Archive for the ‘News’ category

UAL in World’s Top 5 Universities for Art & Design

UAL is now in the top 5 universities in the world for art and design. UAL has soared to 5th place in the QS World University Rankings® affirming its status as a leading global provider of art and design education.

Image by Nadia Speranza for UAL – background image: Molly Butt, MFA Fine Art, Wimbledon College of Arts. Photographer: Ivan Jones

UAL also maintains its status as a leading UK art and design university in these rankings, holding steady in 2nd place, just behind the postgraduate specialist RCA.

The rankings highlight the world’s top universities in 42 individual subjects, based on academic reputation, employer reputation and research impact.

Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor of UAL, said:

“Universities such as UAL are integral to the success of the global creative economy; providing the talent pathway for graduates who go on to lead in their fields across the world. UAL is a truly global university and we are delighted to be recognised as one of the world’s top five universities for art and design in the 2016/17 QS World Rankings. This is fantastic news for our students and credit to the hard work and dedication of staff across the university.”

For full listings and more information, visit the QS World University Rankings by Subject website.


Pop-Up Art: UAL Students Scoop New VM Student Award for Retail Designs

Last Thursday, 10 March, UAL students Kelly Wong, London College of Fashion, and Daria Rodionova, Chelsea College of Arts, won two of the first ever student awards for their visual merchandising designs at the Retail Design Expo 2016.

Working with Liberty of London and Oasis, UAL students were challenged to create a pop-up space, personalising it for their particular store. UAL students and first-ever winners of the new VM Student Award (and prizes of paid work placements at Liberty and Oasis), give us the inside story on working with some of the biggest retailers in the UK…

Kelly Wong, London College of Fashion, being interviewed about winning the VM Student Award at Retail Design Expo 2016

Kelly Wong, London College of Fashion, being interviewed about winning the VM Student Award at Retail Design Expo 2016

Kelly Wong (pictured above) from UAL’s London College of Fashion wowed the creative team at Liberty of London, the world-renowned luxury UK retailer formed in 1875, and which Oscar Wilde once described as “the chosen resort of the artistic shopper”.

Oasis, one of the top UK high street retailers, worked with Chelsea College of Arts, challenging students to expand their design horizons. Winning another of the inaugural VM Student Awards, Daria Rodionova (pictured below), originally from Moscow, tells us what it was like to work on this exciting project and studying at UAL:

Daria Rodionova with her winning 'Fashion Fridges' designs at Retail Design Expo 2016

Daria Rodionova with her winning ‘Fashion Fridges’ designs at Retail Design Expo 2016

“My idea was to create «Fashion Fridges», which would be used instead of ordinary changing rooms and clothes hangers. I wanted them to become a symbol of Oasis that would represent the main principles of a brand: contemporary, stylish and fun.

I am very proud of my work; it combines contemporary design and classical elements of decor and it is made from easily accessible materials. I hope that it is the first step in my career, which will give me experience and knowledge about the industry I work in. 

While living in Moscow, I knew I wanted to study abroad. I chose UAL because it is one of the leading universities in the world of design and it provides its students with many opportunities to collaborate with the biggest design retailers. 

I am very happy that I have won the competition with my project and now I have an opportunity to work with the Oasis brand in summer.” Daria Rodionova, Chelsea College of Arts

A total of twenty UAL students worked with these renowned brands, including Young Soo Bae, Chelsea College of Arts (pictured below) who received a highly commended award.

Yung Soo Bae at the Retail Design Expo 2016 with her designs which were highly commended at the VM Student Awards

Young Soo Bae at the Retail Design Expo 2016 with her designs which were highly commended at the VM Student Awards

Here’s what other UAL students had to say about this amazing opportunity:

“It was a great experience to practice, experiment and analyse abilities and ideas…”

Rana Bashirova, Chelsea College of Arts

“I very much enjoyed working for Oasis and tried to bring something to this passionate brand. I felt like my work was constantly being reinvented and pushed beyond my own boundaries.”

Alberto Segato, Chelsea College of Arts

“Working for Oasis has been an extremely challenging and interesting experience. It has been an incredible and also rewarding experience and I have learnt to question myself and my ideas to create something different for this brand.”

Martina Bergamo, Chelsea College of Arts

London College of Fashion students shortlisted for the VM Student Awards

London College of Fashion students shortlisted for the VM Student Awards

New competition launched at UAL to mentor tomorrow’s female arts leaders

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It’s a pattern that has steadily grown. Increasing number of female arts graduates, should mean an in increase in women working in the arts.

But the numbers paint a very different picture.

Research shows that approximately only 30 per cent of artists represented by galleries in London are female and British Theatre Consortium statistics assert that only 31% of professional playwrights are female.

It was this gender gap that inspired the launch of a brand new scheme – ‘University Women in the Arts’ – that took place at Central Saint Martins, UAL and is designed to mentor female University arts students to take up leadership roles in the arts.

Mentor 1

©Ivan Jones

Open to all female students studying the arts at University level – 10 participants will be selected to be mentored over the course of a year by 12 women who are leading the way in the arts in the UK.

The scheme is run by the new MA Dramatic Writing at Drama Centre London at UAL’s Central Saint Martins, the Women of the Future Programme and Writers at Work Productions, in association with Tonic Theatre.

Mentor 3

©Ivan Jones

Jennifer Tuckett, Course Leader for MA Dramatic Writing at Drama Centre London at UAL’s Central Saint Martins said:

“I think it’s incredibly important to provide mentoring opportunities for young women wanting to work in the arts.

“It’s shocking how different the figures are – over 70% of women studying the arts at the UAL are women. We want to explore whether the drop off in numbers once women make the transition from studying to working in the arts is due to lack of mentorship, a previous lack of examples women can follow as they negotiate their career paths, family reasons, the insecurity in the industry, confidence or another reason.”

Jennifer Tuckett

Jennifer Tuckett

Jennifer goes on to say:

“Lucy Kerbel’s research from Tonic Theatre showed that in 2013, 59 per cent of Directing course graduates were women – but only 24 per cent of working directors were women, which is a huge difference.

“Over 70 per cent of our students at UAL are female, but in all areas of the arts there seems to be far fewer women than men.

“For the first time, the University Women in the Arts will investigate the reasons for this gender gap and hopefully, in doing so, get us thinking about how we can address this.”

©Monica Alcazar-Duarte

©Monica Alcazar-Duarte

Pinky Lilani CBE DL, founder of The Women of the Future Programme, said:

“The Women of the Future Programme is honoured to be working with Central Saint Martins, UAL on a programme that is crucial to helping women achieve their potential. Mentorship is pivotal to career success. ”

Another one

©Ivan Jones

Lucy Kerbel, founder of Tonic Theatre, said:

“I think this scheme is a brilliant idea. Young women who are keen to build careers in the arts often have to look harder for role models than their male counterparts. Consequently, a programme such as this which connects female students with trailblazing women is hugely valuable because it makes it all the easier for them to visualise themselves in top roles.

“Furthermore, hearing in detail how these women have achieved the success they have, and being able to begin to translate that to their own artistic and professional journeys is something that could make all the difference to a young woman when navigating the tricky initial steps into her career in the arts.”

In addition to the mentoring opportunity for 10 female students, there will also be public events over the course of the next year which anyone can attend.


©Ivan Jones

“Being a woman means being collaborative. This is something the Women of the Future Programme, who are one of the partners on University Women in the Arts, have spoken about a lot and which really interests me. To advance gender equality, they talk about how it seems to be most helpful when women use their innate skills at collaboration and kindness towards one another. I think that’s fascinating research they’ve done.

Mentors of the University Women in the Arts include: Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director of the English National Ballet Tamara Rojo, Managing Director of Penguin Books Joanna Prior and film producer of the Harry Potter films amongst other films and former Head of the Film Fund at the UK Film Council Tanya Seghatchian.

Find out more University Women in the Arts scheme here.

5 Powerful Works by Female Designers

Curator Ruth Sykes shares five graphic design pieces from her current exhibition at Central Saint Martins, UAL.

1. Rachel ‘Ray’ Marshall cartoons for suffragette publication ‘The Common Cause’ 1910

Rachel ‘Ray’ Marshall (1891 – 1940); Cover cartoons for suffragette publication ‘The Common Cause’ 1910 Photo credit Ruth Sykes

Ray Marshall was already a published cartoonist before she enrolled in the Central School of Arts and Crafts in 1912 to study wood engraving. The cartoon on the left satirizes the anti-suffrage view that attractive young women were not interested in voting or reforming women’s pay. Pay inequalities are still, of course, with us. In graphic design specifically, recent research published in the book “Graphic Designers Surveyed” revealed a gender pay gap which increases as designers age. This book, published by GraphicDesign& (established by ex-Central School student Lucienne Roberts, and current head of the Graphic Communication Design progamme, Rebecca Wright) is also included in the A+ exhibition.

2. Margaret Calvert, Men At Work, 1965

Margaret Calvert (b.1936), Men At Work, part of the Kinneir Calvert road sign system for Britain launched in 1965. Photo credit Ruth Sykes
Most British people see the work of Margaret Calvert and Jock Kinneir every day they step outside. Together, they designed the road signs for Britain that have been in use since 1965. Margaret (b.1936) attended a Central School evening class in 1957 to ‘brush up on typography’, while working with graphic designer Jock Kinneir, assisting on the signage for the newly built Gatwick Airport. Seven years later, after the pair had created the signage system for the new UK motorway system, the Kinneir Calvert signs for the rest of Britain’s roads were launched. Margaret herself drew a number of the original symbols, still in use today, including the famous ‘Men At Work’ sign shown here.

3. Kate Hepburn and Sally Doust’s Spare Rib Magazine, 1973

Kate Hepburn (b.1947) and Sally Doust (b. 1944) Spare Rib Magazine, 1973. Photo credit Ruth Sykes

Kate Hepburn (b.1947) studied at the Central School in the late 1960s, before graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1972. In her final year at the RCA, Kate teamed up with Sally Doust (b. 1944), previously Art Director of Australian Vogue, to begin work as the original design team for second-wave feminist women’s magazine Spare Rib. The brief for the design required a new kind of visual language that would indicate it was both a women’s magazine and a publication that challenged the status quo. Recognising the iconic status of Spare Rib and the valuable insights it gives to women’s lives during its 21-year existence, The British Library has recently digitized every copy of the magazine for public browsing.

4. Women’s Design and Research Unit’s ‘Pussy Galore’ typeface

Women’s Design and Research Unit's ‘Pussy Galore’ typeface
WD+RU (Women’s Design and Research Unit, 1994) poster showcasing the typeface ‘Pussy Galore’ printed by Fuse Magazine, 1994 Photo credit Ruth Sykes
WD+RU (Women’s Design and Research Unit) was founded in 1994 by Liz McQuiston (b. 1952), Siân Cook (b. 1962, studied and taught at CSM) and Teal Triggs (b. 1957, taught at CSM) with the aim of raising awareness of women working in visual communication and design education. After going to a typography conference where the speakers were all male, their response was to design the experimental typeface Pussy Galore, which consists of dingbat style icons reflecting on the endless spectrum of stereotypical language used to label and control women. The Pussy Galore typeface was included in the 2009 “Elles@centrepompidou” exhibition at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, and in “No More Rules: Graphic Design and Postmodernism” by Rick Poynor. Whilst there are more women in typography today, it is interesting to note the recent creation of the ‘Alphabettes’ network, which exists to support and promote the work of all women in the fields of lettering, typography and type design.

5. Morag Myerscough Creative Review Cover design Letter A, 2013

Morag Myerscough (b.1963), Letter A for Creative Review Cover, 2013 Photo credit Ruth Sykes
Morag Myerscough (b.1963) studied at St Martins from 1982 to 1985, before going on to the RCA, and then founding her own studio in 1993. Morag has won many awards for her work, most recently as part of the design team awarded architecture’s Stirling Prize. This year she was included in Debrett’s ‘People of Today’ in recognition of her contribution to the field of design. A monograph of Morag’s work is due for publication later in 2016 by Unit Editions. Morag’s work is included in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s permanent collection. The giant letter A shown in the A+ exhibition was created for the cover of the Creative Review 2013 Annual, and is made from wood hand-painted by Morag. Also included in the exhibition is Morag’s hand-painted circular road sign, from the recent ‘50 Years of the British Road Sign’ installation at the Design Museum, curated by Made North.

See all these images and more in A+ 100 Years of Visual Communication by Women at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, showing 80 works by female designers. Find out more at

This piece originally appeared on Buzzfeed, see it there

Read empowering advice and inspiring quotes from UAL’s creative luminaries for International Women’s Day

New images: UAL’s London College of Fashion at the heart of Olympicopolis


New images of Olympicopolis have been revealed

Images have been unveiled which show the new home of UAL’s London College of Fashion alongside the V&A and Sadler’s Wells in Stratford, Olympicopolis, at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The images show the new campus for UAL’s London College of Fashion and residential development situated at Stratford Waterfront site, part of the exciting new education and cultural district next to the London Aquatics Centre.

It will be joined by other leading UK arts institutions which include a new V&A for east London and a 600-seat theatre for Sadler’s Wells.

Nigel Carrington, UAL Vice-Chancellor, said:

“We are excited to get a first glimpse of how Olympicopolis will look as it develops over the next five years into a world-class hub for the creative arts. We are proud that a new campus for London College of Fashion will be at the heart of the development, building on the College’s East End heritage, creating an East London fashion cluster through education, research, enterprise and its Better Lives programme.

“The new campus is part of UAL’s wider commitment to invest in its buildings, including a £62m regeneration of Camberwell College of Arts, plans for a new London College of Communication campus at the heart of Elephant and Castle and the completion of our Central Saint Martins campus in King’s Cross in 2011.”


The London College of Fashion campus is part of UAL’s wider commitment to invest in its buildings

Visual arts leading Olympicopolis design and economic legacy

Olympicopolis is the next stage in the regeneration of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and will create around 3,000 jobs, attract 1.5 million visitors a year and deliver a £2.8bn boost to the economy of Stratford and the surrounding communities.

David Goldstone, Chief Executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation said:

“Our plans to create a world class education and cultural district on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park are moving forward in leaps and bounds. These exciting new images really start to give life to the project.”

The Victoria and Albert Museum will create V&A East, a new museum to showcase its world-class collections of design, art, architecture and performance. It will be a new kind of civic building weaving together spaces for collections, learning, contemporary design practice, conservation and research, with public participation at its heart.

Sadler’s Wells will open a new venue designed to serve contemporary dance-makers and its growing audiences, extending the range of work the dance house can commission, produce and tour. The space will include a 600-seat theatre, facilities for a Choreographic School and a Hip Hop Academy and flexible ‘making’ spaces for research, development and production of dance work.


UAL’s London College of Fashion will be alongside the V&A and Sadler’s Wells

In addition to the Stratford Waterfront site, the wider Olympicopolis scheme includes a new campus for UCL (University College London), ‘UCL East’ to the south of the ArcelorMittal, providing more opportunities for collaboration.

The future of design

Building work on Stratford Waterfront is due to start in 2018 and Stratford Waterfront will be fully open to the public in 2019/20. The Legacy Corporation will start preliminary market consultations to inform the approach to the construction works contracts in April 2016.

For further details on Olympicopolis, visit their website.

Find out more about UAL’s £62m regeneration of Camberwell College of Arts and plans for a new London College of Communication campus at the heart of Elephant and Castle.

Empowering quotes from creative stars for International Women’s Day

The theme of 2016’s International Women’s Day is equality and empowerment, here we speak to some of UAL’s creative luminaries to get their empowering advice and hear their inspirational quotes

Anya Hindmarch
Anya Hindmarch, fashion designer and entrepreneur

“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.”


Emma Hill, designer and entrepreneur
My two favourite quotes are:

1. “ You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.” Tina Fey

2. “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” Katherine Hepburn


Amber Butchart by Fanni Williams
Amber Butchart, DJ, author and dress historian

My advice would be, obvious as it sounds, don’t give up. It’s tough carving out a career in the arts so you have to have determination – that quote, attributed to Einstein – “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration” – you could swap ‘genius’ for ‘success’ and it would still ring true. And success is rarely a straight path or an overnight phenomenon. Set your own goals and don’t measure your progress by other people’s success.


Emma Hart in her studio London
Emma Hart, artist and Max Mara Art Prize for Women winner

“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.”

Jackie Lee takes a bow at the end of her Spring Summer 2014 catwalk show at Somerset House
Jackie Lee, fashion designer and entrepreneur

“There are some words from Louise Wilson, she used to say to me “don’t be f**king lazy”. I loved her, she put the rules on her door: “Don’t be lazy! Go do f**king research”, which is all correct! Seriously, that really woke me up, like wow yes that is really true.”

Teleica Kirkland, Director of the Costume Institute of the African Diaspora
“Do whatever you can, however you can, wherever you can. Don’t think you can’t do something because there isn’t funding, space, whatever; there is nothing to stop you doing anything if you want to do it enough. I can’t stand when people think there’s only one way to do something, there are millions as long as you find one way, anyway, find a way to produce, find an outlet. When I was younger there was no internet, but people still found a way to produce and get their stuff out there, now it’s much easier. Just do it!”

FrancesCorner SMALL

Professor Frances Corner, OBE, Head of London College of Fashion
“The artist that changed my world is Jean Rhys. Her writing was so ahead of its time. Jane Eyre is one of my favourite books because of the independence and free thinking character of Jane, however Rhys took this one step further and told the story from the “madwoman” Bertha’s perspective in Wide Sargasso Sea. Rhys gives a voice to the neglected and silenced female and I think the book is a powerful example of feminist rewriting. It was quite radical at the time and really changed the way I thought about women.”

Read how Frances urges us to give #IWD a sporting chance


Sarah Temple, Course Leader, Diploma in Professional Studies. Founder of Conscientious Communicators at London College of Communication
“My advice to female students is to ‘play a different game – play the long game’. It is perfectly possible to have a wonderful career and be a mother too but this is an entirely different, but fabulously rewarding life proposition to our male counterparts.”

hysteric head

Sian Cook, Senior Lecturer, BA (Hons) Graphic and Media Design, London College of Communication, Co-Director of the Women’s Design and Research Unit

My first job was
…Record sleeve designer.
The female artist who changed my world is… Laurie Anderson.
My advice to female students is….You ARE good enough.

Jennifer Tuckett

Jennifer Tuckett, Course Leader, MA Dramatic Writing, Drama Centre London, Central Saint Martins

Most important female relationship in my life is… my mother. When my father died when I was nine, she kept everything going on her own – she’s the strong woman who has made me see how strong we can be.

The best thing about being a woman in 2016 is… the opportunity to change things. You see women taking the lead on a lot of projects in the arts at the moment – from Lucy Kerbel running Tonic Theatre, Simelia Hodge Dallaway running Artistic Directors of the Future, and my work with University Women in the Arts. It’s important these schemes are about taking action and creating positive change.

My advice to female students is… work hard and be kind. The greatest female mentors I have had have embodied both of these things. My mentor Kate Rowland, who created BBC Writersroom, the BBC’s new writing department, is a wonderful example. I remember her telling my students: “determination, resilience and a passion for something will shine through”. That’s very true. The most successful people I’ve worked with have also invariably been the most generous, the kindest and the most hard-working. I think that’s important to remember.”


