JOB VACANCY: Finance Assistant (p/t)

Finance Assistant (p/t)

The City and Guilds of London Art School is looking for a suitably qualified (AAT or equivalent) Finance Assistant to join its small friendly team and support the Head of Finance in all aspects of managing the Art School’s day-to-day finance function, including maintenance of financial records and assisting with the production of financial information for reporting.  Good knowledge of standard accounting software (ideally Sage 50) required together with a positive and collaborative outlook.  2-3 days per week with some working from home possible.

To apply for the position, please download the Job Description and Application Form via the links below and email the Application Form to


Application Form

Application Deadline: Tuesday 28 October at midnight

This November, 2020 SPAB Fellow Toby Slater, a carpenter and framer by trade, will take up a two-week placement in the Historic Carving Department at City & Guilds of London Art School. Toby’s time at the Art School will be spent learning ornamental woodcarving alongside our BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding students.

Meanwhile, our Historic Carving students look forward to visiting the SPAB’s Old House Project, in Boxley, Kent, this coming academic year to learn more about the Society’s work saving at risk buildings and to further contextualise their own learning through this live project.

The Art School is delighted that our two organisations are able to share and exchange knowledge and to promote the teaching of critical craft skills in the UK that are vital to maintaining our built heritage for the future.

The SPAB’s William Morris Craft Fellowship was founded in 1987 to address the shortage of craft skills and to champion the importance of craftspeople that carry out repairs. This unique annual scheme is designed to broaden the skills and experience of craftspeople from any trade who work in the repair of historic buildings. The programme gives Fellows the chance to travel countrywide together and learn on site from specialist craftspeople, architects, surveyors and others working in building conservation.

City & Guilds of London Art School was established in 1854 as a small, specialist college, dedicated to teaching the techniques of the specialist crafts and focused on developing skills required in the artisan manufacturing industries. Since then, it has evolved and expanded its educational programmes, offering an alternative approach to that provided in most other art schools on its programmes in Conservation, Historic Carving, Fine Art and Art & Material Histories. For over 165 years the Art School has played a vital role in passing on specialist craft skills and inspiring new generations of artists and makers, and offers the only Carving courses (wood and stone carving) validated to BA and MA level in the UK.

The Art School has long enjoyed good relations with the SPAB. For decades SPAB Fellows have benefitted enormously from time in the workshop with tutors Nina Bilbey, Mark Frith and then Head of Historic Carving, Tim Crawley.  A prime example of the synergy being Heather Griffith (above) who, after a placement at the Art School during her 2016 SPAB Fellowship, graduated in 2020 from the BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Architectural Stone course. With Heather Newton now in post as Head of the Department, well versed in hosting SPAB Fellows and Scholars at Canterbury Cathedral, the Art School looks forward to developing mutually beneficial relations with the SPAB for many years to come.





  1. Toby Slater, 2020 SPAB Fellow
  2. Heather Griffith, 2016 SPAB Fellow
  3. Sam Matthams, 2019 SPAB Fellow

Sophie studied at London Metropolitan University and has a BA Hons in Design Studies. She went on to work as a photographer for 15 years and specialised in portraiture. During that time she photographed a wide range of people from MPs to children. She taught photography to secondary school students as an enrichment subject for six years. She has also worked as a creative artworker. She designed a variety of printed material as well as electronic publications. In recent years she has been working with clay and experimenting with form.



2001-2004, BA Hons Design Studies, London Metropolitan University. London, UK.



2003-2018, Photographer, Sographia Photography, UK.

2010-2016, Photography Teacher, Hasmonean High School, UK.

2010-2016, Creative Artworker, Hasmonean High School, UK.

Nikkie Amouyal comes from a family of Italo-French artists in Fashion and Fine Art. In 1990 she got a BA (Hons) at the ECV in Paris and worked for over a decade as a Creative Designer in the Music Industry in Paris. Nikkie moved to London in 2000 to carry on her career on an international level. She started to work at Dewynters for the West End productions before joining Eagle Rock Entertainments for 14 years where Nikkie has created visuals for a very wide range of international artists. In 2010 she received a BVA Award for Best British Authored DVD and Design for her work with Monty Python.

From 2006 to 2009 she directed a monthly themed club night called Rockabaret. Rockabaret was dedicated to freedom of expression with glamorous extravagant rock parties held in London clubs involving live art performances.

Nikkie has been with the Art School since 2016 and has brought an added glamour to our daily life – she is also a most considerate and helpful addition to our technical team. She is delighted to be back to the roots of Art in a new career as a Conservation Studio Manager as well as Photoshop Teacher. She is committed to the success and safety of our Conservation students and ensures the smooth and efficient running of our Conservation labs and studios.



Adam Wilson graduated from the BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding in 2021 and is currently starting MA Carving at the Art School.  When he graduated, he was awarded The Joiners & Ceilers’ Prize, in recognition of the development of his woodcarving skills over the three-year course and dedication to his studies.  We asked Adam to tell us about his experience as a carver so far, his plans for his MA and to share some of his impressive work.

I have a deep interest in historic timber buildings and after taking a PgDip in Historic Timber Building Conservation at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in West Sussex, I worked as a building conservator, specialising in traditional carpentry and joinery repairs to historic houses in Somerset.

I came to the Art School to advance my woodworking skills and learn historic carving, as I had developed an interest in pierced frieze and wished to explore their manufacture and design theory. During the first three terms at the Art School, I taught myself to make projecting cornice mouldings with wooden hand planes. This lead to an interest in curved work including sprung mouldings and circular joinery, which I combined with carving on projects in the second year.

17th century French panelling with applied circular frame, constructed of 12 pieces (Work in progress)
Riven Baltic oak (Quercus petraea), 38” x 27”

As a trained carpenter and joiner, I enjoy combining woodworking disciplines to create complete objects which contextualise the carved work, allowing the viewer to gain a better understanding of its role as part of a culturally significant object.

My work for the final submission of the BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding at the Art School was based upon detailed research into material culture of the 16th century English and Venetian workshop.

Both projects (shown below) began in the woodland and were constructed of timber which I had self selected and converted, relying on in-depth knowledge of timber as a material learnt over the course of many years.

The picture frame was constructed of air dried sawn stock and the chest from unseasoned riven stock. The timber came from within a 20km radius of my workshop, reducing the environmental impact of each piece considerably, and both objects were constructed entirely by hand using historically correct methods.

The chest was left unfinished to naturally oxidise and darken and the frame was water gilded with 24 karat gold.

Picture frame, spruce (Picea abies) and oak (Quercus petraea) with gilded applied gesso ornamentation, 800mm x 1000mm

Carved, joined chest, Riven Baltic oak (Quercus petraea), 43” x 26” x 24”

For the MA Carving course, I have been offered a mentorship in fan vault design by John David, master mason at York Minster. Under his tutelage, I will build upon my previous studies in historic carpentry and joinery to realise an ambitious fan vault. This vault brings the three woodworking disciplines that I have been trained in together in one challenging project.

Vaulted ceiling of the Edward the Confessor Chapel Canterbury Cathedral

I have chosen to construct a timber vault based on the vault from the Edward the Confessor Chapel at Canterbury Cathedral to a scale of 1:3, which will be appropriate for the canopy of a medieval tester. This will be eventually decorated with gilded carved gothic vine leaves and polychroming.

This elegant design employs a moulded three centred transverse arch, which divides the two bays and produces two flat central spandrel panels. The sides of the bays incorporate slightly higher four centred arches to accommodate the gothic styling of the windows and is decorated with a geometric design constructed from tangental circles containing cusping and sub-cusping.

The tracery and the deeply moulded ribs will be joined using traditional methods and the shaping of the ribs and construction of the superstructure that supports the fan will be done by hand using historic joinery and carpentry tools and techniques.

The aims of the project are to research the historic construction methods and techniques used to produce these quintessentially English architectural designs, explore the connection between disciplines and contextualise a variety of carved architectural elements which are often carved as stand alone pieces.

The project will challenge my design skills along with my practical skills and is intended to recognise the generous support of the Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers and the Worshipful Company of Carpenters during my BA (Hons) in Historic Carving.

Adam’s work will be exhibited at the MA Show, 16-23 October 2021.

We are excited to announce that the Art School’s second Material Matters symposium will take place online on Saturday 9 October, as part of London Craft Week 2021, and registration is now open – book your free place here!

Material Matters: Clay is a free online symposium that brings together artists, craftspeople, scientists and industry experts to consider both the history and contemporary uses of clay and is supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. 

Confirmed speakers include:

Symposium updates, will be posted on our Material Matters site, along with programme previews.

The Art School’s Material Matters research programme sets out to explore a specific material, on a bi-annual basis, through a range of approaches. Clay is the third material to be part of the programme and follows pigment and wood.

The Material Matters: Clay symposium is the programme’s second symposium and comes after the success of the Pigment symposium, held at the Art School in May 2019. The Pigment symposium featured speakers from a variety of specialist disciplines and backgrounds and considered pigments today within the broader context of their production and rich and varied pasts.

More information about the Art School’s Material Matters research programme is available here.

To register for your free place at the Clay symposium on Saturday 9 October, 10:00-17:00, click here.


The City & Guilds of London Art School is seeking 2 x 0.4 Lecturers to work within our thriving Fine Art Department. This is an exciting opportunity for artists specialising in painting and/or sculptural practices to contribute to the delivery and development of the undergraduate and post graduate Fine Art courses at the Art School.  The department has a well-deserved reputation for excellence in the teaching of Fine Art, with exceptional student results and extremely positive feedback from our external examiners as well as curators and arts professionals who work with our alumni. CGLAS is above all student-centred, deeply committed to providing students with the time and resources required to excel and to have inventive, assertive, contemporary ideas that emerge out of the traditions of painting and sculpture. We work to provide them with the skills, opportunities and freedom to put their ideas into practice and exceed their own expectations.

Our stimulating community with around 50 professional practitioners from conservation, carving and Fine Art work alongside each other to create a unique creative and purposeful atmosphere and collegiality. Our small scale means each individual counts and you will be able to see the positive results of your time working at the Art School.  With approximately 60 bursaries available for our UG and PG students we are also committed to supporting individuals from all backgrounds to realise their ambitions. The roll call of our sponsors and supporters is also testament to our commitment to the highest of standards and passion for our subjects.

With its particular focus on skills-based teaching and a commitment to cultivate knowledge and curiosity in both historical and contemporary contexts of our subjects, the Art School  is seeking artists who can actively and positively engage in and contribute to this mission. You will be an active Fine Art practitioner with an excellent track record of exhibitions and professional projects and a high level of knowledge of the historical contexts that underpin contemporary practice and an extensive knowledge of contemporary art.  Experience of teaching at BA and/or MA levels is essential, as well as the ability to engage with students from a wide range of backgrounds.

The Art School is committed to equality of opportunity and values diversity, seeking to actively encourage participation at all levels. Our Equality & Diversity Statement and Policy sets out our approach and can be found here. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds and particularly encourage applications from Black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates as they are under-represented within the Art School at this level

To apply for the position, please download the Job Description, Person Specification and Application Form via the links below and email the Application Form and your CV to

Job Description_Fine Art Lecturer(0.4)
Person Specification_Fine Art Lecturer (0.4)
Application Form

Application Deadline: 28th September at 23:59 (GMT), Interview planned to take place 6th October

If you have queries, please contact us at

We are very excited to announce our 2021 Degree Show opens it’s doors on Wednesday 18 August until Sunday 22 August, and you are invited to visit!

The Degree Show features the outstanding work of graduating students from our BA Fine Art, Carving and Conservation courses and promises to be a must-see exhibition for anyone interested in contemporary fine art, historic craft and heritage.

We are particularly proud to be presenting this Show during these extraordinary and disrupted times. The quality of the work on display is testament to our amazing students who have demonstrated exceptional commitment, resilience and creativity throughout the pandemic.

We ask visitors to wear a face covering inside the Show, sanitise your hands and keep a safe distance from others.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Degree Show very soon!


Wednesday 18 August, 11am–6pm
Thursday 19 August, 11am–6pm
Friday 20 August, 11am–9pm
Saturday 21 August, 10am–5pm
Sunday 22 August, 10am–5pm


City & Guilds of London Art School
124 Kennington Park Road
London SE11 4DJ

Jo Grogan (BA Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding) with her Grinling Gibbons 300 Award entry

In July we announced that nine of our current Historic Carving students and recent graduates were shortlisted for the Grinling Gibbons 300 Award, a national competition for emerging carvers established to mark the 300th anniversary of the death of the ‘Michelangelo of woodcarving’ Grinling Gibbons, the product of a collaboration between the Master Carver’s Association and the Grinling Gibbons Society.

The winners of the Award were revealed yesterday evening at Bonham’s and we are delighted to report that our students and alumni won five of the six prizes!


Jo Grogan, CGLAS First year Student, BA Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding

Sarah Davis, CGLAS Alumna (2019) Diploma: Woodcarving & Gilding

Tom Buchannan, CGLAS Second year Student, BA Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding


Freya Morris, Moulton College

Alex Waddell, CGLAS Student, Graduate Diploma Arts: Carving

Tom Clark- Collins, CGLAS Alumnus (2018) Diploma: Architectural Stone Carving

Our huge congratulations to all the winners and finalists on their brilliant work and thanks to all the mentors at the Master Carvers’ Association and Art School tutors who worked with them to achieve such wonderful outcomes.

The Grinling Gibbons 300 Award is part of a year-long festival of nationwide events celebrating Gibbon’s life and legacy, including an exhibition ‘Centuries in the Making’ at Bonhams, that opened last night and included the announcement of the Grinling Gibbons 300 Award.

City & Guilds of London Art School is the only institution in Europe offering a BA & MA in Carving and is proud to play a part in continuing the legacy of Grinling Gibbons through its teaching of his work, ensuring specialist carving skills are embodied in a new generation of carvers and crafts people.

Interested in finding out more about our renowned wood and stone carving courses and generous bursaries for 2021/22? Book onto our in-person open day on 21 August, arrange an online chat with our Course Leader or contact us at


Jo Grogan, BA Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding

Sarah Davis, Diploma: Woodcarving & Gilding (2019)

Tom Buchannan,  BA Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding

Alex Waddell, Graduate Diploma Arts: Carving


Congratulations to Historic Carving students Emma Sheridan and Steffan Lomax, who have been selected to receive the 2021 Brinsley Ford Award, which promotes and recognises the practice of observational drawing and sculpture by funding a study trip to Rome.

The Brinsley Ford Award is run by a charitable trust established in honour of Sir Brinsley Ford CBE, the celebrated art historian and collector who held a fascination with The Grand Tour and 16th and 17th century Italian drawings and sculpture. It enables a second-year wood or stone carving student from the Art School to travel to Rome for at least three weeks in the summer break, to study sculpture at historic sites and museums, compiling a sketchbook and portfolio of drawings.  These drawings can be developed to form a carving project for their final year on the course.

As the Award couldn’t be allocated in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Brinsley Ford Charitable Trust kindly extended the Award to two deserving students this year.

Bust of a Girl, Emma Sheridan

Commenting on winning the Award, Emma Sheridan, BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Architectural Stone, said: “I am very grateful for the chance to travel to Rome for three weeks with the sole purpose of drawing. The Brinsley Ford Award provides the opportunity for a valuable experience that I am sure will inform my further studies.”

Marinelli Philosopher, Steffan Lomax

Steffan Lomax, also studying on the Architectural Stone course, confirmed his delight at winning the Award and added: “I look forward to developing my drawings skills studying renowned works created by masters over thousands of years, with a particular focus on Hellenistic styled sculpture. The trip will be hugely beneficial to my third year studies, and beyond.”

George Edwards (Diploma Architectural Stone Carving, 2018) received the Brinsley Ford Award in 2017. Whilst visiting the Sperlonga National Archaeological Museum he was particularly inspired by a sculpture of ‘the wineskin bearer’ part of a series of Hellenistic sculptures that depict scenes from Homer’s Odyssey. Using his drawings and a cast of a similar Roman sculpture from the British Museum, George carved the head of the wineskin bearer for his final year project.

George said: “The time I spent in Rome was one of the best experiences of my life. Having never been to the city before, I was overwhelmed. I spent five weeks inspired by an abundance of art and architecture and finally getting to understand my subject much more clearly. My drawing improved so much during my trip. Having the time to ‘look’ was so valuable and has without a doubt had an enormously positive impact on my knowledge and skill.

We are looking forward to seeing how the study trip to Rome inspires this year’s recipients!

We have a few places on our wood and stone carving courses starting in autumn 2021, with generous grants and bursaries available to help fund course fees . If you’re interested in finding out more, book onto our in-person open day on 21 August, arrange an online chat with Heather Newton, Head of Historic Carving, or contact us at


We strongly believe that it is the responsibility of an Art School to create the conditions in which learners can safely explore, investigate, experiment, create, write and think, without the distraction of life’s everyday demands. But we also recognise that for our programmes to remain culturally, socially and politically relevant, our students need to actively engage with others outside of the protected and privileged space of the workshops, studios or library.

That is why the MA in Art & Material Histories incorporates projects into its syllabus that require our students to collaborate with artists, scientists, writers, craft and trades people outside of the institution, in order to learn from them and the contexts in which they work and develop professional networks to draw from after graduation. This year, in alignment with the current theme of the Art School’s Material Matters research platform, our students have been collaborating with professionals from the world of clay.

Sabine Amoore Pinon continues her exploration of pigments through a collaboration with the artist and developer of London Pigments, Lucy Mayes. Together they have produced a fascinating in-depth study of the origins of Potters Pink, Celadon and Ceramic White.

Matilda Sample worked with a group of women from a range of backgrounds to explore the overlapping properties and qualities of the clay body and the human body. Through hands-on workshops and open discussion, the participants explored and challenged themes of malleability, impressionability, and the natural.

Maddie Rose Hills teamed up with the research-based artist Robin James Sullivan to investigate Cornwall’s china clay quarries and the impact they have had on the landscape and the lives of those who have lived and worked there. Staging a revisionist and a-chronological dialogue that mimics the process of mining itself, these two collaborators have unearthed a range of geological issues and excavated rich and precious social histories.

Oscar Wilson conducted a series of interviews with potter, artist and craftsperson Dr Mark Sowden. In his work Tidings, Mark collects, identifies and then reconfigures found sherds of ceramic and other objects found on the Thames foreshore. Through Wilson’s generous sharing of knowledge, Oscar learnt about London Bricks, mud larking and the history of pottery.

Check out the publication of our Art & Material Histories students’ collaborative research projects and other fascinating materials projects on our Material Matters Research Platform here.

This week the Art & Material Histories course was delighted to welcome Laura Wilson (@wilsonlaurawilson) to give a talk about her practice. Laura will be joining the staff team next year and her talk provided an ideal opportunity for our students to acquaint themselves with her material practices and ways of thinking.

Laura’s process involves researching, collaborating and re-telling the material histories of things through performance, film, writing and sculpture. She is interested in how history is carried and evolved through everyday materials, trades and craftsmanship and works with specialists to develop sculptural and performative works that amplify the relationship between materiality, memory and tacit knowledge.

Thanks so much Laura for a fascinating and inspiring talk!

Laura Wilson, Deepening, 2020. Still from video, 15:36 minutes. Co-commissioned by New Geographies and Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery.

Wilson’s interdisciplinary and research-based works have been exhibited widely including at: The Collection, Lincoln with Mansions of the Future, UK;  First Draft, Sydney, Australia (2021); 5th Istanbul Design Biennial – Empathy Revisited: Designs for More than One; Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Norwich, UK (2020); The British Museum, London, UK with Block Universe; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, UK; and The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London, UK (2018); SPACE, London, UK; V&A Museum, London, UK; and Invisible Dust at Hull and East Riding Museum, Hull, UK (2017); Delfina Foundation, London, UK (2016 & 17) Site Gallery, Sheffield, UK (2016); Whitstable Biennial, UK (2014); Camden Arts Centre, London, UK and Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2013); W139, Amsterdam and De Warande, Turnhout, Belgium (2012). Her project Trained on Veda, a malted loaf and evolving artwork was initiated during her residency at Delfina Foundation in 2016 is being developed in partnership with TACO!, Thamesmead, Grand Union, Birmingham and Site Gallery, Sheffield, supported by Arts Council England. She has forthcoming projects with POOL, Johannesburg, South Africa; The Landmark Trust, Wales, UK; and MIMA, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, part of Teesside University, Middlesbrough, UK. A Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellow, she has been awarded the inaugural Jerwood New Work Fund and the Dover Prize 2021.

Laura Wilson, Old Salt, 2021. Silk screen print. Co-commissioned by Mansions of the future and The Collection Museum, Lincoln. Photo: Reece Shaw.

Laura Wilson, Old Salt, 2021. Installation detail. Co-commissioned by Mansions of the future and The Collection Museum, Lincoln. Photo: Reece Shaw.

Laura Wilson, You Would Almost Expect to Find it Warm, 2018. Co-commissioned by Franck Bordese and Block Universe for The British Museum. Photo: Manuela Barczewski

Laura Wilson, Fold and Stretch, 2017. Commissioned by Site Gallery. Photo: Jules Lister.

All images courtesy of The Artist.



Shortlisted student Arielle Francis (BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding), with Alex Elinson (GradDip Arts: Carving)

2021 marks the 300th anniversary of the death of the renowned 18th century Master Carver Grinling Gibbons. A series of events, exhibitions and competitions is being held by the Grinling Gibbons Society as part of the tercentenary celebrations, including a national competition for emerging wood and stone carvers.

The Art School is excited to announce that nine of its current Historic Carving students and recent graduates have been shortlisted for the Grinling Gibbons 300 Award!

Shortlisted candidates have been paired with mentors from the Master Carvers’ Association to develop their designs for inclusion in the exhibition ‘Grinling Gibbons: Centuries in the making’ celebrating his life, genius and legacy.  The exhibition will launch at Bonhams, New Bond Street on 3 August 2021 and conclude at Compton Verney from September 2021 to 30 January 2022.

Current Art School students in the short list:
Arielle Francis
Jo Grogan
Tom Buchanan
Alex Wadell

Art School graduates in the short list:
Silje Loa
Sarah Davis
Oscar Whapham
Tom Clark-Collins
George Griffiths

We wish all those shortlisted the very best of luck in the final judging in August!

Miriam Johnson (BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Architectural Stone 2019)

Congratulations also go to stone carving graduate Miriam Johnson, who has been named as the winner of a carving competition run by the Drapers’ Company for Art School students and alumni, also in celebration of the Grinling Gibbons tercentenary.

Candidates were asked to submit ideas for a memorial carving, in stone or wood, to be displayed in the Drapers’ Hall. Three finalists were chosen and asked to provide detailed specifications including processes, materials and site positioning of the final piece. After much deliberation, Miriam’s design for a stone cartouche to be sited in the garden on the exterior of the building, was selected as the winner and her final work will be unveiled on 3 November 2021. Congratulations to the two other finalists Wilfe Gorlin and Lara Domeneghetti.

Through a range of approaches to learning and teaching, the Introduction to Conservation unit runs alongside the Historic Crafts, Conservation Science and Art Histories units and focuses on introducing students to the fundamentals of conservation ethics and philosophy, principles and professional standards. Students gain the tools to engage in meaningful discussion about the future management of cultural heritage and preventive conservation.

Through the course of this unit, students will get an insight into the profession of conservation: whether working in a museum or as a private consultant, and the range of international conservation bodies, further training programmes, internships, conferences, and professional accreditation opportunities provided.

This Introduction to Conservation workshop was led by paper conservation tutor, Judith Gowland.


The final module for our first year students in Book & Paper Conservation was ending like a firework of colours and shapes in the studios!

In a series of workshops, led by Books Conservation Tutor, Abigail Bainbridge, students were taught traditional marbling techniques from Europe and Japan, having previously made their own tools to achieve their beautiful patterns.


Some of the beautiful outcomes from the workshop – each student had access to the same six tubes of gouache, resulting in a wide variety of designs.

Iron, Copper, bronze and brass Manillas were used extensively as currency in West Africa from the 15th to the 20th Century and played a crucial part in the trading of enslaved people. Records show that in the 1490’s a West African slave cost about 12 to 15 manillas, and in 1522 a female slave aged 16 in Benin cost about 50 manillas.

Metal manillas were forged in the industrial cities of England and other European countries, carried by bearers into the African Interior and exchanged for slaves who were then transported to the Americas and the West Indies to work in the plantations producing sugar and cotton which was then shipped back to Europe and the UK. It is estimated that over a period of 400 years 12-12.8 million slaves were shipped across the Atlantic, 1.2-2.4 million of them died and were thrown overboard before they even reached the Americas.

This week, we were delighted to have the artist Karen McLean run a workshop with our Art & Material Histories students in which we explored the history and legacy of slavery and some of the many materials directly associated with it.

Karen’s research focusses on understanding the complex histories of enslaved people and the many acts of resistance that helped bring about Abolition in 1933. The workshop combined hands-on learning with listening and discussion and resulted in the casting of unsettlingly beautiful sugar manillas.

A huge thank you to Karen for an incredibly inspiring and educational day.




Art theorist and video and performance artist, Dr Oriana Fox, is an Art Histories Tutor on the MA in Art & Material Histories, as well as a range of other courses at the Art School. Oriana teaches art history from a particularly contemporary perspective and encourages students to think about artworks from the past as well as the present through the lens of the very latest theoretical, cultural and political ideas.

Dr Oriana Fox’s new podcast ‘Multiple Os’ is a spin-off from her performance series ‘The O Show’, which is a recognisable yet innovative take on the talk show genre. Like ‘The O Show’, ‘Multiple Os’ features interviews with artists and other experts who have no difficulty ‘spilling the beans’ about their lives and opinions, especially when they defy norms and conventions. The topics explored include shyness, gender, sexuality, race, belonging and success, integrating therapeutic, artistic and political perspectives.

Episodes released to date include:

Nervous Laughter with Hamja Ahsan, artist and author of Shy Radicals
Art makes life more interesting than art with artist Joshua Sofaer
Do-It-Yourself Revolution with Charlotte Cooper, artist, psychotherapist and fat activist
50 Tinder Dates with Indrani Ashe, artist and unconventional woman
Type-casting yourself with artist Harold Offeh
Hyper-femme superhero alter ego with Lois Weaver, performance artist and professor

Interviewees on forthcoming episodes include:

Sociologist and coach Jo Van Every; Stand-up comic Jaye McBride; artist and diversity advocate Ope Lori; philosopher and author Nina Power; novelist and performance artist Season Butler; writer and cultural critic Juliet Jacques

Oriana’s ‘Multiple Os’ podcast is widely available in the places you usually find your podcasts.

Tuesday 22 June – Saturday 26 June, 10am – 5pm – book your viewing time here

We are very proud to present the exceptional work of our 2021 Foundation Diploma graduates, who have worked extremely hard this year, despite the constraints of the pandemic, to make an outstanding body of work.

The students have demonstrated an admirable commitment to exploring and extending their art practice, and have impressed their tutors with their enduringly positive attitude.

And we’re delighted that we are able to celebrate their achievements in this in-person show at the Art School, a wonderful way to mark the end of this challenging year!

In order to ensure your safety, and that of our students and staff, we have introduced a booking system for all visits to the show. You can book your viewing time here.

We hope to see you at the Show!


Thomas Merrett (b. Suffolk in 1987) is a sculptor, draughtsman and printmaker. He received his training at City & Guilds of London Art School and then the Florence Academy of Art.  Since 2017 he has been a member of the Society of Portrait Sculptors and since 2020 he has been represented by the gallery Crean & Company.

His work is in numerous collections, including the permanent collection of the Museu Europeu d’Art Modern (MEAM) in Barcelona. He has been awarded the International Founders Sculpture Prize in 2016 and in 2021 named as a finalist for the National Sculpture Prize 2021.

‘My work is centred around the human form, a fascination for anatomy and movement, and the challenge of portraying this in sculpture and drawing.  Through my work I aim to create a unique interpretation of the subject in front of me rather than just a skilful and literal replication of their likeness.

I create portraits and figures by reducing my sculptures to more basic forms. By this I do not mean simply abstraction, but an attempt to capture the subject’s character whilst moving beyond the physical anatomy of the human form.’


We are very proud to celebrate the outstanding work of our 2020 Fine Art graduates who were unable to present their work in a physical show due to the pandemic. This exhibition features a diverse range of artwork and approaches to contemporary practice.

If we require visitors to book viewing times to visit the Class of 2020 BA and MA Fine Art Graduates Show, we will add details here. Please check again closer to the time, and follow us on Instagram @cglartschool for updates.

Open 27 to 31 July 2021, 11am – 6pm

Admission free

Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London, SE1 9PH

July 2021

Friends of City & Guilds of London Art School,

We are running a fundraising campaign seeking your support as we emerge from one of the most challenging periods in living memory.

How to donate 
Donate by card or paypal
Bank Transfer

We know that you recognise the need for and importance of our work.  As the only Art School in Europe offering a BA and MA in Carving, the only institution teaching our Conservation specialisms at BA and MA level, and one of the few places where Fine Art BA and MA are taught with a focus on material enquiry and historical methods, with dedicated studio space and 1 to 1 teaching by experts, we are clearly an exception to the rule. We believe a very necessary exception, our ongoing determination and commitment ensuring that valuable intangible cultural assets will not be lost for the future.

The pandemic has left us with the need for an additional £250,000 to reach the end of the current financial year without a deficit. We are hugely grateful for the pledges that have already been made approaching £200,000, and we are now turning to our whole community to help us secure the balance, so we are able to move ahead with a future to look forward to.

The Art School’s response to the global health crisis over the past 14 months has more than proven what a dedicated and resilient team we have, and how flexible and creative a small institution and community can be. Moving teaching online last spring, successfully delivering the remainder of the 2019/20 academic year off site for all students, achieving a return to the studios for the full Autumn term, switching back to remote learning from January to March this year, and now reopening for an extended Summer Term until August, clearly has been a formidable challenge.

We could not have imagined 14 months ago that it would be possible to organise our courses in such radically different ways to support creativity and teach specialist skills, and it has been a revelation. However, the teaching and staff teams have achieved more than to simply cope with an unprecedented situation. We have seen how the provision we put in place has enabled students to thrive and exceed their own expectations during such a time of crisis.

