Explore Your Archive: Maidstone’s first international student

Follow the whole story of UCA’s creative arts history here

UCA’s alumni magazine Creative Update undertook an interview with Maidstone’s first international student:

‘Creative Update spoke to Despina Meimaroglou, the very first international student to study at one of our founder colleges, the Maidstone College of Art. She talked to us about her experience, and how it helped her become a successful practicing artist.

Despina studied a National Diploma in Design at Maidstone from 1961 to 1965. Originally from Greece but brought up in Egypt, she chose the college after a recommendation from her uncle.

She found it challenging, being both the first international student and the only foreigner studying at the campus at the time. She said:”I struggled tremendously for at least the first three months to comprehend the English language spoken around me. As a result my main nightmare was the incapacity to follow a lecturer and take down notes.”

But to this day her fondest memory comes from the words of another student who said: “Despina you are one of us.”

A number of other people influenced her study in the UK, and career thereafter. She told us: “From day one Brian Wildsmith was the teacher who stood by me, believed in my talent and gave me a lot of encouragement and he continues to be my role model so many years on.”

Her experiences adapting to the differences in the UK, in conjunction with continuous world travel throughout her career, have been a major inspiration for her work.

She said: “It taught me how to comprehend the differences and similarities which bind us with others and therefore enable the collaboration between us. And this is exactly what my art is based upon.”

Despina’s work is currently in the mediums of digital photography and video. Over the years she has experimented with printmaking, typography, monoprints, Polaroid and large Xerox prints.

Her work looks at the mutual relationship between reality and its representation; truth and fiction; social and political facts and their distortion. “My aim is to capture and reconstitute my perception of truth from layers of time and memory as well as from mediation of social and media induced stereotypes,” she said.’

Maidstone prospectus


May 2013 Rare Book of the Month: Medway In-house printed press book

Wooden Dolls

May’s Rare Book of the Month is an inhouse printed press book Wooden Dolls: A Brief History by Ronda C. Reeve (a past student at Medway). Located at Rochester it is of value to anyone interested in past design, printing, typology, craft and the history of creative arts education at Rochester.
For information see http://bit.ly/16mqZKR

New Artist Book Exhibition, Beaney Museum, Canterbury

Image and Word

Image and Word, Artist Books display at the Beaney

Image and Word, Artist Books display at the Beaney

UCA Canterbury Library has put up a new exhibition of Artist Books, in the Beaney Museum, Canterbury

It is on Image and Word and features Artist Books relating to typography

This is to complement the new Beaney gallery display – Signs for sounds: contemporary lettering & calligraphy.

See the Beaney Museum’s page here

Visit all of UCA Canterbury Library’s Artist Books here

January Rare Book 2013 – Typography Department In-house printing press book

  Rare Book – The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare ( 822.33 SHA)

This rare book is from our selection of in-house printing press books, that are accessible at Maidstone, Canterbury, and Rochester. Rochester and Maidstone printing press books have been digitised and will be shortly available on Turning The Pages Technology. They are of high interest for Graphic Design

In 1947, this edition of The Merchant of Venice was designed and printed by the Typography Department of the Medway School of Art and Crafts, Rochester.  The students, under the direction of the Head of Printing Charles L. Pickering, referred to the first and second quartos as well as Shakespeare’s 1623 first folio to reprint the first scene of Act One. 

The Merchant of Venice, inside cover

The Merchant of Venice, inside cover

The Merchant of Venice, Front Cover

The Merchant of Venice, Front Cover

In the School prospectus for 1946-47, Typography is described as a course ‘for apprentices and journeymen in: Compositors’ Work; Letterpress Machine Work; Layout and Design; Monotype (Keyboard) and Intertype Composition; Costing, Estimation and Administration.’  A Society of Medway Printing Students called ‘Typographia’ was also active.  By producing The Merchant of Venice edition, students learnt the skills of their chosen craft. 

Medway School of Arts and Crafts Prospectus, 1946-1947

Medway School of Arts and Crafts Prospectus, 1946-1947

 The Merchant of Venice was performed by the Chamberlain’s Men during 1596-7, a company which included boy actors who played female parts.  The play first appeared in a printed quarto edition in 1600.  Despite its age, the play is relevant to our lives today through its themes of money, debt and prejudice.

