Instruction and Influence: Women in Art Education
Study day
with Women’s Library at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art
21st Jun 2018

 Exploring gender equality and artistic ambition - past and present.

This study day in partnership with the Women’s Library at the London School of Economics and Political Science examined ways in which the position of women in British art education has changed since the first women were admitted to the Slade School of Fine Art on equal terms to men just over a hundred years ago, looking at issues of gender equality, work-life balance, professional development, networks of influence and values within higher education in British art. Supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art.

Speakers included Ruth Beale & Amy Feneck (artists, The Alternative School of Economics), Professor Susan Collins (artist, former Director Slade School of Fine Art), Helen Downes (indpendent researcher and curator), Hilary Powell (artist, The Bank Job) and Sarah Rowles (Q-Art)


9:30 am: Tea, coffee, registration at the Women’s Library, London School of Economics and view of the Suffrage18 exhibition.

10 a.m.: Opening remarks

10:30 a.m.: Helen Downes shared Spotlight on the Slade research findings that led to the development of this study day.

First thematic session: Different imperatives

In the article 50/50 published in Art Monthly in 2013, Jennifer Thatcher wrote that, in 2016, more than 60% of students in creative arts and design subjects in the UK were female. How are women balancing the cost of rising university fees with potentially variable career opportunities and the demands of potential caring duties? Could art education be instrumental in effecting a necessary cultural change? Are women artists leading the way in producing socially engaged art offering relevant alternatives or complements to formal education, questioning notions of equality and access to information?

10:30 a.m.: Artists Amy Feneck and Ruth Beale discussed their collaborative project The Alternative School of Economics, which started in 2012 as a work of art and a framework for critical self-education.

11:15 a.m.: Hilary Powell discussed the social function of art, co-production in education and redistribution of authorship with her current collaborative work The Bank Job.

12 p.m.: Questions and discussion

12:30 p.m.: Move to UCL for lunch. Optional: artist-led walk leading from LSE to UCL highlighting key sites for the history of British art education.

1:00 p.m.: Lunch at UCL, viewing of Prize & Prejudice exhibition

Second thematic session: Influencing Women

2 p.m:  Prof Susan Collins, as first female professor of the Slade, addressed the impact of gender on educational leadership. The Slade School of Fine Art is as illustrious for having been the first art college to welcome women as it is for its numerous male professors who have left unmistakably personal legacies behind. For instance, the influence of Henry Tonks is still the object of as many publications and exhibitions. In 2016, women still made up only 24.3% of the professor roles in UK universities.

2:30 pm: Sarah Rowles led a discussion on influence and progressing formal and informal art education with a focus on Q-Art, an art education research, publishing, and events organisation she founded that aims to break down the barriers to art education and contemporary art.

3:30 pm: Tea and coffee

4pm: Plenary discussion





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