Archive for the ‘Staff’ category

UAL appoints David Crow as Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of Colleges for Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon

Professor David Crow has been appointed as UAL’s Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of Colleges for Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Arts. He will take up post on 1 August 2016.


Professor David Crow has been appointed as Pro Vice-Chancellor at UAL [Image courtesy of Manchester Metropolitan University]

David Crow is currently Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University. Amongst his achievements there, he reclaimed the heritage of the School – one of the UK’s oldest providers of creative education – after its identity had been subsumed for a generation as the university’s Faculty of Art and Design. He also led the recent prize-winning redevelopment of the School’s buildings.

Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor at UAL, said:

“We are delighted to have appointed David Crow, one of the leading figures in this generation of creative academics, as our new Pro Vice-Chancellor. I look forward to working with David during this exciting period for UAL at the heart of the UK’s fast-growing creative industries.”

David Crow said:

“I am pleased to be able to play my part in shaping the future of UAL and its colleges, whose students and alumni have such influence on art, design and performance across the world.”

David Crow studied Communication Design at Manchester Metropolitan University. He subsequently worked as a designer in London for Assorted iMaGes and as Art Director for Island Records before running his own consultancy. As a freelance designer he worked for clients in the cultural sector including Rolling Stones Records, Virgin Records, Phonogram and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He then moved into academia as Head of the Department of Graphic Arts at Liverpool John Moores University.

UAL Edit interview: Emma Hart

Emma Hart in her studio London

Announced this week as the winner of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, artist Emma Hart lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include: big MOUTH, Grand Union, Birmingham (2015); Sticky, Austrian Cultural Forum, London (2015); Spread, Art Exchange (2015); Giving It All That, Folkestone Triennial (2014); Dirty Looks, Camden Arts Centre (2013). In 2015 she was awarded a Paul Hamlyn Foundation award for Visual Art. Emma is a lecturer on BA (Hons) Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, UAL.

Emma Hart sculptures

What first inspired you to become an artist?

It really was the other way round, in that I was working in an office as a shipping clerk – I didn’t follow a conventional route into art, I didn’t do Art A-level or a foundation course – and it was more that I was using art to get away from what I was doing as opposed to moving towards something that I really loved. I felt terribly misunderstood in the shipping industry and in the office administration industry. I also worked at a call centre for a long time and it just was very frustrating and disappointing. I had a desire to make things, but it was more that I had ideas going round my head, “what if this could happen?” and I couldn’t express them. Because I hadn’t done any art training I felt very restricted, I didn’t feel I could paint or draw or sculpt. When I was about 21, 22, when it came to really thinking about ‘what am I going to do next?’ art was still too far away from me, I couldn’t quite imagine it,  but what I could imagine was taking photographs, so I went and bought disposable cameras from Boots – digital cameras hadn’t actually been invented – and in my spare time just started to take photographs on them and cobbled together a portfolio and got into a photography course at my local college.

Emma Hart installation

What are you working on at the moment?
It’s been a really busy time the last two years undertaking two major exhibitions at Camden Arts Centre and then the Folkestone Triennial so right now I’m just pausing for thought and enjoying relishing having won the Paul Hamlyn award. But in this year I start on another major commission with Jonathan Baldock and we have a major commission with the De La Warr Pavilion, Peer Gallery and then the Grundy Gallery in Blackpool – we’ve never collaborated before and  we’re going to collaborate for the first time and produce a kind of modern weird take on Punch and Judy. It opens in August at the De La Warr and it’s a really large show. We’ve got some huge sculptures planned.

Emma Hart close up

Tell us about your work

I’m fairly new to ceramics and my approach is to combine ceramics with photography and video. The Folkestone Triennial was only my second major public project with ceramics, so I’m not an expert. I taught myself everything from YouTube! A bit like when I first got on the course to do photography, I taught myself then. I even bought a kiln. Folkestone was a unique opportunity because rather than the work being situated in a gallery it was in an abandoned flat, so that’s a more provocative location than a neutral gallery. It had been lived in and then abandoned, I think due to financial difficulties, so it was really smelly – it was very atmospheric. A lot of my work dwells on the boundaries or thresholds between public and private so I often think about spillages or sweat – a moment of excess when something bursts through our public veneer, how anxiety forces our inner feelings outwards. A domestic property is a good places to dwell on personal doubts or anxieties and how we perform being who we are.

I installed work all over the flat, there was video, which created a crying soundtrack to the whole experience, and I made these metal figures which were holding laptops displaying weird powerpoints about how you might present yourself, and then the rooms were filled with ceramics which set up situations for the viewer to enter in to. Something I’m exploring is how ceramics can go beyond being a vessel and create a situation or scene, so in one room long extended arms offered viewers drinks, so the viewer is drawn in, in a room upstairs the viewer is peered at over the edge of ceramic clipboards and therefore being monitored which hopefully manufactured another set of feelings within the viewer.

