Prize & Prejudice
A selection of works from the Slade class of 1918

9 January - 8 June 2018

Prize & Prejudice was an exhibition and series of programmes dedicated to artistic ambition, struggles and successes of artists emerging from the Slade School of Fine Art during its foundation years. It explores the experience of prize-winning artists, mostly women, now largely forgotten due to prejudice and circumstance.

Prize & Prejudice is an outcome of a major research project titled Spotlight on the Slade Collections, funded by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art to increase physical and intellectual access to this important stored collection.

Dorothy Josephine Coke, Female Figure Standing, 1918, oil on canvas, UCL Art Museum 5219

Mabel Greenberg, Study of a Young Man, 1918, pencil on paper, UCL Art Museum 6056

Women swept the prizes in 1918. While this may in itself reflect the impact of war, it was not unusual. From the outset the Slade consistently recognized the achievements of female students through the prize system. The exhibition reveals the type of education received at the Slade, its particular ethos and the nature of the prize-system, using the different prizes as case studies to focus on particular artists.

Prizes were awarded annually from the establishment of the school in 1871 in a range of categories such as Life Drawing, Head Drawing, Drapery and Composition. From 1897, winning works were retained, creating an unparalleled collection of art by emerging artists comprising of 45% women artists. Most public art collections are formed through retrospective assessment of an artist’s career and the Slade collection, assembled without the foreknowledge of their future position in the art world, pre-dates by far the trend in the private sector of collecting work by emerging artists.The exhibition reflects this, placing lesser-known artists alongside well-established ones. Gwen John and Winifred Knights appear next to little known multiple prize-winners Alice Smith, Mabel Greenberg and Dorothy Coke. 

The diverse programmes developed in collaboration with artists and researchers aim to bring the voices of the forgotten artists into the exhibition space, using life drawing, performance, screenings and talks. This includes The Spirit of Slade Ladies Past on the evening of February 1st, a performance by artist Tai Shani summoning the voices of the women featured in Prize & Prejudice using the theatricality of the séance.

Gwen John, Portrait Group, 1897, Watercolour and pen over pencil on stout wove paper, UCL Art Museum 3451This work by Gwen John features her brother and sister Augustus and Winifred, Rosa Waugh and Michael Salaman, all Slade students except Winifred John. The verso of this work, Studies after Michaelangelo, feature in Prize & Prejudice, highlighting various ways in which students used materials to their full extent at the time.

Gwen John, Studies After Michelangelo, 1897, Red chalk and Pen and black in over black chalk on stout wove paper, UCL Art Museum 3451b

Collaboration with Tate British Art Network

This part of the Prize & Prejudice exhibition features highlights from UCL’s Slade Collections selected by members of the British Art Network sub-group British Women Artists 1750 – 1950, a subject specialist network made up of academics, independent scholars and curators, interested in new scholarship and exhibition projects that make women’s artworks more visible and better understood.

The Sub Group has contributed in an advisory capacity for UCL Art Museum, as a focused aspect of Spotlight on the Slade Collections, a Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art funded project to increase access to this historically significant archive of prize-winning student art. Members were invited to participate in a research workshop, as a means of capturing specialist knowledge in regards to the women artists represented in the Slade Collections, to build a greater historical picture of the artists, their contemporaries and their overall experience at the Slade. They helped recover the identity of many now forgotten artists, and hidden narratives underpinning their works. On display are a selection of the works chosen by members, with commentary on their research findings.

Programme changes bi-weekly, with schedule as follows:

9 – 19 January

Elinor Monsell by Helen Downes (Paul Mellon Centre Research Curator, UCL Art Museum)

23 January – 2 February

Jessica Dismorr by Dr Alicia Foster (Writer and Curator)

6 – 16 February

Clara Klinghoffer by Alice Strickland (Curator, Nymans, Standen, Sheffield Park and Garden)

20 February – 2 March

Winifred Knights by Katy Norris (Postgraduate Researcher, Tate & University of Bristol)

6 March – 14 March

Ethel Walker by Katie Herrington (Postdoctoral Researcher, University of York)

15 – 23 March

Ethel Walker by Dr Anne Stutchbury (Independent Curator / Researcher)

24 April – 4 May

Therese Lessore by Dr Meaghan Clarke (Director of Doctoral Studies, U of Sussex, Falmer)

8 – 18 May

Joan Hodes by Una Richmond (PhD Candidate, University of Sussex)

22 May – 1 June

Rosemary Young by Rosanna Eckersley, (Associate Lecturer, Birkbeck College / Open Univ.)

Prize & Prejudice - in the press

 Frieze  What Happened to the Women Artists who Won Prizes in 1918? by Rosanna McLaughlin, 14 May 2018

Evening Standard  Women's history month: The Slade's prize-winning women artists lost in the gaps of history, by Jessie Thompson, 16 March 2018






The exhibition is open 9 January - 8 June 2018 and is accessible to the public from 1 till 5pm, Tuesday to Friday during term time. UCL Art Museum is located in the Wilkins Building, South Cloisters, University College London, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT. Admission is free.

Share this: