Well behaved women seldom make history…

March is Women’s History Month and UCA’s archives & Special collections are shining a spotlight on female contribution, and female struggles towards and within the arts.

Looking at the themes of ‘well behaved women seldom make history’ and ‘for most of history anonymous was a woman’ we will be tweeting our images through #UCAWHM (University for the Creative Arts, Women’s History Month). Also look out for #photography #womenshealth #womensfashion among others. Access our twitter @uca_ae

We will also be undertaking a talk and hands on session with our archives – ‘men act, women appear’. Book for this event here

Also take  a look out for our pop up event in Farnham Library of Great Women in History!

We will be putting the spot lights on our institutional archives dating from 1889, tracing numbers of female students attending, ‘female’ courses, biographies of female students and teachers. How did females fare within art education from 19th century onwards? Who were the key female pioneers of UCA? What about the ‘nameless’ women, or anon?

'i'm pitting myself against the men and i'll win' - Gail Wilson, only photography student in the year

‘i’m pitting myself against the men and i’ll win’ – Gail Wilson, only photography student in the year

Our collections also will look at key females, such as photographer Jo Spence, who did photography work from the 1970s related to her own breast cancer, Tessa Boffin, who did LGBT photography work from the 1980s, also looking at gender identity, masculinity, femininity, perceptions of rape. We see who she is inspired by. We also take a look at her links with organisations such as Feminists against censorship.

The Working Press, books by and about working class artists, questions what it means to be working class, and questions what it may mean to be a working class female.

Our animation archives highlight portrayal of women in animation, including portrayal of female politicians, such as Margaret Thatcher, in Margaret Thatcher, Where am I Now?, 1999 and our royal family, such as Queen Victoria in Great, the Lives and Times of Isambaard Brunel, 1975

Email archives@ucreative.ac.uk to access us, and be inspired by our extraordinary women!

Rebekah Taylor,

Archivist & Special Collections Officer


First World War Centenary: War and the impact on Art

As part of the First World War Centenary (1914-1918) we are looking at the impact World War had on art, including art education, through our archives.

While we hold records of all our founder art schools of the University for the Creative Arts, there are gaps within our records that cover the first world war period – Epsom School of Art holds records of 1889, and then there are no more records until 1919- one year after the end world war – a mystery!  Paper and and art materials would have indeed be in very short supply within the war period.

However, we can look at the aftermaths of the first world war, and the impact it had on art school education, and particularly women in art school education. Art schools gave women the opportunity to learn.

David Haste, Artist, and ex staff member of the Kent Institute of the Art and Design, and author of the ‘Art Schools of Kent’ provides general contextual information related to women in Art Schools:

‘Art Schools were first established as Design Schools in the 1840s…they were an immediate attraction to middle class women, particularly so when it was still commonly believed that art was a luxury in education permissible for girls, but quite unnecessary for boys’ – David Haste

‘The original government approved art schools were ostensibly established to train artisans and create designers for manufacturing industries. Few middle class women were attracted to industry…but respectable young women’ going to art school to learn how to draw …was openly encouraged’ – David Haste

However the number of women in art school education was even more marked after the First World War, which is hardly surprising given the males conscription and lives lost within the war

‘The gender balance in art schools were usually even 50/50, but given the impact of the war by the 1920s/30s female students were in the majority’-David Haste, Author of Art Schools of Kent

This is highlighted by the image of a female of the front page of the 1919-1920 prospectus


epsom prospectus


Art Schools of Kent, Book Launch, 9th January 2014

Kent’s art school heritage captured in new book

The University for the Creative Arts (UCA) Rochester is to host the launch of a new book detailing Kent’s rich art school heritage.

Author David Haste, who was the Head of Fine Art at UCA’s founder institutions, the Canterbury College of Art and the Kent Institute of Art and Design in the 80s and 90s, will be available to sign copies of his new work, entitled The Art Schools of Kent.

The launch will take place in the library at UCA Rochester on Thursday 9 January from 12 noon and will include an introductory talk by David Haste about his archival and field researches and original discoveries.

David said: “I’m delighted to be launching my book at UCA Rochester – an institution that continues the long and rich heritage of delivering design education in this part of Kent.

“By 1900 Kent had over twenty-five government sponsored art schools, including the Rochester School of Art which became the Medway College of Design – the precursor to UCA Rochester. My book celebrates the entire life cycle of these art schools over two centuries, from inception to closure and in so doing defines the ‘English art school’, a unique institution upon which all nationally approved art schools were modelled.

“I have an innate belief in the endemic value of art education and its assured continuity, as has been realised across the centuries in successive incarnations whether as workshops, academies or art schools. I am confident that art education remains fully engaged and is poised for a successful future through new and different institutions.”

The launch of The Art Schools of Kent is free and open to the public. To reserve a place, contact: Caroline Bozier E: cbozier@ucreative.ac.uk T: 01634 888649

1961 Fashion Exhibition

1961 Fashion Exhibition