Lucy Algar, Pathway Leader BA Theatre Design, Wimbledon College of Arts

The most important female relationship in my life is…
With my daughters.
The female artist who changed my world is…Yolanda Sonnabend.
The hardest thing about being a woman in 2016 is…Also the best – being a mum and having a career is undoubtedly challenging but it is also incredibly rewarding.
The way I would explain gender equality to a 10 year old girl is: Ensuring that women and men are treated equally everywhere is still a dream and not a reality. We must keep fighting to ensure that women and men are treated equally and especially that we are paid equally. Women still earn much, much less than men over the course of their careers.
The best lesson I learnt the hard way is: If you work hard and be patient your career will return, and be stronger for, having children.


Dr Lois Rowe, Programme Director, Fine Art, Wimbledon College of Arts

Being a woman means… often facing an unequal world. Even in academic contexts there is a division between the soft ‘pastoral’ role, which is often a role that a woman occupies. It is the role that often manages the increasing responsibility around student mental health and care that sits outside of the curriculum. And then there is a research role, or an international profile role, which is often occupied by individuals who are not primary carers, mostly men. This is a subtle but very distinct division of how careers progress within the academy.
Most important female relationship in my life is… a contemporary dance wear designer called Mihoko Tanabe. I worked for her when I was in my mid-twenties in Tokyo. She had been a prima ballerina and had divorced her husband. She was a single mother and only hired women over the age of twenty five as in Japan there is a saying that “after the 25th you expire”. You become known as “Christmas Cake”. So she hired many women who were retired dancers and she ran an incredibly successful company in Tokyo. She was passionate about what she did as an entrepreneur and equally passionate about enabling other women.

Read more about International Women’s Day and more empowering quotes about “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” on the UN website

Read UAL’s Buzzfeed post 5 Powerful Images by Female Graphic Designers 

Read Max Mara Art Prize for Women winner Emma Hart’s full interview

The defining shots from the front row at fashion week

Central Saint Martins’ MA Fashion class of 2016 sent their collections down the catwalk on the opening night of London Fashion Week, here course director Fabio Piras selects the 16 defining shots from the show.

Harry Evans
Harry Evans - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

Richard Quinn
Richard Quinn - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

Harry Pontefract
Harry Pontefract - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

Kiko Kostadinov

Kiko Kostadinov - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

Emma Bergamin Davys

Emma Bergamin Davys - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

Abzal Issabekov

Abzal Issabekov - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

Henriette Tilanus

Henriette Tilanus - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

Ajmal Khan

Ajmal Khan - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

Siiri Raasakka

Siiri Raasakka - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

Michael Halpern

Michael Halpern - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

Austin Snyder

Austin Snyder - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

John Alexander Skelton

John Alexander Skelton - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

Lynne Searl

Lynne Searl - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

Amelie Beluze

Amelie Beluze - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

Joanne Wawrzynczak

Joanne Wawrzynzak - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

Alexander Krantz

Alexander Krantz - Graduate MA 2016 - Central Saint Martins

Reporting from the runway, Steve Salter in  i_D, said: “Harry Evans and John Alexander Skelton may have been crowned this year’s joint winners of the L’Oréal Professionnel Creative Award but each and every member of CSM’s Class of 2016 deserves a piece of that prize. Remember their names, the future belongs to them.”

See more and read the show reviews in Vogue, i-D and SHOWstudio

Discover fashion courses at UAL


LOSE THE LABEL….(just be you instead)

“You’re studying fashion? You’ll never get a job!”
“You’re still renting? You really should get into the property market before it’s too late!”
“You’ve switched art disciplines? It will ruin your career!”

Olga Yatsenko_shutterstock

At a time where quarter-life crises are as common as the accusatory questions that are fired at us – there is the temptation to obsessively compare ourselves to others and feel inadequate, depressed and isolated.

But being quick to label those around us is dangerous warns London College of Fashion, UAL’s, Dr Carolyn Mair, who says it’s better to embrace your true self, work hard at your craft and stop thinking it’s too late!

The Quarter Life Crisis


We are prone to experiencing earlier life crises now as popular media puts us on the scrap heap before we reach 25. The drive for eternal youthfulness seems to be part of our culture. It’s worrying to know that girls as young as 11 years old are being taken by their mothers for reconstructive surgery and teenagers are having lip fillers and Botox injections.

We are sold the myth that ageing is a disease which we must fight at all costs rather than embracing the natural signs of ageing. The celebrity culture that promotes less than talented individuals and their relatives to celestial status suggests that anyone can enjoy the celebrity lifestyle without effort or talent.

The rise of ‘Obsessive Comparison Syndrome’




While not a recognised mental health condition, ‘Obsessive Comparison Syndrome’ – “the compulsion to constantly compare themselves with others, producing unwanted thoughts and feelings that drive us to depression, consumption, anxiety, and all-around joyous discontent ” – is a media term that has gained popularity with the rise of social media.

Depending on the way it’s used, social media can either boost confidence and allow us to socialise with like-minded others (or those we’d like to be like) or lead us to make social comparisons with others, which can make us feel envious and potentially lead to negative psychological states.

