Celebrating the new home for the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

Celebrating the new home for the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

An award-winning scriptwriter was among the scores of alumni returning to the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies on Wednesday 8 February to celebrate the opening of its new home.

The refurbishment of the listed building in University Road marks an investment of £7.6 million, bringing the School together on one site at the heart of campus.

Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands introduced Barry Herbert, Head of Fine Art from 1985 to 1992, who cut a ribbon to officially open the building. Peter Morgan, one of the country’s leading screenwriters, then took part in an ‘in conversation’ event in the Great Hall with Griselda Pollock, Professor of the Social and Critical Histories of Art.

Peter, who graduated from the School with a BA History of Art in 1985, is famed for writing a wide range of successes, from The Queen and The Last King of Scotland to Frost/Nixon and The Damned United. He is also the creator and writer of The Crown, a Netflix television series which recently won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama.

The occasion was also marked with an exhibition by another successful graduate of the School, the 2012 Turner Prize winner Elizabeth Price, who completed her fine art education with a PhD in Leeds. Her video installation The Tent in the building’s new Project Space forms part of The Fold, a series of talks and exhibitions curated by Dr Sam Belinfante, University Academic Fellow in Fine Art and Curatorial Practice.

Artworks by BA Fine Art students Allie Ashley, Zoe Carlon, Oliver Wheeldon and Natalie Whitney were on display in the Student Common Room and the foyer.

Founded as the Department of Fine Art in 1950, the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies moved to its new location last summer. The sympathetic restoration of this Grade-II listed building – linked through its architect, Paul Waterhouse, to the architectural style that formed the beginnings of the University of Leeds more than 100 years ago – will prepare the School for the next century of excellent teaching and research.

Launch of School 8 February 2017. Image by Simon and Simon Photography.It provides students with an impressive, modernised environment including quality studio space, fully-equipped workshops, a multi-purpose project space and a large student common room.

Originally built to accommodate Agricultural Sciences, the building was completed in 1924 and was most recently home to the School of Geography from 1993 until 2015.

On Wednesday 8 February, alumni and representatives of partner organisations from across the region were able to join current students and staff past and present on tours of the new facilities.

Professor Abigail Harrison Moore, Head of School, said:

“We were delighted to see so many friends of the School at our launch of the new building. Current students and alumni enjoyed speaking to each other and finding out about life after the University of Leeds. It was great to hear stories from our former students of their time studying in the School.

“Peter Morgan, in his conversation with Griselda Pollock, reflected on his experience encountering art history as an undergraduate, and offered insightful comments on the relationship between his studies at Leeds and his success as an internationally renowned screenwriter.

“A significant number of colleagues from the university and partner organisations across Leeds also joined us for our celebrations. It was fantastic to be able to show them our new building and the inspiring Elizabeth Price exhibition, curated by Sam Belinfante.

“It was a wonderful night, enjoyed by all.”