Red kites photographed by Mrs Airwolfhound

What are you most passionate about?

The thing for me is that I had a child two years ago and now I’m much more passionate about family life. I am still really passionate about birds, I was a keen birdwatcher, but I’m more likely to see a black bird than a red kite these days.

Which piece of creative work in any discipline do you most love?

I just have been to see the Enrico David show at Hepworth Wakefield and it took my breath away. It is the best show I have ever seen in a long time and I think about it constantly. The work is a heady mix of provocation, beauty, terror, and lust.

Where is your favourite London haunt?
Things have changed, it used to be the Wenlock Arms near Old Street but now it’s the city farm in Surrey Quays.

What is your guilty pleasure?
It’s QVC, the shopping channel.

Name a favourite book, song and film

Virginia Woolf To The Lighthouse
Virgina Woolf,  To The Lighthouse

Alison Limerick cover
I’m a bit of an old clubber and my favourite track is Where Love Lives by Alison Limerick 

Uncle Buck poster detail
I hardly ever watch films, but the one I’ve seen the most is Uncle Buck.

What advice would you give to aspiring creatives?
The hardest thing to do, is to do what you want to do,  rather than what you think you should be doing and it’s hard because it’s hard to work out what you really want to do and then it’s hard because you have to have courage to do what you want. My advice is caught up in that really – do what you want to do.

Read more on Emma Hart’s website

Find out more about the Max Mara Art Prize for Women on the Whitechapel Gallery website

Revisiting “the wickedest road in Britain”

Janet Mendelsohn The street c.1968. Black and white photographic print Courtesy Cadbury Research Library Special Collections University of Birmingham

Photography and the Archive Research Centre
 director Professor Val Williams has researched the 1960s photographs of US documentary photography Janet Mendelsohn, for a catalogue essay, published by the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham to accompany the exhibition Janet Mendelsohn’s Varna Road, which opens this week.

The Guardian reports that Varna Road was known as called the wickedest road in Britain “yet in Janet Mendelsohn’s haunting black and white photographs, by turns playful and melancholy, we see the hidden side of the street that became the focus of 1960s moral panic.”

Janet Mendelsohn Kathleen hanging out c.1968 Black white photographic print Courtesy Cadbury Research Library Special Collections University of Birmingham

Here, Professor Val Williams shares her insights into the work:

Mendelsohn was a visiting scholar at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University   from 1967 to 1969. Having studied Social Relations at Harvard’s all-women Radcliffe College, Mendelsohn became interested in documentary photography; in Birmingham she decided to study social conditions in the inner city, and began to work in and around Varna Road in Balsall Heath.

Originally a sedate and elegant nineteenth century middle- class suburb, by the 1960s, Balsall Heath had become known as Birmingham’s major red light district and as a centre for migration from South Asia. The once-elegant houses fell into decay, and were subdivided into rooming houses and shabby flats. Corner shops, pubs and cafés formed the social hubs of the community, and life on the streets was hectic and crowded. The combination of vitality and cheapness meant that, for a time, Balsall Heath became a draw both for Birmingham’s artistic bohemia and for students, as well as a centre for prostitution. Balsall Heath was a highly visible example of British post-war society in transition, with a complex mix of groups, new populations engaging with the more traditional. Balsall Heath was about to  undergo a relentless process of slum clearance and Varna Road, along with many other streets in the area, would cease to exist.

Janet Mendelsohn, Kathleen and her newborn son L c.1968 Black and white photographic print Courtesy Cadbury Research Library Special Collections University of Birmingham

Mendelsohn’s Varna Road photographs focussed on the life of ‘Kathleen’ – sex worker, mother and Balsall Heath resident. These remarkable photographs, are intimate and collaborative, as Mendelsohn observed  ‘Kathleen’ in her day-to-day life. At the heart of the project are Mendelsohn’s photographs of Kathleen and her family at home.  Though Kathleen’s life was a challenging one, and her circumstances extremely straitened, Mendelsohn’s photographs of her are rich and poetic. Intimate, collaborative. Shot in available light, the gloomy, dishevelled interiors of Kathleen’s rooms assume a kind of grandeur, as with Kathleen as a gaunt but sublime Madonna.  These are photographs full of warmth and compassion, photographs made by a woman about another woman’s life. No two people could have been further apart than the high achieving Radcliffe student and the impoverished Birmingham prostitute, but there is real connection here.