At a time of such uncertainty and unrest the Art School has dealt with everything with incredible integrity and diligence ensuring the wellbeing of all who attend and work on campus.” Joanna Grogan, BA Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding.
I’m extremely grateful to the way the school has handled the pandemic, doing their utmost to continue to deliver our course and actually giving us back the studio time we would have missed had we stuck to the original course schedule.” Lucia Ferguson, MA Fine Art
The fact that the art school is planning a full physical grad show [for the class of 2020] in these COVID times, speaks volumes about the level of care that it gives to its students.” Andrew Szczech, MA Fine Art – previously BA Fine Art

Along with so many other organisations, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the Art School at all levels. 2020 saw some income lost but 2021 will be even more challenging through a combination of increased costs and a reduction in student numbers. There have been many useful lessons learned over this year that are feeding into strategic planning. To be able to realise plans that will stabilise our financial position we do need help now. As a small, independent charity, with no direct public funding or significant reserves to draw upon, the Art School has always been a lean organisation operating on a tight margin. This, compounded by the fact that the Art School has not been eligible for any of the government rescue packages, has led to the particular challenge we are finding ourselves in and is why we are seeking your support at this time.

Thank you for giving our appeal your attention. We will be grateful for your contribution; at any level you feel able to offer.

How to donate 

Donate by card or paypal
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If you would like to discuss your donation, please do not hesitate to contact Hannah Travers, Head of Development & External Relations on or 020 7091 1689.

We wouldn’t be where we are without our community of friends and supporters, and there has never been a time when it has mattered more. We look forward to seeing you again when we finally re-open our doors for our degree shows this summer, when we can hopefully join together in celebrating all that has been achieved against unprecedented odds.

We have several in person shows this summer that we hope you will be able to visit.
City & Guilds of London Art School Class of 2020: BA & MA Fine Art Graduates at Bargehouse, Southbank
Open Tues 27 – Sat 31 July 2021
Degree Show 2021 at the Art School
PV 18:00 – 21:00 Tuesday 17 Aug. Booking essential. Open Wed 18 – Sun 22 Aug 2021
MA Show 2021 – At the Art School – w/o 18 Oct. Details to follow.

With best wishes,

Tamiko O’Brien

Jamie Bill


Our Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic 
The Covid-19 Pandemic has impacted every aspect of Art School activity since March 2020. Trustees, Senior Management Team, and staff have reacted and reconfigured our activities at four distinct points to provide the best possible offer to students.March 2020 – Lock down
We successfully put measures in place to continue teaching and progressing students during the lockdown. All undergraduate students were able to successfully complete their year in the Summer Term and graduate from their courses, while MA students who would normally have worked through the summer break returned for an additional term in the studios during Autumn 2020.


September 2020 – Back in the studios and workshops

In early September we welcomed new and returning students back to the Art School in stages for the Autumn Term and new academic year 2020/21. We were able to offer our students, the intensive studio-based learning experience that we are known for, and which is crucial for a depth of study in our specialist subjects. Meeting ongoing social distancing and safety rules which required adaptations to our facilities, extended opening hours and additional teaching, along with continued online delivery of certain curriculum elements such as Art Histories, enabled us to maximise on time in our studios, workshops and labs for all of our students. We were also pleased to be able to launch our new Books & Paper Conservation course with a full intake and with a new suite of bespoke studios created over the Summer months.

We launched a new Graduate Showcase website to celebrate and promote our students’ achievements during this time, that has proved to also be very helpful with our current recruitment activities. For our BA and MA Fine Art graduates of 2020 we have hired an external exhibition venue, Bargehouse, on London’s Southbank for a joint exhibition in July 2021. Our Carving graduates of 2020 will show alongside their peers this Summer in our Degree Shows now planned for August (BA) and October (MA).

Meanwhile we have worked hard to successfully maintain the levels of bursaries for students through external donors that continue to support well over a third of the student body to study with us.

January 2021 – Lockdown


Following a very successful Autumn term back at the Art School, we were unfortunately, and at very short notice, unable to reopen for the Spring term in January due to new government lockdown regulations. In order to best support our students at the time, and to keep them safe, teaching moved back online for the term. On 8th March we were pleased to be able to open the studios for students to access.


Extended Summer Term April 2021 – The return


The 12th April saw the welcome beginning of the Summer Term with the full schedule of tutorials, teaching and workshops resuming on campus, with the necessary Covid-19 testing and safety measures in place. As all of our courses have a strong practice-based focus the decision was taken in the spring term to extend the academic year from June through to August to provide students with additional access to studios and workshops as well as specialist practical teaching essential to complete their year of study and achieve all their learning outcomes. Whilst we do not know the exact additional cost at this stage, we deem this to be essential to provide students with the best possible experience under these very challenging circumstances, and to remain true to our mission and ethos as a centre of excellence. We believe that maintaining delivery of the highest quality education is key to our future.

As illustrated, tutors have worked creatively to devise ways to deliver practical teaching online. We have learned that it is possible to share some of what is unique about the Art School remotely, this will feed into our planning for outreach work and income generating short course offers for the future, contributing to widening participation, the stabilising of our financial position alongside essential fundraising for the immediate future.


How to donate

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We’re delighted to announce the launch of the MA Fine Art Graduate Showcase, an online exhibition of the outstanding work of our 2020 MA Fine Art graduates, following an extended academic year due to the pandemic. View the exhibition.

The new MA Fine Art Graduate Showcase joins the work of our 2020 BA Fine Art, Foundation and Historic Carving graduates in our Graduate Showcase, a purpose-built online exhibition space developed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The online exhibition features a broad selection of creative ideas and approaches reflecting each exhibitor’s individual practice. Pieces range from a large-scale charcoal and ink 10 metre-long surround to work made from bible fragments and ashes on wood panel; from a sculptural piece made using rice, moss and soil on an oak sleeper to mechanised tapestry, repeating insignificant actions that have become strangely amplified during this unusual year.

The striking work featured in the 2020 MA Fine Art Graduate Showcase has been made during a difficult period, disrupted by the restrictions of the pandemic. The Art School has remained committed to ensuring hands-on studio practice in its facilities when possible, but periods of national Lockdown have meant students have also spent time working from home studios, supported by comprehensive online course delivery.  We are extremely proud of the resilience and dedication shown by all our students during these difficult circumstances, and the challenges they faced during this extraordinary time makes their final work all the more impressive.

Alongside our 2020 MA Fine Art graduates, the current Co-Chair of Students, Artist Resident Trustees, Ema Mano Epps (MA Fine Art 2019) and Jyoti Bharwani (MA Fine Art 2020), are exhibiting the work they’ve made during their residency.

A public-facing exhibition of recent work from our BA and MA Fine Art 2020 graduates is planned for July 2021 at Bargehouse on London’s South Bank – sign up to our mailing list to receive an invitation.

Images of work

  • – Patrick Stratton, Things I Do Sometimes: Step in Gum, 2020, tapestry and electronics, 90 x 74 x 14 cm
  • – Isobel Bedeau, surrounded by the high silence, 2020, charcoal and ink on paper, 150 x 1000 cm
  • – Yuki Aruga, A Memorial to Nothing, 2021, soil, rice, moss, oil on oak sleeper, 170 x 40 x 70 cm
  • – Fipsi Seilern, Revelations II (Out of The Ashes), 2019, bible fragments and ashes on wood panel, 38 x 41 cm
  • – Alexandra Sivov, 60 000 Children, 2020, acrylic and gouache acrylic on canvas, 153 x 189 cm

The Chair of Students is an elected role at the Art School, open to a graduating or continuing student. Working closely with Student Reps and Art School staff and Trustees, the holder of the role plays a key part in ensuring the Art School is the best it can be for all our students. Those elected to the post sit on the Board of Trustees and as artist residents are given a studio space and access to our specialist facilities.

Usually held for a term of one year, current incumbents, Ema Mano Epps and Jyoti Bharwani, were asked to extend their term to help the Art School effectively prioritise students’ needs throughout the pandemic. As they approach the end of their tenure, we asked them to tell us about their experience and pass on advice to the next Chair of Students.

Q. You are both the Art School’s current Co-Chairs of Students, Artist Residents and sit on the Board of Trustees; the primary elected spokespeople for our student body. What motivated you to stand for election to the role?

A. This art school is one of a kind! It has a charity status, unlike all other institutions it is small and caters for the individual, ensuring growth. We both quickly understood the gravitas of its sustainability was dependent on communication, connecting the students all the way through to the Trustees.

We shared an equally positive experience as students in the art school, both of us were keen to make sure we transpire this experience to others, and live a legacy that lasts for generations to come.

Q. The role is usually fulfilled by one person. Why did you decide to take on the role in a joint capacity?

A. Two heads are better than one when it comes to problem solving and multitasking. The role was very new at the Art School and still in process of defining this is why we made a decision to take on the role in a shared capacity. This decision also meant that in supporting the school community we could simultaneously support each-other and balance our art practices and families. We applied with a joint application, you can imagine how extremely glad we are …having just gone through 3 pandemic lockdowns!

Q. What are the main responsibilities of the role?

A. Feedback, communication and ideas between the Art School, trustees and students. We haven’t counted the meetings we had to attend to make this a success:)

Q. You have held the position of Co-Chair of Students during the coronavirus pandemic – some may say one of the most challenging periods in living memory.  How has the pandemic, and the restrictions imposed to control the spread of the virus, affected your experience of the role?

A. Solitude and anxiety was the experience we all went through individually, being part of a community where you help also meant that you simultaneously are helped. We had to adjust to digital and organised catch ups, no casual bumping into. We made ourselves available  to each-other, to the staff and the Trustees. We made calls to check on peers, messaged, emailed, shared playlists, sincerity of hardship, wellbeing wobbles and meditative walks…

Q. In line with the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions, the Art School’s facilities were closed during the national Lockdowns. How did the Art School adapt course delivery to ensure students continued to receive a high-quality education?

A. The school was remarkable, it listened and in turn rallied around revising modules from each course that can be implemented online, sending and delivering parcels to students homes for hands on carving, conservation – practical workshops carried on. Lectures and tutorials carried on. There was a mammoth effort made by all involved, with no allowance for loss of quality of teaching and support.

Q. When lockdown restrictions were eased, the Art School was committed to re-opening its studios and facilities to allow students to resume hands-on practice. What measures did teaching and facilities staff put in place to ensure the health and safety of students and staff? 

A. The Art School manifested their commitment to get the students on site before any other art institution, their actions acknowledged how tactile all courses and learning is. It was done so with maximum effort to introduce an efficient and well throughout health and safety contingency plan. They knew what it meant to get us back into the workshops and studios and did so without taking risks, before any other art school even discussed reopening. Masks, testing, one way routes, workshop time slots, limitation to numbers in a single space…we all had a quiz to pass and updates to keep up with. Clear and simple communication, open question and answer zoom sessions ensured there’s no second guessing to minimise anxiety in the age of uncertainty.

Q. How did students react, was this a robust and proactive response to the pandemic?

A. Due to the transparency and openness of the process, everyone felt part of the decision making and was able to make a shift between taking it personally and as a collective experience. We were pleased to see students supporting each other through various zoom socials, with quiz nights, yoga and even studio visits from bedrooms! Students were mature and patient with the efforts due to the transparency and communication of the school. Questions and requests were addressed with care, precision and honesty.

Q. The pandemic has had an enormous impact on the mental health of students across the country. How did the Art School make efforts to prioritise student wellbeing?

A. The Art School Pastoral care provided one to one zoom sessions and an investment in a well researched ‘Talk Campus’ app meant all students could connect with peers and professionals. The goal achieved was to provide mental health support 24/7.

Q. In your opinion, what is the most significant change the Art School has made in response to student feedback whilst you’ve been in the role?

A. Wellbeing investment, forming of diversity and equality group, revising curriculum – and proactive changes to the west centric art history. Extended summer term for practical studio use with technical support availability throughout, across workshops. Physical exhibitions instead of digital online presence alone. The Art School also made showcases for each graduating year.

Q. Which of your achievements as Co-Chair of Students are you most proud of and why?

A. We feel humbled for being able to be part of the Art School beyond our MA graduations. To have been there for students, staff and each other at such an incredibly vulnerable and monumental time of change has enriched us in every way. We can’t wholly express how impressive the students, Principal, Heads of Department and trustees have been in working together and supporting each other throughout the hardships.

Q. What are the two most important skills you’ve developed through doing this role?

A. Being objective whilst empathetic. There’s so many different perspectives to problem solving, and it comes down to compromise and understanding from all parties.

Q. Tell us about the work you’ve made in your Art School studio during the residency. Which of the Art School’s specialist facilities have had most impact on your work?

A. During our residency we have gone between home-makeshift studios and the Art School. We have engaged in a series of works which encompass the sincerity of the times and experiences we’ve lived through and continue to do so. For both of us the process of making in the print room, glass, foundry and wood workshops merged with the homecooked pigment recipes, foraged and recycled materials.

We both have sculptural practices informed by materiality and the resonance of each has led to an ongoing collaboration with each-other. Exploring the fluidity between nature, human and the universe means Jyoti’s ‘Cosmos in my luggage’ has merged with Ema’s ‘We are the Universe’.

Q. What piece of advice would you like to pass on to the future Chairs of Students?

A. You are part of a team, so don’t feel like you need to be in full control. Circumstances and opinions can vary and change as we navigate through the current climate, don’t forget you are not super-human.

Q. What are your future plans when your term as Co-Chair of Students has ended?

A. We will be continuing to  develop as a collaborative Artist duo, alongside our individual practices. Sharing the role has redefined new pathways to explore. Sequences of this new body of work ‘Honouring Sensibilities’, 2021 is featured in the images, others will be featured at the Art School in October. Stay tuned to find out about upcoming residencies and exhibitions!

‘Honouring Sensibilities’, 2021 – Variety of environment and scale allows us to witness the commonality of human experience and observe its resonance in the process of material behaviour.

You can see more of Ema and Jyoti’s work in the online 2020 MA Fine Art Graduate Showcase.

The City & Guilds of London Art School is seeking applications for a sessional tutor and specialist in book conservation for its thriving Conservation Department.

We are inviting applications from experienced book conservators to contribute to the delivery of the newly established Books & Paper Conservation BA and MA awards. In 2020, the Art School was successful in achieving funding to enlarge the longstanding Conservation Department, doubling its size and adding books & paper conservation to run in parallel with conservation of cultural artefacts made of stone, wood and objects with decorative surfaces. With the support of industry experts from the Tate, National Archives, Fitzwilliam Museum and College of Arms, amongst others, we have created courses that fully explore the depth of both practical and theoretical knowledge and skills necessary for professional practice, and are proud to already be working with leading experts on the delivery of our 1st year of the BA course. This short film gives an overview of our Conservation Department and courses.


The Art School has a particular focus on skills-based teaching and a commitment to cultivate knowledge and curiosity in both the historical and contemporary contexts of our subjects. We are seeking conservators who can actively and positively engage in and contribute to the Art School’s community and join us in our mission.

You will be an active practitioner with an excellent level of skills and knowledge in book conservation.  Some experience of teaching at BA and/or MA levels will be an advantage, as well as the ability to engage with students from a wide range of backgrounds.


The post would involve approximately 30 days teaching per year, during term time, with some flexibility. The main purposes of the post are:

  • – to deliver the book conservation units to students across levels 4-7.
  • – to be part of the teaching team, providing up-to-date knowledge, expertise and experience of professional practice in Book Conservation.
  • – to work in collaboration with the Conservation team to support students working towards a range of progression outcomes.
  • – to participate in assessment and attend meetings and working groups within the Art School.


To apply for the position, please download the Job Description, Person Specification and Application Form via the links below and email the Application Form to

Job Description

Person Specification

Application Form

Application Deadline: Sunday 27th June 2021, midnight

If you have queries, please contact us at


This week, the MA Art & Material Histories course was lucky enough to host a talk by the electroacoustic musician and composer Erik Nyström. Nyström’s output includes live computer music, fixed-media acousmatic composition and sound installations.

Nyström’s recent piece ‘Intra-action’ takes its title from the new materialist Baradian concept that proposes that agency is not an inherent property of an individual, but a dynamism of forces in which all designated ‘things’ are constantly exchanging and diffracting, influencing and working inseparably. (Barad, 2007, p. 141)

Writing algorithms and employing artificial intelligences, Nyström’s complex compositions produce intricate textures that build into electroacoustic ecosystems that intra-act with the physical world. He describes his work as synthetic and acousmatic, where code-born sounds disturb and become distributed throughout actual space and experience.

Much of the new materialist and post-humanist thinking guiding Nyström’s work also directs the research outcomes of the MA Art & Material Histories course, and it was fascinating to discuss with Erik how acoustic and material aesthetics might converge and differ.

The Art & Material Histories course is multidisciplinary by nature, and a number of the MA Art & Material Histories students this year are exploring sound in different ways; Erik Nyström’s brilliant lecture will certainly help to shape their work and thinking.

Many thanks to Erik for an inspiring and educational introduction to your work and its theoretical territories.

Some of Nystrom’s recent international appearances include Ars Electronica Festival 2019 (Linz, Austria), NEXT Festival 2019 (Bratislava, Slovakia), Influx 2019 (Brussels, Belgium), BEAST FEaST 2019 (Birmingham, UK). During 2019 he participated in CECIA (Collaborative Electroacoustic Composition with Intelligent Agents), a collaborative AI-driven composition project hosted by ZKM (Karlsruhe, Germany). His music has been released by the Canadian label empreintes DIGITALes, and he has published articles in Organised Sound and EContact! and presented research at conferences such as International Computer Music Conference, New Instruments for Musical Expression and Beyond Humanism Conference. He is a Lecturer in Music at City, University of London.

Watch Nyström perform his work Intra-action here and listen to other examples of Nystrom’s work here.

See the 2014 collaboration between Erik Nystrom and the MA Art & Material Histories course leader Tom Groves here.


To celebrate World Book Night 2021, the Art School’s Librarian, Harriet Lam, put her head together with Heads of Department and Tutors across our courses, to pick out a selection of some of the most inspiring and indispensable books from the library’s diverse collection.

Here are just some of the Art School’s essential reads…

Contemporary theory of conservation, by Salvador Munoz-Vinas (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2005)

One of best introductions to conservation, insightful and imaginative. This book sets the stage for students who are starting training in conservation covering such important topics as philosophy and ethics in contemporary conservation.” Dr Marina Sokhan, Head of Conservation

I attended a workshop with Munoz Vinas after he published his book, which was tremendous, discussing the concept of authenticity as tautology. ‘An authentic what…?’ An altered and restored object is entirely authentic, inasmuch it is an altered and restored object.” Gerry Alabone, Frames and Wood Conservation Tutor

The eyes of the skin: architecture and the senses, by Juhani Pallasmaa (Chichester: Wiley, 2012)

Thinking through painting: reflexivity and agency beyond the canvas, edited by Isabelle Graw, Daniel Birnbaum, Nikolaus Hirsch (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012)

I like it when a little book is packed with more than its size suggest, both these books fit into that space. The discussions around the haptic activities of making, and the potential or fact that the tradition of the hands-on activity of thinking through making retains its position to make extraordinary things happen, resonate with me and is evidenced in the outcomes in the Art School studios…Robin Mason, Head of Fine Art

Modern practical masonry, by Edmund George Warland (Shaftesbury: Donhead, 2006)

“The stonemasons’ bible. No one considering a career in working with stone should be without this on their book shelf.” Heather Newton ACR, Head of Historic Carving

The organic chemistry of museum objects, by John Mills and Raymond White (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1999)

A ‘must have’ book for a Conservation Department and any training conservation course that deals with such a diversity of materials as stone and paper and leather.Dr Marina Sokhan, Head of Conservation

Written by two eminent chemists who present the information in a substantive and very accessible way that made the content of great value for conservators. Though the authors worked at the National Gallery, the book covers a wide range of materials and object types.Jennifer Dinsmore, Stone Conservation Tutor

Vibrant matter: a political ecology of things, by Jane Bennett (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010)

Required reading for anyone interested in New Materialist thinking.” Dr Matthew Rowe, Art Histories Tutor

Whitechapel: Documents of contemporary art series (London: Whitechapel Gallery, 2006-)

“I would always recommend the Whitechapel: Documents of contemporary art series books for anyone interested in, and wanting to explore, the subject.” Dr Matthew Rowe, Art Histories Tutor

About modern art: critical essays, 1948-96, by David Sylvester (London: Chatto & Windus, 1996.)

“This has been my go-to tome of art criticism. It inspired me to go back to art school for my MA, after a 20-year gap from my undergraduate degree, and led to the basis of my MA dissertation.” Hugh Mendes, Fine Art Tutor

Pigment compendium, by Nicholas Eastaugh, Valentine Walsh, Tracey Chaplin, and Ruth Siddall (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2008)

An incredibly useful reference work, the only book of its kind to have so much information about pigments all in one place, including their history, chemistry, use and how to identify them under the microscope.Dr Tracey Chaplin, Conservation Science Tutor

A comprehensive account of pigments and their identification with a wealth of information that introduces students to polychrome surfaces.” Dr Marina Sokhan, Head of Conservation

The Art School’s library is an essential facility for all students at the Art School, supporting all academic programmes with visual and textual research materials. As well as accessing the library’s broad collection of books, journals and DVDs, students are taught research and referencing skills through regular workshops led by Librarian Harriet Lam.

Head of Conservation, Dr Marina Sokhan, and Art Histories Tutor, Dr Michael Paraskos, are speaking at a webinar organised by Imperial College London as part of its ‘Science & Engineering Research for Cultural Heritage’ series.

Entitled ‘Laser Cleaning in Conservation / Historic Artefacts: when do you want it?’, the webinar will feature two twenty minute presentations followed by a Q&A session, with audience members invited to submit questions in advance.

Dr Marina Sokhan will host the first presentation, discussing the use of lasers to clean historic buildings and sculpture during conservation treatment. The second presentation, led by Dr Michael Paraskos, will explore how the cleaning of artefacts can obscure the real history and original nature of those buildings and sculpture.

The free webinar takes place on Thursday 13 May at 2pm. To book your place and pre-register a question, click here.

Dr Marina Sokhan is the Head of the Art School’s renowned Conservation Department, which specialises in the conservation of Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces, and Books & Paper. Dr Michael Paraskos lectures on the history of British architecture on the Art School’s Historic Carving and Conservation courses.





Master Carver, Tim Crawley, who trained at the Art School from 1979 and was Head of Historic Carving from 2012 to 2020, has been commissioned to create a heraldic sculptural scheme featuring two bronze lamp standards to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

Representing the monarch’s “guiding light”, the pair of lamp standards are a gift from Parliament to the Queen and will be funded by MPs and Peers.

Tim commented: “Naturally, I was delighted to win this prestigious commission, which celebrates such an important national event, and delighted also  to be entrusted to add something new to this iconic building. Working within the Palace is a privilege, and I answer to a small group of Lords and MPs, including Mr Speaker, which is a unique experience.”

The commissioning committee selected Tim’s traditional, Pugin-esque design which includes sculptures of the heraldic beasts of Great Britain and other royal symbols around the base of the standards. The lanterns themselves reflect the shape of St Edward’s Crown.

Explaining the design and making process of the lamps, Tim said: “The competition brief cited the much-loved Dolphin Lamps that line the Embankment as a possible inspiration for the commission, and I designed several options based on this concept for consideration by the committee. My preferred design was a contemporary take on the Gothic and heraldic language of the Palace of Westminster, but the committee chose an option that more closely referenced Pugin’s medievalism. Pugin produced several elaborate lamp standards for the Palace which are significant examples of decorative sculpture and these influenced the way I developed my designs.

“This is the largest bronze commission I have yet undertaken and I will be working closely with the long-established Morris Singer Foundry.  Although most of my work is in stone, I spend a lot of my time modelling as a way of developing my ideas in three dimensions, making plaster casts from the models as reference for carving, so my normal way of working transfers easily into the use of bronze.  Morris Singer will cast my full-size models hollow, using the lost wax technique. I will also be working with William Sugg & Co, who specialise in heritage lighting schemes often involving the traditional gas lighting that can still be found at Westminster.”

The lamps will be positioned atop the staircase leading to the fountain in New Palace Yard at the Palace of Westminster, built to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, and it is hoped that the Queen will visit the statues next year as part of the planned celebrations.

The installation of the lamps follows a tradition of marking the reign of a monarch in such a way. Five lamps erected to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond and Golden Jubilees can be seen around the country and are now listed structures.

The Art School congratulates Tim on this historic commission and we look forward to seeing the completed sculptures when they are installed at the Palace of Westminster next year.

Follow the links to find out more about our renowned undergraduate and postgraduate courses in woodcarving and gilding and architectural stone carving.

Over a series of hands-on workshops, some delivered online during Lockdown and more recently in the Art School’s Conservation studios, first year students on our BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone Wood & Decorative Surfaces course, have been learning the historic craft skills of gilding and verre églomisé.

Led by our expert Gilding Tutor, Rian Kanduth, students have been practising the complex processes involved in this popular decorative technique, learning the materials, tools and formulas used by makers throughout history.

Students were taught both water gilding and oil gilding techniques, as well as verre églomisé. Water gilding involves the use of gesso and bole to adhere the gold leaf to the surface of the object, whereas adhesive oil primers are used in the oil gilding process. Verre églomisé is the practice of etching onto gilt glass. These traditional processes have been used to augment frames, furniture, decorative objects and buildings for thousands of years and understanding the historic techniques and materials used is imperative for our future conservators.

First year Books & Paper students have recently completed a five-day box making workshop led by Books Conservation Tutor, Bridget Mitchell. 

Over the course of the five days, students learnt how to make different types of protective enclosures, or boxes, to support the conservation and preservation of historic manuscripts and books.

Students first learnt how to measure a book using a variety of equipment and techniques. This enabled them to go on and learn how to make a two piece, four-flap folder. This preservation enclosure forms the basic pattern for further, more complex enclosure designs.

During the workshop, students completed: a phase box with buttons and ties for the protection and constraint of volumes with parchment textblocks and covers; a pamphlet case, for the support of thin volumes that are required to be kept on the bookshelf individually; and a book shoe, an enclosure designed to prevent “textblock drag” in volumes stored upright on shelves in historic libraries.

The last three days of the week were spent learning to make a double wall construction, cloth covered, drop-spine box for the long-term protection of rare books and manuscripts – a complex box that provides the highest level of protection and support for historic volumes.

Elaine Wilson, who sadly passed away on the 3rd of April 2021 has been a colleague and friend since the late 1980’s. We first met as visiting artists at City & Guilds of London Art School under the Principal Sir Roger de Grey and for at least the last 20 years plus as regular members of the fine art team of tutors. Elaine has been a significant part of the evolution and realisation of the Fine Art department’s success story, which sees our alumni positioned amongst the best graduates from other leading fine art courses.

Over the recent years the attributes that made Elaine who she was came to the forefront as she bravely battled and fought the knock backs, which the cancer that eventually took her life threw at her. Her strength, humour, creativity, knowledge and constant caring nature, despite all the difficulties, shone through brightly over these last two and a half years. Always at the start and end of any conversations about timetabling for the next term was her desire to support the students and the fine art team of tutors and technicians, working as a team, working to give the best and get the best out of the students. “I’m really sorry about this Robin” she’d often say when she had to attend meetings with specialists or undertake chemotherapy. Her drive to overcome her situation and to be in the studios or running a workshop enabled and allowed her to share her vast knowledge of materials, processes and subject in a caring way, using humour and skill to ease any anxieties the students might be experiencing.

Elaine initially studied BA Sculpture at Duncan of Jordanstone School of Art in Dundee followed by an MA at the Royal Academy Schools where she was awarded the RA Gold Medal.

During a 3 month residency at the European Ceramic Work Centre in Holland, Elaine explored and challenged the socio-politics of femininity in relation to the traditions of ceramic ornamentation. The residency spawned several solo exhibitions at the Hatton Gallery, Globe Gallery Newcastle, Bath Spa University and Gift Vyner St. Gallery, London. She also received awards from the Arts Council, Art Editions North and the Hope Scott Trust to produce a monograph of her work ‘Mirror.’

Elaine was regularly an invited artist in group exhibitions and symposiums and featured in the publication New Directions in Ceramics-From Spectacle to Trace examining innovation, critical and cultural contexts in contemporary ceramics. Although largely feminist in concept, her engagement with more philosophical debates of self-reflection and ‘otherness’ is reflected in the large sculpture, ‘Seeing Myself Seeing’ exhibited in her solo exhibition ‘Spoiled’ at the Hatton gallery.

In her solo exhibition at Arthouse 1 Gallery in 2019, Elaine introduced a new body of work, ‘Corps-A-Corps’, watchtowers constructed from steel and ceramics, exploring themes around body, vigilance, combat and the gendered vision of power and control. The buildings atop of the towers sourced from different cultures of the world. This Exhibition opened shortly after Elaine

had her diagnosis and through the last few years of her life there have been many events: ‘me too’, ‘black lives matter’, Brexit and a world pandemic that has brought out of the dark many of the issues addressed or raised by Elaine’s body of work. Reflecting on aspects of power structures that have been in place for oppressive control, this body of work in many ways foretold and has witnessed the unfolding of many of the things that Elaine cared about and was worried about. She found a language to speak about the unspeakable, to raise the subjects that are uncomfortable and to start discussions about awareness and the need for change.

Leaving her many students, good friends and colleagues both at City & Guilds of London Art School and Kingston University where she also worked as Senior Technician in Ceramics, we are lonelier and sadder than we were a short while ago, but I hope stronger and more positive, because of the way she was.”

Robin Mason (Head of Fine Art, City & Guilds of London Art School)

If you would like to make a donation Elaine’s chosen charity was: The Princess Alice Hospice

A book of remembrance will shortly be available in the Art School Foyer students and staff who would like to sign it and send a message to Elaine’s family,  it will be posted to them at the end of the month.

Explore more of Elaine’s work:

Bill Chalmers @bill_chalmers has just completed the first two modules on the Foundation Diploma during which students explore and test a range of disciplines and are supported to work towards specialising in their chosen direction. We asked him about the influences, ideas and process of his recent work.

What have you been working on recently?

Two of the most recent projects I’ve been working on are called ‘Misfits’ and ‘Tea Party’. They are going to be part of a series of three pieces of work that are based on childhood fantasies.

Tell us more about the ideas you explore in these pieces

I think that as a child you have an unfiltered outlook on life, which is particularly relevant to gender. It’s interesting how early we have the standards of gender imposed on us. It begins with colours (pink for a girl and blue for a boy) and then often propagated throughout our childhood by the toys we are given.

As I look back on my childhood, I seem to remember not feeling confined by gender restrictions. I would dance when I wanted to, to the music I wanted, wearing what I wanted. But when the teenage years hit, it was easier to conform in order to fit in with others.

In these pieces of work, I wanted to transport back to my childhood and claim a bit of that seven-year-old attitude. Each piece is based on something I used to do or play with as a child. And so, they each involve an element of participation from the audience because I want the people who look at it and interact with it to also have that reintroduction to childhood games but in a very different context.