Antonio, the merchant, lends 3000 ducats to his friend Bassanio who wishes to marry Portia.  To help his friend he borrows money from Shylock, a Jewish moneylender.  Failure to repay the loan by a set date will entitle Shylock to a pound of Antonio’s flesh.  Meanwhile, Bassanio successfully passes a test and wins the hand of Portia, while his friend Gratiano marries Portia’s lady-in-waiting, Nerissa.

When Antonio’s ships are lost at sea, he is unable to repay his debt and Shylock takes his claim to court.  Portia, disguised as a young male lawyer, defends Antonio by stressing that Shylock can take his flesh if he can promise not to spill one drop of blood.  It is an impossible task and Shylock is soon being trialled for conspiring against a Venetian.  He is forced to split his wealth between Antonio and the state, convert to Christianity and leave his property to his daughter who has fallen in love with a Christian.

Our Rochester edition was finished during the Spring Term of 1947, a post-war period when the horrors of the Holocaust dramatically altered the play’s reception.  Shakespeare’s treatment of Shylock and the issue of anti-Semitism gained a new contemporary significance, one that could not be ignored in later productions.

One of the play’s most famous quotations, spoken by Antonio, appears in this edition: ‘I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano, | A stage, where every man must play a part, | And mine a sad one.’  Antonio understands the world as a commercial stage in which all men must play a part.

Reviewed by Lynsey Blandford, Library Advisor, Rochester. This book is available at UCA Rochester.

Our other Rare Book Gems can be viewed here

Graphic Design and School of Printing Donation, from Maidstone College of Art

UCA Archives has received a donation from a student, Adrian Pearman, who was  in the School of Printing at the Maidstone College of Art in the 1960s. These images will be of particular interest from a graphic design perspective.  This material is currently being catalogued under the Maidstone College of Art Archive, and is currently available at UCA Maidstone Campus. It includes examples of typography, including letraset

Below are examples of book illustrations produced

Design and Drawing, letra set book illustrations

Space-man book illustrations

Work produced included a co-operate identity project (below) for a diploma show, Maidstone District. This included bus timetables, memo, letterheads, and brochures



  Also included is the award winning handprinted Decimal Currency Project, a prize awarded by the British Federation of Masters Printers.  


  Another example includes an example of a fictional boutique, His and Hers. At a time where colours were very subtle, the bright colours were very stand out for the time. 

Monthly update on project progression


All catalogues except Farnham School of Art are available on Archives Hub or online PDFs on http://community.ucreative.ac.uk/article/37587/Collections-and-Catalogues . More work is taking place on appraisal of digital images on CDs and of photographs, including graduation photographs. A fuller version of the Maidstone College of Art will soon be available


Acid free boxes, and preservation material including acid free folders, brass paper clips and polyester sleeves have arrived, and material in each campus is being re-housed with Epsom left to finish. Environmental conditions are being measured by dataloggers. Events regarding monitoring the environment, and regarding archival standards PD5454

See  http://community.ucreative.ac.uk/article/38296/Preservation to discover what preservation is and why it is so important

Preservation material

New deposits

The illustration department at Maidstone has deposited material which is due to be catalogued

Deposit at Maidstone from the Kent School of Printing showing types of  typography from the 1960s, due to be catalogued

Archival guidelines and policies

Special guidelines policy, determining what is a rare book and a special collection, and how to assess looked at in Collections Working group – to be formerly assessed and distributed on MYUCA designed to compliment the weeding policy

Archival cataloguing training booked at Canterbury and Maidstone for staff

Staff and Student outreach

Postdoctoral student interested in using collections to explore evening classes in the history of arts and crafts education

Freda Sack’s, typographer, Graphic Design images used in Graphic Design lectures

Internal exhibitions

Exhibition work for a Student Protest/Student Union on-going – digital and physical exhibition to be put in place by November

Travelling display of archive/special collection material to take place from the end of November

External collaboration

Kent – talks ongoing regarding exhibition of Tessa Boffin, LGBT photographer, and exhibitions for local history of Kent. Work on-going with Eastgate House, Rochester.

Surrey – Surrey History Centre is willing to undertake exhibitions – plans to take place for Guildford School of Art/Epsom School of Art exhibitions underwear. Currently organising to have a page on Exploring Surrey’s History website

Epsom- Epsom Library due to visit with potential of hosting artist books, and hosting workshops on the 7th December