Social media as a barometer of our worth


Social comparison theory states that we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we compare to others. As a result, we are constantly making evaluations about attractiveness, wealth, ability and success. The theory explains how individuals evaluate their own opinions and abilities by comparing themselves to others in order to reduce uncertainty and learn how to define themselves.

Consequently, people tend to use social media to meet a need to belong and to present themselves in a positive light with the aim of satisfying their need for self-worth. Comparing ourselves with others can be unproductive and not conducive to psychological wellbeing.

It may be that those with low self-esteem compare themselves with others more frequently than those with higher self-esteem. This is particular true if the standard we compare ourselves with is unattainable.

Take for instance, the air-brushed images promoted by the fashion and media industries are simply not achievable other than in print or on screen. In reality, the people depicted in these images are likely to bear little resemblance to the end product. This can result in an endless pursuit of this ‘beauty’ ideal across the lifespan evidenced by increased demands for cosmetic procedures (not only facial) at younger, and indeed, older ages and interestingly, across genders.

Body dissatisfaction is common and affects individuals across the lifespan with NSPCC reporting more than 300,000 calls made regarding bullying around body image in 2015 to ChildLine.
Because fashion promotes a very narrow stereotype of the body ideal, those who don’t match it can feel marginalised and undesirable. For some, this might result in eating disorders, self-harm and feelings of low self-worth.

The danger of labels





We put people into categories to reduce complexity and help us make sense of and navigate the world. Labelling reduces cognitive load, but can result in stereotyping based on a single incident of a category. According to early research in linguistics, labelling has implications beyond the label itself. It can influence our perceptions and lead to the ‘Pygmalion effect’.

When we label a child, we are influencing their behaviour. Telling a child s/he is naughty, will encourage the child to be naughty. When a mother tells her child she needs to lose weight, she is labelling her as overweight and potentially setting a lifetime of disordered eating.

When teachers were told some children were bright, they assessed their work as of higher quality than those not labelled as bright even though the students were actually similar in terms of academic ability. When siblings are labelled differently as the clever one, the sweet one, the troublemaker and so one, there is the potential for the labels to become accurate descriptions.

Better to be a hard worker than a genius


If we praise children for being clever we can do more harm than good. This comes from the work on mindset from psychologist, Carol Dweck, in which she suggests that individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from.

Some believe in an innate ability, and consequently have a fixed mindset; others believe their success is a result of their hard work and perseverance and have a growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset  dread failure  so they avoid challenges, preferring tasks they have already succeeded in; whereas those with a growth mindset approach challenges with the aim of improving and learning as a result of failure. In doing so they become resilient. In the context of students, we should encourage students to see ‘failure’ (poor outcomes) as a route to improvement.

Breaking up with labels


Breaking away from labels isn’t easy. There is a stigma associated with mental health which is hard to shake off and can make people feel alone and ashamed. The attempts to destigmatise mental health issues has in part resulted in medicalisation of what has been described as ‘the normal roughage of life’.

Some psychologists suggest that we can believe we have a ‘disease’ or a ‘genetic condition’ when we are just experiencing life. Some people are able to start over and build a new career/ relationship/ financial commitment after being labelled negatively; while others may feel burdened with the label and live their life accordingly (e.g., as a failure).

Interestingly, if we praise children by labelling them as a genius, they tend to avoid challenge and seek familiar tasks in which they know they can do well. Consequently they have a ‘fixed mind-set’ and don’t develop. When we praise children for the effort they’ve put in, they tend to approach challenges with the aim of learning and ‘growing’. This growth mind-set is advantageous throughout life in many contexts including education, work and relationships.

Never too late



When we feel we’ve invested time or money into something, we sometimes believe it’ll be a waste of expenditure to give up. In reality, it has cost no more to stop at the point of realising it’s not going to lead to a successful outcome.

The resources have been spent and therefore, investing more resources in a project that has no future is more of a waste than letting go. This seems unintuitive and requires cognitive effort to analyse the situation. We’re lazy and don’t like doing this.

Consequently we keep adding to the sunk costs in the mistaken belief that it would be a waste money/time/resources to give up now! The more we throw at it the worse we can feel.

If you’re in this position, sit down and try to evaluate the costs and benefits of the situation. This takes effort and can be unpleasant especially if the outcome suggests giving up even when you that’s not what you really want to do. In this situation, ask a friend to help you with the evaluation and to support you in following the outcome that is best for you.

Artwork tackling slave trade returns to its roots as part of UAL project

Untitled (the second in the Korabra series) 1986 By Gavin Jantjes Collection of the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum Image reproduced by kind permission of the artist

A series of artworks exploring the transatlantic slave trade will be reunited in the city where they were painted 30 years ago, as part of a project set to rewrite modern art history and show Britain’s national art collections in a new light.

The artworks, titled Korabra, by South African artist Gavin Jantjes will be shown from 26 February at the Herbert in Coventry, the very city in which Jantjes painted them in 1986 at the West Indian Association Club.

The work will be reunited for the first time in over 10 years and shown in the first exhibition of the Black Artists and Modernism project, led by University of the Arts London (UAL) in collaboration with Middlesex University.