What inspired your work ‘Misfits’?

‘Misfits’ is based on a card game, which has also taken the form of a book or more recently a digital game, in which you have a selection of characters each split up into hats, heads, torsos, legs. The aim of the game is to combine cards to create different characters. I was thinking about how some children would like to put all the cards together with their same character’s cards, while others would create mutant horrors, and I thought this might be quite an interesting experiment to run with an adult audience.

My version of the game is just shy of life-sized because I wanted the audience to feel like they are creating a real person when they are mixing the panels around – so when the panels are aligned the painting almost starts to breath.

What is the significance of the three characters you’ve focused on?

The three characters in my work represent the ideals of masculinity and femininity that I was surrounded by when I was young. I have represented a ‘power suit’, the armour of the ‘default man’ (as Grayson Perry would describe it). This is one of my father’s suits, the uniform he would put on for a corporate day out. To me as a child, this was both the representation of what a man should be but also where I thought I was inevitably going to end up.

On the other side is one of my mother’s dresses. To me this dress represented an aspect of women’s clothing that was ever out of reach, the area of the Venn diagram that doesn’t overlap. Although I didn’t necessarily wish I could wear  one, because they seem so impractical, dresses were just so much more fun and beautiful than anything I was allowed to wear.

And then finally, in the other option is where I find myself sitting most comfortably in the world of clothes.

I debated a lot over the decision to have just one head in the painting. I decided to go with one head rather than three so that I was showing one person who had three options and to also encourage the audience to swap the panels around. So ultimately this is a Bill-centred version of Misfits.

How did the game format of the piece affect the material process?

To make the Misfits game work, the seven canvases all needed to be quite specific sizes in relation to each other and I eventually had to get custom stretchers to make the canvases, which took about a month to arrive. But this splitting up of the canvases does make the painting easier to make in such a small space and easier to carry around as well.

I also added handles to each of the canvases (other than the head) so the audience would know intuitively that they were able to move the canvases without being told what to do. I’m interested to see how the audience interacts with the piece when it’s exhibited.

Can you describe the painting process you used on this piece?

I wanted the style of painting of the fabric clothes and the skin to be different, similar to a John Singer Sargent painting. I decided to paint the flesh tones in a number of glazes working up from a green underpainting. I chose this process because I wanted the figure in the painting to be reminiscent of renaissance figure painting which used the same technique. This was the first time I had attempted this process and it came with its challenges. Each glaze takes a day to dry so I had to have a routine of doing one glaze each morning and then moving on to different areas of the painting. However, I think this process actually sped up my painting process because each mark I was making wasn’t removing the one that was underneath but adding to it.

For the fabrics, which I wanted to have a more modern flattened feel, I painted them almost entirely in acrylic and only added a few blending finishing touches right at the end in oil. I find the quick drying nature of acrylic frustrating when trying to achieve smooth blends. So I approached acrylic like a relief woodblock print. I started by painting the entire area in the darkest tone of the darkest shadow and then gradually made the area I was painting smaller as I lightened the tone and increased the vibrancy of the colour. So the way I was painting was sort of like doing a relief woodblock print up with about 20 different layers. I admit this isn’t the most economical way of painting, but it worked for me and meant I was always able to have a template to work from for my next layer of paint.


Tell us about your second piece titled ‘Tea Party’

‘Tea Party’ is the second in the childhood fantasies project and is also a response to how I have been taking lockdown. I made this about three months into the current lockdown when I found myself really missing a night out and so I thought about what I would have done when I was a younger to remedy the situation. As a child I would have played pretend so I thought I would have a tea party but instead of a tea set I would use a fake set of alcoholic drinks.

I originally didn’t intend on making the tea set models myself, but it turns out you cannot buy children’s toys in the shape of alcoholic drinks, so I made the set from pieces of firewood using a laith. When I was younger, my Dad taught me how to use various woodworking tools and the laith was the one that I was drawn to the most. It only took one broken model for me to remember the best way to do it. After sanding the models, I finished them with the same oil that I use to thin my paint.

What were your main influences in this piece?

The outcome of this project was a film of me having a tea party with some teddies. I took inspiration from the 1972 living sculpture ‘Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk’ by Gilbert & George, which is an almost surreal film about the behaviour expected of us in social situations. I also wanted to use Van Gogh’s ‘The Potato Eaters’ as the reference point for the set that I made for this scene.

Foundation Tutor Gareth Brookes recommended some films to watch as research which helped with the style choices, but other than that I wanted to try and make this without any knowledge of how to make a film. I think there is a lot of value in naïve art making, as I have no fear of failure, and that is what I was trying to exploit when making this film.

I am really pleased with the general sense of insanity that comes across in this piece. I think the combination of the repetitive music and deadpan delivery gives anyone who watches the same sense of desperation I felt when filming it. I suppose this film blurs the lines between documentary and fiction. Like the whole of this series of work, it is meant to address a fairly serious experience but in a tongue-in-cheek way. It is meant to be slightly absurd but also scarily real, after all this was easily my best night out during the lockdown.

Will this work influence the direction of your practice?

Making this film has opened up a new direction for my art to go in and made me think about my choice of media more clearly. The final project in this series of three is going to be a sculptural interactive painting that links to both of these two projects. This will be my final project on the Foundation Diploma and should take the whole of this summer term.


Photos courtesy of Bill Chalmers @bill_chalmers

Tutor, Joel Hopkinson, has been supporting first year students on our BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces course, to learn the conventions and develop the skills involved in technical drawing.

The iterative process of drawing is the visual language of design, the realisation of mental drafting, outlining the intended constructive manifestation of ideas. Technical drawing constitutes the clear use of a vocabulary to communicate intention and ideas with legible precision.

This module aims to equip students with a fundamental conversancy with and grasp of, the rudiments and conventions of the field. Through the course of the module, students will develop ideas and learn how to convey them by producing a set of technical drawings made to depict an object of their choosing.

When they have completed their final drawings at the end of the module, they’ll discuss and evaluate their work as a group, taking out learning points as a conclusion to the course.


One of the modules studied by first year students on our BA (Hons) Conservation: Books & Paper course, looks at developing observational drawing skills and understanding the historic drawing processes involved in making medieval illuminated manuscripts, essential knowledge for the conservator’s tool kit.

Throughout the module, students were introduced to a range of drawing techniques by tutor Sarah Davis. The first seven sessions were held online with the students being led through the fundamentals of observational drawing. Starting with measuring techniques and moving on to light, shade and shadow.

As well as enhancing their observational skills they were able to really get a feel for the materials at work when an artist is drawing, which is invaluable for their work as conservators.

With the easing of restrictions, we were able to hold some of the sessions at the Art School. By this point we were focusing on manuscript drawing and the tools and techniques the Medieval miniaturist would have used to create an image.

From preparing Vellum for use, to creating underdrawings and inking over, the students were able to peel back layers of history to better understand the complicated process involved.




In this joinery workshop, part of the Historic Crafts module, first year students on the BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces course investigated four joints which have been widely used by joiners and cabinet makers for centuries. The mortice and tenon being probably the oldest and most widely used, followed by dovetails, bridle joint and mitred half lap.

Tutor Peter Bennett took the students through some chisel sharpening techniques and demonstrated basic sawing techniques. The students then went on to produce a frame from softwood with each of these different  joints at each corner.

Understanding these historic craft skills will be crucial to the future conservators when treating wooden frames and many types of furniture.

What do Indian Yellow, Bohemian Terre Verte and Dragon’s Blood all have in common? Although they sound like they could be ingredients used by one of J K Rowling’s characters, they are in fact all historic pigments recently uncovered by MA Art & Material Histories student Sabine Pinon, in the expansive archive of L.Cornelissen & Son, the celebrated art materials emporium on Great Russell Street near The British Museum. As part of her research on the MA in Art & Material Histories, Sabine has been assisting with an audit of the shop’s archives, which has been accumulating in their storage facility for over 100 years.

Sabine Pinon is passionate about art materials, and in particular pigment, having spent a large part of her working life surrounded by them in the art supply centres she owns in Australia. What started out as inquisitiveness about the materials she was selling to her customers, developed into years of research into art’s materials, their origins and their use.

Sabine’s fascinating blog documenting her research, In Bed with Mona Lisa, is an ever expanding “resource centre” about the materials and tools used by artists today. From charcoal to oil sticks, from gouache to acrylic and vinyl paints, and from coloured pencils to brushes, Sabine has explored it.  As well as spending a lot of time reading about materials, her research has taken her around the world visiting and interviewing artisan manufacturers, shedding light on the often traditional production processes involved.

A large portion of her research concerns pigment and she has written extensively on the subject. In fact, she is in the process of writing a comprehensive book based on her research ‘Hues in Tubes and How They Made a Name for Themselves’. Her work examines the different types of pigment (organic or inorganic, historic or modern), their sources, their use, their history and their future. Part of her research on the MA in Art & Material Histories involves analysing the structure and shape of pigment particles under the microscope and exploring how the tiniest of changes in the shape of the particle affects the hue that we see. With the support of Dr Tracey Chaplin, Conservation Tutor at the Art School and expert in microscopy and technical examination, Sabine is recording and charting the precise molecular shape of up to 100 historic pigments.

Sabine started working with Cornelissen after contacting Lucy Mayes, founder of London Pigment, as part of her Masters research. An artist and pigment-maker, Lucy also works at Cornelissen and invited Sabine to assist in an exploration of the dusty archive which holds some fascinating historical pieces. Whilst cataloguing the archive’s contents, Sabine unearthed pigments she hadn’t come across before – some rare and valuable:  two balls of Indian Yellow, a pigment supposedly made from the urine of cows or yaks force-fed mango leaves, that hasn’t been produced since 1904; Frankfurt Black, made from roasted wood, vine, or vegetable matter; French Vermillion, originally made from the powdered mineral cinnabar.

And it’s not just jars of pigment Sabine is uncovering. Cornelissen sources, processes and packs more than 100 pigments, as well as other art materials, from all over the world, and Sabine came across a copy of a letter that gives a fascinating insight into how they source Isinglass, a fish-based glue used since medieval times with pigment and gold leaf. The letter, sent to a caviar farm in Kyzylbalyk, Kazakhastan, asked if they may be able to provide the gelatine from the inner membrane of the Sturgeon’s air bladder in order to make this specialist adhesive.

Describing the MA in Art & Material Histories and how the course is challenging her research practice, Sabine said:  “I love we have input from so many angles and get to discuss and think about our materials in so many different contexts: historical, philosophical, curatorial, personal, with practising artists, and of course, with hands-on elements. This is an incredibly nourishing experience opening new vistas onto even sometimes well-known fields… exciting!”

Sabine is planning to return to the audit of Cornelissen’s archive after the current Lockdown restrictions are lifted, resume microscopy research into the particles of historic pigments and interview pigment specialists including Onya MaCausland and Keith Edwards. She will also be working towards a presentation of her research at the Art School Show.


In response to the lockdown measures in place since Christmas, the Foundation teaching team have developed ways to support students online during the Developing Specialist Practice module of the Diploma. Online tutorials, one-to-ones and group discussions are taking place and students are progressing their individual work with their tutors. In addition, students have been given a series of one-day Lockdown Projects, specifically designed around the current restricted circumstances, to challenge and inspire students. Space Invader was the first Lockdown Project to be completed.

The Space Invader Lockdown Project is designed to introduce a range of possibilities in the making and purposes of drawing, exploring drawing as a process, and looking and thinking about what drawing can be. The project encourages students to consider ways of thinking about the abdication of control and how this process relates to drawing, and it gives them experience with various unconventional tools and procedures used for making drawings. The project also promotes independent learning and problem-solving within the context of specialist practice.

The project brief was to examine space as a subject to map, in particular the space they currently live in. They were asked to respond to the space by mapping and exploring the architecture and objects in it, and thinking about how they use the space, how they move around it and its sounds.

The Lockdown Projects are divided into two sections, with preparatory work carried out in the morning and the main task completed by the end of the afternoon. For the Space Invader project, morning tasks included drawing a floor plan, drawing your heart beat and drawing the sounds that can be heard from where they are sitting. The main task was to produce a small installation mapping their space and interpreting their environment, using simple materials and equipment such as pencils, marker pens, adhesive tape and string.

Inspiration is provided by studying the work of a long list of artists including Katie Holland Lewis, John Cage, Gabriel Orozco, Pierre Bismuth, who have all developed their own responses to mapping spaces.

As well as working towards the final outcome, students are asked to document their studio work development including ideas, plans, influences, processes and techniques.

The students’ responses to the brief include models, painting, installation, video, drawing and sculpture. Here is a selection of their work.





  1. Abstract Painting Map of Room, Isabella Abbott
  2. Installation, Ava Silvey
  3. Sounds of Bin Men, Bird Calls and Cars, Malaya Loney
  4. Heat Map of my Room, Gabrielle Zemsky
  5. Mapping Out Light POV My Chair, Sophia Kenna
  6. Model of Map of Study, Katherine Tomiak
  7. Everything I Touched in a Day of Quarantine Mapped, Maddie Halil
  8. Caterpillar Map, Zoe Irons
  9. Trainer Deconstructed, Jack Bell

‘Journey of the Magi to Bethlehem’ by Benozzo Grozzoli, modelled by Historic Carving 2nd year students Morgan Edwards, Ewan Craig, Roya Bahram, Imogen Long, Emma Sheridan and Steffan Lomax.

During the Spring Term, students in the second year of both the stone and wood BA Historic Carving courses, have been working on a collaborative transcription relief project based on ‘Journey of the Magi to Bethlehem’ by Benozzo Grozzoli and ‘Peasant Wedding’ by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

A particularly ambitious project, each student was given one section of the paintings to transcribe into relief in clay. The measurements and proportions of each section had to be completely exact so they could sit together to form the full image – quite a feat considering the students were all working from home and studying online due to Lockdown #3.

‘Peasant Wedding’ by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, modelled by Historic Carving 2nd year students Arielle Francis, Daniel Ponde and Emma Sheridan.

The fact that the students had to transcribe the complex pieces into relief form from a two-dimensional image, rather than a pre-existing relief, made the brief all the more challenging. As well as transcribing the paintings, students were asked to thoroughly research the period and style of the works.

Section of Bruegel’s painting next to Daniel Ponde’s transcription

Supported by Sculpture, Modelling and Casting Tutor, Kim Amis, students had 12 days to model their relief in clay. The process includes carefully making an appropriate wood and wire structure, adding the clay base, transferring the image onto the clay using a pro needle to outline the main shapes, and then developing and modelling the image, planning and sculpting the appropriate depth levels.

Emma Sheridan’s section of ‘Peasant Wedding’ in development

As the project concluded, photographs of each section were positioned together to form a transcription of both the full paintings, with rather impressive results!

Modelling in clay is a key part of the historic processes of carving a relief in either stone or wood – a technique that was used by ancient civilisations and is still prevalent today.

Detail from Daniel Ponde’s relief


We last reported on the activities of students in the first year of BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding before the Christmas break. Due to Lockdown #3 that started after Christmas, the Art School’s facilities have been closed and students have been studying online from home through one-to-ones, tutorials, workshops and lectures.

During the first two weeks of Spring Term, first year Historic Carving students, specialising in both stone carving and woodcarving, focused on developing their drawing skills, and in particular learning how to accurately draw the head by transcribing historic drawings and portrait busts. They were supported on this project by Drawing Studio Manager Diane Magee and Stone Carving Tutor Tom Merrett. We’ve been following the progress of student Paul Flanagan who has been recording his work on his Instagram account @paulflanaganartist. To see previous posts about Paul’s work, click here.

The students’ first task is to carefully set up their home studios with their drawing boards and the copy of the historic drawing they are following, positioned at the correct height and angle to ensure the head can be drawn with complete accuracy. The historic drawings they are copying are by Tintoretto, the Renaissance painter, and the students choose two drawings that depict the head at different angles.


Firstly they make preparatory drawings to get a feel for the images they are going to study. This stage of the drawing process helps students observe their subject in detail, gaining an understanding of the axis and orientation of the head, the major planes, proportions and gesture.  Paul completes one of his preparatory drawings and starts the next transcription, which poses new challenges.

This drawing is trickier. Paul comments that “the axis, angle, direction and weight of the head is very difficult to capture.” 

The next part of the project is to make a transcription of a portrait bust. For this exercise, the students are using single portrait busts that are on display at the V&A. During normal times, students on our Historic Carving courses would be using the Art School’s impressive collection of plaster casts of famous sculpture and carving for this sort of transcription work in their studios. Our precious cast collection has been a crucial resource for students for many years and we are always striving to increase it. In recent years, our collection was boosted with casts acquired from the British Museum, which has ensured that new material has been available for our students to use. These two disgruntled chaps are recent additions to our collection.

Again, the students make preparatory drawings of the portrait bust, examining the bust from different angles to build a complete understanding of this 3D sculpture.

Once they’ve chosen an angle to concentrate on, the students start their sustained drawings. They have to consider the scale of their drawings, the position of the drawing on the paper, the alignment of the features to the axes of the head. They gradually build their drawings through observation and constructive drawing methods, making adjustments as they go.

Paul’s drawing isn’t quite complete but it’s a great transcription of the bust at quite a challenging angle.

The next project the Woodcarving students are working on is lettering – we’ll report on their progress on that piece soon…


Photos courtesy of Paul Flanagan



Foundation Diploma student, Madeleine Halil, recently completed two very different pieces, repurposing everyday objects and materials to create evocative artworks. We asked Madeleine to tell us about the inspiration behind her work ,‘Waste land’ and ‘Cup of tea anyone?’, how she developed her initial ideas and the process involved in creating her final outcomes.  You can see more of Madeleine’s work by following her on Instagram @mads.halil.artwork


“’Waste land’, is a dress made from waste products from the coronavirus pandemic. The glamorous, retro style of the garment jars with the disposable, contemporary material it’s made from, lending a satirical tone to the piece.

The project was kickstarted with research into the Arte Povera movement of the late 60s, which gave me an insight into the breadth of materials available to me and their broad applications. I took a walk on Google Images to create a mood board of different ideas, processes, aesthetics and materials that jumped out to me.

I experimented with different materials, melting plastic together, looking at their textures and colours, and incorporating tinfoil. I manipulated paper and fabric to explore how they would behave, then finally began to sketch ideas of garments I could make from discarded and recycled materials. This was followed with collage and experimentation on the mannequin before finally beginning to assemble the final piece.

Although I had spent time designing and planning the garment, the design developed further during the making process. My original concept was a corset-inspired top, however, I experimented with bubble wrap which I had gathered when creating a collection of materials to work with, and as I began to layer it to create a skirt, I liked the look of extravagance it brought to the work. This set me on a path to develop the piece into a garment inspired by an glamorous ball gown instead of just a top.

Assembling and wearing a mask dress was a challenging process! I wanted to leave the shape of the masks mostly intact so they were recognisable, however they didn’t naturally fit all of the body’s contours and there was no flexibility or stretch in them. With very limited experience in fashion and textiles, I was mostly learning as I went along, with lots of help from the wonderful Foundation Technician Emma Simpson, who guided me through the technical aspects of assembling a garment.

I had definitely underestimated the complexity of getting a garment or material to sit the way I wanted it to. However, it helped to frequently refer back to my model to take measurements and make alterations. I allowed room for trial and error in my plan, so I was able to really explore different directions, which made it a fun process.”









“‘Cup of tea anyone?’, is an exploration of loss and mortality, reflecting on the life of my wonderful Grandad. On each individual tea bag tag are illustrations and questions that make up a waterfall of reflection. For me, the tea references all of those casual moments throughout our lives that we take for granted. I can’t think of one particular conversation over a cup of tea that stands out as particularly different from the rest, however I would give anything to have one more with my Grandad.

I began the process of making ‘Cup of tea anyone?’ by producing a series of mixed media collages, exploring my experiences of loss and grief. This got my ideas flowing and I began to capture the essence of various aspects of my Grandad and his life.

I took a closer look at the imagery that I was working with. I examined more closely how my Grandad’s features and facial expressions could be used to capture his story. This led me to produce a series of illustrations which can be seen on some of the teabags of the final outcome. After looking through lots of my Grandad’s things and material that I had collected for the project, I came across a few handwritten notes and letters. I found stacks and stacks of bonsai magazines, art work and collections of music, which made me begin to contemplate all the knowledge and experiences my Grandad had accumulated throughout his life, and that I had never really asked him about properly.

I found more and more questions that I wish I had the chance to ask as I continued on this journey of reflection.  From here my idea to combine the written word and my illustrations in a final outcome was born.

As is the nature of self-directed study, I experienced quite a few changes of direction with this piece. Originally in the very early stages of the project, I had the idea to look at obsessive documentation. I considered casting some of my Grandad’s possessions, creating a larger sculpture from these components, perhaps a life-sized sculpture of him. However, when working on my mixed media collages, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to do a piece of work of a more multidisciplinary nature. And from this point I decided to explore illustration, written word and sculpture.

In making ‘Cup of tea anyone?’, I came across a few technical challenges. It took many attempts and much consideration to hang the teabags. I originally used string, however this presented limitations. I wanted to have more control over how the form would fill space so decided to use wire instead. The logistics of tying so many individual tea bags was difficult at first! The thread was slipping down the smooth wire and the weight of all of them together was problematic. Double knotting each thread and securing the wire with hot glue inside the teapot proved most effective.

As well as the technical difficulties, I found this a very emotionally-challenging piece to make. I processed a lot of emotion surrounding my own experience of losing my Grandad. However, I think the process was ultimately beneficial for me.”



Photos courtesy of Madeleine Halil @mads.halil.artwork

Whilst the Art School’s facilities are closed due to coronavirus restrictions, we are delivering high quality teaching online, through workshops, 1-to-1s, tutorials and lectures. In a recent set of online Leather and Parchment workshops, part of the Historic Craft module of our BA (Hons) Conservation: Books & Paper, students learnt and carried out the process of making leather and parchment from fish skins.

Studying from home, the students each prepared their fish skins with the support of Book Conservation Tutor Abigail Bainbridge, who demonstrated each of the processes – de-fleshing the skin, de-scaling and de-greasing it, and preparing a tannin solution which is added to during the week.

Abigail recommended using salmon or rainbow trout skins, but the students could experiment with skins from different fish if they wish. To prepare the skins the only tools the students needed were a blunt knife and a chopping board, so easy to find at home. Black or green tea is used to make the tannin, starting off with 3 tea bags and adding more each day to increase the amount of tannin in the water.

De-scaling the fish skin

Massaging the fish skin in soapy water to remove the grease

Once the fish skin had the flesh, scales and grease removed, the students soaked them in the tannin solution. After a day or two, the tannin will soak into the skin and at this point, more tea bags are added. The way to check if more tea bags need to be added is to taste the skin and tea mixture! If it no longer has an astringent taste that tea usually has, it needs more tea bags.

Fish skin after a few days in the tannin solution

Abigail demonstrated how to make parchment by stretching and pinning the treated fish skin on a board and allowing it to dry.

As well as making the fish skin leather and parchment, the students learnt about historic methods to make the material using mammalian skin and looked at their working properties, and how to identify species.

In the second Leather and Parchment workshop, the students massaged coconut or olive oil into their fish skins that have been steeping in the tannin solution during the week, in order to turn it into a flexible, workable leather that can be used to bind books.

To test the leather’s strength, Abigail demonstrated measuring the skin’s shrinkage temperature in a flask of heated water.

Measuring the shrinkage temperature of the skins

Jesse Meyer, a tanner based in the United States, joined the online session and gave the students a tour of his tannery where he works with mammalian hide including goat, cow and sheep from sustainable farms, and described the largely traditional tanning process he undertakes.

Stretching a skin at the Pergamena Tannery

Fish skin leather made by student Tanya Alfille

We were delighted to hear from 2020 BA Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces graduate Katie Smith, that she has recently accepted a role with International Conservation Services (ICS) in Melbourne, Australia.

Katie returned home to Australia following her successful graduation from the Conservation course, through which she was supported by an Endeavour Award from BASET. BASET (The Britain-Australia Society Education Trust) helps deserving young people from Britain and Australia to develop through the power of learning and the opportunity to travel. BASET Award winners return to their home countries to inspire their contemporaries, pass on their newly acquired skills to colleagues and deepen the ties between the two nations.

Katie will join ICS as Conservation Manager, where she will be responsible for team and project management as well as client relationships with ample opportunity to engage in practical work.

I am excited to commence this next chapter of my career, which has been made possible through the support I received from the Art School, it’s tutors, and the Britain-Australia Society.”

We wish Katie the best of luck in her new role. And look forward to hearing how she utilises all she learned during her three years in London studying Conservation at the Art School.

To hear more from our alumni and where they are now click here.

To book onto one of our online Conservation Open Days click here.

To find out more about financial support available to students offered a place on our Conservation courses click here.

Image credit: The Australian, 2019

This week, the MA in Art & Material Histories Course invited Professor Roger Kneebone, the Art School’s first Honorary Fellow, to give a lecture to students from across the whole Art School about the ideas in his new book Expert – Understanding the Path to Mastery, published by Penguin, 2019.

Roger directs the Engagement and Simulation Science course at Imperial College London where he leads a multidisciplinary research team whose aim is to advance human health through medical simulation, collaborating closely with clinicians, scientists, patients, the public and a range of experts in different fields.

For the last 20 years, Roger has been researching what it means to be an expert, not only within medicine and surgery, but any given field. Roger has worked with taxidermists, tailors, puppeteers, racing drivers, artists, magicians, and also several of the Art School’s staff, Master Stone Carvers Paul Jakeman and Nina Bilbey, and Fine Art alumnus Harrison Pearce to develop a fascinating line of enquiry around the mastery of craft and the journey through apprenticeship towards become expert.

Expert taxidermist, Derek Frampton – one of the Experts studied by Professor Kneebone


A workshop bringing experts from different disciplines together, including the Art School’s Senior Stone Carving Tutor Nina Bilbey (R)

In his talk Roger shared his thoughts about further developing his relationship with the Art School:

“I very much hope that I will be able to spend more time in the Art School soon because whenever I come to see what’s going on, I’m astonished by the extraordinary level of not only skill, but of thoughtfulness, creativity and wisdom. The Art School is a shining beacon where everybody understands the critical importance of everything I’ve been talking about today”.

‘Stones and bones’ – the Art School’s Stone Carving Tutor Paul Jakeman (L) compares notes with Orthopaedic  Surgeon, Malik Rasi (R)

We are incredibly grateful to Roger for his brilliant lecture, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming him back into the school when the buildings re-open. His talk was rich and informative, highly entertaining and hugely inspiring and set in motion a series of discussions that will continue long into the academic year.


John Neilson, an accomplished letter carver and visiting tutor on the Historic Carving courses at the Art School, has written a new, beautifully illustrated book about the influential letter carver, Ralph Beyer, who also taught Lettering at the Art School from 1983-1994.  The Inscriptions of Ralph Beyer by John Neilson, is the first major publication that unveils Beyer’s legacy and considers his work in depth.

Ralph Beyer came to live and work in Britain following exile from Nazi Germany. He disrupted the formal traditions of letter carving in stone by introducing a more irregular and expressive style, typified in his best-known work, ‘Tablets of the Word’ in Coventry Cathedral.

The tablets of the word by Ralph Beyer – Andrewrabbott, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons 

His work was influenced by both his childhood in Germany and his life in Britain, absorbing his father’s interest in modern architecture and ‘primitive’ art and in Britain associating with Henry Moore and Nikolaus Pevsner.

Art School Lettering Tutor, Tom Young, who trained at the Art School on the full time Lettering course that ran until 1996, explains how Beyer’s influence is still seen on the Stone Carving course today:

“The course as it exists today is a little different to the one Ralph would have known. Lettering at City & Guilds of London Art School is a part of the Historic Carving course and consequently shares the timetable with a number of other disciplines including stone carving, modelling, and drawing. Because of this, the curriculum focuses on the formal work that will enable students to undertake commissions once they have left the Art School. Two of our visiting tutors, John Neilson and Charlotte Howarth run workshops where the focus is on more expressive work. Charlotte was taught by Ralph when she was a student at the Art School and her reminiscences about that time are included in the book. John, of course, is the author of the book…”

In a post on the Lund Humphries blog, John Neilson reflects on his first introduction to Beyer’s work on a school trip to Coventry Cathedral as a boy, when his work “seemed to me a conscious attempt at fake naivety, and showed a poor understanding of letter design.” John explains that at the age of 14 he was “already very interested in lettering and thought I was something of an expert on the subject.” However, following a rigorous education in calligraphy and historical letterforms in London, he looked upon Beyer’s work with a fresh pair of eyes:

“This immersion in tradition and precision was the best possible grounding, but also made different, fresher approaches seem all the more attractive. Thus I slowly became aware of Ralph Beyer’s carved lettering, and came to see that although his letterforms had little to do with conventional notions of correctness, there was a quality about his inscriptions which set them apart from simply mediocre work and made them extremely interesting. Writing this book has, in part at least, been an attempt to pin down – or at least discuss – what that quality might be.”

The Inscriptions of Ralph Beyer by John Neilson will be available in the Art School library.

On Monday 18 January, Tom Groves, the Art School’s Head of Art Histories and Course Leader of the MA Art & Material Histories, adjudicated a London and South East Regional Heat of the ARTiculation Prize 2021.

ARTiculation is a national public speaking competition which promotes and supports young people to view, think and speak about art, and this year is taking place online for the first time. During the regional heat, hosted by Dulwich Picture Gallery, five pupils from different schools in the region, gave 10-minute presentations on a work of art, architecture or an artefact of their choice.

Following each presentation, Tom was required to ask one question to each student about their interest and, after giving positive critical feedback about each speaker, he announced which two students would go forward to the London Final. At the London Final, one student will be selected to attend the Grand Final, due to take place at the National Gallery on 18 March.

Tom commented: “It was an absolute pleasure to adjudicate one of the ARTiculation regional heats this year. Every one of the presentations I saw was academically outstanding, but they were also nuanced, sensitive and thoughtful in the ways they approached their artworks and found meaning within them. It was also extremely encouraging to see such young people engaging so seriously with art and its socio-political contexts. The ARTiculation Prize platforms and celebrates the very best of our young academic talent.”

ARTiculation is the Roche Court Educational Trust’s internationally acclaimed initiative which champions pupils, aged 16 – 19, regardless of background and experience, enabling them to develop their confidence and ability to express their opinions, thoughts and reactions to the visual world.


Students studying the MA in Art & Material Histories spend around 50% of their time in the studio and workshops, experimenting with materials and creating works that explore their potential for meaning making.

The other 50% of their time is spent researching, in lectures, seminars, tutorials and writing essays and presentations. For these elements of the course our academic tutors provide expert advice and lots of support to ensure all our students meet and often exceed their expectations.

