Then and Now | Six Corsham Alumni

30th August 2024 - 28th September 2024

Preview: Friday 30th August 17:30 onwards, all welcome!

Philip Halstead, Harriet Halstead, Dorrie King, Michael Monk, Jackie Pope, and Carole Vincent

Corsham Court

Corsham Court

This exhibition brings together work by the six of us, whom at various times between 1960 and 1975, studied at Bath Academy of Art. Looking back, it is easy to spot our younger selves in what we do now. We hope to celebrate the connection between our current practice and that forged fifty, and in some cases, sixty years, ago.

We remember our years at Corsham as halcyon days where we learnt how to ‘think’, to understand the importance of experimentation, of critique and discussion, gaining as much from our peers as from our tutors. There was an encouragement to develop a personal voice and to search for validity in one’s work. Apart from our studies, there were picnics in Capability Brown’s park in Corsham Court, river swims, film nights, and a vibrant students’ union. We were less than 400 students altogether, a close-knit community.
Bath Academy of Art had been established in 1946 in the small rural market town of Corsham under the direction of the educational visionary Clifford Ellis. In partnership with Lord Methuen he created a special environment for the study of art. Modelled on the Bauhaus, Ellis engaged teaching staff who were themselves practising artists and the Principal, Michael Finn, previously of Falmouth School of Art, continued this tradition in 1972.

Generous individual studio accommodation was provided over three sites in rural Wiltshire and there was an extensive library situated in the historic Corsham Court. We realise how extraordinarily fortunate we were to have first rate darkrooms, a range of specialist print studios, a warehouse-sized workshop with facilities for joinery, stone carving, fibreglass and welding, all of which were supported by specialist technicians. Amongst the tutors and visiting lecturers were Gillian Ayres, Colin Crumplin, Graham Day, Robyn Denny, John Ernest, Terry Frost, Dave Harding, Adrian Heath, Howard Hodgkin, Malcolm Hughes, Michael Kidner, Peter Kinley, Malcom Ross-White, Stephen Russ, Michael Simpson, William Scott, and many more both established and up and coming artists.

Apart from Carole Vincent, who died in 2019, this exhibition combines work from our student days with our current practice.

We all recognise the liberating education encountered at Bath Academy. There didn’t seem to be a Corsham house style, we were encouraged to find our own voices, take risks, and challenge conventions whilst being true to ourselves.