In 2016 Leeds Arts University will be celebrating 170 years of delivering art education in Leeds with a year of exhibitions and events celebrating the achievements of our students past and present. 

Founded in 1846 as the Leeds Government School of Art and Design, Leeds Arts University has contributed significantly to the development of art education in Britain and across the world. 

Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth were students in the post war era, enrolling in 1919 and 1920, amongst an influx of ex-service men returning from the First World War.  By 1946 no less than fifteen past students had been appointed as principals of other schools of art including the then Principal of the Royal University of Art, Percy Hague Jowett. From the 1950s to the 1970s, under pioneering Head of Art, Harry Thubron, the University stood at the epicentre of a revolution in art teaching in the UK. The Basic Design Course, largely founded in Leeds, became a new model for art education and at the same time the University of Leeds’ Gregory Fellowship brought numerous practising artists to the city, many of whom visited and taught at the University. 

The educational reforms of the 1960s and 1970s brought many changes to art education in the UK and the University became known as Jacob Kramer University (1968-1993) with Damien Hirst, Marcus Harvey, Eric Bainbridge, Clio Barnard and Georgina Starr all studying during this period. 

In 2016 Leeds Arts University remains one of only a few remaining independent art schools in the UK.  We work hard to remain a leading centre for art and design education:  2015 alone saw graduates selected for the prestigious Bloomberg New Contemporaries Exhibition at the ICA (Lydia Brockless, BA (Hons) Fine Art 2014) and the New Designers Alumni Choice Award at May Design Series (Amy Bartlett, BA (Hons) Printed Textile and Surface Pattern Design, 2014).

Whether you are a regular visitor to Leeds Arts University or haven’t visited for some time, there are many opportunities to visit during 2016, from reunion events to our exciting programme of alumni exhibitions to the 2016 End of Year student exhibitions.  We hope that you can join us in celebrating 170 years of Leeds Arts University.