But we are also lucky enough to have the ongoing support of the Royal Literary Fund fellowship scheme, and this year we are delighted to be working with acclaimed and widely published non-fiction writer and poet Kathryn Maris.

Kathryn’s role at the Art School is to work one-to-one with all our students, using her skills and expertise in language and communication to enable them to develop their writing skills. This year Kathryn has worked closely with a number of students on the MA in Art & Material Histories helping them to discover their literary voice and enhance the quality and creative impact of their writing.

Just one term into her fellowship, Kathryn has said how welcome she feels at the Art School and how everyone she has met has been so kind and friendly.

“I have taught across age groups, including universities, for 27 years, but I have rarely felt such an affinity with students. I find their essays fascinating and really care about the subject matter because I have a profound interest in visual art. But there is also something about the culture at City & Guilds of London Art School which I respond to. The students I’ve met have spark, creativity and intelligence, and I have enjoyed working with them all.”


Photo credit: Conor Greenan.

One of the obvious USPs of the MA in Art & Material Histories is the outstanding quality and unparalleled quantity of its teaching. From the start of the course in September, right through to the summer break, students are taught by experienced, engaging academics and artists who explore a wide range of historical and contemporary approaches to thinking about art’s use of materials and our relationship with the material world.

For many students, one of the most exciting elements of the course is taught by Dr Rebecca Sykes who leads a series of all-day lectures and seminars under the title ‘Contemporary Matters’. Through the discussion and analysis of key artworks, Rebecca’s sessions explore how interrogating art’s materials can disrupt the accepted narratives of the history of art and put art in dialogue with other practices and disciples.

Full-time MA student Matilda Sample comments on Rebecca’s sessions: “Learning about materials through the Contemporary Matters lectures was a great start to the course. We discussed the digital and concrete, wax and hair, a variety of materials that brought with them a multiplicity of meanings. It introduced us to the prominence of individual materials within modern and contemporary art, encouraging us to critically engage with materials politically, socially, historically, and culturally, all starting with the question ‘what material is this piece made from?’. Becky’s one-to-one tutorials gave me the confidence to position my own research within the broad spectrum of interpretations and approaches that material histories can include.”

Rebecca Sykes recently completed her doctoral thesis on the artist Andrea Fraser at Birkbeck College. Her research is concerned with the aesthetic and ethico-political registers of institutional critique (with a special emphasis on art discourse); she has a developing research interest in ‘post-critical’ writing methodologies, was winner of the Art & Culture Art Criticism Prize Volume VIII and her writing has appeared in The Burlington Magazine, Photomonitor, and The Arts Desk. Between 2015 and 2017, she was General Editor of Dandelion Journal.


Photograph taken October 2019

The first term of the MA in Art & Material Histories course asks students to investigate the range of contexts that inform our understanding of art’s materials. Lectures and seminars introduce examples of how we might think about materials through an art historical, socio-political, or philosophical lens, whilst one-to-one tutorials and independent research enables our students to critically reflect on their own relationship to particular materials and how the global events of this year have forced us to rethink how we live our lives.

This week, our full time students gave their first assessed presentation, each speaking for 10 minutes on a material or material process of their choice.

Annabelle taught us all about RUST and invited us to consider how we might consider ourselves as corroding and corrosive material things.

Sabine focussed on OCHRE and through the literary device of a love letter, let us into the colourful vicissitudes of her attachments to raw pigments.

Maddie demonstrated how CARDBOARD has become THE material of our age; no longer the ugly twin of paper, cardboard today embodying both the promise and fallout of consumer culture.

Through a particularly powerful performative presentation, Oscar spoke about the illusionary qualities of GLASS; asking us to look AT glass rather than just through it, he reflected on how glass’ apparent transparency lends it to both the creation of beautiful things but also the abuses of State power.

Matilda cut through our preconceived ideas about spilt human blood and the extent to which we ‘naturally’ associate it with danger. Engaging with the work of Julia Kristeva, Elizabeth Grosz and Jean-Luc Nancy, Matilda showed us how the most foreign of foreigners and strangest of strangers might just be pulsing through our veins.

Fascinating, critically underpinned and immensely creative, the students’ presentations marked the end of a hugely successful first term and revealed just how much they have already learnt.

Annabelle Mödlinger joined the course this year after completing a BA (Hons) in Fine Art at Wimbledon UAL.

Her current practice can be described as an investigation into the actual and metaphorical slippages between material processes and lived experience. She asks if it might be possible to think of ourselves as ‘things’ subject to the material processes common to all living and non-living entities.

Recently her research has been focussed around the theme of corrosion and considers if it is possible to think about the corrosion of the self as a kind of ‘rust’, and if so whether our psychic defences can be likened to the destructive yet beautiful patina we find on metal surfaces?

Speaking about the Art & Material Histories MA Annabelle says that “the course has given her time to really think about the things she is interested in as well as creating a platform from which to articulate those things.” She describes her research as a kind of ‘digging’, and the work she does in the studio as a genuine ‘exploration’ of new territory.

Look out for more of Annabelle’s work in the Art & Material Histories MA interim show later in 2021.

New to the Art & Material Histories teaching team this year is Jaimini Patel. Jaimini is an artist and academic whose work explores the agency of matter through a “negotiation of boundaries, systems and performative actions”.

In a recent talk at the Art School, Jaimini introduced us to the kinds of questions that guide her work; ‘How does the time that it takes for bees to make beeswax correlate to the time it takes for a candle to burn? How is the size and shape of a pistachio determined by the range of circumstances that enable its shell to grow and thus how does it represent a measurement of different conceptions of time, which hover outside our comprehension?’.

As well as lecturing, Jaimini spends time talking with our MA A&MH students about their work and ideas. Full-time MA student Maddie Rose Hills tells us that her “tutorial with Jaimini was so, so interesting! She helped me think about presenting my work in a completely new way, working with the characteristics of the exhibition space itself. She also shared great artist recommendations who became a big part of my research.”

For more information about Jaimini’s work see

Roberta De Caro is in her second year as a part time MA Art & Material Histories student. Her current project focuses on parsley, not as an ordinary garnish, but as the little known, but widely practiced abortifacient that produces a tragically high mortality rate.

Revisiting the historical cultural significance of parsley and its symbolic status today as a symbol of abortion rights, Roberta’s timely research focuses on trauma by considering the embodiment of personal and cultural histories in a material and its processes.

Tracing the roots of transgenerational trauma in her own family, Roberta’s research project entitled ‘System Failure’ reveals some of the darker material narratives of our everyday lives.

The Art & Material Histories course was delighted to host Melanie Jackson this week. Melanie spoke about her incredible work, co-authored with Esther Leslie, ‘Deeper in the Pyramid’, a work that sets the standard for the kind of expansive contextual material analyses our students engage in.

We were also incredibly excited to hear about Mel’s recent work, ‘Spekyng Rybawdy’ which is presented at @mattsgallerylondon for a limited time and a book, commissioned by @procreateproject and supported by @aceagrams.


Her wild, animated drawings of carved and cast ‘medieval obscenities’ known as the ‘bawdy badges’, are as radically transgressive today as they were in the time they were made. As well as speaking about the aims and materials within the work, Melanie also gave us an invaluable insight into her conceptual processes describing the accumulation of ideas as akin to the rolling of a giant snow ball.

A huge thank you to Melanie Jackson for her time, generosity and incredibly inspiring talk.


The Foundation Diploma Art & Design is a diagnostic year of experimentation during which students are encouraged to test different materials and processes to find a creative discipline they want to explore further in Higher Education and in their practice. 2020/21 Foundation student Lorelei Bere, has recently completed a piece called ‘Reclaimed Wood’, which is a great example of experimentation, reflection and creative problem solving to find a workable and effective solution.

Most techniques and tools involved in completing this complex project were completely new to Lorelei, and she was supported at every step by the Art School’s specialist workshops and the Technicians that manage them: Foundation Technician, Emma Simpson; Wood Workshop Technician, David MacDiarmid; Glass Workshop Technician, Anne Petters.

Lorelei recorded the making process of ‘Reclaimed Wood’ through a series of photographs, and has kindly given us permission to share them in this blog, describing how she transformed a discarded, rotten sash window into a beautiful artwork. See more of Lorelei’s work: @loreleibere


‘Reclaimed Wood’ explores our love and appreciation of trees and their materials. The piece comprises an original Georgian sash window, found on the street, which Lorelei refurbished and fitted with new glass panes that she etched and sandblasted with three images of a worm’s eye view of trees.

Lorelei says, “‘Reclaimed Wood’ is an ode to trees in which I considered both our dependency on them for all we need – shelter, food and oxygen – as well as the fact that they will always outlast us and have seen it all. It also points to the fact that our appreciation for nature has ironically grown since we have all been forced to sit inside for almost a year and observe it through our windows.”

Lorelei’s work was inspired by walking through her local parks and woodland during Lockdown where she captured the beauty of the trees in a series of photography. When she found the discarded wood-framed window, it seemed the ideal medium for her piece. “I have really appreciated the time to stop and appreciate nature even more so than usual, and have recognised that to be a commonly held feeling. I also knew I wanted to make the most of the Art School’s workshops – especially the glass workshop, which I had been excited by when I went on a tour of the facilities – and so when I found an old Georgian sash window on the street, the two thoughts married together quite naturally.”


Having found the discarded Georgian window frame, Lorelei printed her tree photographs onto acetate and experimented with different compositions to find the effect she wanted to achieve.

Once she had decided which images to use, her next task was to carefully remove the glass panes so she could etch the images onto them. During this delicate process the glass became compromised and replacement glass needed to be cut to size – so the original panes had to be taken out to make way for the new.

When the glass was fully and safely removed, Lorelei was supported in sanding the wooden frames using a large electric sander and then a small Dremel sander for the detail work.

The next challenge arose when the new glass panels Lorelei had cut were too small for the frames. With the support of the David MacDiarmid in the Wood Workshop, she decided to reduce the size of the frame so it would house the panels securely.

To engrave her tree images into the new glass panels, Lorelei sandblasted the back of the panels, creating the effect of depth in the trunks of the trees. Using a Dremel mini drill with a pointed tip, she etched into the front of the glass to make the detail in the leaves.


Once the main panels were etched, Lorelei created glass borders for them. She cut the glass to size and sandblasted alternating pieces so they were frosted. To attach the borders to the central panes of glass, she attached copper tape to the edges on both sides of the panes, and soldered them together. Finally she polished the copper with tiny clumps of wire wool.

Because of the deteriorated state of the Georgian frame, Lorelei had to fix the rotten wood to make it sturdy enough to hold the new panes, and she wanted to achieve this without adding any synthetic materials. She explained, “I wanted the rot to be part of the aesthetic, symbolising the natural, aging elements of the piece, so I didn’t fill it up with two-part filler or putty and instead had to very carefully fit the panes of glass using just the wood, a couple of nails and a framing tool!”

And ‘Reclaimed Wood’ was finished! The ephemeral beauty of the etched glass contrasts with the natural, eroded state of the original wooden frames, both elements reflecting the artist’s appreciation of the significance and importance of trees – the materials they give us, their majestic aesthetic and their centrality in the natural world.

Commenting on the steep learning curve she followed whilst making this piece, Lorelei noted, ” …there are certainly elements from this project that I have rolled into my current one, such as the focus on light. I have also learnt so much about using myriad tools and techniques that I will definitely take with me throughout my future art career!”

Photos courtesy of Lorelei Bere @Loreleibere

It’s during the Autumn and Spring terms that the Art School usually opens its doors to welcome people considering applying to study with us, and allow them to experience first-hand the Art School’s immersive approach to teaching art, historic craft and conservation. And although we undertook extensive health and safety measures to ensure our students could continue small-group tutorials, workshops and studio practice in the Art School’s facilities during the Autumn term, we haven’t been able to hold physical open days due to coronavirus guidelines.

Instead we’ve been offering prospective students the opportunity to find out more about their chosen course by attending an online open day. During an online open day, participants meet the Head of Department, find out more about the course content and can ask any questions they may have.

From December 2020, we also started offering Student Virtual Chats, which give students considering applying to us the chance to chat with current students and find out what it’s really like to study here. Participants can ask our group of students any questions about the application process, our range of courses and the student experience: from the size of the studios or the type of assignments that get set, to what the food in the cafe is like.

Student Virtual Chats take place every Tuesday during term time, 5.30pm-7pm. So far, each session has been well attended and participants have enjoyed lively conversations about what to expect on the courses, gaining authentic insights into studying at the Art School. You can book onto a Student Virtual Chat HERE.

The students who host the virtual chats are studying on a range of our courses and most are in their final year of study so have plenty of experiences and advice to share.


Tina Roe, 3rd year, BA (Hons) Fine Art

Following a Politics degree, a stint working in the Civil Service and a career as a Management Consultant, Tina decided to take a change of direction and embark on a Fine Art degree at the Art School. She was initially interested in painting landscapes and flowers but soon found her practice turning towards making large metal and wood 3D sculptures, which is the current focus of her work. Tina loves all aspects of her course, from spending time in the workshop facilities to attending art history lectures. When she isn’t in her studio, Tina makes sure she spends lots of time with her family, going on long walks and getting lost in a good book!

Tina working on a piece in the Art School’s Metal Workshop

Cody Cochrane, 3rd year, BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces

Before coming to London to study Conservation at the Art School, Cody owned an antiques business in Toronto, Canada, repairing and restoring pieces she collected on buying trips to the Southern United States. The diversity of applied disciplines on the Conservation course is one of the things she enjoys most about her degree – no few days are ever the same! Following graduation, Cody hopes to go on to postgraduate study, specialising in preventive Conservation, and wants to work in the preservation of historic homes and properties. Outside of her studies, she loves nothing more than playing scrabble, collecting house plants and, when it’s allowed, giving her friends a tattoo!

Cody applying gold leaf to the stone crest at Lancaster Place, the headquarters of the Duchy of Lancaster,  on a Summer work placement in 2019

Aysha Nagieva, Foundation Diploma Art & Design, 2018; 3rd year, BA (Hons) Fine Art

Aysha studied Foundation at the Art School and decided to develop her practice further and continue onto the Art School’s BA Fine Art course. She tells us that the outstanding levels of support she has received from tutors and technicians at the Art School has helped her really challenge and extend her practice and develop as an artist. After graduation she wants to continue her practice and explore the world, and will consider a postgraduate Fine Art qualification in the future.  Aysha loves reading and writing and has a passion for true crime podcasts.

Aysha, in her second year, working on a piece in her Art School studio

Louise Davison, 3rd year, BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces

Louise gained a Fine Art degree at UCA Canterbury before coming to the Art School to study Conservation. In her first year on the course, she took part in a study trip to study Urushi (a Japanese lacquer) for two weeks in Japan, and it’s the opportunities to travel and to work on fascinating conservation projects that Louise finds most inspiring about her course. She wants to go on to study MA Conservation at the Art School and looks forward to a global career in conservation. When she gets some spare time, Louise enjoys crafting, DIY and visiting art galleries.

Louise carrying out conservation treatment on a memorial plaque from Kensal Green Cemetery in February 2020

Joanne Grogan, 1st year, BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding

Having worked as a fashion designer for the last twenty years, Jo took the brave decision to make a career change and cultivate new skills on our woodcarving and gilding degree course. Although this has been a huge step for her, she is never happier than when she is in her studio, using the tools she is becoming acquainted with, and learning from master craftspeople. As a creative and hands-on person, Jo unwinds by pursuing her passion for painting and drawing, and when she gets the chance, she spends time in her local park enjoying the great outdoors and admiring passing dogs!

Jo learning to carve an acanthus leaf in the Woodcarving Studio at the Art School during the Autumn term.


To take part in a Student Virtual Chat, register for a place here.

To book onto an online open day, click on a link below:

Historic Carving

BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Architectural Stone

BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding

PgDip/MA Carving

Art Histories

MA Art & Material Histories


Specialising in painting, Thomas Elliott graduated from BA (Hons) Fine Art in 2015. He is currently an in-house sci-fi and fantasy illustrator for Games Workshop. In this short film, Thomas talks about his experience of studying Fine Art at the Art School.


Kate Dunn graduated from MA Fine Art in 2018 and is currently a tutor on the BA (Hons) Fine Art programme at the Art School. In this short film, Kate explains how the individual attention she received from her Fine Art tutors supported her to develop and extend her practice.




It’s the last two weeks of term at the Art School and this is the final instalment for a while, of our student woodcarver’s diary, as we report on the progress of Woodcarving & Gilding student, Paul Flanagan @paulflanaganartist.

You can read our earlier posts on the Historic Carving Blog.

Weeks 10 & 11

The Modelling and Casting Unit with tutor Kim Amis continues as the students work on their bas relief models. Paul adds the finishing touches to his model. The next steps are allowing the clay relief carving to dry and then fire it in the kiln.



The second half of the week sees the students revisit their gothic leaf carving with tutor Tom Ball on the Woodcarving Unit of the course. The students started carving a gothic leaf motif earlier in the term and then moved on to an introduction to lettering. So it’s been a few weeks since they worked on these pieces.

In his Instagram post, Paul says, “Working on the bottom round ‘bulb’ part. There is actually quite a lot of detail, it’s just hard to see as it’s so shallow. Still a lot of cleaning up to do but I’m not far off.


As well as working on their carving projects, the students have their end of term review with their tutors to evaluate their progress during the first term on the course, and set development targets. Paul’s chuffed that he got a mince pie during his review – let’s hope this is a good sign!

As the Autumn Term closes on the first year of the BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding, it’s incredible to see the skills the students have already developed in this short time. The breadth of knowledge and techniques they’ve been introduced to is just the start of their journey to become highly-skilled carvers.

We hope everyone in the Historic Carving Department enjoys their well-earned break and look forward to seeing what challenges lay ahead for the student carvers in 2021.

Photos courtesy of Paul Flanagan.

The Art School’s 2021 Summer School programme launches today, with a 10% early bird discount available until midnight on Sunday 3 January 2021.

View the Summer School 2021 programme here.

The Summer School programme, which runs over a three-week period from 5 – 23 July 2021, is a collection of short courses for adults, focusing on the historic craft skills and contemporary fine art skills taught on the undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the Art School. These include observational life drawing; wood and stone carving; gilding; relief modelling in clay; etching and conservation of historic objects. All our courses are suitable for beginners, with several ideal for those with some experience too.

A 10% early bird discount is available until 12-midnight on Sunday 3 January 2021, giving those who want to learn new craft skills, or develop existing ones, the opportunity to use the Christmas break to secure a place on their favourite course for a reduced fee.


Thanks to the generosity of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, a number of grant-funded places are available to young people aged 18-25, on certain courses. The grant scheme is aimed at engaging young people with historic crafts, specifically facilitating the participation of those who would otherwise be unable to fund their place.

Eligible courses are Behind the Scenes with the Conservators, Bas Relief Modelling in Clay, Introduction to Ornamental WoodcarvingGilding and Verre Églomisé, and Stone Carving for Beginners. 

Anyone interested in applying for a grant-funded place can email



We’re delighted to announce the launch of the BA Fine Art Graduate Showcase, an online exhibition of the outstanding work of our 2020 BA Fine Art graduates. View the exhibition.

The new Fine Art Graduate Showcase joins the Foundation and Historic Carving Showcases in our  Graduate Showcase,  a purpose-built online exhibition space developed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The online exhibition includes works on canvas and paper, sculpture and installation. Students have used a variety of materials; oil, acrylic, gouache and watercolour paints, oil stick, pencil, charcoal, clay, dirt, papier mache, plywood, perspex, wool and baked dough. And because we support students to identify and develop their own artistic voice rather than follow a ‘house style’, the exhibition boasts a diverse range of creative approaches and ideas.


Following the government’s guidelines put in place to control the pandemic, the Art School’s facilities closed in March for the remainder of the academic year, and students continued their work from their home studios, with tutorials accessed online. We are extremely proud of the resilience and dedication shown by all our students during these difficult circumstances, and the challenges they faced during this extraordinary time makes their final work all the more impressive.


As these pieces could not be exhibited in a physical Show in June, a public-facing exhibition of recent work from our BA and MA Fine Art 2020 graduates is planned for July 2021 at Bargehouse on London’s South Bank – sign up to our mailing list to receive an invitation.

Look out for our online 2020 MA Fine Art Graduate Showcase, due to be launched in May next year!


Images of work

– Anna Stevenson, No10, 2020, oil & charcoal on canvas, 103 cm x 153 cm

– Katherine Pethers, An Adoration: An Abyss [installation view], 2019, mixed media, dimensions variable

– Anna Woodward, Laius, 2020, oil, acrylic, gouache on canvas, 1.5 m x 1 m

– Harriet Gillet, Caught Up, 2020, oil and spray paint on canvas, 114 cm x 140 cm

– Yingming Chen, The Press, 2020, papier maché, 155 mm x 340 mm x 160 mm

Welcome to weeks 8 & 9 of our student woodcarver’s diary as we chart the progress of student, Paul Flanagan @paulflanaganartist . You can catch up on Paul’s previous carving activities here:  week 1weeks 2 & 3, weeks 4 & 5  and weeks 6 & 7.

Here’s our student woodcarver’s diary for weeks 8 & 9 of the BA course.

Week 8

In our last blog, we followed Paul’s endeavours as he was introduced to bas relief modelling in clay as part of the Modelling and Casting Unit led by Sculpture, Modeling & Casting Tutor Kim Amis.

Paul chose to model a medieval image of a wolf and goat, and over a two week period made fantastic progress. Over the next two weeks, he revisists his model and adds the finer details, adding texture to the animals coats here.


The next two days of the week are devoted to lettering which is one of the key skills for carvers, used on monuments, plaques and memorials. This is the carvers’ first introduction to the practice of lettering and there is a lot to cover.

In this Unit, led by Lettering Tutor Mark Frith, the students have to examine and and learn the construction of the letters, focusing on their proportions and the similarities within groups of shapes as well as the origins of letters. They’ll then need to build the carving skills to accurately and consistently carve the letterforms in wood.

They start today with the Roman Alphabet. After drawing the letters from memory, they use a cast from the V&A Museum as a template to reproduce the lettering on paper.



After the two day workshop, Paul says “Quite surprising how much of lettering is done free hand. I thought I’d be using compasses and rulers for every line.”  The letter “O” is particularly difficult to master but he has a good first attempt! Paul’s now really looking forward to getting his chisels out and carving the letterforms in wood.

Week 9

Just over half way through his Modelling and Casting Unit now, Paul’s determined to complete his low relief model this week.

To add further detail to the model, Paul uses the pinprick method to transfer the shapes of the image onto the clay. Et Voila! His model is now sporting a pair of stylised trees and a decorative border. It’s still not quite finished but it’s nearly there!

Another two-day lettering workshop follows the modelling and casting sessions and after finishing drawing the letterforms on paper, the students move on to drawing actual words, which requires meticulous attention to spacing and consistency.

On his Instagram post, Paul says, “The word ‘exhibition’ has a tricky part: that is the negative space between ‘iti’ . The ‘T’ shape leaves a lot of space either side of the stem and coupled with very thin ‘I’ shapes makes a tough time of getting the word to look balanced. You can see 2 examples, the 2nd looking a lot better than the first.
They are a bit hard to see as I had to draw/ sketch them very lightly.”


And that brings us to the end of this blog post. In the next post, the woodcarving students will finish their clay models and revisit the oak leaf carving they started a couple of weeks ago.


Photos courtesy of Paul Flanagan

We’re following the progress of woodcarving student Paul Flanagan @paulflanaganartist as his carving and gilding skills develop over the year. So far we have reported on his activities in week 1, weeks 2 & 3 and weeks 4 & 5.

Here’s our student woodcarver’s diary for weeks 6 & 7 of the BA course.

Week 6

For the next six weeks, the students on our BA Woodcarving & Gilding course will be introduced to clay modelling, armature building, mould making, and casting techniques with Sculpture, Modeling & Casting Tutor Kim Amis.

Over the course, the students will learn basic modeling and clay firing techniques that will be invaluable in their practice as a carver, and they’ll gain an understanding of the importance of extensive research skills.

Their first project is the study of Medieval bestiary and their first job of the day is to build a suitable armature/support for a relief modelled in clay.

Then the clay is added to the board with the picture they are using positioned carefully on top and punctured to transfer the image into the clay.


Now comes the tricky bit! The relief will be modelled using three different heights and the students have to decide how to split the image up into the different depths.

It’s really starting to take shape now! The students will have plenty more time to work on their relief models but that’s it for this week. Paul’s drawing classes are next on the agenda.

You may remember from our last blog that Paul has chosen a section of architectural ornament to draw. This week he revisits the scroll to make it look more realistic and makes changes to various parts of the ornament to ensure his drawing is a precise representation of the moulding.



Week 7

The week starts with a continuation of the clay modelling and casting classes that began last week. Paul chose a medieval motif of a wolf and goat to reproduce in relief using clay.

After some initial reservations about the proportions of the wolf’s body in relation to the head, Paul has developed the relief model, finessing the shape and adding finer detail. I think you’ll agree, by the time he’s finished, it looks fantastic!

The course moves on to the next woodcarving module with tutor Tom Ball. In the last woodcarving unit, the students carved an acanthus leaf. Now they are going to tackle a gothic oak leaf motif, carved into a piece of oak.

After transferring the image onto the wood, working out the heights, cutting away the stock around the motif and carving out the shape, the oak leaf carving is taking form. Paul finds getting the levels right quite challenging on this project saying, “even though the piece isn’t small, with the peaks and troughs being so extreme it is actually quite fiddly. Still this is very good practice and I’m learning a lot from it.

Friday brings an online Art Histories class for the student woodcarvers, and so another week comes to a close.

Next week the students will be introduced to lettering, a key skill for a wood or stone carver.


Photos courtesy of Paul Flanagan

Applying Renaissance Wax on the Eagles and Prey Monument

Anna Ng graduated from our BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces in 2019. Following her studies she moved to New York and is currently working as an early career conservator.

Earlier this year, Anna secured a paid, full-time summer internship position on the Monuments Conservation Technician Program with Central Park Conservancy (CPC), with grants from The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation.

CPC is a private, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the maintenance and preservation of Central Park, NYC. Conservation technicians are involved in the annual programme of examination, documentation, preservation and conservation of the bronze and stone sculpture in the park, and additional special projects.

During the internship, Anna worked as part of a team to treat many of the monuments in the park, developing a wide range of practical skills and techniques.

In Anna’s own words, here are some of the programme highlights.


After the graffiti removal treatment, to improve the stark and slightly over-cleaned appearance, the lettering on the base of the monument was reinstated with Lithco Black by hand painting with a fine sable hair brush. 

Applying Lithochrome Black on the lettering that has been weathered and powered washed away on the Columbus Circle Monument



The Lombard Lamp at Grand Army Plaza had a failed coating and a section of missing ornamentation. Initially, the surface was prepared for painting with a pressure washer equipped with a spinner tip as well as scuffed with light abrasives including bronze wool and bronze brushes. Repainting consisted of one coat of primer and two coats of paint in mid-gloss black applied with a spray gun. Originally decorating the Lombard Bridge in Hamburg, Germany, the replica lamp at Grand Army Plaza was painted black in a concerted effort of continuity with its historic predecessors. The Sherwin Williams DTM Wash Primer was left to cure for a day and each coat of Sherwin Williams Semi-Gloss Black acrylic paint was allowed half a day. A mould was taken off the east-facing relief and ornamentation, using Rebound 25, in order to be replicated and installed in place of the missing sections on the west side of the lamp. Afterwards, sealing of the joint below the lamp took place using Dow Corning 795 building sealant (grey).

Steam pressure washing the surface of the Lombard Lamp

Preparing the surface with masking tape for silicone application on the medallion

Removal of the test material from the mould


The Untermyer Fountain features a bronze cast of Walter Schott’s Three Dancing Maidens, completed in Germany prior to 1910. The sculpture depicts three young women, holding hands in a circle and sits on a limestone base. The hot wax coating on the bronze figures have endured weathering and wear from being exposed to the elements. First, the figures and base were pressure washed and cleaned with a mild solution of Vulpex. Then it was dried thoroughly with clean cotton rags. Once the surfaces were clean, clear of debris, and dry, a blowtorch was applied onto the surface and immediately followed by an application of wax that is then spread and punched into the surface evenly, paying close attention to the nooks and folds of the drapery on the figures. The wax was allowed to cool and settle overnight before we followed up with a thorough buffing with clean cotton rags the following day.

Applying blow torch to heat surface to a temperature of 93C (200F) for the application of a proprietary colour matched hot wax

Buffing the Untermyer Fountain figures after a power washing and an application of hot wax


The graffiti along the base of the fountain was removed through a thick application of Rock Miracle Paint & Varnish Remover with a chip brush then agitated thoroughly to lift the settling spray paint from the surface of the sandstone. The Rock Miracle was allowed to dwell for 30 minutes before a steam pressure wash. The treatment was successful in removing the graffiti.

Application of Rock Miracle

Steam pressure washing of surface to aid in thorough removal of Rock Miracle and spray paint



The fibreglass hippos have inherent flaws in their fabrication which manifested in cracks, chips, and voids that allow moisture to seep into the internal structure. A 2-part PC-7 epoxy in a colour-matched grey was mixed then applied with spatulas then was smoothed and feathered to blend in the surrounding surface to arrest deterioration.

Application of colour matched epoxy onto the surface of hippos





Historic paintings adorning the walls of St James the Great church, dating from different periods between the 14th and the 18th centuries

Third year Conservation student, Louise Davison, took part in an internship over the summer, to consolidate, stabilise and clean the unique paintings on the walls of the church of St James the Great in Gloucestershire.

St James the Great is a grade I listed church renowned for its wall paintings, including a depiction of the Life of St James the Great cycle, which is considered to be the best-preserved of its kind in England. The paintings, consisting of six different schemes, date from different periods ranging from the 14th century to the 18th century, and were uncovered in the 1950s.

Depiction of the Life of St James the Great cycle

The conservation programme was organised by a collaborative team, including the local church council, the Gloucester Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) and conservation company The Perry Lithgow Partnership.  It was important for the team that the programme created training opportunities for a conservation student and an emerging conservator, and Project Partner, ICON, were supportive of these aims. Louise was “extremely excited” when she found out about the internship through ICON.

Section of the South wall that Louise treated

Louise worked on a section of the South wall on the east side of the church, focusing on the Romanesque window splay. She started by removing fragments of lime washes on the original paint and plaster to produce a cohesive and readable appearance. She was able to remove fragments of lime washes on the only remaining piece of 16th century text in the church.

