are also the University’s trustees, and will help determine and promote the educational character and mission of the University among other duties.

 Sir Eric Thomas and Anne Morrison have joined UAL as Governors (Image credit: courtesy of Sir Eric Thomas & BAFTA/Rich Hardcastle)

Sir Eric Thomas and Anne Morrison have joined UAL as Governors (Image credit: courtesy of Sir Eric Thomas & BAFTA/Rich Hardcastle)

Anne commented: “Throughout my career I have been committed to nurturing the next generation of creative talent from all backgrounds and ensuring that higher education and employers work together effectively. UAL is one of the most important artistic and educational institutions in the country and a vital component in the UK’s high reputation worldwide in the creative industries, so I am delighted to be able to contribute to its future development.”

Sir Eric commented: “I am delighted to be joining University of the Arts London. It is a unique institution which leads in academic and cultural aspects of the arts nationally and internationally. I hope my input following my experience in universities will help, in some small way, to continue on its pursuit of excellence.”

About Anne

Anne is the Chair of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), the leading charity in the UK supporting, developing and promoting the art forms of the moving image.

Until 2014 she was Director of the BBC Academy, the BBC’s centre for training, which she launched in 2009. Anne’s background is principally in television production, working as a producer/director and rising to become Controller, Documentaries and Contemporary Factual at the BBC.

She is a frequent speaker on issues in the arts and education such as diversity, employability, talent development and creativity. She is a trustee of the Charleston Trust, a Board member of London & Partners and a trained executive coach and consultant.

About Sir Eric

Sir Eric was knighted for services to Higher Education in 2013 and was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol from 2001 to 2015. He was President of Universities UK from 2001 to 2013 and Chair of the Worldwide University Network from 2003 to 2007. He also chaired the Government Taskforce into Increasing Voluntary Donations to Higher Education which reported in 2004, the so called Thomas Report.

He graduated in Medicine from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1976 becoming a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist in 1987 until 2001. He was Head of the School of Medicine and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton from 1995 to 2000. He is married with two grown up children.



Apple Recruitment day at UAL – Tuesday 27 October

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Looking for a part-time job?

Apple Retail UK, are coming to UAL for one day, in two locations with lots of jobs to offer.

On the 27th October Apple will be in High Holborn and London College of Communication from 11am-5pm waiting for you to drop in (with your CV) ready to speak to discuss their retail jobs in their London stores.

If you love Apple products and Macs are second nature to you, come and speak to Apple about the different retail positions they have available in their stores.

What are Apple looking for from UAL students and graduates?

Clink on the link to see the different types of roles available, from sales opportunities to Genius roles:

Work where extraordinary happens.

Apple Store employees are unique individuals whose varied talents and experiences bring value to the way they connect people with Apple. So whether you’re analytical or creative, tech savvy or a people person, the Apple Store provides an ideal opportunity to challenge yourself.

Apple are currently hiring for our London retail stores. Please come along to Holborn or LCC on Tuesday 27th October to meet Apple representatives and find out more!