Outside, on the street, in the café, outside the pub, the photography changes and becomes much more of an observation of life in Balsall Heath as reflected through Kathleen and her circle. Mendelsohn accompanies Kathleen as she chats with friends on street corners, pushes her pram, and visits the launderette; she even photographed the broken down bed where Kathleen took her clients. She observes Kathleen with her children in photographs of great poignancy. This is a many-layered study, where empathy meets sheer inquisitiveness on a massive scale.

Janet Mendelsohn’s Varna Road runs at Ikon Gallery, 1, Oozells Square, Brindley Place, Birmingham B12HS until 3 April.

The UAL Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC) was designated by University of the Arts London in 2003 and is based at London College of Communication.

Read more about Janet Mendelsohn Varna Road at Ikon Gallery

Read more about the Photography and the Archive Research Centre

Read more about Professor Val Williams

What do all these Oscar nominees have in common…? UAL

Now that the official nominations to this year’s Oscar race are out – we tally up the talent that count UAL as their alma mater.

TOM HARDY: Drama Centre London & UAL Honorary Fellow


UAL’s own Honorary Fellow, who also attended UAL’s Drama Centre London, Tom Hardy, is up for Best Supporting Actor in his race to nab his very first Oscar for his work in acclaimed front-runner, The Revenant. But it doesn’t just stop there. Hardy also appears in Mad Max: Fury Road – with both films up for an combined eye-watering 22 Academy Awards.

Hardy was studying at Drama Centre London, Central Saint Martins when he was offered his breakout role in HBO’s award-winning miniseries Band of Brothers. Award-winning performances followed in Bronson, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, amongst a string of stellar performances in both film, on screen and stage.

He inspired UAL graduates with his moving speech: “It’s okay to fail. You learn so much more from failure – it’s not embarrassing.”

Watch it here:

MICHAEL FASSBENDER: BA (Hons) Acting, Drama Centre London, UAL

Revised Michael Fassbender

Denis Makarenko /

All eyes are on Michael Fassbender, who is up for Best Actor, having channelled the visionary title character in the biopic, Steve Jobs. It may have been the same clarity of vision that overcame Fassbender, who decided at 17 to be an actor, moving to London to study at UAL’s Drama Centre London.

He has since forged a remarkable career, dotted with critically acclaimed independent films and box office hits, from 300, Inglourious Basterds, as well as starring in his award winning role in fellow UAL (Chelsea College of Arts) alumnus and Turner Prize winner, Steve McQueen’s film, Hunger.

With one Oscar nomination under his belt, thanks to his searing performance in 2014’s 12 Years A Slave – 2016 could be Fassbender’s year.

EVE STEWART: Theatre Design, Central Saint Martins, UAL

Cornerhouse Manchester; Paul Greenwood

Behind every great film, is a great designer. And in most cases, that designer is the great, Eve Stewart, having trained in theatre design at UAL’s Central Saint Martins. From Topsy-Turvy, Elizabeth I, The King’s Speech and Les Misérables, Stewart has collected a string of awards – carving out her reputation as the designer who can bring any great film to life.

With three Oscar nominations to her name already, this year she is up this year for Best Production Design for The Danish Girl.

SANDY POWELL: Theatre Design, Central Saint Martins, UAL

Sandy P


Multiple award-winner, Sandy Powell OBE, will seemingly never have to practice her gracious-‘loser’-Oscar face, having scored two Oscar nominations nods this year for Best Achievement in Costume Design for her work in both the dramatically different, Carol and Cinderella.

A veteran in the awards race, Powell has had practice jugging double Oscar nominations, having been nominated in 1998 for both Velvet Goldmine and Shakespeare In Love (winning the latter).

Powell trained at UAL’s Central Saint Martins, before crafting a stellar career that has included Academy Award wins for The Aviator and The Young Victoria, as well as having racked up an astonishing 10 Academy Award nominations in total.

JENNY BEAVAN: Theatre Design, Central Saint Martins & former Visiting Professor, UAL

Oscars Wiki

A graduate in Theatre Design at UAL’s Central Saint Martins, Jenny Beavan is also a former visiting UAL Professor, sharing her design talents with students, that led her to win the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for 1985’s, A Room With A View.

Beavan has racked up another nine Oscar nominations in total, making her one of the most in-demand designers in the biz. This year she is up for Best Achievement in Costume Design for her work in Mad Max: Fury Road.

JOSHUA OPPENHEIMER: Marshall Scholar, PhD in Fine Art at Central St Martins, UAL


Fernando Eimbcke, Olga Kurylenko, Joshua Oppenheimer (right) magicinfoto /

With a BA from Harvard University and a PhD from Central Saint Martins, UAL to his name, film director, Joshua Oppenheimer has astounded audiences with this documentary film-making.