Louise carrying out conservation treatment 

Following the removal of what remained of layers of lime wash, Louise turned her attention to removing the crude repairs across the wall and in the window sill. This revealed an area of early 14th century decorative scheme on the window ledge, which was a great and unexpected discovery.

Louise conducted cleaning tests on the window, exposing the vibrancy of the coloured decoration lost under years of grime and dirt. With guidance from members of the conservation team, she also carried out grouting, consolidation and fills using specialist techniques and materials.

Commenting on the internship, Louise said: “The project was everything I hoped for and more. It benefited my hand skills, confidence and deepened my love for wall paintings. I have been inspired to work on projects in the future that involve wall paintings, and to complete a masters.”

Louise features in this short film about the conservations programme.


We were delighted to find out recently that a short film made by Foundation alumna Jess Chowdhury, was shortlisted for the Cinemagic Young Filmmaker 2020 Awards!

Jess’s short film, Early Grief Special, is a stop-motion animation about grief, set in a greasy-spoon cafe, and follows the experiences of a new customer who orders the “special”. Describing the film, Jess says the Grief Express Cafe “is the only place in London where people are allowed to grieve. Even though the service is super quick (maybe too quick?), this is without a doubt the worst greasy spoon ever!”

Jess meticulously sculpted all the models and puppets used in the short film, creating the sets and the characters, as well as storyboarding and animating the film. She says, “Coming up with a story about grief was very difficult. The storyboard and characters were constantly changing throughout the process. I started building the set at uni and then completed the project at home during lockdown. It was tough but I was just grateful to be able to continue working on it.

Art School Foundation Tutor, Emma Montague, describes Jess as one of the “most hardworking and humble students she has worked with“.  Emma said,  “it’s so wonderful to see Jess receive recognition for her exquisite craftsmanship, clever wit and creativity“.

During the one-year Foundation Diploma at the Art School, Jess specialised in 3D Fine Art, enabling her to interrogate and test sculpture and model-making processes and techniques.

Commenting on her time on the Foundation Diploma, Jess says, “I started out by making caricatures of political figures. I enjoyed sculpting people and turning them into funny cartoon-like characters, a bit inspired by Spitting Image. The materials I like to work with are polymer clay, cardboard, scraps and found objects. I’m inspired by cartoons and films that I find comforting. I enjoy making work that is satirical and/or nostalgic. Cartoons and puppets led me to animation and wanting my sculptures to come to life.”

Jess went on to describe her final project on the Foundation Diploma. “My final project was a short stop-motion film ‘Long Time No See’ which combined model-making, puppet-making and stop-motion animation. These were skills that I wanted to play around with. I found the process very challenging as I had never made a stop-motion film like this before, with handmade sets, puppets and props.” She continued, “I loved doing my Foundation at City & Guilds of London Art School, it gave me the space and support to explore both my passions of sculpture and animation in depth.”

After completing the Foundation Diploma, Jess went on to Wimbledon College of Art to study BA (Hons) Production Arts for Screen, graduating in the summer with the production of ‘Early Grief Special’. During her degree course she focused on sculpting, model-making and puppet-making, explaining, “The things I learnt during my Foundation year definitely helped me to figure out that model-making and stop-motion were the skills that I wanted to develop.”

Here is some of the other work she made on her BA course.

We’d like to congratulate Jess on her success and look forward to seeing her future work! You can follow Jess’s work on Instagram @jesschowdhury_

Students on our BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding have been working hard over the last few weeks as the course continues through the first term. We’re following the progress of woodcarving student Paul Flanagan @paulflanaganartist as his carving and gilding skills develop over the year. Here’s our student woodcarver’s diary for weeks 4 & 5 of the BA course.

Week 4

Following on from the first three weeks of the course, the initial two days of the week centre around woodcarving and this week the students are continuing to develop the acanthus leaf carving they started last week. With the support of Woodcarving Tutor Tom Ball, the students carefully refine their carving and the acanthus leaf shape becomes more clearly defined.

By the end of the two-day session, Paul’s acanthus leaf carving is in great shape, starting to accurately reflect the form of the plaster model he is copying. Amazing work Paul!


The second half of the week focuses on developing the carvers’ drawing skills with our Drawing Studio Manager and Tutor Diane Magee. The first drawing lesson encourages the students to think about form and structure rather than a finished drawing. So Paul’s brief is to draw the structure of a leaf, using a black Conte crayon, without including the leaf’s outer edge or cells.

This drawing workshop is followed by a series of first thoughts and sketches of dried leaves and then peppers. First thoughts and sketches are quickly-drawn small images of an object using swift turns of the wrist to create soft strokes that can be altered and refined as you go.


Week 5

The next two days are the final sessions allocated to the acanthus leaf carving, although the students will have the opportunity to go back to their acanthus carving at a later date if they want to. So the next two days are spent carving ever finer details into the acanthus leaf, using smaller gouges, and finishing the shaping.

At the end of the two days, the acanthus carvings look really impressive (see Paul’s carving below). Paul says, “I am mostly happy with the piece but I did make a few mistakes; like the smaller leaf on the head is far too small but as this is my first carving I think I’ve done pretty well.” So do we Paul, so do we!!

In the drawing classes this week, the students choose a plaster moulding of historic, architectural ornament to draw. After some deliberation Paul chooses this ornament that includes the acanthus motif.

After drawing his first thoughts and sketches, Paul starts to make a larger-scale, sustained drawing of the design.

The students will develop their drawings over four days, so we’ll bring you an update soon!

In our next diary instalment, the student carvers will be introduced to modelling in clay and casting – we can’t wait!


Photos courtesy of Paul Flanagan

Thomas Ball is a freelance carver specialising in ornamental woodcarving.

Originally training as a technical illustrator and model maker, Tom moved his focus to working in wood and studied Woodcarving & Gilding at City & Guilds of London Art School between 2005 – 2008.

Since this time, Tom has worked extensively within the field of carving and restoration, working for many of the country’s top conservation companies. This has provided Tom with a great opportunity to develop an understanding and a sensitivity for working within many period styles, as well as building a high level of competence for working with valuable and often fragile historic objects. Recent projects include the removal, repair and re-gilding of the entire carved ceiling at Lincoln College Chapel Oxford, restoration of Grinling Gibbons carving at Trinity College Chapel Oxford and  carving and gilding the main canopy columns for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

How can an Art School function during a global pandemic? - BA Conservation student in bas relief workshop
A bas relief workshop for BA (Hons) Conservation students

Here at City & Guilds of London Art School we have a history of stoically carrying on in the face of adversity –a British Pathé news clip we found on YouTube which reported on how ‘the bohemian spirit of Paris lives on’ in the Art School during the war, both charmed and moved us when we first came across it – and now here we all are facing a different kind of challenge of a similar global scale.

Because studio practice is central to our approach, we have been determined to preserve it as much as possible despite the challenges posed by coronavirus. We looked at how we could offer students as much access as possible while offering a Covid-secure working environment, striving to make the necessary adjustments over the summer so that we didn’t have to delay the start of term. We opened for the 2020/21 academic year as planned, in September 2020.

How can an Art School function during a global pandemic? - Stone Carving student carving lettering onto slate
Carving lettering in the Stone Carving studio


“I feel so lucky to be at a school which simultaneously places student wellbeing and respect for Covid rules at the top of their priority list.” – Roberta Bloomer, Foundation Diploma Art & Design

We are strictly adhering to guidance issued by the Government and Public Health England to protect the Art School community against Covid-19 and going a little bit further, with extensive measures in place to enable social distancing and safety procedures to be carried out effectively. To this end, we have carefully planned the allocation of studio spaces and extended the opening hours for our workshop facilities and studios. To maximise on studio and lab space and time for students, we are running group activities such as lectures and seminars online, whereas appropriately-spaced one-to-ones and small group tutorials and practical workshops, so integral to our approach, continue to take place at the Art School with PPE.

Gaurav Gupta, who is just starting his second year of BA (Hons) Fine Art, is impressed with the Art School’s response to the pandemic and our focus on the needs of students, saying: “The school is run in a way that not just considers, but actually centres around the student experience. In current times of Covid, where most institutions have reduced building access, City & Guilds of London Art School has found a safe and effective way of even increasing the number of studio-access hours. I find this to be a unique space that is conducive to growing my artistic practice organically and authentically, and in a way that inspires me to steadily interrogate, investigate and express.”

How can an Art School function during a global pandemic? - MA Fine Art student in studio
Working in one of the MA Fine Art studios

Course timetabling has been adapted so that start and end times, and breaks and lunch times are staggered to avoid congestion in communal areas. And students have been organised into sub-groups or ‘social bubbles’, to reduce social interaction and to lessen any disruption caused should a student, and those in close contact with them, need to self-isolate.

We have installed hand sanitiser stations throughout the site and are working with Public Health England and World Health Organisations advice regarding face coverings and PPE and are monitoring compliance throughout the day. As well as wearing face coverings, students are further protected by plastic screens dividing work stations where necessary. We have increased the cleaning rota and have clearly defined routes into, around and out of the Art School.


Despite many art schools going entirely online or only being able to provide their students with extremely limited studio time (let alone one-to-one tutor time) City & Guilds of London Art School has created the closest possible thing to normality – under the current circumstances.” – Chloe England, BA (Hons) Fine Art

Many of our students are finding that they are quickly adapting to their new Covid-secure routine at the Art School. Idina Moncreiffe, a first year BA Fine Art student says she is “very impressed by how well everything is set up so that we can work in a way that feels totally unaffected by the virus. She went on to say, “Keeping distance, regularly sanitising and wearing a mask doesn’t affect my ability to work well and happily.”

Whilst working within these safety guidelines, we have been able to continue to deliver high quality and intensive specialist courses to all our students, maintaining the vibrant, creative atmosphere that is always present at the Art School.

We have been overwhelmed by the generous response we’ve received from our students who have felt privileged to be able to start or resume their studies at an art school which prioritises the quality of student experience, whilst adhering strictly to the coronavirus health and safety measures.

How can an Art School function during a global pandemic? - Fine Art student working on piece in studio
In the MA Fine Art studios

Filippa Seilern Aspang, who started on our MA Fine Art course in September told us: “Despite the ongoing global upheaval in education institutions as a result of the pandemic, the Art School has remained dedicated to upholding the needs of its students, ensuring we are still creatively  supported and accommodating our growth as much as possible. Hearing about so many other art schools going online, I am so grateful I chose to come here. Not only are the tutors closely connected to the students in normal times, but even during the pandemic, they ensure that we are creatively guided, closely listened to and helped throughout this period, maintaining as much normality as they can.”

Also studying on our MA Fine Art, Lucia Ferguson said: “I’m extremely grateful to the way the Art School has handled the pandemic, doing their utmost to continue to deliver our course and actually giving us back the studio time we would have missed had we stuck to the original course schedule. It is a real testament to the integrity of the school, their ethos of a studio-based practice, and I appreciate all the extra effort that this required. As far as I can tell, we are the only school that has done this. I’ve also been really impressed with how supportive and encouraging the tutors have been throughout, even in lockdown and via Zoom.”

Embarking on her BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding this year, Joanne Grogan has been impressed with the safety measures installed at the Art School: “At a time of such uncertainty and unrest, the Art School  has dealt with everything with incredible integrity and diligence ensuring the wellbeing of all who attend and work on campus. Given most courses at the Art School are very practical and hands on, stringent safety measures have been put in place which has enabled the school to remain open and created a safe environment for all. The quality of the teaching is outstanding. It is clear that it is a place that is well loved and run by a very dedicated and passionate team of professionals.”

How can an Art School function during a global pandemic? - Conservation student moving cultural object to be treated
Sculpture loaned from Chatsworth House to be treated on MA Conservation


“Since the start of the school year and with Covid-19 still being a big part of our daily lives, the school and tutors have been exceptionally attentive and supportive.” – Savannah du Quercy, BA (Hons) Fine Art

We know that the uncertainty and disruption caused by the pandemic may take its toll on the mental health and wellbeing of members of the Art School community, and it’s important to us that we provide extra support to students at this difficult time. All students have access to support from our Access to Learning team, with information and advice about mental health issues also available from our Virtual Learning Environment. The TalkCampus mobile phone App will provide students with 24/7 support for their mental health and wellbeing, while our tutorial system that provides each student with a studio tutor and a pastoral tutor, offers an extra layer of support and interaction.

How can an Art School function during a global pandemic? - Conservation student in a japanning workshop
A workshop on japanning, a traditional decorative craft skill, on BA (Hons) Conservation


These first two months have revealed so many new facets of my chosen material (pigments), opened new ways of thinking about them, new comprehensions, ideas for new narratives and… so many questions. I am loving it!” – Marie Amoore Pinon, MA Art & Material Histories

In accordance with current Covid-19 health and safety measures, it isn’t currently possible for us to host physical open days in the Art School’s facilities.

Anyone interested in applying to study with us from September 2021 is invited to register onto an online open day where you can meet the Head of Department or a Senior Tutor from your chosen course, find out more about what you’ll study, get a feel for what it’s like to be a student here and ask any questions you may have. We are also hosting Student Virtual Chats with current students so you can hear first hand what it’s like to study with us.

Course applications open in November 2020, and application guidance and our downloadable application form are available here.

How can an Art School function during a global pandemic? - Stone Carving student working on a clay model

“It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so enthused and excited about being creative it’s such a joy I couldn’t be more grateful.” – Alex Elinson, PgDip Carving

We are delighted to announce that, Head of Printmaking, Jason Hicklin, will be demonstrating the traditional intaglio print process during a free virtual event as part of the 2020 Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair. Vincent Eames, Director of Eames Fine Art, will also join Jason to discuss the importance of passing on traditional printmaking skills to new generations.

The free virtual session, which takes place via Zoom from the Art School’s Print Room, will be held on Tuesday 24 November, 4pm – 5pm as part of the WCPF’s online event programme. Anyone wishing to attend can register here.


Established in the late 19th century, the Art School’s historic Print Room offers a facility for printmaking open to every student across all our courses: Foundation Art & Design, BA and MA Fine Art, Conservation, Historic Carving and Art & Material Histories.

Professor Norman Ackroyd CBE RA ARCA was instrumental in re-establishing the Print & Engraving Room as a thriving centre for teaching and practice in the 1990s. We focus on the traditional intaglio processes which is taught by our Printmaking Tutors and Fellows, who are all practising artists working with etching. Students have the opportunity to achieve an understanding and gain the confidence to make the process their own through hands-on experience.  Our aim is to keep the bridge to the Old Masters open. As more and more colleges abandon traditional etching, this position is becoming increasingly unique.


Jason Hicklin’s own work captures the feel of the weather and light and its effect on the landscape. Jason begins his work outdoors, walking and climbing through the terrain he wants to capture, often in extreme weather – a process that makes him feel part of the land itself. Charged with an atmosphere born of an intimate knowledge of the landscape, his work conveys the bleak essence of driving rain, when the mist closes down, and masters the polarities of bright skies and shadowed rocks.

Jason studied at St. Martins College of Art, where he was a student of renowned printmaker Norman Ackroyd. After completing a postgraduate course at the Central School of Art in 1991, Jason combined working as Ackroyd’s studio assistant and editioner with producing his own work and teaching printmaking with us at the Art School.

Elected a member of the Royal Society of Painting and Printmakers in 1993, Jason has had numerous solo and joint exhibitions in the UK and abroad.


Vincent Eames is owner and Director of WCPF exhibiting partner, Eames Fine Art. Specialising in the work of established masters of Modern and contemporary art, Eames deals mainly in original works of art on paper; particularly original etchings, lithographs and drawings.


Established in 2016 by  Fine Art alumnus Jack Bullen, Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair, has grown to become the UK’s largest contemporary Print Fair. It features work from emerging artists alongside well-established names, providing an important platform for up and coming printmakers. Many Art School alumni, Tutors and Fellows have been selected to exhibit at WCPF over the years, including Polly Bennett, Kristina Chan, Catherine Greenwood, Laura Clarke, Geraldine van Hemstra, Jemma Gunning and Rachel Goodison.


We are very excited to announce that Professor Roger Kneebone, the Art School’s first Honorary Fellow, will be talking to students across the Art School about his new book Expert: Understanding the Path to Mastery, in an online lecture in January 2021.

Professor Kneebone is a clinician and educationalist who leads a multidisciplinary research group at Imperial College London, where he is Professor of Surgical Education and Engagement Science. He believes passionately in the importance of cross-disciplinary dialogue in fostering new and innovative ways of thinking and approaches to disciplines, in the arts, science and beyond.

In his book, Expert, Professor Kneebone explores the common path people take to Master their skills in any discipline. He suggests that we start out as an Apprentice, gradually developing our own ‘voice’ to then become a Journeyman, and finally complete the journey and achieve Master status. Whether the journey takes place within a career, a hobby or within our own growth as a person, Professor Kneebone explains that the path is always the same.

Roger has an international profile as an academic and innovator and from 2013 to 2016 was the Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow and was elected Professor of Anatomy at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2019. He publishes widely and speaks frequently at national and international conferences. He is especially interested in collaborative research at the intersections between traditional disciplinary boundaries and brings his considerable knowledge and insight to thinking on art and the nature of craft.

We are very much looking forward to hearing Professor Kneebone speak about his fascinating book and know that it will be of great interest to students on all our courses, all of whom are on their own journey towards becoming Masters.


Postgraduate student Jessica Mantoan, has carried out a conservation treatment on the Art School’s Georgian doors as part of her MA Conservation and has been presenting the work she has done to fellow conservation students in their ‘social bubbles’.

As part of the treatment, she carried out scientific research to look at improving the durability of the mortar used around the doors and tested whether using a barium hydroxide additive in the mortar will increase the durability.

Her laboratory test results were extremely positive showing that mortars made using a small proportion of barium hydroxide are more resistant to acid rain decay and nucleation of sodium sulphate salts due to air pollution.

Following these encouraging results, Jessica tested the new barium hydroxide mortar outside the lab environment by applying it in situ in the Georgian doorcase where it is exposed to road traffic pollution from the busy main road where the Art School is located.

Although the initial results are positive, using a barium hydroxide additive in the mortar has never been tested before, so to get a thorough understanding of the durability of this mortar, a longer-term study is required. Jessica is recommending that future Conservation students draft conservation reports year after year to analyse how the barium hydroxide mortar of the doorcase deteriorates.


A couple of weeks ago, we posted a blog about the conservation project that MA student Johannes Wagenknecht is currently working on – The Alcibiades Dog, a cast concrete sculpture loaned from Chatsworth House. This week, Johannes is starting to compile his condition report of the large piece which will include meticulous detail about the overall condition of the sculpture, an examination of areas of deterioration or loss, the state of previous repairs and highlight any areas of risk or concern.  The report may include annotated photographs, diagrams and graphs.

Lime Modeling Tutor, Sarah Healey-Dilkes, and our second year Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces students took the opportunity to observe the state of the complex composition and repairs of the object since its production about 200 years ago.





All the tutors in the Historic Carving Department are delighted to welcome our student carvers back into the studios after the summer break – with a special welcome to all the new students and first years on our BA and postgraduate courses!

Of course, things are a little different this year. Throughout the Art School, extensive measures have been put in place to protect students and staff from Covid-19 and our seminars and lectures have gone online. Everyone, in all parts of the Art School, has to wear a protective face covering, we are all frequently sanitising our hands and ensuring we keep distanced from each other.

Despite the changes, we are really enjoying being back and are excited to be teaching and studying again.

So, how did the first week go? Paul Flanagan, a first year student on our Woodcarving & Gilding BA course, has been keeping a record of his progress on his Instagram account @paulflanaganartist, and we’ve borrowed his photos to share on the Historic Carving blog (thanks Paul!).

Day 1

First year students arrived at their own dedicated work stations in the newly refurbished Woodcarving Studio. This is probably the only time they’ll see the studio looking so neat and empty!

Day 2

It doesn’t take long for Paul’s work station to gather a carver’s tools and equipment! Today the students learnt how to sharpen their chisels – a fundamentally important skill. They used a fine Japanese stone and strop to get a mirror finish and coat the bevel of the gouge with Sharpie pen so they can check for any low spots when they put it over the stone.


Day 3

Students started their basic joinery training and amongst other tools, learnt how to  use an impressive Japanese saw.

Day 4

Basic joinery continued and the students learnt different joinery techniques.

Day 5

Today the first-year carvers had an online Art Histories lecture. Art Histories programmes are integral to all the courses at the Art School and give students a comprehensive understanding of historical and contemporary critical theories. On the Historic Carving courses, students learn a detailed and materials-based approach to Art History, The History of British Architecture, The History of Style, and The History of Carving Techniques.

So that’s the first week on the Woodcarving & Gilding course completed! In week 2 the students study chipcarving, learning about the different types of cut that each tool makes in the wood, and how the shape and size of the
chisel dictates the pattern. Read about their progress here.

Kathryn Maris is a poet, critic and occasional curator who has published three poetry collections and a pamphlet.

Her work has appeared in Penguin Modern Poets 5The Pushcart Prize AnthologyThe Best British PoetryThe Forward Book of PoetryPoetry, the TLS and other periodicals.

A selection from Kathryn’s most recent poetry collection, The House With Only An Attic And A Basement (Penguin 2018), won the Ivan Juritz Prize for creative experiment and was the subject of an exhibition at One Paved Court in Richmond. Her previous collections are titled The Book of Jobs (Four Way Books, 2006) and God Loves You (Seren, 2013).

Kathryn also writes essays questioning orthodoxies in contemporary poetry. In ‘Transgression and Transcendence: Poetry and Provocation’ (Poetry Review, 2017), she examines ‘offensiveness’ and what might be gained when a poem provokes its reader. ‘Damned Universal Cock: Our Whitman Moment’ (The Dark Horse, 2019) reflects on Walt Whitman’s continuing influence, transitioning into an analysis of narcissism, scapegoating and public shaming in critical discourse.

Her recent book reviews include assessments of Strange Hotel by Eimear McBride, Grand Union by Zadie Smith, You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian, What I’m Looking For by Maureen N. McLane and Coventry by Rachel Cusk.

Kathryn is poetry editor of Mal, a journal themed around radical approaches to sexuality and gender, and she co-organizes the Poetry and Psychoanalysis conference.

Here’s what some of our students have said about working with the Writing Fellow:

“I’ve had two sessions with Kathryn, the first for structure and the second as a read- through making corrections while we went through the essay. As a student who is a bit nervous about writing in a more academic tone, I found the sessions incredibly helpful and took a weight off my shoulders, allowing me to focus more on the content of the essay, knowing that I would be supported with the grammar, structure and legibility. Kathryn is really lovely and attentive. I felt that she cared very much in terms of helping me and found this very reassuring.” Final year BA Fine Art student

“I found my sessions with the Writing Fellow a massive help. The sessions are relaxed, and I felt reassured about my writing abilities.” MA Art & Material Histories student

“Kathryn’s incredible advice has saved my dissertation. I’m a dyslexic student who has always struggled with sentence structure, punctuation and generally structuring my writing. Kathryn was patient and informative and went through the entire dissertation with me and made sense of it sentence by sentence. She was very supportive and validated my strengths while also being honest about what needed to change. I think going forward, when writing essays, I will have a much better understanding of how to structure them. I would highly recommend Kathryn’s services, it was a pleasure working with her.” Final year BA Fine Art student

“I’ve had several sessions with Kathryn who has helped me with presentation writing, essay writing and an application for a post degree programme. She’s taken great care picking apart each piece to help me get the best out of my writing. I’ve learnt a lot about grammar, sentence structuring and creative writing which has hugely benefitted my degree so far. She has been hugely accommodating with deadline timelines.” MA Art & Material Histories student

“Kathryn’s guidance very early on gave my essay a solid skeletal structure that allowed my research from then on to be more focused and relevant. I was able change the moving parts as the essay evolved, all while having a strong grounding.” 2nd year BA Fine Art student


Image credit: Conor Greenan

Vanessa Simeoni, ACR, is a stone and preventive conservator and Head Conservator at Westminster Abbey. On graduating from the Art School’s BA (Hons) Conservation Studies in 1992, she was employed by Cliveden Conservation Workshops for seven years working across the UK on a variety of stone conservation projects. She worked at various National Trust, English Heritage and Historic Royal Palaces sites as well as Uppark House and Windsor Castle, post fires. She developed a specialism in the conservation of medieval floor tiles through projects at numerous cathedrals in the UK. Historic floors and churches remain a passion for her.

She set up conservation at Westminster Abbey and heads a small team of dedicated conservators covering a variety of specials. In addition to stone, Vanessa focuses on preventive conservation and collection care. Major Abbey projects include the conservation of the Cosmati pavement and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries.

Vanessa is an accredited conservator, CPD reader and PACR assessor for ICON. She is currently a conservation committee member on the Sculpture and Furnishing group for the Cathedral and Church Building division,  Church of England. She has lectured on the Historic Floors course at West Dean and published on her work at the Abbey.

Since graduating from the Art School’s BA (Hons) Conservation Studies in 2010, Lou has built up her experience as a conservator, primarily with stone, but also related materials such as plaster, mosaics and ceramics. She particularly likes the complexities of treating and maintaining exterior statuary and architectural detail.  Working in the private sector has given her a good understanding of the financial implications of operating in a highly competitive environment and the kinds of skills employers need.

Her work has taken her to many churches and cathedrals (Norwich Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, St Mary Abbot’s Kensington, All Saints Margaret Street), Historic Royal Palaces (Hampton Court, Kensington Palace, Tower of London), National Trust properties (Ham House, Polesden Lacey, Rainham Hall) English Heritage properties (Kenwood House, Jewel Tower, Eltham Palace) and museums (Royal Academy, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Tate Galleries, V&A). As well as these practical projects, Lou has carried out various condition surveys including jobs at the Bank of England, the Guildhall, the Houses of Parliament and the London City Walls.

Lou has been supervising practical stone conservation projects for second and third year students since 2018. Before changing to a career in conservation, Lou taught English in Spain for many years and she is now enjoying recycling the skills she learnt there in a new context. She has also organised training days for National Trust volunteers and has given talks about the projects she has worked on at Norwich Cathedral and the Museum of London. Together with a colleague, she has recently had a paper published in the Proceedings of Stone 2020 14th International Conference on the Deterioration and Conservation of Stone (Ana Logreira, Lou Ashon, Conservation of the Cloisters at Norwich Cathedral).

The Historic Buildings Parks & Gardens Event on 10 November 2020, which runs alongside the AGM of the Historic Houses Association, cannot now be held at the QEII Centre this year as was planned. But the show must go on, and so the HBPG Event 2020 is going virtual and City & Guilds of London Art School is delighted to take part for the second time.

We will have a virtual stand and there will be films from the Art School to view alongside specially commissioned demonstrations from our Historic Carving students.

The event will still be free of charge for visitors who will be able to listen to the address by James Birch, President of Historic Houses, view the exhibitors’ products and services, have access to support and advice, watch the demonstrations and download a bonus digital version of the Exhibition Guide.

All are welcome! To register for your place click HERE

For more information about the exhibitors and the event click HERE


MA Conservation student, Johannes Wagenknecht, who is specialising in stone conservation, has chosen to treat the cast concrete of The Alcibiades Dog from Chatsworth House during his one-year course.

This garden statue by Austin and Seeley (1828 – c.1877) made of coade stone or cast concrete, arrived at the Art School today in pieces. Weighing a total of about 450kg, the statue was carefully and expertly taken into the stone yard by Clare French, Historic Carving Technician.

The object was unloaded at the main gate and transported on a forklift truck by Johannes and Clare, with the assistance of two others, to a gazebo set up in the stone yard.  Clare French is very familiar with the fork lift, which can lift up to 500kg, as it is regularly used to unload and move stone blocks for the Historic Carving Department.

Now it is ready for the conservation treatment to begin… watch this space!




It’s official our new BA (Hons) Conservation: Books & Paper course has launched and our new first-year students on the course have joined us at the Art School.

On day 1 last week, the students spent time being inducted into the Print Room so that they can begin learning about etching from our expert staff. The students learnt about the traditional intaglio processes and made their own etches.

The Print Room at City & Guilds of London Art School was established in the late 19th century. Today, it offers a facility for printmaking open to every student in the School.

Professor Norman Ackroyd CBE RA ARCA was instrumental in re-establishing the Print & Engraving Room as a thriving centre for teaching and practice after being invited in 1995 to consider its potential for the future.

We focus on the teaching of traditional intaglio processes – including hard and soft ground, sugar lift, aquatint and colour etching. Teaching is delivered by practising artists working with etching.  By teaching the full range of methods, we provide an historical context of the intaglio process and offer the same experience in terms of techniques, problems and solutions as that employed by Rembrandt, Goya and Picasso.

Our aim is to provide a practical understanding of how etchings of the past were made to inform the study of how they are best conserved for the future.


As part of the Historic Craft unit of the course, first year students studying on the BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces have been doing some fantastic work with our modelling and sculpture tutor, Kim Amis. During this bas relief workshop, the students transcribed a two-dimensional image into relief form using clay. The group had to agree the depth of the relief that they all worked to.

When finished, the clay relief will be prepared for kiln firing and the fired clay can then be gilded.

The aim of our Historic Craft units are to give students an insight into the processes and materials used by the original makers of the cultural objects they may be treating. Having a thorough understanding of how an object was made is essential to effective conservation treatment planning.



First year students on our BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces took part in a gilding workshop with Gilding Tutor Rian Kanduth, an expert in oil and water gilding.

During the workshop, students were introduced to the materials, tools and formulas of oil gilding and verre eglomise and took part in practical exercises to further understand the techniques.


Cheryl Porter is a books and paper conservator who has worked in the UK and around the world. She has led major conservation projects at the Montefiascone Seminary Library and the Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation, as well as freelance conservation work with a wide range of clients. She has taught and lectured throughout Europe, the USA and Egypt and has been published in many conservation journals and publications. Over a 14 year period, she conducted a series of field research, collecting and analysing pigments around the world, including sea snails from Italy and Kermes insects from Languedoc, France.

Cheryl is a member of many professional bodies including the International Council of Museums, American Institute for Conservation, International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works  and the Institute of Conservation. She is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and has been the Secretary of the Islamic Manuscript Association (TIMA): Conservation sub-committee and Advisor to the Friends of the Coptic Museum and curators.

Bridget Mitchell is a Book Conservator, Icon accredited in 2000. She has run her own book conservation studio since 2003, trading under the name Arca Preservation which undertakes book conservation treatments, exhibition and display preparation, book cradle design and construction and specialises in the design and construction of preservation solutions for books, manuscripts and complex manuscript objects. She is also the designer of the “Book Shelter”, a project she developed in collaboration with the National Trust to facilitate the quick, easy and protected display of books where a display case is neither desirable nor available. Her interests lie in enabling objects to impact their viewers to their maximum potential by facilitating the objects’ use, display and storage appropriately. She also has a keen interest in the business of running a craft-based business and helping professional craftspeople and conservators run businesses that succeed.

