Leeds College of Art celebrates 170 years of delivering art education

29 January 2016

This year Leeds College of Art is celebrating 170 years of delivering art education in Leeds. To mark its anniversary the College is celebrating with a year of exhibitions, events and community activities, showcasing the past and embracing the future of the institution.

The College is hosting an extensive programme of exhibitions of work from former students and artists from across the UK, which are open to the public and free to attend.

Announced first is Kabir Hussain, a sculptor who studied 1979-1980, his exhibition ‘Flatlands’ is on until 1st April. Opening on 12th February is an exhibition of works by Edna Lumb, a painter who studied at the College 1948-1953, featuring paintings of industrial Yorkshire landscapes. Opening on 25th March is a photography show of work by Ralph Wallis, including images of The Headrow in Leeds in the 1950s. Garry Barker, a practising narrative artist and tutor at the College since 1974, is one of the longest serving members of the BA (Hons) Fine Art degree… and taught the likes of Damien Hirst; his exhibition opens 15th April. 

170 students image 2Students on the College steps, 1952 (photograph Janet Rawlins attended 1947-52)

The first of three alumni group shows of 2016 opens on 16th March and includes examples of work by Eric Bainbridge (artist, studied 1973-1974); Deborah Bowness (wallpaper artist, studied 1994-1997); and Janet Rawlins (artist, studied 1947-1952).

Founded in 1846 as the Leeds Government School of Art and Design, Leeds College of Art has contributed significantly to the development of art education in Britain and across the world. Today, Leeds College of Art remains one of only a few remaining independent art schools in the UK, leading the way as a centre for art and design education.

The College has an impressive history of notable past students, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth were students in the post war era, enrolling in 1919 and 1920.  In later years Damien Hirst, Marcus Harvey, Eric Bainbridge, Clio Barnard and Georgina Starr all studied at the College, known then as the Jacob Kramer College. The College’s recent graduates continue to win prestigious international awards year on year and enjoy successful careers in the creative industries.

170 students image 1Drawing Exam Students 1920, Leeds College of Art on the Vernon Street steps, 1st June 1920. From left to right: unknown, George Stevenson, Raymond Coxon, Henry Moore, Dorothy White, Connie Castle, Harry Taylor, Geoffrey Kniveton (photograph George Stevenson).

Simone Wonnacott, Principal Leeds College of Art said:-

“We are extremely proud of our significant history and heritage as a leading specialist art school. Our 170th anniversary is an exciting year – as we look to the future with plans for growth, it is important for us to celebrate our talented students, past and present, and our dedicated staff.  We hope that the public will join us at our exhibitions and events throughout the year.”

The College will be announcing further ‘170 birthday events’ throughout the year but to keep up to date visit here

LCA Rag Day 1946Leeds College of Art Rag Day 30th June 1946. Amongst the students are: Joyce Fountain, Ray Garstang, Peggy, Lesley, Ken Lockwood, Mary Payne, Chris Morris, Olga Platte.  (photograph Margaret Bostwick attended 1946-51).

LCA painting on decorative slabsPainting the decorative slats for the Bohemian Arts Ball at Leeds Town Hall, 1952.