In a follow up to his 2012 globally award-winning debut feature film, about the individuals who participated in the Indonesian killings of 1965-66, The Act of Killing, Oppenheimer has directed its companion film: The Look of Silence that has been nominated for this year’s Best Documentary.

Winning over 50 international film awards, Oppenheimer delivered a screening for US Congress members, calling on the US to acknowledge its role in the killings. He very well may do the same at this year’s Academy Awards.

Winners will be announced at the 88th Academy Awards ceremony which takes place on 28 February.


UAL: 10 unforgettable moments

Winning the Turner Prize


Part architects, part designers. Whichever way you look at them, Assemble – made up of UAL lecturer Maria Lisogorskaya, and visiting tutors Mat Leung and Louis Schulz who teach at Central Saint Martins – reinvented urban ‘regeneration’ and in doing so, scooped this year’s Turner Prize. While some declared it the death of the Turner, you can’t help but be impressed: not only are they the first collective to win – but with an age range of 26 to 29,  they’re also the youngest.

Officially the world’s best


Photograph: Artur Kula/Demotix/Corbis

Don’t just take our word for it. Industry bible, the Business of Fashion, named UAL’s Central Saint Martins the best fashion school in the world. UAL’s London College of Fashion also made the top 10 list, coming in at number eight as the best in the world. Enough said.

UAL invests in the future of its Colleges

UAL Top 10

This year UAL announced a new cutting-edge campus for London College of Communication which will be at the heart of the regeneration of Elephant & Castle. This is just one of UAL’s exciting building developments, with work underway on the £62million regeneration of Camberwell College of Arts  and architects already announced for London College of Fashion’s new campus at the Olympic Park.

UAL’s Grayson Perry on Channel 4

Grayson Perry

Turner Prize winner and acclaimed artist, Grayson Perry told Channel 4 that his mission as the newly crowned UAL Chancellor is to act as “an ambassador for creative education”. Watch Grayson talk art and explore UAL’s Summer Shows:

From LCC to Jay Z


It was the perfect fit. Take students from the London College of Communication and have them embark on a cultural exchange programme with scholars from superstar, Jay Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation. Next, send them to New York to work with entertainment giant, Roc Nation to develop the marketing campaign for the Made in America Festival. A dream assignment.

International Art Competition


Winning piece ‘Imperfect Roles’ by Xiaoxi Kang

Not only did Camberwell College of the Arts MA Illustration student Xiaoxi Kang beat artists from 43 countries to be crowned winner of the International Art Competition, “Show Your World” – she will have her work exhibited in New York City at the Gallery MC, 15 -17 January 2016.

New Blood


A predictor to tomorrow’s creative superstars’, the D&AD New Blood Awards, celebrating outstanding work in the design and advertising industry are one of the most prestigious internationally recognised industry accolades that any under 24-year-old can hope to achieve. Invited to respond to industry standard briefs set by global brands, such as Dazed, Adobe, Toms and The Telegraph  – Chelsea College of Arts BA Graphic Design Communication students boasted 11 winners.

Taking centre stage in Beijing

A scene from 7734 by Jasmin Vardimon @ Laban World premiere @ Brighton Dome 23-09-10 (Opening 23-09-10) ©Tristram Kenton 07/10 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email:

by Abigail Hammond, photography Tristam Kenton

Cementing its place as one of the UK’s leading specialist theatre institutions, Wimbledon College of Arts curated the largest ever exhibition of European Theatre Design in China, featuring work from the Lion King by Wimbledon alumnus Richard Hudson, Cheek By Jowl by Nick Ormerod and Declan Donnelan, Ping by LCF alumna Daphne Karstens, alongside designs by Thomas Rupert and Dimitry Krymov. Endlessly breaking boundaries in design for theatre and film, Wimbledon’s roster of star alumni includes Oscar, BAFTA and Emmy award winners such as Sarah Greenwood, Anthony Ward, James Acheson, Charles Knode, Christopher Oram and Mark Tildesley.

Gateway to a greener future


As delegates descended onto St Pancras International train station, en route to Paris for the United Nations Climate Change conference COP 21 – they came face to face with the world’s first ever physical embodiment of Dress for Our Time – a digital couture dress dedicated to showing the human impact of climate change on our physical world. Curated by London College of Fashion’s Professor, Helen Storey MBE RDI, the Dress for Our Time digital couture installation helped change the way we think and act upon climate change.