Bridget trained in Bookbinding and Conservation with Maureen Duke at Guildford Technical College, graduating with Distinction in 1991. She went on to gain the position of Conservation Assistant at the Bodleian Library where she worked in the library Bindery and the Conservation Department before receiving a Conservation Trust Scholarship to study the Conservation of Rare Books and Early Manuscripts with Christopher Clarkson and David Dorning at West Dean College. Returning to the Bodleian for a year to work on a project to make book shoes for Duke Humfrey’s Library in 1995, she took a position as Book Conservator at the Victoria and Albert Museum. She became Senior Conservator in 1998 with responsibility for some of the museum’s major book projects and galleries refurbishments.

In one of our covid-secure conservation labs, and wearing their protective face coverings, students on the BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone Wood & Decorative Surfaces course have been taking part in a workshop to learn the historic craft skills of japanning with specialist tutor Alex Schouvaloff.

The purpose of this japanning exercise is to gain experience of working with paint and varnish, both traditional and modern, to understand the specific decorative techniques of both japanning and oriental lacquer. Skills learnt here not only help students understand the associated conservation and restoration principles but will also provide and hone many transferable skills.

Students learn the similarities and differences between Oriental lacquer (Urushi) and European simulations (japanning) and the fundamental principles of the lacquering process and its development in Europe since the 17th century. They also learn how to apply paint and varnish layers in an appropriate manner, gain a thorough understanding of historic and modern materials and their conservation and restoration context, explore styles and iconography of japanned and lacquered surfaces and document photographically at each stage which they will then annotate and produce a written process log.


Amanda Brannan is a London-based book artist, papermaker and workshop leader. She observes and engages with patterns, images and informative text to create her visual arts language that is heavily influenced by her interaction and research with the architecture of London.

While living in California during the 90’s she studied both Japanese and Western styles of hand papermaking, which led to the development of her personal style that involves experimenting with different traditional papermaking fibres, recycled materials and pigmentation methods. She uses complex layers of different manipulated fibres to create patterns that are influenced by her research.

Amanda’s approach to support effective teaching is to create an environment that encourages cooperative learning in a relaxed atmosphere, allowing everyone the opportunity to participate in all aspects of the processes, encourage group idea sharing and discussions, as well as experimentation with all the different techniques.

Following an education and career in immunology, Judith Gowland gained a BA in Art History from the Open University and an MA Conservation Fine Art (Paper) from the University of Northumbria. Since then she has practised paper conservation, setting up her own studio in 1992. In her studio practice she has worked for a large range of private clients and public institutions including National Railway Museum, York Minster Library, Henry Moore Foundation, RHS – Lindley Library and Red Cross Museum.  She recently exhibited her work on an important collection of fire-damaged 20th century watercolours and drawings at the Museum of Everything exhibition at Kunsthal, Rotterdam.

Judith is an Accredited Conservator of the Institute of Paper Conservation, an Accredited Member of  the International Organisation of Paper Conservators and Co-ordinator of the Independent Paper Conservators’ Group on Google.

Edward Cheese is an Accredited conservator specialising in books and manuscripts.  Following Postgraduate work in English Literature at the University of Durham he studied book conservation at West Dean College, where he was awarded the President’s Prize for his work and won a Queen Elizabeth Craft Scholarship.  On qualifying as a conservator, Edward was invited to join Melvin Jefferson and Elizabeth Bradshaw at the Cambridge Colleges’ Conservation Consortium workshop to prepare the Parker manuscripts at Corpus Christi for digitisation.  He was offered a permanent position at the end of the project and worked for the Consortium for just over eight years in total, the last three as Conservation Manager.  In 2015 he took up his current post of Conservator of Manuscripts and Printed Books (Assistant Keeper) at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Edward has wide experience of practical conservation of printed books, manuscripts and archives, and is particularly interested in the history of bookbinding.  He has also served on the Icon Task and Finish Group to formulate an ethical code for the conservation profession in the UK, been external examiner in Book Conservation at West Dean College, and has given many lectures and study sessions on the history of bookbinding and conservation issues.

Dr Joanna Russell holds an MSci in Chemistry with Conservation Science from Imperial College, London, and an MA in the Conservation of Easel Paintings from Northumbria University. She completed an internship in paintings conservation at the Hamilton Kerr Institute and also worked as a freelance paintings’ conservator for various clients, before returning to Northumbria University to undertake her PhD on the analysis of painting materials, focussing on the artist Francis Bacon. While at Northumbria University she also carried out teaching for postgraduate courses on conservation.

Since completing her PhD she has gained over seven years’ experience of working in scientific research departments in museums, first at the British Museum, and then at the National Gallery, working on the technical imaging and analysis of museum objects, particularly drawings and paintings. Joanna is currently Scientist at a specialist independent laboratory, where she conducts scientific analysis of paint and pigment and carries out technical imaging.

The City & Guilds of London Art School is a small not for profit Higher Education provider, specialising in contemporary Fine Art, Historic Carving and Conservation. With a student community of circa 250 and a small permanent team working with over 60 sessional tutors, the Art School is a compassionate and caring employer.

The Saturday and evening cover Receptionist, is a member of the Site Team, working with colleagues to ensure the security of the site. This is a responsible role as it will involve being a key holder, and being a point of contact for first aid or security matters. Ideally you will have a valid First Aid certificate. Fire Marshall/fire safety training will be arranged on taking up the post. Liaising with the Site Manager and other members of the Site Team, the post holder will be required to work with due regard to health and safety and to alert the Site Manager to any health and safety and maintenance issues that become apparent.

If you would like to work in a job where your contribution is valued please see the links below for the Application Form, Person Specification and Job Description.


Job Description: JOB_DESCRIPTION_SaturdayReceptionist.pdf

Person Specification: PERSON_SPECIFICATION_SaturdayReceptionist.pdf

Application Form: CityGuildsArtSchool_JOB_APPLICATION_FORM.docx


Application deadline: Wednesday 16 September at 23:59

Start date: October 3rd running through to December 12th

Part-time hours: 5 – 8pm Fridays, 9.30 am to 5.30 pm Saturdays

Salary: £10.50 per hour + holiday pay

Senior Stone Carving Tutor, Nina Bilbey, Senior Woodcarving Tutor, Robert Randall, and Glass Workshop Technician, Anne Petters, are amongst the master craftspeople featured in the new, digital Homo Faber Guide, launching today.

The online guide, published by the Michelangelo Foundation, includes profiles of over 650 artisans from around Europe and provides easy access to the best master craftspeople, rising talents, galleries, museums, manufacturers and studios throughout the continent. The list of artisans and makers was compiled with recommendations from craft and design ambassadors in each country. Ambassadors in the UK include the Crafts Council UK and Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust.

A profile page for each featured craftsperson includes their contact details, a short bio and an insight into their practice. Robert Randall’s profile highlights the 8ft dragon he carved for the Great Pagoda at Kew, where he was one of a team of woodcarvers who followed a prototype designed by Tim Crawley, our recently retired Head of Historic Carving. Robert’s work at Shakespeare’s Globe and St Paul’s Cathedral is also featured. In an interview, Robert explains that he prefers to work with indigenous woods such as lime, oak and pine and explains, “Each wood is chosen either to match an original piece or for its particular qualities, such as durability, ease of carving, sharpness for details or attractive grain or tone.”

Robert gained his Diploma in Ornamental Woodcarving & Gilding at the Art School in 1997, setting up a workshop with fellow alumnus Ashley Sands after graduation. He is currently Senior Woodcarving Tutor on the BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding course.

Robert Randall’s Kew dragon © Robert Randall

Now an eminent British architectural sculptor, Nina Bilbey started her journey with wood. Her father was a master carpenter, and at 16 she was offered the opportunity to work with him. But although she was utterly committed to craft as a career, after “having tasted the freedom of fine art and the joy of experimenting with different materials”, she could not contemplate “the restriction of only working with wood”.  Since she was a child, Nina has been in love with stone: making small objects in stone she had found on the beach, collecting pebbles and throwing tantrums when asked to leave buckets full of stone on the beach after a day’s play. Nina’s work includes two statues of Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh for the West front of Canterbury Cathedral which are the first sculptures to depict them as a pair, and carvings for Hampton Court flower show, St. Pancras Station and Saint George’s Chapel Windsor.

Nina Bilbey, Senior Stone Carving Tutor

Raised in East Germany, Anne Petters describes how the fall of the Berlin Wall had a dramatic influence on her early life, and the sense of impermanence that followed has fuelled her passion for making art objects with glass, a material that expresses the fragility of reality. Anne describes one of the techniques she uses in her practice: “In the US I came across this technique of shaping glass in the kiln. It’s a sort of printing technique where I carve into a plaster mould and then these drawings are fused onto the glass. It’s a very physical and immediate way of bringing drawing into glass.”

Anne supports students on our fine art and historic craft courses, to develop and extend their practice in the Art School’s Glass Workshop.  Commenting on being selected for inclusion in the Homo Faber Guide, Anne said: “Since taking part in the first Homo Faber at the Cini Foundation in Venice in September 2018, I have stayed in close contact with the Michelangelo Foundation. I am very honoured to be featured in the Homo Faber Guide. It is a fantastic network, a great opportunity for us makers to be recognised as well as finding and connecting to other artists and institutions.” 

Anne Petters Glass Leaf © Anne Petters

Jemma Gunning, a printmaker and artist who was the Art School’s Print Fellow 2018/20, is also one of the featured artisans. Often using the traditional intaglio printing processes which is taught in the Art School’s historic print room, Jemma’s practice focuses on documenting “industrial and urban decline” through the passage of time.

© Jemma Gunning

The Art School has collaborated with the Michelangelo Foundation for a number of years. We are honoured to be part of the Michelangelo Foundation network of like-minded educational institutions throughout Europe that champion historic crafts.  In 2018, Conservation and Carving students and alumni were chosen as Young Ambassadors at the Homo Faber exhibition which showcased fine contemporary, traditional and rare craftsmanship and its link to the world of creativity and design.

The Michelangelo Foundation also selected four of the Art School’s historic craft-based Summer School courses to form part of their inaugural Summer School Programme in July 2019. This initiative exposed eight European makers and craft students to different practices that could inform their work, and it was a great success.

For over 30 years, Heather has built an extensive career in stone masonry and conservation at Canterbury Cathedral. As Head of Conservation since 2013, she worked collaboratively across the organisation, with oversight of all conservation-related matters. Previously, Heather had been the Cathedral’s Head of Stonemasonry and Conservation from 2006, and Stone Mason & Head Conservator since 1988, working on site and in the workshop to produce carved stone and conserve original fabric.

During her time at Canterbury Cathedral, she managed some of the building’s most recent and high-profile major projects, and has had a leading role in ‘The Canterbury Journey’, a major five-year development to conserve and safeguard the Cathedral’s heritage and enrich the visitor experience, including extensive restoration of the West Towers, the Nave roof and Christ Church Gate. She also developed and co-founded the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship, a training initiative run in partnership with eight other cathedrals and the University of Gloucestershire.

As well as her work at Canterbury Cathedral, Heather has been designing and carving memorials in stone and wood with husband Gary, for almost 20 years.


Viv Lawes is an art Historian who specialises in the study of carved and craft objects from the European tradition and East Asian contexts. In this short film recorded on Zoom during Lockdown, Viv speaks about the content of her taught sessions on our undergraduate Historic Carving and Conservation courses, and discusses the different methodologies she employs. One of the key features of Viv’s sessions is the teaching of the specific vocabularies around art design objects. For a conservator or carver, using precise descriptive terms enables an accurate assessment of an object’s status; her course teaches these terms and helps students to use them fluently.

Viv is particularly interested in ‘making heard’ the ideas and attitudes of students from different cultural, craft-based and professional backgrounds. In her seminars she encourages discussion and debate and critically evaluates the Western tradition from a range of different perspectives.

Dr Oriana Fox is an art theorist and practising artist, and teaches Art Histories on a range of courses across the Art School. Here, Oriana speaks about the different Art Histories modules she teaches on the BA (Hons) Fine Art course. As you will hear, Oriana teaches art history from a particularly contemporary perspective and encourages students to think about artworks from the past as well as the present through the lens of the very latest theoretical, cultural and political ideas.

Feminist theory, Queer theory, Crip theory and disability politics, post colonial subjectivities, Black and BAME discourses, intersectionality are introduced, unpacked and presented from an entirely global perspective.

In this Zoom conversation with Head of Art Histories, Tom Groves, during Lockdown, Oriana also tells us about some of the more creative and experimental teaching and learning strategies she uses in her sessions. Through discussion and debate; from quiet individual study to analytic speed dating; Oriana’s sessions have something for everyone.

City & Guilds of London Art School is delighted to announce the appointment of Heather Newton as the new Head of Historic Carving, following Tim Crawley’s retirement from the role. Heather will take up the post at the beginning of September, welcoming students at the start of the new academic year.

Heather joins the Art School from Canterbury Cathedral, where she has been Head of Conservation since 2013, a senior post that involves working collaboratively across the organisation, with oversight of all conservation-related matters. Previously, Heather had been the Cathedral’s Head of Stonemasonry and Conservation from 2006.

Commenting on her new role at the Art School, Heather said: “I feel both delighted and privileged to be taking up the post of Head of Historic Carving at the City & Guilds of London Art School. I hope that the years of experience working at Canterbury Cathedral will have prepared me to both lead and support my new colleagues and our students, and am excited at the prospect of embarking on another phase of my career in such an esteemed institution.”

Heather trained in Fine Art, Stonemasonry and Conservation, most latterly receiving an MSc Buildings Conservation Technology and Management from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. In her role at Canterbury Cathedral, she managed some of the Cathedral’s most recent and high-profile major projects, and has had a leading role in ‘The Canterbury Journey’, a major five-year development to conserve and safeguard the Cathedral’s heritage and enrich the visitor experience, including extensive restoration of the West Towers, the Nave roof and Christ Church Gate.

As well as her role as Head of Conservation, Heather is a consultant to the Canterbury Diocesan Advisory Committee and also a member of Rochester Cathedral’s Fabric Advisory Committee. She also developed, and is a founding member, the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship, a training initiative run in partnership with eight other cathedrals and the University of Gloucestershire.

In addition to her career at Canterbury Cathedral, Heather and her husband Gary have been hand designing and carving memorials in stone and wood for almost 20 years. All design, masonry, carving and installation is carried out in-house, ensuring that every commission is unique. Heather and Gary share the work between them, drawing on their backgrounds in fine art and design respectively, to produce beautifully-crafted, individual pieces.

Awarded the Master Mason Certificate by the Worshipful Company of Masons in 2012, Heather was granted the Freedom of the City of London in 2015 and is an accredited member of Institute of Conservation (ICON), Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) and International Institute of Conservation (IIC).

Heather’s experience conserving Canterbury Cathedral was published in Jonathan Foyle’s Architecture of Canterbury Cathedral and she was often the media face of conservation projects on the Cathedral, appearing on TV and radio to discuss the programmes, including the BBC’s documentary series ‘A Year in the Life of Canterbury Cathedral’.

Sitting on the interview panel for the position, John Goodall FSA (historian, author, and Architectural Editor of Country Life magazine) said of the appointment:

“It’s very exciting to see someone with such breadth of experience as a practitioner, teacher and ambassador taking up this crucial role within City & Guilds of London Art School.  As Head of Historic Carving, Heather Newton will be able to develop further the formidable reputation that the Art School already enjoys.”

The Art School very much looks forward to welcoming Heather and working with her in this important role overseeing the Carving Department’s BA programmes in Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding / Architectural Stone, as well as its MA Carving; the only carving courses validated at this level in the UK.

A few places are available on BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding, BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Architectural Stone and on the reserve list for PgDip/MA Carving, starting in September 2020. Anyone Interested in applying is invited to find out more on an online open day or download a course application form.

Images: © Chapter of Canterbury

City & Guilds of London Art School is launching its new undergraduate course in Books & Paper Conservation in September 2020, after successfully reaching an ambitious fundraising target that will enable the Art School to create and equip a suite of conservation studios and facilities in its Georgian terrace building in central London. The programme of works is well underway and despite the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, will be completed in time to welcome the new student cohort in late September.

BA (Hons) Conservation: Books & Paper is the only course of its kind to be offered in London, and in the UK. The new award will sit alongside and complement the Art School’s existing and highly-regarded Conservation programme specialising in cultural objects made of wood, stone and the treatment of decorative surfaces; BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces. This development also sees the expansion of our MA Conservation to include both research and practical projects in books and paper at an advanced level.

The plans for the new studios follow a rigorous review with Alan Higgs Architects and laboratory furniture and equipment specialist SplusB, alongside the advice of a panel of Books & Paper Conservation experts. The new studios and laboratory will be located near to the existing Conservation facilities, creating an extended Conservation area within the Art School.

The addition of this new Books & Paper Conservation course will see the Art School’s Conservation Department double in scale over the next three years, and follows the closure in 2018 of MA Conservation at Camberwell College of Arts, part of University of the Arts London (UAL). UAL are donating specialist equipment and materials to support the set-up of the new course and have provided some bursary funding to support students from groups under-represented in Higher Education.


Books & Paper conservation training in the UK has a long and important history and is very well respected internationally, attracting students from around the world, including the US where no specialist provision is currently available. Now that the Art School is offering the new undergraduate Books & Paper award along with clear progression to MA Conservation, the country’s educational provision for this specialist subject will be significantly enhanced, giving students a wider choice and enabling them to progress directly into employment in the conservation world.

The addition of this course will play a crucial role in ensuring there is a regular stream of new professionals graduating into this thriving field of conservation, enabling the continuation of the specialist knowledge and skills needed for the future preservation of our cultural heritage.

Christopher Harvey, Head of Conservation at College of Arms Library, London, commented:

“…the resourcing and sustainable support being prepared at CGLAS is in complete alignment with the specific needs of the training of conservators as evidenced by over seventy years’ experience in teaching its existing conservation of stone, wood and decorative surfaces courses. CGLAS is therefore a natural ‘home’ for the provision of book and paper conservation. The school is centrally located and close to London’s international museums, galleries, libraries and other learning resources which provide students with unrivalled learning, training, and work opportunities.”

City & Guilds of London Art School is grateful for generous grants made towards the project by the Foyle Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, the Steel Trust, the Pilgrim Trust, the Leche Trust, the Headley Trust and those who wish to remain anonymous.

About the course

Students on the BA (Hons) Conservation: Books & Paper will benefit from a tried and tested intensive approach to teaching conservation which includes skills-based practical training, as well as teaching in materials science, cultural and materials history, philosophy and ethics of conservation. The course will be delivered through a combination of one-to-one and small group teaching by expert practising professionals.

The syllabus has been developed with the ongoing advice and expertise of books & paper conservation specialists Edward Cheese (The Fitzwilliam Museum), Jacqueline Moon and Valeria Duplat (Tate) and Sonja Schwoll (National Archives), and was validated with expert input from Christopher Harvey (College of Arms), ensuring that the course has currency and relevance with the active engagement of professional mentors and partner institutions from the outset.

As well as developing a deep understanding of the wider conservation knowledge and skills that are taught throughout the Conservation Department, students studying for the Books & Paper award will gain specialist experience including etching, bookbinding, leather tooling, marbling, paper and ink making, making pastels and crayons with traditional recipes and the history and science of western and eastern papers including wallpapers. These specialist skills will support students with conservation and restoration projects focused on printed books, parchment, manuscripts and paper artworks, including fragile painted and drawn paper artworks, illuminated books and paper-covered globes.


The course also teaches modern book and paper conservation techniques that include chemical cleaning, fibre identification, spot tests and the use of ultraviolet photography. The completion of remedial conservation projects in their final year, ensures students experience valuable professional practice that will equip them for a career in conservation.

Due to the location of the Art School, students have access to an unrivalled array of collections, research and projects owned by the many major institutions in London, all within easy reach. Indeed, several institutions including Tate, Fitzwilliam Museum and National Archives, have already offered placement opportunities and live projects to students on the Books & Paper course.

September 2020 places are available on the reserve list for BA (Hons) Conservation: Books & Paper, BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces and a few places are available on MA Conservation. Anyone interested in finding out more can book onto an online open day and download a course application form.

During the coronavirus lockdown, the Art School’s facilities have been closed and our courses delivered remotely. Our Historic Carving students have continued practising from home; some working from existing workshops, others setting up make-shift studios where they can. Our carving tutors have also been delivering our wood and stone carving courses from their home studios.

We were lucky enough to have a virtual visit to the Norfolk workshop of Nina Bilbey, our Senior Stone Carving Tutor, who showed us around her amazing studio and introduced us to her collection of tools and the work she is currently making.

Enjoy the tour!

As well as getting a glimpse into Nina’s lockdown world, we were also treated to lockdown studio visits from some of our alumni, Fellows and students. You can watch all these films, and more, on our YouTube channel.

Visit our Historic Carving web pages to find out more about our undergraduate and postgraduate architectural stone carving courses, or get in touch on

We are delighted to announce that Orbis Conservation, a conservation company founded and run by alumni from the Art School’s renowned Conservation Department, has been nominated for this year’s Museums + Heritage Awards for Restoration/Conservation project of the year with Plymouth City Council, for their work on the figurehead collection for The Box.


Installation Defiance at The Box in Plymouth 2019

This ambitious two-year project involved the conservation, consolidation and restoration of five, large 19th century ships’ figureheads. The figureheads were installed at The Box, Plymouth, a new arts and heritage complex.


HMS Royal William during treatment (L) and during redecoration (R)

Commenting on the award nomination and the project that won them the deserved recognition, the team at Orbis said:

We are honoured and excited to have been nominated in this year’s Museums + Heritage Awards for Restoration/Conservation project of the year with Plymouth City Council for our work on the figurehead collection for The Box.

“This project consumed us for over two years, and was hugely challenging, demanding innovative problem solving. Thanks to the wide ranging scope of the project, we were given the opportunity to trial a new form of structural analysis of timber in conservation (sonic tomography), carry out copious amounts of research into the construction and decoration of ship’s figureheads, design and fabricate structural mounts, and ultimately carry out full conservation treatments to ensure the continued survival of these fascinating objects.”


HMS Topaze during consolidation treatment (L) and during post treatment redecoration (R)

Read more about the Figurehead project here.

Orbis Conservation was founded in 2013 by Art School alumni, Max Malden (BA (Hons) Conservation 2012) and Hans Thompson (BA (Hons) Conservation 2013). They were joined by Kirsty Walsh (BA (Hons) Conservation 2015), who is currently studying part-time on our MA Conservation.

The virtual awards ceremony will take place on 22 September 2020 and we wish, Max, Hans and Kirsty every success!


We are very excited to announce that our online Foundation Show 2020 is now live and open to visitors.

Enter the Foundation Show here!

The Foundation Show 2020 is a celebration of the achievements and talents of students on our one-year Foundation Diploma in Art & Design, and features work in a wide range of disciplines including textiles, film, installation, printmaking and performance.

During the Foundation Diploma, students interrogate and test a broad range of approaches and materials, choosing a specialism to focus on and develop. The works featured in the Show are the final projects undertaken by the students in the latter stage of this immersive course.

Despite the constraints and difficulties imposed by the coronavirus crisis, students have remained dedicated to completing their final pieces with remarkable resilience and ambition and we are very proud of their considerable commitment. We congratulate them all on their outstanding work and wish them every success in their future endeavours.

Here’s a taster of some of the work you can view in the online Show.

Coco Emmanuelle Wheeler

Whinnie Zhu

Maurice Mutua

There are still a few places available on our Foundation Diploma in Art & Design starting in September.  Go to our Foundation Diploma pages for more information about the course, and if you have specific questions or want to know more, you can arrange an online open day with our Head of Department.  To apply for the Diploma, you can find application information and downloadable forms here.  Interviews will be held online or by email.

Matthew Rowe and Materiality & Meaning: Critical thinking and the use of philosophical ideas on the MA in Art & Material Histories.

During the Coronavirus Lockdown in the UK, Head of Art Histories, Tom Groves, met with philosopher and critical thinker Matthew Rowe on Zoom to discuss the kinds of ideas he explores with students on the MA in Art & Material Histories. He also provides some really useful advice about how we can use philosophy as a kind of tool kit to dig down under the surface of everyday thinking to reveal how our understanding of the material world is shaped by the histories of thought.

If you are thinking of applying to the Art & Material Histories MA or would like to know a bit more about how we use philosophical ideas on the course, watch this.

Andy Bannister teaches across the Art Histories and Fine Art Departments. He is an artist, researcher and musician whose current work explores the impact of developments in science and technology on culture and society during the Cold War era.  Andy is a lead tutor delivering lectures and supervising MA students as they write their MA Fine Art Critical Model Dissertation.

Here in a Zoom discussion carried out at the height of the coronavirus UK Lockdown, Andy explains what the Critical Model Dissertation is and how it enables students to explore the complex web of threads that link their studio work to its various contexts. Andy also reflects on the dynamic relationship between writing and making and how students are supported to navigate this.

If you are thinking of enrolling on the MA in Fine Art, or if you already have and want to know more about what the Dissertation involves, you will find this short video really useful.

The Art Histories Department at the Art School delivers a wide range of learning activities to all students across the Art School. One of the principles of the Department is that the finest understanding of art and art history emerges out of an up-close, first-hand experience of its objects of study. Whether it is a complex theoretical text, or layered painted canvas, or intricately carved altarpiece, we believe that the close encounter produces the most valuable knowledge.

Michael Paraskos delivers a series of lectures entitled The History of British Architecture. During his session, students studying Conservation and Stone and Wood Carving, journey with him through the ages and around London’s wealth of historical buildings.

In this short Zoom chat with Michael, carried out in June this year, he reminds us that only so much of what we know about historical buildings emerges out of speculative thinking. Only by experiencing architecture in person can we meaningfully reflect on how a building worked as a living space at the time of its creation as well as today.

During the coronavirus pandemic our awareness of the material world has become heightened. Certain objects and surfaces that we never gave a second thought to (door handles, shopping trollies, park-benches etc), became charged with a frightening potential for harm. Our hands too became vehicles of contagion, and what, who, how and why we touch became entangled with the discourses of politics as well as health.

Laura White is an artist and material thinker whose research explores our relationship with the material world. Here in a Zoom interview, carried out at the height of the Lockdown in the UK, Laura reflects on some of the many aspects of her teaching on the MA in Art & Material Histories at the Art School.

If you are thinking of applying to the MA in Art & Material Histories, this short video will provide you with an insight into the this aspect of the course.

Since the Art School’s facilities have been closed to students and staff during lockdown, our BA and MA Fine Art students have set up makeshift studios wherever they can in their homes. Tutorials, seminars, group critiques and one-to-ones with tutors and peers, have all been delivered online and students have used the tools and materials that have been available to them in their practice.

We have been so impressed with the resourcefulness and enthusiasm of our tutors and students alike. Tutors have shown a laudable determination to replicate the Art School experience as closely as they can, instigating ingenious ways of teaching and supporting their students. Our students have demonstrated an incredible commitment to challenge and extend their practice, adapting techniques and materials to the circumstances.

We thought we’d give you an insight into some of the work our Fine Art students have been making.

Pieces by Freya Moffat

Freya Moffat, BA Fine Art, used the materials that were readily available to her at home (cardboard delivery boxes and papier-mâché Evening Standard newspapers), to make a series of ‘creatures’ that she photographed in different contexts. Freya says: “When they’re photographed, they become strange reflections of us! Or manifestations of the distorted way that we are living at the moment (perhaps always!) I look a lot at photographers like Cindy Sherman and Laurie Simmons and the ways that they distort and comment on the photographic portrait.”

Connie’s Lockdown work

Unable to access her studio, Connie Cubbitt, MA Fine Art, set up a studio in her shed and found the restrictions of COVID-19 meant she had to adapt her practice, with great results.  “My current practice is concerned with intimacies and the impact of their loss. The work is centered around specific memories as well as notions of obfuscation and concealment. Lockdown and its material limitations have been beneficial to my practice overall, forcing me to make use of the limited space and interrogate the theoretical implications of my work rather than continuing to generate larger, structural oil paintings, as I was in mid March. I am now living in London with nowhere to paint and so have moved into an almost entirely paintless practice, working with oil pastels and pencil on paper.” 

BA Fine Art graduating student Polina Pak

Polina Pak, final year BA (Hons) Fine Art,  has been working on a series of paintings titled ‘She lent me her pyjama bottoms’ that revolve around de-stigmatising abortion, the experience and the healing process that follows through depicting objects, domestic spaces and parts of the body of women who have been through this event in the past.

All our final year BA Fine Art students have been working extremely hard to complete a body of work to exhibit in the Degree Show. This year, we’ll be celebrating their tremendous achievements with an online graduate showcase, launching in the Autumn, and we’ll hold a physical Show at the Art School when circumstances allow. Meanwhile, graduating students are managing an Instagram account @cglas_graduates2020  where they are showcasing their final year outcomes through artists’ profiles, interviews and IGTV tutorials.


We are delighted that our 2020 graduates were selected to exhibit some of their interim work as part of  ‘Final, not Over’ at Unit 1 Gallery Workshop.  The Gallery ran four sessions, showcasing the work of graduating students from different art schools, including the Royal College of Art and Slade School of Art, as well as City & Guilds of London Art School.


Images courtesy of the Artists and Unit 1 Gallery Workshop

In lieu of a ‘real-life’ end of year show, students completing the first year of their BA (Hons) Fine Art organised a virtual show on the Instagram account @kenningtonkrewgoesonline. Each student posted a showcase of their work along with an artist’s statement.

Although our creative community were not physically together in the Art School’s studios and facilities, we stayed connected through the Art School’s social media platforms. Alumni, Fellows and tutors have been making films shot in their lockdown studios and sharing insights into their current work. Art School Print Fellow, Kristina Chan and Artist Woodworking Fellow, Daniel Owusu feature in these short films.

In the Fine Art Department, and throughout the Art School, we are extremely excited about starting the new academic year in our bright and spacious Art School studios and can’t wait to welcome our new students into our supportive community.

You can find out more about how we approach Fine Art here at City & Guilds of London Art School through our course pages. We have a few places available on our BA and MA Fine Art starting this September, so if you want to ask any questions or just have a chat about the course, book an online open day. And if you want to apply for a place on a course, you can get the application details here.

Inline with guidance from the Government and Public Health England,  the Art School closed its facilities to all staff and students from 6pm on Tuesday 17 March 2020.  Since that time, we have been delivering our Foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate courses remotely, developing effective methods to continue the high quality education the Art School is renowned for.

