Archive for the ‘University of the Arts London’ category

Rewriting art history: Black Artists and Modernism research project launches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more about the UAL Chairs

UAL China Alumni Association presents: A Global Careers China Event

UAL Global Careers China Event, February 15

UAL Global Careers China Event, February 15

Wednesday 9 December
Registration from 6.15pm
G505, Blueprint Café, 272 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EY

RSVP here!

Ever considered living and working in the burgeoning creative industries in China? And do you want to tap into a creative community of UAL graduates offering support, advice and connections?

We are delighted to invite you to this event featuring a panel of international industry professionals, where we will explore the types of experiences and insight typical of creative opportunities throughout China’s major cities.

Joseph Oliver

Joseph Oliver

The panel will be headed up by Joseph Oliver, President of the UAL Beijing Alumni Association and CSM graduate. Joseph is an internationally recognised sustainable lifestyle pioneer and Founder of BASH, who lives and works in Beijing. Come along to hear more about his experiences in Beijing, as well as how the UAL Beijing Alumni Association, which is a network of dynamic UAL graduates who are based in the area, can help support you there.

Book your space at the event!

This event is the third in a series of Global Careers events hosted by the UAL Alumni Association.

Read more about a similar event we held this year about working in China, hosted by Oliver Pearce, President of the Shanghai UAL Alumni Association.

And find out more about the UAL USA Global Careers Event, hosted by the President of the East Coast Alumni Association back in March.


If you have any questions please get in touch with us at

UAL Alumni Events During Creative Enterprise Week, 2015

The alumni team hosted two events as part of Creative Enterprise Week.

'Sock selfie' taken during the ChattyFeet event

‘Sock selfie’ taken during the ChattyFeet event

The first event, UAL Alumni Start-up successes: In conversation with Chatty Feet’ was held on Monday evening.  Two Central Saint Martins alumni, Gil Kahana and Humberto de Sousa, aka ChattyFeet, came back to their old college to give a talk on how they turned a flash of inspiration into a successful business.  ChattyFeet is a collection of comic socks, with characters such as ‘Kate Middletoe’ and ‘Professor Brian Sox’, and with recommendations from the Guardian and Vogue, the business is expanding rapidly. The pair talked in detail about their idea, how they got it off the ground, and the challenges they faced along the way. They also gave plenty of advice to the students and alumni in the audience who are planning to launch their own start-ups.

Speed Networking Event

Speed Networking Event

The second event, ‘Meet your (future) Business Partner’ was held on Wednesday evening in the Blueprint Café in High Holborn.  Over 50 alumni and students were invited to come for a night of speed networking, to share ideas, and meet possible collaborators.  The event was introduced by Tim Smart and Rob Burr, two UAL alumni who met through the Showtime website and collaborated on a successful project for Rob’s menswear brand, NOMOI. The networking continued late into the night with ideas and contact details exchanged by many!

Click here to find out more about the UAL alumni association, including upcoming events.

Isabella Pitisci: A Commemorative Exhibition Celebrating her Life and Work

2 – 18 December
Camberwell Space Projects, Progression Centre, Camberwell College of Arts, Wilson Road, London, SE5 8LU
More information here 

‘Missing (Remains)' by Isabella Pitisci

‘Missing (Remains)’ by Isabella Pitisci

Isabella Pitisci was a 2007 graduate of BA Photography at Camberwell College of Arts, who sadly passed away in 2013.  This exhibition remembers and celebrates her photographic work and has been organised with the assistance of Pitisci’s estate, and her friends and colleagues at Camberwell.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a display of works by current photography students responding to the collection of books that Isabella donated to Camberwell College of Arts’ library.

Speakers announced for AHRC 10th anniversary debate

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

The book

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

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

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

The debate will discuss:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This debate is a collaboration between UAL and the AHRC.

