BA (Hons) Fine Art (1969-1972)
British artist, Kevin Atherton studied Fine-Art at Leeds Beckett, then known as Leeds Polytechnic, between 1969 and 1972. Having produced a rich body of work which includes: performance, film, sculpture, video, installation and site-specific pieces, Atherton has exhibited widely across Europe and North America and has received international acclaim for his contribution to art. His two-part bronze and stainless steel sculpture ‘A Reflective Approach’ was installed at Clarence Dock near to the Leeds Armouries in 2007 Atherton’s 1986 three figure bronze sculpture ‘Platforms Piece’ was listed by English Heritage in 2016 as of ‘Historic interest: believed to be the first sculptural representation of British Black People in England in a Public Art context.’
Born in the Isle of Man, Atherton was one of the first students to study at the newly founded polytechnic; a creative environment known for its radical approach to art education. During this time, Atherton established himself as a student likely to succeed. He was known for this intelligence, wit, and for his commitment to his work, which set him aside from his practicing peers. It was in this context that Atherton was able to create pioneering work which confronted topics such as cultural identity, memory and individualism.
Unlike Fine Art courses at universities of the day, including Leeds University, students at Leeds Poly were asked to learn about the world through Fine-Art, as opposed to studying the pure subject. In his third year, in opposition to what he saw as the contradictory separation of theory and practice on the Fine Art course, Atherton, submitted the Isle of Man Yellow Pages as his final thesis and was therefore awarded a deferred degree which he was unable to collect until 2001 when he was finally awarded his First-Class Honours Degree when his published writings on art were accepted in lieu of his thesis. He did leave in 1972, however, with a recommendation to Joseph Beuys and later gained a PhD. Having developed an interest in the relationship between the fictional and the virtual, the artist completed his doctorate in the Faculty of Visual Culture at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) Dublin, in 2010.