Through interactive tutorials, seminars, demonstrations, reviews and one-to-ones, our tutors have approached this new online arena in an agile and resourceful way, determined to replicate the Art School experience as closely as possible. Our students have also adapted amazingly well during this period, establishing makeshift home studios and workshops, and continuing to practice remotely.

Top: BA Fine Art graduating student Polina Pak.  L-R: Charlotte Okparaeke (BA (Hons) Conservation) treating the Joseph Wade Memorial for one of her final year projects; First year BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding student, Tom Buchanan, carving an acanthus bracket.

We are absolutely committed to the ongoing progression of all our students and to celebrating the achievements and successes of our final year students, which seem all the more impressive considering the current circumstances. Where possible, their work will be featured in online showcases, meanwhile we are planning exhibitions for our BA and MA graduating students when circumstances allow.  Excitingly, you can now view the brilliant work of our Foundation Diploma in Art & Design students in our purpose-built virtual gallery space that launched this week. Explore the Foundation Show 2020 here.

Works featured in the online Foundation Show 2020. Clockwise from top left: Anna Merati; Maurice Matua; Callum Jones; Issy Romano.

Preparations for a safe return

In the meantime, the Art School is making preparations for a safe return for students and staff for the new academic year, starting in September 2020. Strictly adhering to guidance issued by the Government and Public Health England, we are putting measures in place to ensure social distancing and safety procedures can be carried out effectively.

To this end, we are carefully planning the allocation of studio spaces and opening hours for our workshop facilities. To maximise on studio and lab space and time for students, we will be running larger group activities such as lectures and seminars online in the first term, whereas appropriately-spaced one-to-ones and small group tutorials, so integral to our approach, will continue to take place in Art School studios.

Course timetabling will be adapted so that start and end times, and breaks and lunch times can be  staggered to avoid congestion in communal areas.

We are installing hand sanitiser stations throughout the site and reviewing Public Health England and World Health Organisation advice regarding face coverings and PPE. Following a thorough deep clean of the buildings, we are increasing the cleaning rota on a continuous basis and preparing clearly defined routes into and out of the Art School.

We are confident that whilst working within these safety guidelines, we can continue to provide high quality and intensive specialist courses to all our students, maintaining the vibrant, creative atmosphere that is always present at the Art School.

A few places available for 2020/21

We have a few places available on all our courses for 2020/21, which we expect to start in September and October as planned. You can find out more about each course by following the links:

• Foundation Diploma in Art & Design
• BA (Hons) Fine Art
• MA Fine Art
• BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding
• BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Architectural Stone
• PgDip/MA Carving
• BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces
• BA (Hons) Conservation: Books & Paper
• MA Conservation
• MA Art & Material Histories

If you have specific questions about a course or want to know more, you can arrange an online open day with our Heads of Departments. If you are ready to apply for a course, you can find application information and downloadable forms here.  Interviews will be held online or by email.

If you are an international student and have accepted a place at the Art School commencing in 2020/21, please keep yourself informed about the current position with regards to travel and visa processing centre availability. You can contact the Coronavirus Immigration Hotline (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) on +44 (0)800 678 1767 or email Let us know if you need any assistance with this.

What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms

Continue to stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

– a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)

– a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home. Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home. Please see government advice about self-isolation.

If you are unable to cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition worsens, you can use the NHS 111 online coronavirus (COVID-19) service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

If someone in your household develops COVID-19 symptoms, all other members of the household need to stay at home for 14 days.

How to avoid catching coronavirus

Public Health England and the NHS advise the following measures to stay healthy:

– limit contact with others and stay at home as much as possible

– maintain social distancing

– wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds

– use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

– do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

– cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

– put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards



It’s not every day that early career carvers have the opportunity to design a magnificent wooden frame to house a Dutch Old Master, and then after expertly carving and gilding it, know that their work will hang in pride of place with the revered painting for perpetuity. But this is exactly what MA student Borys Burrough has been able to achieve during his postgraduate Carving course at the Art School.

Through the Art School’s strong industry links and professional networks, our Historic Carving students gain access to a variety of high profile live projects and commissions, invaluable in developing professional practice. Borys is currently completing a commission he successfully won through the Art School, to research, design, carve and gild wooden frames for two Dutch Old Master paintings for a private collector in America. The first painting to be reframed is ‘Saskia Holding a Carnation‘ thought to be by Rembrandt, formerly on display at the Rembrandthuis Museum in Amsterdam, and the second is ‘Cobbler in his Workshop‘ by Pieter Gerritsz van Roestraeten.

The briefs for both frames specified their design should be based on the 17th century Dutch Auricular style. In the brief for the ‘Saskia’ frame, the owner asked that the design reference the 17th century etching ‘Modelli Artificiosi‘, as well as silver objects from the Van Vianen family. In addition, he wanted the frame’s unique design to also reflect the grotesque style as well as the vanitas and memento mori tradition.

The 17th century etching ‘Modelli Artificiosi’ referenced in Borys’ frame design, and Borys’ drawing

After thoroughly researching the design references detailed in the brief and meticulously drawing and developing the frame’s design scheme, Borys transcribed the drawing to a full size clay model of the frame, set on a wire mesh backing. Using the clay model as a design guide, he has precisely carved the ornate frame in pine, a soft wood ideal for detailed carving.

The new frame design set around ‘Saskia Holding a Carnation’ and the clay model

The four main lengths of the frame were roughly carved in Borys’ Art School studio, and along with the clay model, were moved to Borys’ home studio during Lockdown, where he continued work on the piece. The carving is now completed and Borys has water gilded the frame with gold, burnishing it to give a brilliant lustre.

The magnificent ‘Saskia’ frame, almost finished

Meanwhile, Borys continues work on the frame for the ‘Cobbler in his Workshop’, which will be completed later this month. The design for this smaller frame is a rescaled version of the border design from the etching of silver smith Johannes Lutma’s design for a Ewer.

Johannes Lutma’s design for a Ewer etching and Borys’ drawing

After discussing the best material to carve the frame in, Borys and his client agreed to use American walnut, a dark walnut hardwood with an even grain and beautiful figuring. Frames carved in American walnut work well with or without gilding but Borys will oil gild certain details of the frame, a historic technique used in the 17th century for both frames and furniture.

Borys carving the frame for ‘Cobbler in his Workshop’

The beautiful ‘Cobbler in his Workshop’ frame before gilding

Both finished frames will be exhibited in the Degree Show, planned to take place at the Art School in August 2021. Sign up to our mailing list to receive an invite.

Commenting on the frame commission, Borys said: ‘Having had 10 years’ experience working in the antique frame trade, restoring, gilding and now carving frames, this really is a dream commission only made possible by studying at the Art School. This commission exemplifies the great access to live projects that the course can provide. The experience I have gained from this project will no doubt be invaluable in my career progression as a woodcarver.

Borys specialised in frame design and carving during his BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding, which he completed in 2018. For his final year project, he designed, carved and gilded a frame, again based on the 17th century Auricular style, for a rediscovered Van Dyck portrait of Olivia Boteler Porter, in the possession of the Bowes Museum, near Durham – another example of a live commission arranged through the Art School.

The frame for the Van Dyck portrait, now hung in the Bowes Museum, Durham

Borys’ outstanding design, carving and gilding skills, combined with his deep knowledge and passion for historic frames, have led to a pair of exquisitely carved, bespoke wooden frames that will surround two highly-regarded Dutch Old Masters for many years to come. We are extremely proud of Borys’ achievements and can’t wait to see the finished frames exhibited at the Degree Show in the summer.


To help students navigate the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the Art School is extending the application dates for all its 2020/21 courses, including its Foundation Diploma, Undergraduate and Postgraduate Degree courses and Graduate Diploma Arts.


Additional application windows have been added for 7 June, 15 July and 19 August 2020, giving applicants a greater degree of flexibility during this difficult time. The application extension applies to the following courses:

Foundation Diploma in Art & Design

BA (Hons) Fine Art
MA Fine Art

BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces
BA (Hons) Conservation: Books & Paper
MA Conservation

BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Architectural Stone
BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding
PgDip/MA Carving

Graduate Diploma Arts in Carving, Conservation and Art & Material Histories.

Applications made after these dates may be considered if places are available.

Those interested in finding out more about a course can book onto an online open day, and anyone wishing to apply for a course can access the downloadable application form here. Due to the current lockdown situation, interviews are being conducted online.

The Art School is committed to widening participation in higher education and is able to offer a range of grants and financial assistance to students once they have enrolled on a course. These are awarded on the basis of demonstrable need and ability, and can cover varying portions of the tuition fees for a year.

If anyone has any questions about the Art School’s specialist courses, the application process or the available grants and financial assistance, please get in touch at

One of the projects currently being undertaken by students in the first year of BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding is to carve an acanthus leaf design onto a wooden bracket.  Tutor Peter Thuring is supporting students throughout this module with tutorials, demonstrations, one-to-ones and a variety of online learning aids. We thought we’d give you a peek into our virtual woodcarving studio and show you what our students are learning.

All the students have received a plaster cast of an 18th century bracket design and two pre-band sawn lime wood blanks, which Peter posted to their homes. Before they start carving their lime wood bracket, Peter is guiding them step-by-step through the preliminary stages: thorough research and drawing; carving a clay model; using a plaster cast design guide.

Research and drawings

The acanthus motif has been used as architectural ornament throughout history and as such, there are many variations on the design. However, through comprehensive research and analysis, consistent features can be identified such as a strongly defined centre vein with lateral veins tapering down to the bottom of the central vein and the division of the leaf edges into three or five parts.   The acanthus design drawing is built up from a basic, symmetrical grid structure, with layers of detail precisely measured and added to the grid to form the final drawing of this ornate design.

Clay model

Two blocks of clay, exactly the same size as the lime wood blanks, are prepared by the students and left to dry to “leather hard”. Using their drawings as a detailed guide, they measure out sections and the main volumes in the design, mark them in the clay, and then cut them into the clay with chisels. Taking each section at a time, they gradually and meticulously mark out the full detail of the designs into the clay and, selecting the appropriate chisels, cut into the clay to create a model that will form an exact carving guide for the acanthus bracket.

As well as producing an exact model of the bracket design to be carved, this process helps the student carvers understand how the motif design fits together, the relative proportions of each detail and the carving techniques required to create this intricate design.

Plaster cast model

As the students don’t currently have access to the Art School’s specialist facilities, their Tutor, Peter Thuring, created the plaster casts for this project from an 18th century model, and sent it to the students along with the lime wood blanks. From the plaster cast, the students can carefully draw the acanthus design onto the wood blank. Different methods are used to achieve this including detailed and accurate measuring and tracing.

Now the final part of the process can begin – carving into the wood blank…


Since the Art School’s workshops and studios have been closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak and national lockdown, tutors on all our courses have been continuing tutorials, seminars and one-to-ones from isolation at home and students have been working in their make-shift home studios.

Content and teaching methods have been adapted and taught online through the Art School’s online learning environment, Moodle, and other online platforms. Even here in the Historic Carving Department our students are able to continue developing their carving skills from home.

A new project set for first-year students on our BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding course supports them to carve an Acanthus leaf motif on a bracket. Tutor, Peter Thuring, posted a full briefing paper for the project on Moodle and sent a plaster cast of an 18th century bracket design and two pre-band sawn lime wood blanks by mail to each student’s home.

There are various stages to the Acanthus project. Students have been asked to conduct their own thorough research into Acanthus leaf design as used throughout history as architectural ornament, and create drawings based on their research.

Although there are many different variations in Acanthus motif design in different historical periods, there are also many consistent features. This illustration, taken from a 19th century source shows how the design can be built up from first principles.

Following their research and drawing practise, they need to prepare two blocks of clay and allow them to dry to “leather hard”. These will be used to practise cutting the Acanthus leaf shape and form a clay model on which to base the final carving.

At each stage, from research and drawing to cutting the clay models and finally carving the wood blanks, students will review and discuss their progress with Peter, who will provide feedback and demonstrations to guide them through the process. As well as their  hands-on “workshop” practice, students need to keep a carving process log which documents their work in progress and includes their completed models. Along with a self-evaluation form, this will be submitted for assessment at the end of the project in May.

For a more detailed description of the processes our student carvers are undertaking, read our blog ‘Preparing to carve lime wood acanthus brackets’.

As well as the more structured guidance provided in the project briefing paper, Peter has made some helpful suggestions for completing this carving project at home. He uses hand-drawn diagrams to explain how to secure the carving onto the kitchen table in lieu of a workbench.

Screw the carving onto a small board.

Clamp it onto the kitchen table.

Steady rickety table legs by tying a bag of sand, bricks or gravel with a rope to the table, increasing the load if the table still moves.

The first-year woodcarving students are just starting this new module and work is progressing well so far. Here’s student Tom Buchanan working on the project on his kitchen table workbench.


A new, short  film by Naoto Sakamoto features the Art School’s International Artist in Residence 2019, Taku Obata, and documents his making process as he carves a life-size, wooden ‘B-BOY’ sculpture during his residency in the Art School’s studios.  The impressive, polychrome carving, typical of Taku’s work, featured in a recent exhibition at Japan House London, which included an artist talk and demonstration.

Taku explains that the time and space afforded to him by his residency at the Art School allowed him to test out a different approach to his work, with more emphasis on sketching and intricate measurement.

Taku Obata is a multi-disciplinary Artist, who works mainly with large scale polychrome woodcarving and video. His practice is influenced by his background as a break-dancer and his work fuses urban themes with Japanese craft techniques.

Predominantly based in Japan, Taku received a master’s degree in sculpture from the Tokyo University of the Arts in 2008 and the same year won the grand prize at the Tokyo Wonder Site Grand Prix for his “B-BOY sculpture”. He has had a string of successful solo exhibitions in Japan and the United States, as well as exhibiting in many group shows.

The Art School’s residency programme provides generous studio space and access to specialist facilities to early and mid-career artists, who in return share their practice insights with students studying on the undergraduate and postgraduate Fine Art and Historic Carving programmes.

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We offer BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces and BA (Hons) Conservation: Books & Paper (both three-year, full-time courses) and MA Conservation (one year, full time or two years, part time). If you want to study at postgraduate level but need to enhance specific areas of practice or knowledge before embarking on our specialist MA Conservation course,  we can offer you a bespoke plan with our one or two-year Graduate Diploma Arts: Conservation programme.

Our specialist Conservation labs and studios are situated in the Art School’s elegant Georgian building. Our BA (Hons) Conservation: Books & Paper course commenced this year and has been developed in consultation with a number of leading conservation specialists at the Tate, National Archives, Fitzwilliam Museum and College of Arms. A suite of bespoke facilities, specifically designed for teaching this conservation specialism, were completed over the summer, and create an enhanced Conservation area within the Art School.

The Art School has been providing high-quality conservation courses for over 50 years, developing an outstanding reputation within the heritage sector.

Conservation is the meeting-point of science and art – a fascinating blend of state-of-the-art forensics, aesthetics and traditional craft skills. As such, our conservation courses offer hands-on engagement with the craft skills employed in historic manufacturing processes combined with leading-edge scientific analysis and treatment procedures, contemporary conservation practice, humanities and the ethics, laws and regulations of conservation.

On our courses, you’ll benefit from small class sizes, expert tutors (all leading industry professionals) and specialist lab facilities including state-of-the-art laser technology.

Our extensive links with leading museums and private collectors will provide you with high-profile live projects, placements and a professional network. In the last five years, 100% of graduates have been employed in conservation within six months of graduation, including an annual funded internship in Venice. Many of our alumni have gone on to work within national museum and gallery conservation departments including senior conservation posts at Birmingham Museum and Art Collections, Historic Royal Palaces, the Museum of London, the National Trust, Tate, Victoria & Albert Museum, British Museum, Wallace Collection and Westminster Abbey. Graduates are also employed throughout the private sector with firms such as Cliveden Conservation Workshops, Plowden and Smith, Nimbus Conservation, Taylor Pearce Conservation.

Alongside the conservation labs and studios, our conservation students use other specialist facilities at the Art School. Follow this link to take a look around our specialist workshops and shared spaces.

An Art Histories programme is integral to our conservation courses. The programme takes a detailed and materials-based approach to Art History (Antiquity to Modern), The History of British Architecture and The History of Style. Regular guided visits to architectural sites, historic houses and museums will enhance your learning and provide you with an in-depth understanding of the historical and technical factors that affect conservation practice, conservation ethics and policy.

In this Zoom conversation recorded during lockdown, art historian Viv Lawes, talks about her taught sessions on our conservation courses, which particularly focus on the importance of the use of specific vocabularies around art design objects.


During the first two years of the course, you’ll develop a deepening-level of  knowledge and skills in a wide range of specialist conservation topics including ethics, history and philosophy, legislation and preventive conservation approaches. Alongside these subjects, you’ll learn the science of conservation, including materials science and, through hands-on workshops, you’ll explore the historic craft skills used in the manufacturing process of the objects and artefacts you will treat. Engaging in modern conservation techniques, including laser cleaning and technical analysis using IR spectroscopy, UV microscopy and mass-spectrometry, you’ll work on supervised conservation projects with specialist experts, on artefacts loaned from our extensive, heritage network.

This will prepare you to develop your conservation practice further in your final year, when you’ll complete several remedial conservation projects, with supervision from your specialist tutors, involving historical research, material analysis, treatment proposal and application.

Find out more about the BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces course content here.

Find out more about the BA (Hons) Conservation: Books & Paper course content here.


Our MA Conservation course focuses on complex advanced level Conservation projects and sets out to equip graduates to go on to become leaders in the field. It is designed for those who have either an undergraduate degree in Conservation or who have extensive professional experience within a conservation setting. The MA involves high level conservation projects, advanced conservation science, research, ethics and professional practice. The course culminates in the completion of an ambitious practical conservation project accompanied by an extended research and treatment report.

This course will prepare you to work on ambitious, or large-scale conservation projects as a specialist or project leader and to work as an expert in International contexts.

Find out more about the MA Conservation course content here.

Senior Furniture Conservator at the Wallace Collection, Jurgen Huber, is a graduate from our postgraduate Conservation course. In this short video, he explains how studying Conservation at the Art School has benefitted his career.

All Conservation courses are validated by Ravensbourne University London.


To find out more about the course and ask any questions you have, we recommend booking onto an online open day.

Register for BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces online open day 

Register for BA (Hons) Conservation: Books & Paper online open day 

Register for MA Conservation online open day

You are also invited to join one of our weekly student virtual chats, where you can ask current students about the course and student life at the Art School. Register for a student virtual chat here.

Download a pdf of our prospectus here.

Apply to study  >

Click on the images below to enlarge them and explore the Conservation Department.

As we always prioritise the health and wellbeing of staff and students, the evolving COVID-19 outbreak caused the Art School to close all facilities to staff and students, from 6pm, Tuesday 17 March.

The Art School remains committed to delivering quality educational experiences, that facilitate progression and successful graduation. So, whilst our buildings are closed, the Art School remains active with staff working remotely and teaching online. We will re-open the buildings as soon as we are able to do so in accordance with government guidance.

We urge both staff and students to follow the latest guidance from Public Health England. Follow these links for full and up-to-date health guidance and government measures to suppress the spread of coronavirus.

Information for current students

For detailed information on: registering any coronavirus symptoms; your online teaching provision; travel outside the UK; and visas & immigration, please go to Moodle.

Information for applicants for 2020/21

We expect our 2020/21 courses to run as planned from autumn 2020. Places are still available on all courses. You can find out more about each course by following the links:

Foundation Diploma in Art & Design
BA (Hons) Fine Art
MA Fine Art
BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding
BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Architectural Stone
PgDip/MA Carving
BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces
BA (Hons) Conservation: Books & Paper
MA Conservation
MA Art & Material Histories

If you have an interview arranged, our Admissions Team will be in contact to explain the alternative arrangements put in place.

If you are an international student and have accepted a place at the Art School commencing in 2020/21, please keep yourself informed about the current position with regards to travel and visa processing centre availability. You can contact the Coronavirus Immigration Hotline (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) on +44 (0)800 678 1767 or email

Our open days will recommence once the buildings re-open but in the meantime, we are conducting open day sessions online. You can arrange your online open day here.

If you are ready to apply for a course, you can find application information and downloadable forms here.

What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms

Continue to stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

– a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)

– a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home. Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home. Please see government advice about self-isolation.

If you are unable to cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition worsens, you can use the NHS 111 online coronavirus (COVID-19) service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

If someone in your household develops COVID-19 symptoms, all other members of the household need to stay at home for 14 days.

How to avoid catching coronavirus

Public Health England and the NHS advise the following measures to stay healthy:

– wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds

– use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

– do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

– cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

– put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

– maintain social distancing – stay 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people, when you go outside.


As part of her final year conservation project on the BA (Hons) Conservation course, Charlotte Okparaeke has chosen to use 3D printing in the treatment plan she has designed. This is the first time 3D printing has been used by a student in the Conservation Department and is a significant development.

Charlotte is working on a Girandole gilt wood and compo mirror frame and is using the 3D scans to replace lost ornament on the frame where the reverse section is complete. A mould was taken from the surviving section and a plaster cast made. This cast was then scanned and will be refined and reversed with Meshmixer software, then 3D printed to obtain the mirror image.

The 3D print may be used as a positive from which a further mould and cast can be produced in the material of choice. Or it can be used as a negative, providing a ready-made mould. The scan can also be resized to allow for shrinkage in the final casting material, such as compo putty.

Charlotte intends to explore these different options to find the best solution for her object.

Support and facilities were provided by the prototyping department at our validating partner, Ravensbourne University London

Concluding a series of six workshops with artist and materials researcher Laura White, our Art & Material Histories students have been exploring the co-dependent relationship between materials and the human body. Through a series of exercises that inhibited as well as expanded their bodies’ capabilities, students reflected on varied material experiences and what they can teach us about the ways we might privilege specific embodied encounters.

The workshop began by asking students to pick up a familiar object without the use of their hands and lift it from the floor to the table. Students discovered that by working together, new forms of behaviour and understanding were exposed. Next, they were invited to construct an object/sculpture/device that impeded their bodies’ normal capacity. Cardboard, plaster, duct tape, and more, were wound and wrapped around material things and then latched to the body in novel and unexpected ways, producing a multitude of artwork/research tools that could be used to re-evaluate our physical interactions with the material and art world.

This final workshop concluded a series of material-based research activities that have challenged not only our relationship to the material world, but the very methodologies by which we carryout art historical research itself. Art is made of materials; pixels, paint and stone, clay, meat and foam, and in order to fully understand them we need to develop new forms of material knowledge.

All images courtesy of Laura White.

New work by Taku Obata, City & Guilds of London Art School Artist in Residence 2019, is being exhibited at Japan House London from 28 February to 6 April 2020. The exhibition features Taku’s most recent work , a life-size wood carving of a ‘B-GIRL’, made during his residency at the Art School. To accompany the exhibition, Taku will also be giving an artist talk on 11 March, a drawing demonstration on 14 March and a carving demonstration on 4 April.

Taku is a Japanese contemporary artist who works mainly with large-scale, polychrome woodcarving and video. His work is inspired by his background as a breakdancer. The Art School visited Taku’s show at Tokyo’s influential Watari-um gallery, during a knowledge exchange visit with Tokyo University of the Arts Sculpture Restoration PhD Lab in November 2018 involving a group of tutors and historic-craft experts from the Art School. This trip was financially supported by the Toshiba International Foundation and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.

Taku Obata, a graduate of Tokyo University of the Arts, won the grand prize at the Tokyo Wonder Site Grand Prix for his “B-BOY sculpture”. He has had a string of successful solo exhibitions in Japan and the United States, as well as exhibiting in many group shows. Last year, miniatures of his large-scale pieces were included in The Size of Thoughts at White Conduit Projects, an exhibition that brought together works no larger than 30cm in any direction by 50 sculptors and contemporary jewellers.

The Art School’s residency programme provides generous studio space and access to specialist facilities to early and mid-career artists, who in return share their practice insights with students studying on the undergraduate and postgraduate Fine Art and Carving programmes. The artists selected for the 2020 residency programme will be announced soon.

Ornamental Woodcarving alumna (2015), Clunie Fretton, has recently completed the restoration of the Master’s Chair of the Joiners & Ceilers Company. Here she describes the complex project and explains how she approached the in-depth research, design and carving required to replace the missing elements of the intricate design, whilst minimising any indications that the chair had been restored.

“The restoration of the Master’s Chair of the Joiners & Ceilers Company posed an exciting challenge (Figure 1). The chair, on long-term loan to the Victoria & Albert Museum, was made in 1754 by Edward Newman, a Past Master and talented cabinetmaker and carver, and gifted to the Company. It possesses carving and design of a distinctive flair and aptitude, and marries very elegantly the two concerns of the Joiners & Ceilers, who as a livery are responsible for both joinery and carving, the latter at times conflated with panellers under the archaic word “ceiler”.

The chair, constructed from mahogany, has survived in remarkably good condition with very few significant losses from the ornately carved and pierced back despite its many years of service. However, the apex of the chair-back had seen more substantial losses, most notably the loss of a whole finial on the right hand side of the chair, and a number of heraldic elements from the coat of arms figured in full relief in the middle, and it was agreed that these missing elements detracted enough from the silhouette and impact of the chair to warrant their replacement.

Figure 1. The chair after restoration (Photography by Clunie Fretton)

It was particularly important during the restoration to reduce the ambiguity of any replacements. This was more easily achieved in the case of the missing leaf tips, as the acanthus style of ornament has a predictable design, in addition to there being a surplus of reference material in the carved chair-back itself. The task was made easier by the hints left in the way the carving had been undercut, as the decisions of the original carver left clues as to how the missing carving would have continued up from the breaks if one were to follow the curves to their conclusions. The missing finial, of course, could be copied directly from its mirror on the opposite side of the chair, barring a missing leaf tip at the top.

The replacement of the heraldic elements posed a greater challenge and was the area in which there was the greatest lack of reference material. The content of the missing heraldry is defined very clearly in the blazon – a written description of the coat of arms that leaves no uncertainty as to the devices that are featured – but the execution of the missing elements was more problematic. However, research yielded a copy of Edward Hatton’s  New View of London, published in 1708, in the British Library, and his comprehensive survey of London very handily included descriptions of the Halls and Arms of every Livery Company and, luckily, engravings of many of their coats of arms. Though published just under fifty years before the chair was made, this proved the closest reference image that could be obtained of the coat of arms at that time, and the most contemporary blazon:

“Crest is a Demy-Savage proper holding a Spear Or. Supporters 2 Cupids of the last, the dexter holding a Woman crowned with a Castle, the sinister a Square.”

This thankfully cleared the sometimes muddied record of what the dexter supporter was holding, which had in some references been more akin to a figure of Christ, and clarified her as wearing a mural coronet. The crest, a “Savage”, was shown in the reference image holding a tilting spear, which had in later incarnations developed into a regular spear. The savage motif has also been debated over the years: he is not a true Wild Man of the Woods, as these are usually depicted as extremely hairy, but is more likely to have Silvanus, the Roman God of the Woods, as his inspiration. Silvanus is commonly depicted with a crown of leaves, just as the Joiners & Ceilers’ Crest is, and makes a more understandable choice for a livery company devoted to working timber.

There were in total eleven missing pieces, comprising the arms from the supporters, an arm and head from the crest, the finial, and numerous leaf tips. Work began by modelling in a hard modelling wax, in order to create a removable reference for the new pieces being made and to fine-tune how best the new pieces ought to sit in relation to the old. Small blanks were then cut from Honduran mahogany, with the grain of the wood running in the same direction as on the original.

Carving began on pieces fixed to a piece of board with a hide-glue paper joint, allowing the carving to be held in place and the majority of the waste material removed with reference to the wax models before they were detached from the back board. With some excess material left, the carvings were then offered up to their positions, and the lengthy process of carving away their points of contact began. As it was not possible to remove any original material in order to “make good” the breaks, the new pieces had to be carved to marry up with the oftentimes jagged and uneven breaks.  It was particularly important at this stage to have excess material left, as it allowed the matching of contact points to be made exact before the rest of the carving was completed, in order that on pieces such as the sinister supporter’s arm, the square would sit vertically and at the correct angle. At this stage the small size and awkward shape of the carving demanded that it no longer be fixed or clamped, but held in one hand and carved with the other.

Figure 2. Savage crest with left arm, spear and head restored (Photography by Clunie Fretton)

The carving of the head (Figure 2) proved the greatest challenge due to the paucity of contemporary references. Inspiration was taken from the two supporters, which though carved with great facility also retained something of the uncanny in the proportions and shape of their faces. The broad foreheads and closely clustered features are typical of infants, but some of their unusual look was transposed into the head of the savage to create continuity with the existing carving style.

The finial, by contrast, could be worked more freely (Figure 4). After taking measurements the design was reversed, and carved largely by eye, so as to introduce the natural differences in appearance that occurred across the rest of the chair when the design was originally mirrored.



Figure 3. Restoration in progress. Spring clamp and Kemco platform in use on the sinister supporter (Photography by Clunie Fretton)

With the carving complete, the pieces were glued in place with hide glue bulked with coconut shell powder and microballoons. The clamping of the small and irregularly sized pieces was tricky, and the best solution proved to be using Kemco Impression Compound pressed onto the new carvings in order to create a platform for the spring clamps (Figure 3).

The chair had been French polished after (and over) the breaks, which was removed where it would interfere with the adhesion of the glue. The carvings were then colour-matched to the original using garnet shellac, a very close colour match, adjusted with a minute quantity of lamp black pigment. The additions were then rubbed back to be consistent with the wear on the original, and a small quantity of hard black wax used to smooth the joins where extensive wear of the breaks had rounded their edges. Renaissance Wax provided the top-surface in order to knock back any areas too deep to dull the sheen from the shellac by sanding.”

Figure 4. Comparison of finials: original on the left, restoration on the right (Photography by Clunie Fretton)


I’m grateful to the Worshipful Company of Joiners & Ceilers, Leela Meinertas, Nick Humphrey, and all the members of Furniture Conservation for their support during this project.

This blog is adapted from a version first published in the V&A’s Conservation Journal.

Each second-year student was given an object from Kensal Green Cemetery to examine and conserve during the Autumn and Spring Terms. The objects are all memorial plaques that are stored in the crypt of the Anglican Chapel at the cemetery.

They have been cleaning the objects to remove dust, soot (carbon) deposits, sulphation and other soiling. Consolidating friable areas of stone and carry out any necessary repairs, including fillings. They are also designing and constructing a wooden handling tray that the object can be stored in, to provide protection from handling and damage. In approaching the cleaning of these objects, the aim is to achieve a cohesive clean while also ensuring that the inscription remains as legible as possible because this is central to the significance of the object. On the photographs below you can see the students painting within the lettering with Gamblin colours.