The research project includes a three year art hunt spanning the length and breadth of the UK, investigating the hidden story of black British artists in modern art history and bringing new light to the UK’s national art collections.

Paul Goodwin, UAL Chair of Black Art and Design, Director of TrAIN, and Black Artists and Modernism Senior Research Fellow, comments: “This display, the first collaboration by the Black Artists and Modernism project with a museum collection, is significant for several reasons: first, it showcases the important work Gavin Jantjes made while on a residency at the West Indian Community Centre in Coventry in 1986 which illustrates how great art can arise from a local community context; second, the collaboration involved a thorough examination and re-writing of object labels and texts around this work in order to highlight its forgotten relationships to modernism and contemporary practice; and third, the Korabra paintings hanging in the gallery among the other works in the Herbert collection of modern art since 1900 will enable a new audience to engage with their power, beauty and continuing relevance to our present moment.”

He added: “The Korabra series raises questions about how painting can represent historically traumatic events like the slave trade. It is by using different artistic strategies that Jantjes is able to address a unique historical perspective while still speaking across borders of language, culture and nation.”

Until the nineteenth century, around 300 million people from Africa were seized from their homes, and exported to become slaves. This series of paintings explores the issues surrounding this trade of people, and the suffering and hopes of those involved. The paintings in the Korabra series depict brooding seas, darkened skies, ominous ships, and distorted human figures, in dramatic thick visceral paint applied with a palette knife.

The Korabra paintings will be on display at The Herbert from 26 February to 21 August. The Black Artists and Modernism research team will continue to work with The Herbert and other galleries and museums across the country to discover and explore more of the stories hidden in the UK’s national art collections over the next three years.

More about the artist

Gavin Jantjes was born in Cape Town. He studied fine art and graphic design at Michaelis School Fine Art, University of Cape Town in 1966-69, during the height of the struggles over the apartheid system. He arrived in Europe when it was struggling to accept the consequences of its own catastrophic experience of racism, genocide and war.

Jantjes moved to London in the early 1980s, where his print-works were celebrated for their focus on the absurdity as well as the brutal injustice of apartheid. With the Korabra paintings Jantjes “tackles the enormous task of trying to convey the depth of this catastrophic trade”. Jantjes commented: “Creativity is a process – the transformation of abstract ideas into material objects, via the application of the few skills one has – and learning of new skills.”

Read more about the exhibition at The Herbert 

Find out more about the Black Artists and Modernism research

The UAL pedigree

From voluminous fabrics, to textured deconstruction – their styles are dramatically different, but their alma mater is the same – UAL. Here are just a few of UAL alumni showing at LFW:

Emma Hill CBE: Wimbledon College of Art, 1989
UAL Honorary Fellow (2014) Emma Hill became an accessory designer at Burberry until 1994, when she left to later work at Liz Claiborne and Calvin Klein before joining Marc Jacobs in 1999. She created the famed Stella bag, playing a big part in Jacobs winning accessories designer of the year in 2003. She’s consulted for Chloe, Temperley and Reiss. In 2007, Emma joined Mulberry as Creative Director and was credited with turning the Somerset-based firm into an international fashion powerhouse. The brand has a number of celebrity fans, including the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Moss, Alexa Chung and even Number 10 – which gave the leaders of the G8 group personalised Mulberry bags when it hosted a summit in June 2012. Her designs have won her a string of awards, including Best Accessories Designer at the 2011 Elle Style Awards, and Best Accessories Designer at the 2013 Glamour Awards as well as helping Mulberry to the honour of Best Designer Brand at the 2010 British Fashion Awards. In November 2012, Emma was awarded the CBE for services to British Fashion.

Charlotte Dellal: London College of Fashion, 2004


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Dellal’s Charlotte Olympia brand won the Accessory Designer award at the British Fashion Awards 2011. Her designs are worn by the likes of celebrities such as, Alexa Chung, Samatha Cameron, Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Jessica Parker, Anne Hathaway, Emma Watson, Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow, Heidi Klum, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Katy Perry.

Bora Aksu: Central Saint Martins
Since graduating he has won the Topshop New Generation sponsorship four times in a row, attracting a cult following. He debuted at London Fashion Week in February 2003 and he was named ‘one of the top five shows’ by The Guardian. He has also created costumes for Tori Amos, while dressing Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller for film junkets and collaborating with the Dali Institute and Design Museum. In 2012 Bora Aksu was asked to join the judging panel of the WGSN Global Fashion Awards and he also won Designer of the Year at the Elle Style Awards.

Christopher Kane: Central Saint Martins, 2006


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Kane’s BA collection won him a Swarovski sponsorship and admiration from Roberto Cavalli and John Galliano. Kane has won awards for his illustrations from Lancome, made dresses for Kylie’s world tour and won the Harrods Award for Design Innovation at London Fashion Week in 2006. In 2007, he was awarded New Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards. He presented his sixth collection in February 2009 and the following month showcased a capsule collection of accessories, produced in collaboration with Versace, for the label’s younger ‘Versus’ line. In 2011 Kane won the first Vogue Fashion Fund prize of £200,000.