#thebooksandthehuman #AHRC10

UAL and fossil fuel divestment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UAL awarded two Philip Leverhulme Prizes

We are very pleased to announce that Dr Sara Davidmann and Hannah Rickards, researchers at University of the Arts London, have been awarded Philip Leverhulme Prizes in Visual and Performing Arts. It is a major achievement for UAL to be awarded two of these highly prestigious prizes, awarded to outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising.

Sara Davidmann is a Senior Research Fellow at London College of Communication (LCC) and a member of Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC). Sara completed a practice-based PhD in Photography at LCC in 2007 (AHRC Doctoral award-funded). This was followed by a three-year AHRC Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts. In 2009, she was awarded a further AHRC Research Grant and a Wellcome Trust Small Grant in 2011. In 2013 Sara founded the UAL Gender and Sexuality Research Forum. 

Sara chose to study and then work at UAL because of its reputation as a world-leading arts institution and LCC specifically for its excellence in Photography. “UAL has a very stimulating environment in which to work and I have been impressed by the…lively debates which arise, cutting across disciplines, and the intersections between the work of other researchers and my own have resulted in some very exciting collaborations”.

Sara’s current research constitutes an investigation of her family archive and a family secret that came to light in the 1950s – that her uncle Ken was transgender. This was at a time when very little was known about being transgender. A second research thread configures around photographic portraits and oral histories, carried out in collaboration with transgender people. Concerns of equality and diversity underpin my work.

Sara Davidmann   Sara Davidmann

Image: Ken. To be destroyed. Sara Davidmann 2014           Image: Ken. To be destroyed. Sara Davidmann 2015

Sara uses alternative photography processes that combine early film and contemporary digital methods. These include wet plate collodion and silver gelatin printing with hand colouring, chemigrams, making digital negatives and producing fictional photographs. Sara uses methods that enable experimentation and chance. “Working in this way means that I am constantly being surprised and challenged”.

Looking forward, Sara says,

The Philip Leverhulme Prize will enable me to complete a new body of work using private and public archives.

Hannah is a Lecturer at CSM, she is an artist examining the auditory, visual and spatial relationships of a specific event. Hannah studied in the 4D Pathway on the BA Fine Art at CSM (graduating in 2002) so she has had a long-standing relationship with CSM.

Hannah made her last work, Grey light. Left and right back, high up, two small windows (2014) in relation to several residencies on Fogo Island, Newfoundland between 2011 and 2015. Specific location is important to Hannah’s work, for an atmospheric occurrence or particular landscape; she has traveled to Alaska and northern British Columbia for her work.

There are different kinds of challenges that research work can present. Some of those challenges are very welcome and are the stuff that work is made from – the challenge itself of making things in the world. I make work because I want to think about something, or through something, and that is a process of challenge in many respects, but obviously for me a very positive one.

Other challenges such as trying to find time and resources to make work have been more problematic in the past – the great joy and privilege of this Phillip Leverhulme Prize is that it now affords me both of those for a period of time.

Stills from Grey light. Left and right back, high up, two small windows (2014), Hannah Rickards

Image: Still of Grey light Left and right back, high up, two small windows (2014)

Hannah is excited to be working at The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) during the early part of 2016 because its incredible facilities and staff and the conditions will allow her to test and work with some more speculative ideas. She will be spending an initial Production Residency there in January 2016, she will be working on a single-screen moving image work with a cable-suspended camera system. The system can be manoeuvred through three dimensions to all points within the volume of the studio. 

Hannah explains “within the confines of a very specific performance space [the work] will look at the shifting and dynamic relationship between figure and landscape, through two distinct yet intersecting choreographed paths: the movement of the camera and the movement of performers”.

Depending on the piece and the context Hannah often works with a team of people: participants, performers, production crew. Hannah makes work through a discursive process,“there is maybe an initial clarity of intention in what the ‘container’ of the work will be, or a set of parameters, but that structure is always in dialogue with what arises throughout the process of making the work. And, that is informed often by the groups of people I work with”. These discussions about the work happen with a number of people: friends, colleagues, her assistant/producer.

