Spotlight on the Slade

Unlocking the potential of a unique collection through curatorial research and engagement


Rightsholder Clearance Project 2021-22

On the occasion of the Slade 150 anniversary, UCL Art Museum is undertaking a project to locate copyright holders for works in the Slade Collections. This rich body of artworks includes 3,000 drawings, paintings and prints, many of which were accessioned via the Slade’s student prize system and augmented by gifts and works by staff. Prizes have been awarded annually since the establishment of the School in 1871 as an important recognition of the quality of a student’s work.

UCL Art Museum is seeking to trace rightsholders and to secure copyright permission for works in the Slade Collections. Copyright falls under ‘Intellectual Property Rights’ and is a legal right protecting work that is the result of human skill, judgment or labour, and automatically resides with the first creator of an original piece of work (or their employer). Once rightsholders have been identified and permission to reproduce images has been granted, UCL Art Museum can ensure the continued relevance of this renowned collection by providing online and publication access. 

The lack of copyright permissions is a barrier to access and knowledge exchange. This is a challenge to many smaller museums and collections as the process of securing rights is time-consuming and costly. This collaborative project with developers and technology specialists at UCL includes novel technological solutions to a long-standing problem and is designed to increase access and engagement.

Do you have any works in UCL Art Museum’s collection? 

Are you Slade alumni or a representative of the estate of a deceased artist?

Do you have information to share about other rightsholders? 

We want to hear from you!

Please email culture.copyright.art@ucl.ac.uk 

You can search the UCL Art Museum catalogue or view a selection of artworks from the collection here

This project is funded by UCL Art Museum with support from UCL Innovation & Enterprise knowledge exchange funding. This is part of a collaborative project exploring the potential for next generation 360VR for the cultural and higher education sectors, offering a bold new approach to the problem of securing rights. The project has benefited from the consultancy of Naomi Korn Associates.

About the Slade Collections

UCL Art Museum’s Slade Collections form a unique document of English art school practice in the modern age. Many of the key figures in British art studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, and the School's annual prize system has provided UCL with important examples of the early work of artists such as Stanley Spencer, Augustus John, Walter Sickert, David Bomberg, Winifred Knights, Paula Rego, Craigie Aitchison and Euan Uglow. 

The Slade was the first art school to admit women on equal terms and the collection is strong in the work of women artists. The collection’s inclusion of lesser-known artists also provides a valuable counterpoint to the collections of national museums. UCL Art Museum continues to receive prize works from current Slade students, making the Slade Collections a living resource that continues to document contemporary art school practice.

While the Slade Collections are widely used for teaching and research and are extremely popular with visitors, access to this core collection is severely hampered by lack of information about the artwork and limited online catalogue entries. This project enabled the Art Museum to carry out essential collections research, enrich the online catalogue and improve its search functions to open up access to information about Slade artists and artwork

Spotlight on the Slade Collections (2015-2018) 

UCL Art Museum received a Curatorial Research Grant from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in 2015 to help support a research curator for three years to catalogue the Slade Collections, an important historic resource comprised of over 3,000 paintings, drawings and prints. The primary aim of the project was to unlock the considerable potential of the collection by cataloguing it and researching it to faciliate widening access in the future with a high-quality visual and textual resource about this unique archive via an improved online catalogue. This research enabled us to establish that 45% of the Slade Collections comprise of work by women artists. As a result we have become a research hub for discussions around women artists past and present and gender equality in the visual arts. To this end we are in the process of developing a sustainable collaborative research network dedicated to the subject of women artists. For more information on this project please contact museums@ucl.ac.uk

Spotlight on the Slade Collections was led by Helen Downes, Paul Mellon Research Curator at UCL Art Museum 2015-18.

New findings from the research.

Outcomes were shared through a series of events, conference papers, workshops and the exhibition Prize & Prejudice in 2018.

Our aim is to build and share widely an important information resource for research into 20th-century and contemporary British art.

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