Antonio Berardi: Central Saint Martins, 1994
Not only was his graduate collection bought by Liberty, but he went on to design for John Galliano, Manolo Blahnik and Anya Hindmarch. He launched his own label in 1995, and his big break came with a show at the Brixton Academy in 1997.

Gareth Pugh: Central Saint Martins, 2003

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Ovidiu Hrubaru /

His trademark is his experimentation with form and volume, distorting the human body using unconventional materials such as inflatable PVC, Perspex and foam. He made his solo debut at London Fashion Week in 2006 and showed at Paris for the first time in 2008. He has collaborated with NY designer Rick Owens, worked with renowned photographer Nick Knight, and subsequently with Knight’s former assistant Ruth Hogben. Together they have championed fashion film as a medium – substituting his Paris shows in A/W 2009 and S/S 2011 with moving images.

Emilia Wickstead: Central Saint Martins, 2007
Wickstead founded her eponymous bespoke clothing line in 2008. She has worked in the design studios at Giorgio Armani, Narciso Rodriguez and Proenza Schouler and at American Vogue. Her designs are favoured by Samanta Cameron – notably worn to vote, and when she met the Queen – as well as the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.

Henry Holland: London College of Communication, 2004

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Founder of young designer label House of Holland. Prior to the launch of his own company in 2008, Holland gained attention with his Fashion Groupies T-shirt designs that generated a cult following. In Autumn 2008 and Spring 2010, Holland co-presented T4’s flagship fashion and music series, Frock Me, alongside Alexa Chung and Gemma Cairney. In 2012 Holland starred as a judge on fashion design show Styled to Rock airing on Sky Living. In February 2009, singer and CSM alumna M.I.A. wore his black-and-white, polka dot tulle mini-design while heavily pregnant at the 51st Grammy Awards. In 2014, to mark Magnum’s 25th birthday, Holland created a bespoke 60s inspired dress complete with mimicked cracked chocolate made from layers of fabric and sequins.

Jasper Conran OBE Visiting Professor at LCF in Fashion Design, fashion, costume and interior designer


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Conran is the son of Central School alumnus Sir Terence Conran and brother of CSM alumnus Sebastian Conran. In the 1980s, he won the coveted British Fashion Council Designer of the Year Award and was one of Princess Diana’s favourite designers. He is a patron of the Work-Life Balance Trust, a Trustee of the Wallace Collection and a Trustee of the Architecture Foundation.

David Koma: Central Saint Martins, 2009
The Georgian born, London based fashion designer has produced designs for the likes of Beyoncé, Kylie, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Alicia Keys. Koma won The Harrods Design Award for his graduation collection and is also the the recepient of the British Fashion Council’s New Gen Initiative.

Mary Katrantzou: Central Saint Martins, 2008

Mary Katrantzou

C. Powell / British Embassy Paris

Mary’s collection was nominated for the Harrods and the L’Oreal Professional Award at the CSM graduating show. A capsule collection for Topshop was launched at London Fashion Week AW2010, quickly becominh Topshop’s fastest selling collaboration to date. Katrantzou’s work has been featured in publications including Vogue, Dazed & Confused, and Grazia. She won the Swiss Textiles award in 2010 and the British Fashion Awards Emerging Talent Award for womenswear in 2011. In February 2012, Mary was awarded Young Designer of the Year at the Elle Style Awards, and was also awarded Designer of the Year at the British Fashion awards 2013. She won the 2015 BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund in 2015. Her designs have been worn by the likes of Keira Knightley, Alexa Chung, Claudia Schiffer and fellow designer Henry Holland.

Sophia Webster: London College of Fashion, 2008
Footwear designer, Sophia Webster debuted her collection for SS13 after working as design assistant to Nicholas Kirkwood. She was awarded the Conde Nast Footwear Emerging Designer of the Year award for 2012 and has been given the prestigious New Gen Award for all of her first three seasons by the British Fashion Council. In 2013 Sophia was awarded the British Fashion Award for Emerging Accessories Designer. She was also awarded the Mayor of London and British Fashion Council’s Fashion Forward prize for AW14 and SS15.

Alice Temperley MBE: Central Saint Martins, 1997


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Fashion designer and Creative Director of Temperley Ltd. Temperley’s designs have become favourites with stars including Eva Mendez, Demi Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sienna Miller and Jennifer Lopez. She dressed Pippa for the evening reception of the Royal wedding.

Huishan Zhang: Central Saint Martins, 2008
During his time studying at CSM , Zhang worked for a year at Dior, including six months in the couture atelier. He founded his own label upon graduation in 2010. Zhang’s work has been featured in publications including Vogue UK, Elle, Harpers Bazaar, The Times and The New York Times. In 2012 his original couture dragon dress was collected by the V&A as a permanent piece, making him the first Chinese contemporary fashion designer to receive this honor. In February 2013, Zhang won the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize of £25k and he is also a previous Deutsche Bank Award winner.