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Camberwell College of Arts

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0000 Camberwell College of Arts Archive
Held at: University of the Arts London: Camberwell College of Arts
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Full title: Camberwell College of Arts
Date(s): 1898-2002 (ongoing)
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: Approximately 200 volumes and 5 boxes of papers
Name of creator(s): Camberwell College of Arts
Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts


Administrative/Biographical history:

Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts was opened on 10 January 1898 in premises adjoining the South London Art Gallery. It was established by the Technical Education Board of the London County Council in a building provided by the Vestry of Camberwell, and aimed 'to give the best artistic and technical education to all classes in the district', 'supplement knowledge gained by craftsmen in workshops' and 'help the craftsman become the designer of his own work'. The philanthropist John Passmore Edwards gave a substantial sum of money for the erection of the building in memory of Lord Leighton. The school and gallery were the fruition of a movement for the foundation of an artistic centre in Camberwell, supported by Edward Burne-Jones, Lord Leighton, Walter Crane and G F Watts. The school enrolled 198 students, mostly part-time, for the first session. The school offered evening technical classes in architecture, cabinet design, embroidery, wood carving, wood block and stencil cutting; trade classes in masonry and stone carving, plasterwork, house painting and decorating and an evening art school giving classes in elementary drawing and design, life classes and modelling. A day art and technical school was also held from 10 to 4, offering life classes, preliminary drawing, painting and design, modelling, wood carving and embroidery. The demand for places in the school grew continuously and an extension was opened in 1904 enabling further courses to be added including brickwork, plumbing and typography. A further major extension was completed in 1913 providing rooms and studios for a wide range of courses, including sculpture, pottery, drawing and painting and a new library.

Between its foundation and the Second World War the school provided a wide range of courses, mainly for those employed in the building and printing trades and in the manufacture of pottery and furniture. By 1913 courses offered by the school were divided into four, mainly vocational areas, comprising printing and book production, construction and decoration of buildings, embroidery and dressmaking and jewellery, silversmithing and enamelling. All the trade courses were taught with the co-operation of the relevant trade organisations, and afternoon and evening courses for apprentices were established by the 1920s. After 1913 there was a gradual movement away from the trade courses (with the exception of printing and typographical design) to an increasing emphasis on the fine arts and design, with the establishment of the Fine Art Department in the inter-war years. A number of building trade subjects were dropped from the curriculum between 1913 and 1930, and under Stanley Thorogood, Principal from 1920 to 1938, the study of drawing and painting, commercial art and crafts such as pottery, dressmaking and embroidery was extended.

A Junior Art School (later known as the Secondary Art School) was established in 1920, providing preliminary training courses for students from the ages of 14 to 16 before moving to full-time senior courses. As well as teaching trade, technical and art subjects students were given instruction in English, science and physical training. It was closed in 1958 when the policy of separating secondary and further education was established.

During the Second World War the Junior Art School was evacuated to Chipstead and later to Northampton along with other students from the school. Printing continued at Camberwell throughout the war. The number of full-time students (apart from the Secondary Art School) increased from about 40 before the war to nearly 400 by 1948. After the war the school concentrated on providing courses on fewer subjects, with the main fields of study being painting, sculpture, illustration, graphic design, printed and woven textile design, pottery, printing and bookbinding. A new sculpture building was opened in 1953, providing new workshops for modelling in clay, bronze casting, plaster casting, stone and wood carving. By 1963 the work of the school was organised into three departments, Painting and Sculpture, Design and Crafts and Printing and Bookbinding. A course in foundation studies was begun in 1962, and in 1963 the former courses for the National Diploma in Design were superseded by those for the Diploma in Art and Design. These were approved in 1974 as leading to the BA honours degrees of the CNAA, with main studies in painting, sculpture, graphic design, printed and woven textiles and ceramics. Courses in paper conservation were started in 1970.

