The pioneering art education work of Leeds College of Art is under the spot light once more as the ‘Basic Design’ display opens at Tate Britain. The display is part of ‘Art School Educated’, a Leverhulme Trust funded research project by Tate Britain, that looks at the vital role the Basic Design course has played in the development of the artistic and cultural capital visible in the UK today.

From the mid 1950’s Leeds College of Art led the way in the Basic Design movement, which was a new and radical approach to training in art schools that revolutionised art education across Britain, and led to the creation of the Foundation Diploma as we know it today.

The Basic Design exhibition looks at the work of some of the key teachers in the movement including our then Head of Painting Harry Thubron, as well as Richard Hamilton, Tom Hudson, Victor Pasmore from other art schools. The exhibition surveys the main features of Basic Design as they emerged and were taught, with accompanying archival material and video documentation.

Harry Thubron was appointed Head of Painting in 1955 and he was a major innovator for change, his new approach to art education led to our Vernon Street site being a hub for experimentation and creativity. It was said that Thubron electrified both staff and students and that the Basic Design principles of research and enquiry led to the total reform and restructuring of the whole College, and art education nationwide.

A series of scholars mornings are taking place as part of the wider Art School Educated project and College lecturer Garry Barker will be presenting at an event this Spring. Garry joined the College in the 1970’s and throughout his career has studied Thubron’s work initially by incorporating his teaching methods when he was a young art lecturer and through conversations with staff that worked with him during his time here.

For details of how to visit the display check the Tate Britain Website

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