Explore Your Archive: Women in the Arts

Follow the whole story on storify

Our archives tell the story of the role the Art Schools played in women education.

David Haste, Artist, and ex staff member of the Kent Institute of the Art and Design, and soon to be 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 Art Schools were important in teaching training. Elementary school teachers were predominantly female and they attended art schools to obtain a proliferation of certificates by which their salary was judged. Towards the end of the 19th century art school were teaching a range of crafts and these like much else carried gender identities. “Masculine craft skills” [were] technical drawing, print furniture etc…”feminine craft skills” [were] needle crafts…embroidery, tapestry, dress/costume design ’-David Haste

Here we focus on Epsom and Ewell Technical Institute and School of Art

19th century
Courses included in the 1896 and 1897 prospectuses were: Shorthand, Drawing, Carpentry, Home Nursing, Cookery and French. Late 19th century, Cookery

1920s
Due to lack of Secondary School provision, the Surrey County Council proposed that the Technical Institute should be used temporarily as a secondary school for girls providing accommodation for 160 pupils from September 1921.
Images of women at work in the art school on both the 1921, and 1925 prospectuses suggest the popularity of Art Schools for women.
The timetables were Art Classes, Millinery, English, Cookery, Shorthand (theory and speed), French, Typewriting and Office Routine

Women's Art Class, 1919-1920

1925-1926 prospectus

1930s
In classes in the 1932 prospectuses ‘the Cookery and Dressmaking classes are recommended to those interested in Domestic Subjects’, while ‘for boys and young men there are carefully arranged classes that should prove of great value. Their attention is also drawn to the instruction given in Interior Decoration, Architectural Design, Geometry and Perspective in the Art School’.
While Cookery and Domestic classes are not specifically designated for women here, Industrial Classes are specifically highlighted for males
The 1937 prospectus offers courses in Life Wood, General Engraving and Art , Illustration, Elementary Drawing and General Life Subjects, Shop Window Display, Dress Design, Crafts and General Art Subjects. There are no specific classes for males and females

1932-33 prospectus

1950s
Domestic and Cookery classes have no mention here. The 1953 prospectus offers National Diploma in Design, Dress Subjects, Graphic and Advertising Design, Painting, Sculpture and Pottery, and Industrial Crafts
There are no specific classes for males and females, although teachers within Dress and Design are all female. There are, however, also women teaching on the Industrial Crafts course

1960s
There are no specific classes for males and females. Classes are Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, Design and Crafts, Dress Design, and Graphic Design

The Wood Engravings of Eric Ravilious, September Rare Book Gem

September 2012

The Wood Engravings of Eric Ravilious

Lion and Unicorn Press: England, 1972

This rare and beautifully produced, folio format (420 x 295mm) book was designed by John Carrod for Lion and Unicorn Press, the Royal College of Art’s press. It is printed on heavy Grosvenor Chater’s Basingwerk Parchment paper.

The copy held in the Rare Books collection at UCA’s Farnham campus library is number 99 of a limited edition of 500. This was the first and only edition ever printed. It includes an informative introduction by the architect J.M. Richards, a friend and contemporary of the artist.

Eric Ravilious (1903 -1942) was an English painter, designer, book illustrator and wood engraver. He studied under Paul Nash at the Royal College of Art in the early 1920s. He is associated with the neo-romanticism movement, along with contemporaries Stanley Spencer, Edward Bawden, John Craxton and others.

He was particularly renowned for his wood-block prints and his watercolours. He also undertook ceramic designs for Wedgwood and designed graphics for London Transport.

Much of his work was inspired by the landscape of the South Downs in Sussex. Amongst other rural themes, he made a number of engravings depicting the chalk hillside figure of the Long Man of Wilmington, as illustrated above.

The book contains 421 block prints which represent all of Ravilious’ engraved work for which copies could be found. Many of Ravilious’ original wood blocks were destroyed or lost during World War II bombing of London.

Six of the prints in this book were made directly from Ravilious’ original wood blocks. For the other prints, blocks were specially made.

In World War II Ravilious was an official war artist. He was killed in September 1942, aged 39, while accompanying the Royal Air Force on a mission off the coast of Iceland.

A week before Eric Ravilious’ death his son James was born.  James Ravilious (1939 -1999), a highly regarded photographer, was also inspired by the rural English landscape. He is known for his photo-essays on rural life in Devon in the 1960s and 1970s. See eStream for a documentary on James Ravilious (30 minutes).

On Saturday 17 November 2012 the Victoria & Albert Museum is holding a Ravilious Study Day to examine the works of Eric Ravilious and his contemporaries. For further details and tickets see the V&A website.

For further information on Eric Ravilious and his work see http://www.ericravilious.co.uk

See also, Eric Ravilious: Ups and Downs (The Guardian, 30 April 2011)    

To view all previous rare book gems access http://community.ucreative.ac.uk/article/37432/Rare-Book-Gems

Canterbury College archive online

Canterbury College archive has been catalogued and can now be found online on http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb3094ccol

Canterbury College was originally formed as the Sidney Cooper School of Art in 1868, and has continued through mergers with Rochester and Maidstone to become Kent Institute of Art and Design, and finally the University for the Creative Arts with further mergers with Epsom and Farnham campuses.

A 1905 visitors’ book from Canterbury, showing names of visitors to exhibitions,

This can potentially provide information regarding family and local history

The collection includes

  • Departmental prospectuses
  • Student work, including degree and diploma shows
  • Research projects
  • Student magazines
  • Minutes from the Art department
  • General college information, including general prospectuses, and financial information
  • Visitor book
  • Library information
  • Staff interviews and lectures
  • Board of Education reports
  • General exhibitions at or associated with Canterbury College
  • Staff photographs

What can the collection tell us?

Canterbury College can provide information regarding architecture and art, graphic design, fashion, art and painting, including sculpture work. Pictures of student work, fashion videos from the 1980s, research projects, and staff interviews and lectures can show various trends and popularity in these subjects. They could also potentially provide inspiration for future work

Course development in the creative arts, development with technology, and the history of the university generally can be seen in prospectuses, education reports, financial information, and library information and minutes from the school of art

Family history and local history can be explored through visitors books, press cuttings, exhibition shows, and student magazines and staff and student photographs

Student activity can be seen through student magazines

Topical thoughts and opinions on the day in the 1980s can be seen through magazines, including thoughts on the falklands, and sexual morality