Back to the Futuro

Futuro House, The Terrace, Central Saint Martins, King's Cross

Futuro House, The Terrace, Central Saint Martins, King’s Cross

A flying saucer or a Sixties love shack? Either way – the Futuro House, originally designed as a Finnish ski lodge by artist Craig Barnes, landed on The Roof Terrace at Central Saint Martins in Autumn 2015. At 13ft tall and 26ft wide, the elliptical fibreglass structure can hold 20 people and is only one of 60 left in existence. When it’s not being ogled by members of the public once a month, it’s used by UAL to  host performances, screenings, talks and other happenings. Here, artists, designers and thinkers are set to change the course of our world.

2015 in posts: the ones you liked the most

You got talking about…


UAL grad, Lili Murphy-Johnson shows us why we should celebrate female menstruation. Here she shares how she’s using it as her artistic inspiration.

You were divided on…


So Kanye West came to visit Central Saint Martins today! Just a normal Tuesday at UAL. Fab walk-&-talk photo by Sam Dunne.

You were inspired by….


“Creativity is contagious, pass it on” – Albert Einstein

You took celeb selfies with…

You got political…


Are You Happy? By Emily J Toomer, graphic design, Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts London.

The Guardian challenged art students capture the real Britain in the run-up to the 2015 general election. It then shared the best entries – with many coming from UAL.

You championed…

fossil fuels

We play a leading role in environmentally sustainable fashion, arts and design. Now, mindful of the impact of climate change, we are proud to announce our commitment to ‪#‎divest from fossil fuels.

You shared advice from…

tom hardy

Tom Hardy’s advice to our students: “It’s okay to fail. You learn so much more from failure – it’s not embarrassing.”

You celebrated….


Here’s a small selection of our photos from graduation week 2015. Tag yourself if you’re featured!

You were glad to be included with this bunch…


UAL to present honorary awards to leading creative figures including Tom Hardy, Gillian Wearing, Ralph Fiennes and Phoebe Philo at graduation ceremonies this year.

You pondered life’s next move and watched…

Going to UAL uni

Looking into university options for next year? Watch our new film to learn more about UAL, our 6 Colleges and see some of the exciting work produced by our students.

Barry Lyndon at 40: Kubrick’s historic masterpiece four decades on

Kubrick Barry Lyndon feature The Guardian

Four decades after Stanley Kubrick’s historic masterpiece Barry Lyndon was released in theatres, The Guardian visit the Stanley Kubrick Archives at UAL, to explore some of the thousands of objects relating to the film’s conception, development, production, and release. Film editor Andrew Pulver spoke to the epic film’s executive producer Jan Harlan about what the objects reveal, including insights into the set design, costumes, scene plans, filming techniques and production worries. The picture feature incorporates shots of Stanley Kubrick on the Barry Lyndon set with the cast and crew, as well as hand-annotated notes. Read the full feature on The Guardian

Find out more about the Stanley Kubrick Archive at UAL’s Archives and Special Collections Centre, based at LCC in Elephant and Castle

Read about the Inner Circle Oral History project where Stanley Kubrick’s friends, family and colleagues share their memories of the cinematic great.

Discover six surprising facts about Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey discovered in the Stanley Kubrick Archive, as revealed by UAL’s Kubrick Archivist


UAL Professional Mentoring Scheme


Are you in your final year at University of the Arts London and feeling unsure about your next steps after university?

UAL’s Professional Mentoring Scheme is an unique opportunity for final year students (undergraduate and postgraduate) to be matched with an experienced professional to gain career insight, guidance and support.

The next wave of the programme will run from February to July 2016 and the deadline for applications is midday on Friday 8 January 2016. For more information visit Mentoring at Careers and Employability.

Volunteer Mentors Needed

Have you reached a stage in your career where you could give something back? We are looking for mentors to help support and inspire University of the Arts London students.

If you have at least 3 years’ professional experience in the business or creative sectors, we would love to hear from you.  All we ask for is two hours of your time a month to meet with your mentee over a period of six months, and we will provide you with all the training and support you need.

The next round of training sessions are scheduled for January 2016 and the programme officially launches in February 2016. If you’re interested in taking part in something reward and exciting, then sign up today!

“Have faith”: the art lessons that shaped us

We’ve all had that one teacher that we’ve never forgotten – where lessons in the classroom transformed into life lessons that forever changed us. For many, that teacher was the late Chelsea College of the Arts BA Fine Art tutor, Roger Ackling – who died last year from motor neurone disease.

For over 40 years he worked outside and alone, in the same meticulous method.  Ackling directed sunlight through a hand-held magnifying glass, burning images of the sun directly onto discarded wooden artefacts in geometric patterns. His works are held in collections spanning the British Museum, the Tate and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Over 200 people pledged their support to the Kickstarter campaign that helped produce the book dedicated to his work and teaching, Between the Lines.

