Archive for the ‘News’ category

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

revised pugh

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

henry holland small

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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.

Iconic moments at LFW

In 1983 the British Fashion Council was founded in Somerset House and the first edition of London Fashion Week took place in February 1984 in a West London car park.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

It saw the debut of fashion icon and CSM alumna, John Galliano, whose degree collection was inspired by the French Revolution.

Everett Collection /

Everett Collection /

In the aftermath of the recession, where only a small slew of designers show collections in handful of rooms at the Ritz, CSM alumna, Alexander McQueen lightened the mood in 1992 with his ‘bumster’ trousers in his debut collection. Art came to life when a model became a human canvas and was sprayed with a robot paint gun during McQueen’s later 1998 summer collection.

Victor Soto/ Flickr

Victor Soto/ Flickr

CSM alumna Stella McCartney was still a designer student when her entire collection sold out after the 1995 Spring/Summer show. Her line-up of models included Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.

UK in France/Flickr

UK in France/Flickr

The Cpoincidental Dandy/Flickr

The Coincidental Dandy/Flickr

CSM alumna Hussein Chalayan won British Designer of the Year twice (in 1999 and 2000). His graduate collection in 1993, entitled “The Tangent Flows”, showcased garments which he had buried in a back yard and exhumed just before the show.

Victor Soto/Flickr

Victor Soto/Flickr

Kate Moss took to the catwalk for Matthew Williamson’s London Fashion Week debut in 1997. Titled ‘Electric Angels’ it was seen to push the boundaries of fashion at the time as it focused on bright colour blocking.


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CSM alumna Christopher Kane debuts his lace-imbued collection, featuring neon and his signature zips in 2006 to rapturous praise – paving the way for a new wave of innovative design talent.

Twocoms /

Twocoms /

UAL: the force behind London Fashion Week

Forget the 20-foot quilted columns, the sprawling sets, the front-row-line-up of rappers and editors or the bloggers sending street-style selfies outside. The real thing propping up this year’s anticipated London Fashion Week AW16 are the new collections soon to be unveiled by its A-list designers – of which over 50 per cent have studied at UAL.

Whether you’re Stella McCartney, Jimmy Choo, John Galliano or Zac Posen, you’re likely to have amassed a cult following, won a string of industry awards, dressed half the Oscars red-carpet set – and you, most very probably, will have launched your career at UAL.

More than half of the designers showing at this year’s London Fashion Week AW16 – including Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou, Sadie Williams, Charlotte Dellal of Charlotte Olympia, Sophia Webster and the late Alexander McQueen – all hail from UAL’s Colleges.

Four UAL Colleges are represented on the catwalk this year, with the largest contingent – 45 of the 89 LFW designers – having studied at Central Saint Martins (CSM). London College of Fashion (LCF) also has strong representation, with Wimbledon College of Arts and London College of Communication also seeing their alumni light up the shows with their designs.

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CSM: College with its own LFW show

Its reputation for producing not only the world’s leading design artists, but the behind-the-scenes designers that have powered the world’s biggest fashion houses, such as Chanel, Givenchy, Gucci, Dior, Celine and Louis Vuitton – has firmly cemented CSM’s place within the world’s fashion front row.

CSM’s internationally acclaimed MA Fashion course has an unrivalled record for sending the very best talent into the global fashion industry – dubbed by media and industry as synonymous with stepping into the ‘future of fashion’.

stock fashion show

Catwalk Photos/Shutterstock

As the only College that shows established brands at London Fashion Week on the official schedule, a select number of students will unveil their work to an international audience on
19 February at the British Fashion Council’s Show Space.

CSM MA Womenswear student, Alexander Krantz, 28, told The Guardian: “Showing my work at LFW means it will be viewed at a new level. It will be shown in the same context as established brands…LFW is a chance to show my point of view, and hopefully my future in the fashion industry will grow naturally from that.”


Alexander Krantz/ The Guardian

Want more? Relive some of CSM’s LFW milestone moments through the VOGUE lens.

LCF sets the tone

As the world tunes into London’s stage, LCF hosted its annual LCFMA16 Womenswear catwalk show at Royal College of Surgeons on 18 February.

The show, part of LCF’s MA16 graduate season, featured collections from 10 graduates from the MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear course.

Selected from a panel including editor Natalie Rigg, ASOS’s Head of Fashion, Zeba Lowe, WWD’s General Assignment Editor, Lorelei Marfil – alongside Professor Frances Corner OBE, Pro-Vice Chancellor of UAL and Head of LCF, who says: “Our MA Womenswear course continues from strength to strength and by holding our LCFMA16 show ahead of LFW it gives us the opportunity to profile the graduate’s collections at a time when the fashion industry is looking to London.”

LCF_MA Womenswear_Desirée Slabik

Desiree Slabik

Also on the agenda

Exhibition17 Feb – 20 Feb 2016

LCF is hosting an MA Exhibition until 20 February. Open to the public, it showcases the work of photography, footwear, accessories, artefact and fashion design technology students giving the media, industry and public the opportunity to be inspired by the next generation of fashion leaders.

Tania Ortiz Zamorano MA Costume Design for Performance

Tania Ortiz Zamorano

Screenings: Celebrate the National Portrait Gallery’s Vogue 100: A Century of Style by catching one of the many must-see film for fashion connoisseurs, selected by Vogue’s creative team and introduced by staff and students from Central St Martins.

See the full London Fashion Week AW16 schedule.

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.

Surrey Docks Farm piglets, courtesy Surrey Docks Farm
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.