“It’s an important process for me, as I’m sure it is for many other artists and researchers”.

leverhulme logo-vector

Meet: Nomoi & Tim Smart, a UAL Alumni Collaboration

Robert Burr, MA Strategic Fashion Marketing 2011 at London College of Fashion and Tim Smart, MA Illustration 2013, Camberwell College of Art met through UAL’s ShowTime website, when Rob wanted to find an illustrator to collaborate with for his menswear brand, NOMOI. A year later they have just launched a line of T-shirts, all hand printed in London, featuring Tim’s illustrations.

We met with Tim and Rob to talk about how the collaboration came about, and how it has benefitted them in ways they didn’t expect…

Rob and Tim

Rob Burr (left) and Tim Smart (right) wearing a NOMOI & Tim Smart T-Shirt

What made you both want to study at UAL?

Rob: I have always been very fond of clothing and fashion growing up, I wanted to do something that was really focussed on my own interests, so I applied to do an MA in Strategic Fashion marketing at LCF.

LCF and UAL’s brand precedes them, and I was really thrilled to be offered a place, as it was my first choice.

I really enjoyed the course. I had never studied fashion before, and so everything was new and really exciting for me. An element of the course was also in partnership with the London Business School, which was a fantastic experience. I couldn’t speak highly enough of the course, I had a great time.

The reason I did the course was because my ultimate goal was to set up my own brand, and I have been working towards the position I am in ever since I finished my undergrad.  I started the brand when I was working at Pentland Brands. I began to write a business plan and figure out what the brand stood for. I had always worked within clothing and I wanted to create something that was not necessarily focussed on trends, but was more timeless in its approach.  I wanted to produce the garments locally, with a bit of honesty and soul. All the materials are sourced from Britain and Europe.

I launched the brand with a small but concise collection in early 2014. The clothes are based on timeless classics but with a little bit of individuality. What started as 3 pieces has grown and will continue to do so.  New products are added to the collection as and when, but I currently have around 20 pieces. It’s still small but growing steadily with everything currently sold through the NOMOI website.

Stargazing White

‘Stargazing’ T-Shirt, part of the NOMOI & Tim Smart collection

Tim: I spent a year after my BA in Illustration not really knowing what to do, and so I don’t feel like it was a conscious decision to apply, it was more something on my mind that I wanted to do at some point in the future. But I remember meeting Jan Woolley, the course director at the open day and instantly knowing I was doing the right thing.

I did the course part time over two years while I was working full time, which was quite difficult. But it was absolutely the right way to do it for me. I had the benefit of meeting two entirely different year groups (three if you consider there were part-timers in their second year), so I now have double the friends I would have had if I’d done a single year. I feel as though I was just as productive as the people on my course who were studying full time and not working – having a limited time allowed me to be more focussed.

I was living in Hackney, and so there were days when I wouldn’t go in because I didn’t have to, I wish I’d spent a bit more time going into the campus and using that resource.

I went to Japan towards the end of my second year as a part of the UAL’s international residency program. Someone from the previous year’s cohort had gone and told me what an amazing time they’d had, and so I decided it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I was there for almost a month and spent a lot of time on my own, which was very new for me as I’m quite a social person.  I spent pretty much every day cycling around Tokyo with little scraps of paper. I’d bought with me some of the paper that I was working on, and as the time went by I kept using the paper, I had to cut it up into smaller and smaller pieces so that I didn’t run out of materials to work with. Because of this, my drawings became much smaller. I had always worked on a relatively large scale, so it was a major shift in how I worked, which was forced by the circumstances. Also, I had to have everything I needed on my person rather than having access to a studio’s worth of materials, it definitely helped me. You can fall into habits when you’re sat at your desk and actually going out and about and doing stuff really helped shake things up.