Here, former UAL students, colleagues and contemporaries share their most treasured memories of him.

Roger opener

Roger Ackling presents the table tennis cup to Martin Taylor, Wimbledon College of Art, 1975

Editor of Between the Lines, Emma Kalkhoven is a graphic designer, and was a student of Roger Ackling’s on the Chelsea BA Fine Art Course 2003–7

“In a quiet way, Roger revolutionised many of the students he came into contact with, and I was one of them. Having heard that he had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease, I thought what a shame it was that so many students would miss out on the benefit of his teaching, and I wanted to make a book that would enable future art students to learn from Roger as I had done. The idea remained in the back of my head until I heard the sad news that Roger had died. A few months earlier I had started working with Sara De Bondt and Antony Hudek who run Occasional Papers, and I asked them if they would be interested in publishing the book – luckily they loved the idea.”

Emma Kalkhoven_Voewood word press

An Ackling piece owned by Emma; Voewood, 2007, sunlight on wood, 18.5 × 4.3 × 2.7cm

Tony Cragg – student of Roger Ackling, Wimbledon College of Arts, 1969–1973

“I met Roger in 1969 in Wimbledon where I had just started on the painting course and he had just started to teach there. In one of the first conversations we had together he maintained that the most important thing for an artist was ‘to have faith’. At the time I was not sure what he meant but even forty-five years later I am often mindful of these words at the commencement of any new work or project that almost per definition is without a clear and sure outcome.”


(from left to right) Martin Cook, Roger Ackling and Tony Cragg in the 1970s

Mariko Mori – student of Roger Ackling, Chelsea College of Art 1989 – 1992

“Roger Ackling taught me during my first year of Chelsea College of Art in 1989. I discovered the essence of contemporary art and the spirit of the artist through his teaching; he truly encouraged his students to believe in themselves and to explore any challenges they encounter. In his own work, he used a painstakingly meditative process – collecting sunlight through a magnifying glass to make marks on driftwood. His poised, patient state of mind is fully reflected in the outcome, awe-inspiring the beholders. He was a mentor for many international artists.”


Roger Ackling in his studio in Hackney, c.1991. Photograph: John Ridd

Trevor Sutton is an artist who first taught with Ackling at Wimbledon School of Art in the mid-1970s and then at Chelsea College of Art for over 20 years. 

“Roger was a natural teacher, often spending hours with students with whom he felt a rapport. He believed all good artists should teach, should pass on their belief in their practice. He taught by constantly asking questions rather than supplying the answers, supplementing his inquisition with a mixture of unique stories and arguments. An inspirational figure for many students, he often continued to support them in any way he could for years after they left Chelsea.”

Trevor Sutton_Wordpress

Roger Ackling with students at Wimbledon School of Art, 1975. Photograph: Martin Taylor

Virginia Verran, Associate Lecturer in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art since 1986.

“I taught alongside Roger for 25 years at Chelsea College of Art. He had a special combination of generosity and perceptiveness; a great strength in a tutor.  At one time I was secretly very insecure about my work, and over a pizza after work Roger sensed this immediately. I remember he asked me: ‘What do you think is stronger; you or your work?’. The realisation that I could draw strength from the work rather than the other way around was a marvellous thing; then and now.”

Virginia Verran_Wordpress

An Ackling piece owned by Virginia

Dean Hughes is an artist and Head of the School of Art, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh. He was a student of Ackling at Chelsea College of Art from 1993 to 1996. 

“Meeting Roger in 1993 is marked as something of a ‘beginning’ for me. Up until this point in my life I wouldn’t really say that my education counted for very much. I certainly hadn’t encountered anything like the teaching, time and conversation that I would benefit from in the following three years. At the same time my understanding of what art is, and how meaningful it can be, was being opened up for the first time. For me, Roger stands at the point where Art and Education became inextricably entwined. Roger gave me the greatest gift. He gave me the ability to dwell within, and see, my conscious life.”

Dean Hughes_Wordpress

Untitled, sunlight on wood, 2010 (a gift to Dean from Roger)

Mo Throp is a Researcher and PhD Supervisor at Chelsea College of Art, who studied at Saint Martin’s School of Art with Ackling before working with him in her role of Head of Fine Art at Chelsea from 2004 until 2011, when he retired.

“Roger’s great importance – and one that remains fundamental to art education – is his insight into the creative potential of the individual student. In the intensity of the one-to-one tutorial in front of their ongoing practice, Roger was able to confront the anxieties that are inherent in the creative process and address what those limitations might be. He was also one of the best-loved teachers I have encountered in my teaching career.”