Rian’s gilding module introduces oil gilding, water gilding, verre eglomise, pastiglia (raised gesso), sgraffito (egg tempera scored to reveal underneath layer of burnished gold leaf on a gesso ground), Verre églomisé (reverse glass gilding), textures in gesso, all essential skills in Conservation. To learn these gilding techniques, our first year students are using the moulds of fruit or vegetables that they have created in previous woodcarving, joinery modules and limewood boards. The course provide the opportunity to make a test panel with an array of colours, both traditional and bespoke from a variety of bole suppliers. It is also a chance to learn about colours used during particular periods in decorative art history and the countries that favoured them.



BA (Hons) Conservation Studies alumni Hans Thompson (2013) and Max Malden (2012) and current part-time MA Conservation student (and BA alumna 2015) Kirsty Walsh, featured in a lengthy article in The Observer, published on Sunday 2 February 2020.

The detailed feature explores the recent work of Orbis Conservation, the thriving conservation firm founded by friends and colleagues Hans and Max in 2013, and later employing Kirsty after she graduated from the Art School.

The article’s author, Nell Card, interviews the three conservation experts about their current projects and the sorts of complex issues they tackle when they plan the conservation treatment of the objects in their care.

Their most ambitious and large-scale conservation project to date has been the conservation and restoration of six 19th century wooden figureheads from British naval warships, that will be exhibited in The Box, a gallery and museum due to open during May 2020 in Plymouth. Other significant projects include conservation of Eduardo Paolozzi’s Mosaic in Tottenham Court Road Tube Station and the carved, late Neolithic Calderstones.

Almost all alumni from our Conservation Department find conservation work in the heritage sector.  Our rigorous Conservation syllabus, including art histories and historic decorative and making techniques, conservation ethics and approaches, analysis and reporting plus analytical and conservation scientific processes, fully equips graduates to work on these types of high-profile, historically-significant projects.

We are delighted to announce that clay will be the next material in focus on our Material Matters research programme. A series of exhibitions, workshops, lectures, research and round-table discussions will take place during 2020 and 2021, to investigate the material properties of clay and its relationship with fine art and art histories, historic craft and the conservation of cultural objects.

MA Art & Material Histories ‘Unknowing Clay’ workshop.
Photo credit: Laura White

The Art School’s Materials foyer is currently being renewed and will feature brand new work from some of our current students studying MA Fine Art, BA Historic Carving and BA Conservation; and Artist Woodwork and Decorative Surfaces Fellows. It will also feature alumni and staff work, and archive material exposing the Art School’s long history with clay.

This year’s London Craft Week event on 1 and 2 May 2020, will centre around clay. A series of hands-on, head modelling workshops are planned to run throughout Saturday 2 May and will be led by the Art School’s Sculpture, Modelling & Casting Tutor Kim Amis. And a fascinating exhibition, open on Friday 1 and Saturday 2 May, will explore the origins, applications and types of clay.

Other activities planned during 2020-21 include an ARLIS/UK & Ireland Research Award funded project which will investigate the Art School’s historic creative collaboration with the neighbouring Royal Doulton pottery in the 19th century. Research at the London Metropolitan Archives and Stoke-on-Trent City Archives will explore the symbiosis between arts education and industry in the Victorian era, and gendered activities in both the studio and the workplace.

The Material Matters research programme has previously focused on wood (2017) and pigment (2018-19).

We are interested to hear from you if you are a current City & Guilds of London Art School student or alumni working with clay and would like to be featured on the Material Matters website or in the Material Matters programme. Please email

Follow @materialmatters_cglas for updates on Instagram.

Title image courtesy of Laura White.





The Art & Material Histories students are getting their hands dirty again – this week they are up to their elbows in wet clay at Rochester Square Ceramic Studios in Camden, re-thinking the recently re-popularized but ancient craft of ceramics. Starting from a position of ‘not knowing’ and led by artist and researcher Laura White, the group are exploring without boundaries the rich potential of this earthly material.

Using different processes and clays – throwing, hand building, extruding and casting, using buff, porcelain and terracotta clay, the students are deconstructing the assumptions and ideologies around its craft by challenging not only the material’s behaviour but also their own!

Throughout 2020 and 2021, as part of its Material Matters programme, the Art School is engaging in a multidisciplinary research project investigating Clay through a broad range of artistic, historical and material contexts. For more information about our Material Matters programme and how you could participate in the MA in Art & Material Histories, contact us at

All photographs courtesy of Laura White.


In a recent interdisciplinary collaboration, BA (Hons) Fine Art alumna, Katie Lennard, commissioned alumni from two of the Art School’s specialist courses, to work with her on a roof-top installation in the City of London.

Katie was asked to create a sculpture for an office roof garden and chose to work with Stone Carving alumnus Edgar Ward and BA Conservation alumna, and current MA Conservation student, Miyuki Kajiwara, on the project. The stone sculpture is titled The Texel Stone.


The Texel Stone is carved in Portland Stone, incorporating elements of gilding in gold leaf, and is installed on a bed of Sedum and surrounded by wild flowers, lavender and olive trees. Cobbles edge the garden perimetre. Describing the project, Katie said: “Using 3D scanning, I developed my idea to interpret and enlarge (by around seven times) a shard of slate that I found at the Blue Lagoon in Abereiddy, Pembrokeshire, Wales in 2015.”

The Texel Stone project illustrates the inspiring creativity engendered by the Art School’s unique blend of specialist disciplines. Katie’s experience at the Art School has given her a deeper engagement with art’s materials and their potential. It has also connected her with the skilled makers who helped her realise the installation she designed. “For this commission, I wanted to use valuable, traditional materials and specialist skills to create an object that would evoke mystery and attract wildlife. Naturally, Portland stone was chosen because of its enormous potential and layered connection with London architecture. Had I not studied BA Fine Art Sculpture at the Art School, I would not have known where to start, or who might help me to achieve my vision.”

Katie chose to work with Edgar Ward who she describes as “seamlessly professional” and Miyuki Kajiwara, whose gold leaf gilding “transcends the work entirely“. She also attributes support from Art School Fine Art Tutor Frances Richardson as a positive influence on the work.

Katie tells us: “The piece is now situated about 100 metres from the Gherkin on a private, wild roof garden at the top of an office building and is named after the company who commissioned the work.”

Open days are currently available for the Art School’s Fine Art, Historic CarvingConservation and Art & Material Histories courses and you can book your place online. For more information about The Texel Stone, please contact Katie at


Photos courtesy of Katie Lennard and Helena Pliotis




Clunie Fretton, who graduated from our Ornamental Woodcarving & Gilding Diploma course in 2015 (now revalidated as BA (Hons) Historic Carving: Woodcarving & Gilding), has recently completed the restoration of the 1754 Master’s Chair of the Worshipful Company of Joiners & Ceilers, housed in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Furniture Gallery.

Clunie was asked to re-carve the missing heraldic elements and foliage from the back of this intricately carved chair, a process that involved a great deal of research and consideration in order to faithfully restore the undocumented losses. She details the process of restoring the missing carving from the chair on our Historic Carving blog, which goes into greater depth on the method and challenges she faced. Her work also featured in the V&A’s Conservation Journal.

Clunie was the recipient of support from the Worshipful Company of Joiners & Ceilers during her diploma course here at the Art School, and now as a freeman of the company the work on the Master’s Chair has come full circle, having been made by Past Master Edward Newman in 1754 and restored in 2019 by a craftswoman still practising the same trade some 265 years later.

In 2021 Clunie will go on to produce carving for the New Master’s Chair, in commemoration of the 450th Anniversary of the Joiners & Ceilers Company.

The Art School is proud to support this continuity of skills stretching back hundreds of years with its Historic Carving courses. When asked, Clunie said that the Art School had provided her with ‘a strong skill-base from which to grow‘, allowing her to expand her practise into new areas following graduation while still following the traditional history of the craft.

She has since set up a practice, Fretton Handley, with her partner Felix Handley, and they now work on sculptural and restoration projects as a team.

We are well into the delivery of the first year of our brand new MA in Art & Materials Histories course here at the Art School. It’s not only the subject itself which is new, as it draws from contemporary critical thinking and material-based artistic practices, but also the way we are teaching it. We are working with the idea that in order to appropriately engage with new ways of material thinking, we also need to engage in new ways of learning, and the course is proving to be exemplary in this respect.

This week, our students took part in a day-long workshop with artist and researcher Laura White and materials expert, Senior Lecturer in Design at Goldsmiths College and joint founder of UCL’s Institute of Making, Martin Conreen. Blobs of silly Putty, blocks of metal foam, jars of impossibly light Aerogels and Mummy Black pigment and much, much more were handled, played with and critically evaluated in relation to future technologies and artistic practices.

Photo credit: Laura White

Last week, students took part in N16’s Meat & Delicatessen’s organic Poultry and Sausage workshop. Lead by expert butcher Paul Grout we learnt the craft of dissecting and tying a chicken and de-boning meat for the stuffing of Cumberland sausages. Reflecting on the sustainability of the meat industry and the increasing popularity of its alternatives, students worked side-by side with their teaching staff to experience hands-on the pleasures (and for our 2 veggie student’s, challenges) of organic meat preparation.

Photo credit: Laura White
Photo credit: Laura White
Photo credit: Laura White

Next week, our students will be out and about in London’s museums and galleries in order to discover and reflect on artworks material value, shifting status depending on their material context and the constructed narratives around them.

All in all, the course is shaping up to be one of the most innovative and progressive MA’s in contemporary Art History.

To more deeply understand the manufacturing process of historic objects they may be treating as conservators, our first year students develop introductory historic craft skills employed by master craftsmen for centuries. This workshop focuses on bas relief modelling in clay – one of the primary processes in casting, moulding and wood and stone carving.

During the session, students gain experience of transcribing a two-dimensional image into relief form. The depth of the relief is decided by the peer group during the workshop.

The casting process learned in the first term should be sufficient to enable students to produce a silicone rubber mould and a plaster positive cast in self-directed time.


The Art School has been operating as an independent not-for-profit Higher Education provider with charitable status since 1971, with educational activities governed by the Board of Trustees of the charitable company – City & Guilds of London Art School Ltd.

Thanks to the generous support of Nurole Recruitment the City & Guilds of London Art School Ltd has appointed a number of new Trustees in 2019:

Dr Virginia Brooke
Gabrielle Gbadamosi
James Kelly
Michael Osbaldeston
Professor Elizabeth Rouse

Additionally, the Board’s first staff Trustee, Senior Stone Carving Tutor Nina Bilbey, was appointed for a term of two years, the second student Trustee, Jyoti Bharwani Chair of Students, was appointed for a term of a year, and Art School Principal, Tamiko O’Brien was appointed as Ex Officio Trustee for the duration of her employment.

The Art School is currently partnering with Nurole Recruitment to appoint a new Chair of the Board of Trustees.

We are delighted to announce that our Summer School 2020 is now open for bookings!

New for 2020, our Summer School programme will run over a three-week period from 6 July – 24 July 2020, with extra dates added for our most indemand courses – Stone Carving for Beginners, Introduction to Ornamental Woodcarving and Gilding and Verre Églomisé.

A 10% early bird discount is available until 6pm on Friday 3 January 2020, giving those who want to learn new craft skills, or develop existing ones, the opportunity to use the Christmas break to secure a place on their favourite course for a reduced fee.

Our 3-5 day Summer courses focus on the Art School’s specialisms of contemporary fine art, historic crafts and conservation, and include observational life drawing; wood and stone carving; gilding; relief modelling in clay; etching and conservation of historic objects. All our courses are suitable for beginners, and some of them are good for those with some experience too.

Participants make use of our specialist facilities and benefit from small class sizes and expert tutors who are all practising professionals.

Feedback from previous students has been positive with many participants praising the course tutors for their excellent support and the stimulating course content, level and structure.

I loved it and found it very useful. Great to be back at school learning something new with a great teacher and fun people.’  Ingibjorg – Gilding and Verre Églomisé

Tom was a superb tutor. Prodigiously skilful, ever patient and remarkably concise.’  Sam – Lettering in Stone

Excellent course well taught by an expert in her field. Lovely and patient teacher and great access to tools and materials.’  Lydia – Introduction to Ornamental Woodcarving

Thanks to the generosity of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, a number of grant-funded places are available to young people aged 18-25, on certain courses. The grant scheme is aimed at engaging young people with historic crafts, specifically facilitating the participation of those who would otherwise be unable to fund their place.

Eligible courses are Behind the Scenes with the Conservators, Bas Relief Modelling in Clay, Introduction to Ornamental WoodcarvingGilding and Verre Églomisé,  Lettering in Stone and Stone Carving for Beginners. 

Anyone interested in applying for a grant-funded place can email

For the full Summer School 2020 programme please click here.



The Board of the City & Guilds of London Art School are seeking to appoint a new Chair following the retirement of Robin Holland-Martin, who chaired the Art School over a significant period in its development with great success. Laurence Benson is currently interim Chair during the recruitment and appointment period before returning to his previous position as Deputy Chair.

The Art School is specialist offering undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Conservation, Fine Art and Historic Carving as well as a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design. It has a reputation for a very high standard of student work, quality of teaching, generous studio spaces and a high level of student satisfaction. The Art School, while small with circa 240 students, makes a significant contribution to culture and heritage through championing endangered subjects and a focus on the dialogues between the eye, hand, material and intellect.

The Art School is in a crucial phase in its history with new course initiatives and major developments planned for its historic site over the next five years. Our specialist offer is soon to be expanded with a new BA (Hons) Conservation: Books & Paper, following the closure of MA Conservation at Camberwell College of Arts, UAL, and a development project to support this and other projects is ongoing.

The Art School is a charitable company, governed by a Board of Trustees.

We are advertising for this post through Nurole, and a link to the details on their website and how to apply is available here

Please note that it may take up to 20 seconds for the Nurole posting to fully upload.

If you have any queries about this role please email Tamiko O’Brien, the Art School’s Principal, directly on 


As part of the annual Venice trip in November 2019, the group of second year Conservation students visited the 16th Century Canton ​Synagogue at the heart of the world’s first ghetto with Art School Conservation Tutor, Jennifer Dinsmore, who gave the students fascinating insights into this impressive building with complex conservation challenges.

The Canton Synagogue was founded in 1532 and completely restored in late baroque period. The Jewish Museum of Venice, situated next to it, is a little but very rich museum founded in 1953 by the Jewish Community of Venice.

The precious objects shown to the public, which include important examples of goldsmith and textile manufacture made between the 16th and the 19th centuries, are a lively witnessing of the Jewish tradition.  Furthermore, the museum offers a wide selection of ancient books and manuscripts and some objects used in the most important moments of the cycle of civil and religious life.


Whilst we were visiting the Synagogue, we were lucky to watch the live Conservation of the terrazzo floor, a composite material using various stones such as marble, quartz, granite set in mortar, at the 16th-century Schola Grande Tedesca.



Each year the Conservation Department hosts a Winter Party and it is a lovely occasion. This year it took place on Wednesday 4 December welcoming influencers in the industry, collaborators and partners of the Department, owners of objects being conserved, donors to conservation, Trustees and alumni.

This is a great opportunity to thank Conservation Department donors and supporters, object owners and industry collaborators. We celebrate the excellent work of our Conservation students and expert tutors, showcasing conservation training of the highest standard.





Miyuki Kajwara (current MA Conservation student) and Jonida Mecani (2019 BA Conservation alumna) have recently spent two months on San Giorgio Maggiore, a small island off Venice, after being selected to take part in a two-month, fully-funded internship at the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore. This initiative is supported by Venice in Peril, a fund dedicated to conserving Venice’s architectural heritage and treasures.

Miyuki and Jonida have been living and eating with the small community of Benedictine monks at the Abbey, whilst carrying out a conservation project to clean a series of stone sculptures around the inner walls of one of the entrances in Palladio’s Church. This has been a fantastic opportunity to work at a world-famous site with complex conservation requirements.

During our annual Venice trip in November 2019, we visited the two interns who introduced us to the work they have been carrying out and also showed us the wooden choir that was the focus of the previous year’s Venice in Peril interns, alumni Catherine Grey and Olivia McIlvenny. Their brief was to monitor the evolution of the corrosive insect infestation in the wooden carvings and present a detailed conservation report to officials at the Church with recommendations on how to conserve the ornate work.



We are delighted to announce the BASET and City & Guilds of London Art School: Endeavour Award – Funding to Study Conservation in London.

To be awarded to an Australian national to study on the Art School’s three-year BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces or BA (Hons) Conservation: Books & Paper course enrolling in Autumn 2020.

The Britain-Australia Society Education Trust (BASET) and City & Guilds of London Art School have come together to offer financial support to a talented and deserving person with a passion for conservation. The successful applicant will demonstrate a willingness to commit to an intensive course that is carefully structured to enable development of the knowledge and skills needed to undertake a professional career in the conservation and heritage industry. Together we aim to select a student to study and train in London in order to increase those skills and to share knowledge and ideas -ultimately taking those skills home to continue their work while building valuable links between our two countries.


Current Endeavour Award Recipient:

Joint funding from BASET and City & Guilds of London Art School has provided an opportunity for me to retrain for a career in conservation. As a result, I will return home to Australia equipped with the specialist knowledge, skills and experience to forge a successful career.


We are two great nations with strong connections and a mutual desire to promote, maintain, preserve and conserve historical objects, artefacts and creative trades. BASET provides financial sponsorship where it “makes the difference” to support these talented young people, both for the benefit of themselves, both countries and society as a whole.

Value: £8,000 per year towards full time International student fees of £14,750 per year of study.

Duration: Three years

Application: Australian nationals offered a place on one of the Art School’s two BA (Hons) Conservation courses are invited to apply for this award.

Details: The award is for three years of study, and will be paid directly towards tuition fees. The applicant recognises that some additional funding from personal sources will be required and that transport, visa and living costs are the responsibility of the applicant. The successful applicant must provide regular updates and will produce annual end of academic year reports. They will be invited to be part of the BASET community during their time in the UK.

Click HERE for more information about our Conservation BA (Hons) programme or to discuss an application to the course contact


The annual Venice trip is an educational tour of the famous city of Venice attended by second year BA Conservation students, Historic Carving students and those studying MA Art & Material Histories.

As reported in a recent news article, our 2019 Venice trip in November coincided with the worst flooding in Venice for many years. Despite the logistical challenges that came with the high tides, we were still able to complete the majority of our itinerary and witnessing first-hand the destruction caused by the water emphasised to us the fragility of the unique treasure that is Venice.

Here are some of the highlights of the trip.

We started with an introduction to the layout of the City and its relationship to the Molo, the Piazzetta and the Piazza San Marco, focusing on the external tour of the buildings of the Piazza San Marco; the cultural, religious and governmental centre of the city, which boasts structures built in the full range of architectural periods –

  • The Byzantine Basilica, with Gothic additions
  • The Doge’s Palace; Gothic
  • The Torre Dell Orologio; Early Renaissance
  • The Sansovino Library and Logetta; High (or Roman) Renaissance

We toured the exterior of the buildings of the Piazza San Marco; the cultural, religious and governmental centre of the city. The Doge’s Palace is Byzantine, a Gothic, and Renaissance Palace and seat of government. We learnt how history was mythologised in praise of the State.


This was followed by an independent visit to Museo Correre and Biblioteca Marciana, San Marco, Museum of the History of Venice. The collection of classical sculpture was very interesting. The interior of Sansovino’s Library was also well worth seeing.


We visited the Canton ​Synagogue at the heart of the world’s first ghetto with Art School Conservation Tutor, Jennifer Dinsmore, who gave the students fascinating insights into this impressive building with complex conservation challenges.

We were lucky to watch the live Conservation of the terrazzo floor, a composite material using various stones like marble, quartz, granite set in mortar, at the 16th-century Schola Grande Tedesca.


After a walking tour focusing on the Early Renaissance in Venice Gateway to the Arsenale, we visited the Basilica San Marco, the legendary location of the body of St Mark, the patron Saint of Venice. This is a fully Byzantine building, internally covered in mosaic. Externally it is elaborated with a Gothic ornamental scheme. The tutors led a discussion of past conservation treatments, their approaches and impacts, and we viewed a recent conservation project in the Basilica.

Following a visit to Chiesa di San Trovaso, displaying relief carvings by the Bon family and paintings by Tintoretto, we went to the Church of San Pantalon, where we were all amazed by the world’s largest painting on canvas on the ceiling.

We passed through the commercial centre of the city around the Rialto and its markets, and circled the east side of Venice, taking the vaporetto to Murano. We explored this small island famed for its glass blowing workshops, and visiting the Santa Maria e San Donato.


As well as exploring some of Venice’s most significant and spectacular buildings and monuments, the students also attended a range of lectures given by the Art School’s Conservation, Historic Carving and Art Histories Tutors who accompanied us on the trip.

The lectures included an historical overview of Venetian architecture, which is unique due to the city’s location and close trade links with the East. This lecture was delivered by Head of Historic Carving Tim Crawley,  who also gave a lecture on Venetian sculpture and carving, which ranges in style from Classical to Baroque.

Conservation Tutor, Jennifer Dinsmore (an expert in stone conservation), gave a lecture on the construction and topography of Venice, focusing on the development of the city and the environmental and human challenges it faces today. Jennifer also gave a presentation about Venice’s unique conservation issues, looking at practical, technological, strategic and resourcing risks as well as funding and politics.

At the end of the 5-day trip, we learnt about the conservation work being undertaken by alumna Jonida Mecani and MA student Miyuki Kajiwara, who were both selected to take part in a two-month conservation internship on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, where they are conserving the stone statues around the inner walls of one of the entrances of Palladio’s Church. The conservation placement is organised annually in collaboration with Venice in Peril and gives two outstanding graduates the opportunity to undertake a conservation project in this remarkable environment.


We left Venice having learnt an enormous amount about its unique and complex conservation requirements, and with our thoughts still with our Venetian colleagues and friends and the reparation challenges to come.


Saena studied ornamental woodcarving and gilding at the Art School and after graduating set up a studio, working as a self-employed carver and gilder. In 2007 Saena returned to the City & Guilds of London Art School as a woodcarving tutor in the Conservation and Carving Departments and she also teaches at the Building and Crafts College.

Saena has worked within both the traditional and contemporary sectors including the Tower of London, New College and Oriel College in Oxford, Penguin Books, Kopparberg and Guinness.


My work explores time, memory, experience and space. Work manifests through and intimate understanding of my upbringing and surroundings, in affinity to childhood memory and Northern Irish identity. I seek to blur the boundaries of space, public and private, focusing on the urban and domestic. My cathartic means of working displays a time that once was, or never has been. As Fictions emerge through repressed memories, dreams and encounters of stories as images. Narrative is constructed through 2D and 3D objects, prints and installation. Time is reactivated, and there is a re-enactment of experiences. Concepts of austerity, conflict and identity within the work relate beyond my own experience and to a wider social and cultural context. My work is a response. I use my own experience as a means to retell and to break down barriers.

My practice is rooted in the figurative. My aim is to create an atmosphere at once exuberant and humorous but at the same time, one of disquiet.  I am increasingly interested in exploring parallels between the human and natural worlds, seeking shared patterns, thereby emphasising that we are essentially part of the world of matter, and no more.

My work utilises contemporary carpentry to build monuments that merge the architectural and design styles of historic political hegemonies with contemporary consumer aesthetics (particularly those from fitness, wellbeing, and ergonomics). The idea being that if we can see ergonomic detailing as filigree – which is a conscious extravagance rather than a performance enhancing, engineering necessity- then the scientistic parlance of this industry becomes more open to interpretation or appropriation, and less authoritative. In order to mimic the visual language of ergonomics, I often take patterns found in grips for razors, toothbrushes, or trainer soles, and recreate them in much more pronounced positions.

Information on a particular climate, time, environment and more can be taken from a tree. It seems as if the tree acts as a bookmark for the inner workings of the earth.

In woodworking processes, the additive and subtractive qualities are of interest to me, as are the labour, devotion and communal aspect of woodworking.

I collect images, memories and objects and use them as influences in my practice, making unexpected associations to create a fiction in its own right. My work is informed by the processes of hybridisation and the mistranslations that happen when elements from one culture travel and adapt to a new one. I make installations where I use smell, paintings, and sculptures made of wood, polystyrene and plaster, painted to look like different surfaces. I like drawing connections between everyday materials, especially processed meats and stone, as they have a similar type of conglomerate composition.

Embedded in the processes through which I make and think is a fascination with the material properties of things. These accumulate into a mass of material objects and a variety of critical ideas. I pursue a tactile, affective, object-driven process, methodically exploring the material itself, flirting with language and investigating what things are in essence, or what they might become. The works are like material propositions; they occupy a physical space in the process of becoming something else.

I am a multidisciplinary artist who produces visual representations of my dyslexia when faced with sequential information. Creating physical manifestations of how I process written and verbal language, I use the illustrative metanarrative of Greek mythology. Analysing these written stories, I select words that embed in my mind and that defy my lack of working memory. I signify these words by using motifs, signs, and an alphabet of shapes that weave in and out a structure’s clasp. The shapes hint at broken and suspended connections, existing as floating silhouettes that create illusionary depth.

We are delighted to announce that five Art School Fine Art alumni were shortlisted for the Ingram Collection’s Young Contemporary Talent Purchase Prize this year!

The winners of the Purchase Prize were announced on Friday 8 November, with Alvin Ong, Lucy Gregory and Emma Prempeh taking the top awards. Congratulations to the winners and all those shortlisted!

Roberta de Caro (BA (Hons) Fine Art 2019 and current MA Art & Material Histories student), Flora Malpas (MA Fine Art 2018), Jane Hayes Greenwood (BA (Hons) Fine Art 2011, MA Fine Art 2015), Abigail Phang Gung Fook (MA Fine Art 2017) and Bislacchi (Matteo Santacroce) (BA (Hons) Fine Art 2017), are amongst the 24 artists who were selected for the shortlist, which also included recent graduates from the Royal College of Art, Goldsmiths and Chelsea College of Arts.

From top left: Roberta de Caro; Flora Malpas; Jane Hayes Greenwood; Abigail Phang Gung Fook; Bislacchi (Matteo Santacroce).

City & Guilds of London Art School Fine Art alumni have been one of the three winners of the Ingram Collection Purchase Prize for the last two years running – Benedict Hughes in 2018 and Harrison Pearce in 2017.

Benedict Hughes -‘My Magna Mater Complex’ ; Harrison Pearce – ‘Interview (Prototype)’

The Young Contemporary Talent Purchase Prize aims to support emerging artists at the start of their career and is open to all artists who have graduated from a UK art school in the past five years. Jo Baring, Director and Curator of The Ingram Collection has said that “This year’s exhibition is a particularly vibrant offering.”.

We extend a huge congratulations to all five shortlisted alumni!


This joinery and woodcarving workshop for our first year Conservation students, was run by Tutors Peter Bennett and Sarah Davis. The workshop is designed to teach the students how to observe and replicate ornament in an exacting way in order to prepare them for reproducing ornament that may be missing from an object they are conserving.

Firstly the students learnt to model and draw the ornament so they can produce an exact template to place on the wood they’re carving.  They were taught how to employ specialist tools and machinery and how to use them safely and effectively.

Then they focused on understanding the grain of the wood and which direction to carve it, swiftly followed by learning and developing a range of carving techniques. Not bad for one session!

The workshop was followed by an afternoon trip to the V&A to look at various examples of woodcarving and the different application of the skills the students learnt in the morning.

There are many synergies like this between the historic craft courses we teach at the Art School. In this case, our Historic Carving Department provided the expertise, tools and facilities we needed to give our Conservation students a fantastic grounding in ornamental woodcarving.



As part of the Big Draw Festival, on Saturday 26 October 2019, the Art School ran a charcoal drawing workshop centred around the study of plants.  The theme of the Big Draw Festival was ‘Wellbeing and Creativity’ and so our event, entitled ‘The Power of Plants’, focused on the positive effects of both creativity and plants on our wellbeing.

Participants were invited to bring along their favourite house plant and take time out to focus on the patterns and forms in nature, under the expert guidance of Fine Art Tutor and Artist Jane Hayes Greenwood.

The workshop attracted participants with varied experience and involvement in art practice, with one attendee saying, “It’s really nice to be able to attend events like this which are open to the public, as I’m not an art student or work with anything related to art.” Comments from other participants included praise for the Tutor’s attentive teaching style,  welcoming the opportunity to work with an accomplished artist, “The tutor was warm and engaging, she made us feel welcome and unintimidated. She shared new approaches and techniques and allowed us to experiment with these.”  

Artist and Fine Art Tutor, Jane Hayes-Greenwood supporting class participants

Even a brief amount of time spent on a creative pastime has powerful benefits for personal wellbeing. The psychological benefits of indoor plants have been shown to include improved mood, reduced stress, increased productivity and attention span. The physical health benefits include better air quality, reduced blood pressure and fatigue.

This is the second consecutive year that the Art School has participated in the Big Draw Festival.  Last year, the Art School ran a Big Circle Draw class, a traditional drawing class with a twist! Led by Fine Art Tutor and artist, Jack Southern, a group of Art School students and alumni sat in a large circle. With a continuing series of short exercises, each artist took it in turn to play model and every drawing produced by the circle was captured digitally to form an animation that grew as the afternoon continued.

Artist and Fine Art Tutor, Jack Southern, leads the Big Circle Draw workshop

Drawing is fundamental to all courses at the Art School. Under the direction of Diane Magee, our Drawing Studio is at the heart of the Art School’s activities, primarily focusing on the role that observational drawing plays in stimulating and facilitating the development of artists and crafts specialists across our Foundation Diploma and undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses in Fine Art, Historic Carving, Conservation of cultural objects and books and paper, and Art and Material Histories.

We hope to take part in The Big Draw in the future – you can find out more information about our upcoming events here.


This September our 3rd years and recently graduated BA student Anna Ng spent 2 weeks in the prestigious Palace of Westminster in a frame workshop with tutor Gerry Alabone in collaboration with the Courtauld Institute for Easel Paintings.


This week and next our new first years are aiming to finish carved object in stone. The object should be a good representation of the original cast, though it is not expected to be an exact copy – it should have its own character and the individual marks of the maker. This module is designed to introduce students to the basic techniques of carving a three-dimensional object in stone. Using a supplied cast, accurate plan drawings are made on a grid and the drawing is transferred to a piece of supplied limestone with carbon paper. Introduction to carving – Looking at the techniques of carving stone. An explanation of tool use is given and the Limestone is carved with supplied chisels and mallets. Tool sharpening is explained.