Archive and Special Collections

The art of seeing?

A few months ago I had the pleasure of a visit from Doug Sandle and Jack Chesterman, both had worked at the old Leeds Art College and witnessed its transformation into the Faculty of Art and Design of Leeds Polytechnic and beyond.

They had come to see the material that has survived in the form of a Leeds College of Art archive. It may seem strange to the casual observer that such an archive is held by Leeds Metropolitan University. There is a lot of confusion about the various constituent colleges that went to form first the Polytechnic and subsequently the University and the art college at Leeds certainly serves as an example of this confusion.

Few appear to realise that in September 1969 Leeds Art College moved from Vernon Street to the purpose built studios on Woodhouse Lane and that on 1 January 1970 the art college officially became part of Leeds Polytechnic. Meanwhile the former Branch College of Art renamed Jacob Kramer College, originally based at Rossington Street, moved into the now vacant Vernon Street. Recently this college has changed its name to Leeds College of Art in an inspired bit of branding. It has long laid claim to the illustrious pedigree of Leeds School of Art and subsequently Leeds College of Art. However, it should be noted that the art college’s true heritage lies buried deep within Leeds Metropolitan University who appear strangely reticent about acknowledging this. This direct lineage explains why the Leeds College of Art archive remains with the University.

With the help of Doug, Jack and hopefully many others we hope to build on the existing archive and raise awareness of this rich heritage.

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