By 1968 the School was organised into eight departments, Painting, Sculpture, Graphic Design, Ceramics and Metalwork, Textiles, Foundation Studies, Art History and Printing. Between 1966 and 1971 additional accommodation was opened in Meeting House Lane and Lyndhurst Grove, and a purpose-built sculpture annexe was completed in 1969. A new building on an adjoining site was opened in 1973, providing a further 42 studio workshops and classrooms, new assembly and lecture halls, library and common rooms. In 1976 the former premises of Wilson School was taken over by the school, allowing a number of smaller annexes to be relinquished. Degree courses in silversmithing and metalwork were introduced in 1976. The vocational courses in printing and typographical design were discontinued in 1981 and the department closed, and in 1983 the textiles degree course was closed. In 1982 a new Department of Art History and Conservation was established, offering Higher Diploma and BA honours degree courses.

In January 1986 the school became a constituent college of the London Institute, formed by the Inner London Education Authority associating its art schools and specialist colleges of printing, fashion and distributive trades into a collegiate structure. In 1989 Camberwell was renamed Camberwell College of Arts, and the courses were organised into two schools, one of Applied and Graphic Arts and the other of Art History and Conservation. In 1993 the London Institute was granted the right to award degrees in its own name, and in 1998 the college launched a new framework for its BA courses, offering students the opportunity to focus on a specialist discipline supplemented by chosen elective subjects.

Teachers at Camberwell have included William Coldstream, Rodney Burn, Lawrence Gowing, John Minton, W T Monnington, Victor Pasmore, Claude Rogers, William Townsend, Nigel Walters, Edward Ardizzone, Martin Bloch, Norah Braden, Helmut Ruhemann, Gilbert Spencer, Karel Vogel, Berthold Wolpe, John Buckland Wright and Dennis Young.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Camberwell College of Arts, comprising minutes of the Joint Advisory Sub-Committee, 1898-1938; reports of the Joint Advisory Printing Advisory Committee minutes, 1965-1973; minutes of meetings of the Governors, 1980-1981;Sub-Committee, 1917-1949; attendance books, 1898-1951; agenda books, 1906, 1913-1915;

correspondence from London County Council Higher Education Sub-Committee concerning their decision on reports of the Joint Advisory Sub-Committee, 1921-1924;

Secretary's account book, 1899-1901; accounts, including for the Sketch Club, 'Cambians' student association, students' union, exhibitions and examination expenses, 1930-1945; register of staff, [1898-1939]; papers relating to teaching staff, 1914-1962, including correspondence concerning appointments, memorandums; register of students, 1898-1900;

minutes of meeting concerning the extension of the school, 1901, estimates for building alterations, 1903; address on the opening of the school extension, 1904; programme and press cuttings for opening of the new building, 1913; papers relating to the sculpture building extension, 1950-1954, including building plan, 1950; notes and minutes of site meeting, 1950; builders' estimates, 1951; programme for the opening of the new School for Sculpture, correspondence concerning the ceremony, text of speech and list of guests, 1953; press cuttings, 1953;

papers relating to a school war memorial, 1919-1923; correspondence relating to gifts to the school, 1935-1954, including portraits, furniture, books and journals, equipment; plans, notes and invitations relating to exhibitions of students work at the South London Art Gallery, 1913-1914, 1928-1932;

papers relating to Diploma of Art and Design at Camberwell, [1960]-1963; copy instrument of government of the London Institute, [1985]; correspondence and papers concerning proposed changes to Higher Education, 1977, including statement from Camberwell opposed to the changes;

prospectuses, 1898-2002; exhibition catalogues and degree show catalogues, 1989-2002;

press cuttings relating to the school, 1924-1937; students' exhibitions and work of students and staff, 1960-1967; private view cards of staff and students, [1980s-2002]; photographs, 1970s, of students and staff working at Camberwell;

copies of 1st and 2nd editions of the Cambian, 1928, 1930, printed by the School Press containing examples of student work;

ephemera relating to Camberwell School, art and the Camberwell area, 1950s-2002, including press cuttings and programmes for events; typed notes on the history of the School, 1990s.

copies of the London Technical Education Gazette, 1900-1903; London County Council Technical Education Board minutes, 1904; London County Council circulars, 1931-1932.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The records are unsorted.

Conditions governing access:

Access to the collection is by appointment only. Applications to the Head of Learning Resources, Peckham Road, London, SE5 8UF.

Conditions governing reproduction:

No photocopying or photography is permitted.

Finding aids:

The records are uncatalogued.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired in the course of business.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Building plans of the College are held by the Building Manager.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
July 2002

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