Sunburn1_Mo Throp_Wordpress

Roger Ackling’s exhibition Down To Earth at Chelsea Space, 2011. Photo: John Davies

Brendan Prendeville is Senior Lecturer of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. He studied with Ackling at Saint Martin’s School of Art from 1965 to 1968.

“At their best, art schools are places in which people feel free to fool around, and where they may find a way to work that has meaning through both experiment and conversation. Roger had a better and more active understanding of this than anyone I have known. Art, for him, was not something you need to define because, as a ramifying practice, it continually defines itself, so that the only task is to plunge in and participate – and that is what he did even as a student, from the beginning.”

Brendan Prendeville_Wordpress

Brendan Prendeville, Anne Mallet and Roger Ackling shortly after leaving at St Martins, 1969. Photo: Martin Cook

Richard Long, artist and fellow student at St Martin’s with Ackling, 1966–8 

“Roger Ackling was an original and remarkable teacher, who nurtured remarkable students. I think a great teacher is as rare and special as a great artist. Roger was very special, on both counts.”


Roger Ackling: Between the Lines
£20; Occasional Papers

Between the lines - cover

What it means to be ‘female’ in…

….Peru, Italy, Pakistan, China and Iran. They might come from very different places – but each face a similar battle. Here, these UAL women share the very personal stories behind their art.

ANDREA: “I shared my most private thoughts.”


Andrea Vargas, London College of Communication, UAL Image ©Lewis Bush

“I love this person and yet she is such a mess.”
“I can’t be nice all the time.”
“When I was five years old I wanted to be a boy.”
“Be smart but never show it”
“Outsmart the patriarchy”
“Today I’ve decided not to pull out that white hair.”
“Question at all times that biology is destiny and that “genius” is only male.”
“I find it so weird to bleed once a month and not die.”
“I must call my mother”
“I’m going to be 30”

For most girls, the idea of publicly revealing their weight or the number of stray grey hairs is enough to render them speechless. But photographer, Andrea Vargas chose to turn this fear into a (very) public visual diary – layering secret thoughts over ‘honest portraits’. Here she shows what she, and perhaps most women of her generation might be going through.

“Girls are always coming up to me and saying: ‘You’re in my head!’ It shows how similar we all actually are – how we are driven by the same fears and vulnerabilities about our body and our choices. By revealing each thought – I shed a layer of anxiety and fear.

I deliberately took 31 photographs of myself. This was to challenge the idea that women need to fit into a 28-day cycle as dictated by things like the Pill. Again, women are forced into this tiny box. Instead, I wanted to dismantle that notion and show how we should define ourselves and also to show how my turning 30 and getting older is something to be celebrated.

I’m from Peru and at my age, my mother was already married and had children. And here I am, on the cusp of turning 30, and I’m childless and unmarried. My mother already knows I’m not following a conventional path (or whatever she might think conventional is).

Perú, itself, is far away from equality in any sense, let alone gender equality. There is a lot of pressure for women to be this perfect human being. She must know what she wants, have a Master’s degree, make money, stand up for herself, get married, have children, raises them right, be a good wife, and with whatever strength she has left, tackle all her own personal issues. It’s exhausting.

I want my work to show that girls can and define themselves in whichever way they wish. You can choose for yourself and be whoever you want to be.” In La Luna, Vargas combines photography and text, exploring ideas of societal pressure on women in Latin American society. Using her body as the main subject, she has made a series of what she calls ‘honest portraits’, investigating issues of self-acceptance and perception of her own body. Creating a visual diary, in which she includes these self-portraits and her own thoughts poured on the wall, she tries to help the viewer understand what she, and perhaps most women of her generation, might be going through in some determined part of her life.”

LICHENA: “It took my parents 15 years to accept our relationship.”


Lichena Bertinato, London College of Communication; UAL, Image © Lewis Bush

In ‘The invention of the family’, Lichena Bertinato traces the evolution of her family through old family portraits, raising questions about LGBT rights in Italy, where there is not yet any legal recognition of same-sex families.

“This series shows three generations of what ‘family’ looks like in Italy. From my grandparents, to my parents, to me and my pregnant girlfriend, Elisabetta. Three relationships, equal in measures of love, but each recognised so differently.

It took my parents 15 years to accept our relationship. It took Elisabetta’s family 10 years. It hasn’t been easy, but placing my relationship next to my family’s history was a cathartic experience. It was a mix of fear and the need to feel brave for when Elisabetta and I become parents ourselves.

I will teach my child that there is not just one family model but all kinds that share the same values, regardless if there is a single parent, or if parents are two men or two women.