The first thing I did when I graduated was to quit my job (I was selling furniture at Habitat during my degree).  I got a job for Wholefoods market, as their graphic artist. I now do that four days a week, and then spend a couple of days focused on my own illustration projects.  I have always been choosy about what I spend my time doing; I am not focussed on trying to make it work commercially right away, it just needs to be really fun.

Conga, by Tim Smart

Conga, by Tim Smart

How did your collaboration come about?

Rob: I am always looking for ways to introduce the brand to like-minded customers; a nice t-shirt didn’t currently feature in the range so it made sense to have something.  I also wanted to do something with a point of difference and a reason behind it, I started exploring illustration and I finally found Tim on UAL’s ShowTime.  One of the things that took me about Tim’s work is that it had a human element to it, it was quite real in a way, and it is also quite fun as well.

Tim: Rob got in touch with me and said that he wanted an element of storytelling and something that expressed some of the ethics of the brand.  The whole process was kind of a casual back and forth where I would sketch some ideas and we’d meet up and talk about them and I’d go away and work on them a bit more. It was a really nice process.

From the beginning Rob was really honest and open about not knowing how we were going to manage the collaboration, but we were both happy to just go with it and see how it worked out. This is quite an unusual approach – most people would come with a certain agenda. Rob did come with certain ideas that he wanted to express but I felt like he wanted for me to have creative freedom. I didn’t feel like I was hired as a freelancer to hash out Rob’s ideas; it was a partnership and collaboration. I had never experienced that before.

Even though Rob said from the beginning that he wanted it to be collaboration throughout, I didn’t anticipate that I would be so involved all throughout the process and that it would be a long term thing. It has been a really valuable experience being involved all the way through.

What are the main benefits you found through your collaboration?

Tim: One of the biggest benefits of collaboration is that you gain all this new experience and insight that you don’t expect. I really enjoyed it, which has been the main thing. I choose what I do because I enjoy it. To work on something that is a joy to do really is the main thing.

Rob: When you work with other people, whatever comes out is always going to be greater than what you could have produced alone.  Also it gives you a new perspective on what you’re doing – much more than I had realised.

Tim wearing a T-shirt from the collection

Tim wearing a T-shirt from the collection

Advice to other alumni wanting to collaborate:

  • Do your research
  • Approach it gradually – our collaboration felt right from the first couple of meetings, but that won’t always be the case
  • Go into it with an open mind, but also trust your gut and your instincts
  • Be structured
  • Acknowledge that it might go wrong, but there will still be things you will learn from it

The t-shirts are now live on the website to buy now!


Rob and Tim will be speaking at the upcoming alumni event ‘Meet your new business partner’ on Wednesday 18 November, at Blueprint Bar, 272 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EW from 6pm.  The event is free for all UAL alumni and students, and you can register here.




Creative Enterprise Week 2015 at UAL – book now!


Book now for Creative Enterprise Week – offering talks, workshops and events, to help you get your creative business off the ground.

Get advice from inspiring business owners and enterprise experts. Find out how to create and grow your ideas, get funding and build your network.

Creative Enterprise Week takes place across the Colleges of UAL from 16 to 20 November, with all events free and available to all UAL student, graduates and staff. Booking is essential, so reserve your seats today!

Find out more and book your places at –

‘And the Dark And The Dark’ Exhibition Curated by Three UAL Alumni

6th – 16th November 2015
A-side B-side Gallery, Hackney Downs Studios, Amhurst Terrace, London, E8 2BT

And The Dark And The Dark

And the Dark And The Dark’ is a three person exhibition of painting and sculpture, addressing themes of the visionary and the other-worldly.  It will be held at the A-Side B-Side Gallery in Hackney and will feature work by Vanessa Mitter (Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art, 2009 & MA Fine Art, 2010, Chelsea College of Art), Lana Locke (current postgraduate research student at Chelsea College of Art) and Gemma Kauffman (BA in Ceramics, Camberwell College of Art).

Find out more about the exhibition here.