The Church and society expect women in Italy to raise children, take care of the house and keep her husband happy. Society doesn’t help us to fulfil our potential, except from gaining a realization as mothers. I think that mothers in Italy forgot that they are also women. And when women speak up, they are labelled as feminists or subservient.

Here in the UK, we will both be legally recognised as parents of our child. Both of our names will appear on the birth certificate. But once back in Italy, we do not exist: I won’t exist as a partner and even worse, as a parent.

Last summer The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Italy was violating human rights in not recognising any form of civil union or same sex marriage. So while I wait for the law to catch up on my family status, I am inventing one, for which I claim my own rights, The invention of the family.

SAMIYA: “I felt inferior to my brothers because I was born a girl.”


Samiya Younis, Wimbledon College of the Arts, UAL

She had endured too much to remain silent. For Samiya Younis, the answer was to pour her frustrations, fears, and ultimately her self-acceptance into her art. Here she opens up about overcoming her past.

“I am one of nine children, born in the UK to Pakistani parents. Growing up, I always felt inferior to my brothers because I was born a girl. It’s different for the girls in the family. My mother was married at 13 and had her first child at 15. Many of my sisters have been forced into marriage.

When we turned 15, my twin sister and I were promised to our first cousins and we were engaged. By 17, we would be their wives. My sister and I were forced to leave home and we’ve been estranged from our family ever since.

Being raised as a Muslim has impacted me severely. All my life I have felt alone, scared and unloved. I have been repressed, controlled and suffered mental, emotional and physical abuse from my parents and elder siblings.

My parents threatened us into believing if we didn’t follow Islam we would go to hell. I was told to befriend only other Muslim females. I had to attend Saturday school and read the Quran every day. If I got any of the words wrong, I would be beaten.

I was made to believe women were second class citizens, only good for obeying, bearing children and being confined to the home. Women are made to wear traditional Pakistani clothes with head-scarfs and when occasionally they are allowed out, they must be chaperoned. Education is not encouraged.

I have struggled with my identity and confidence as long as I can remember. Not knowing where I fit in this has affected me in adult life. I struggle to trust and build relationships. But my work helps me create awareness of these practicing on women’s repression, and how they can affect an individual.

I want my work to highlight the secret repression that is still happening and remains hidden – for all girls everywhere.”

WENDY: “We are expected to get married and bear children. This is ingrained into us from when we are kids.”


Wendy Lee-Warne, London College of Communication, UAL

In ‘A Woman’s Fate’ Wendy  Lee-Warne explores gender identity in a traditional Chinese family in Singapore. She records some of the future pathways that were open to her as a child.

“Once a baby is identified as female in Chinese culture, she is expected to fulfil a specific role – to get married, bear children and serve her family. This is ingrained into us from when we are kids. We must act our part.

Instead I took a different path and trained as an architect. But even then, I didn’t belong. It’s unusual for women to be on a construction site – they are out of place.

My mother, who comes from a long line of traditional Chinese families, just wants me to find a good man, get married and have a family. Instead, I quit my stable job to pursue photography. My parents are not happy with me. They see my choice to pursue a ‘physical’ job as a waste of their investment in me.

But I am so much more fulfilled right now. My work is about women to pursue the life they want. Women are capable of being who they want to be. Simone De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex said it for me. ‘One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.

We should not conform to conventions just because of expectations but in fact, allow ourselves to grow and become comfortable in our own skin, deciding for ourselves what we want to be, how we want to act and who we want to love.”

SHADI: “By dressing up as and acting out their lives – I became these women.”


Shadi Mahsa

Meet the woman with a thousand faces. From chance meetings with strangers , Shadi Mahsa channelled their beings and immortalised them into her art. Here, she unmasks her inspiration.

“I am an Iranian woman and have lived in exile since 1991. In my journey, I’ve encountered characters that are forever seared into my memory. Real women, from all classes of Iranian society, whose personalities show a fine balance between an imposed subservience and the natural strength of their gender. From time to time, I still think of them and wonder how they are coping with their lives.

By dressing up and acting out their lives – I became them. Whether it’s Farzaneh, or ‘Ferri’, the woman dressed as man, living a homosexual life, to a veiled woman driving a car in the public eye. These are challenging characters, but all their stories deserve to be told.

There are so many burdens placed on women in Iran, from style of dress to their legal rights, spanning divorce, travel and inheritance.

Women in Iran must obey the husband. The man is the leader of the family – it is he who decides. A man can marry up to four wives, and have unlimited short marriages, ‘sigheh’. These rules do not apply to women.

My work is about sharing the truth. To highlight a universal issue regarding women. It is not an issue just in Iran, it is global. In some countries more and some less. The detail is different, but the injustice is everywhere.”