University of Brighton Faculty of Arts

Last updated
Grand Parade in Snow 2010 University of Brighton Faculty of Arts Grand-parade-university-of-brighton-faculty-of-arts.jpg
Grand Parade in Snow 2010 University of Brighton Faculty of Arts

Founded as the Brighton School of Art in 1859, the University of Brighton School of Art is an organisational part of the University of Brighton, with courses in the creative arts, visual communication, craft and fashion design.

The University of Brighton is a public university based on five campuses in Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings on the south coast of England. Its roots can be traced back to 1858 when the Brighton School of Art was opened in the Royal Pavilion. It achieved university status in 1992.


The oldest part of the university, it has operated with a changing portfolio of disciplines throughout its history. Among those subjects that have been primary in its make-up and ethos are: art education, design, art and design history, photography and performance arts. As the school became the core of more extensive faculty or college structures, these disciplines, along with other arts and humanities at the university, were organised under the names Faculty of Art and Design, the Faculty of Art and Architecture (1999-2009), the Faculty of Arts (2009-2014), and the College of Arts and Humanities (2014-2017). In 2017, the Faculty/College structure was dissolved and the name School of Art was reinstated for disciplines taught at the long-standing Grand Parade building. Other schools now provide for the university's range of arts and humanities disciplines: the School of Architecture and Design, the School of Education, the School of Humanities, and the School of Media.

The University of Brighton has supported the arts in its widest sense for many decades, building a legacy that includes significant design and screen archives, and for many years ran the Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Art Design & Media (ADM HEA). In 2005 it was also recognised as a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Design (CETLD), bringing together its knowledge and expertise with that of the Royal Institute of British Architects; the Royal College of Art and The Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2009 its 150th anniversary celebrated the work of numerous artists, designers, historians, photographers and architects.

The Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Design (CETLD) is a higher education initiative that seeks to advance higher education through design.

Royal Institute of British Architects professional body for architects primarily in the United Kingdom

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a professional body for architects primarily in the United Kingdom, but also internationally, founded for the advancement of architecture under its charter granted in 1837 and Supplemental Charter granted in 1971.

Royal College of Art public research university in London, in the United Kingdom

The Royal College of Art (RCA) is a public research university in London, United Kingdom. The only entirely postgraduate art and design university in the world, it offers postgraduate degrees in art and design to students from over 60 countries. As of 2019, the RCA has placed first in the QS World University Rankings in the Art and Design subject area for five consecutive years.

Organisational structure and name changes

Since 1999, the Faculty has undergone a number of changes in organisation:

Alumni, staff and associates

The university has educated many key figures in the arts. In 2009 an Exhibition, From Art School to University: Art and Design at Brighton 1859-2009, paid tribute to many of them and included Turner Prize winners, iconic design work, cutting-edge dance for camera and classic rock and pop imagery.

Turner Prize annual prize presented to a British visual artist

The Turner Prize, named after the English painter J. M. W. Turner, is an annual prize presented to a British visual artist. Between 1991 and 2016, only artists under the age of 50 were eligible. Awarding the prize is organised by the Tate gallery and usually staged at Tate Britain, though in recent years the award ceremony has sometimes been held in other UK cities. Since its beginnings in 1984 it has become the UK's most publicised art award. The award represents all media.

Turner Prize winners Keith Tyson and Rachel Whiteread studied there, as did artists Alison Lapper, Keith Coventry, Sylvia Sleigh, designer Julien Macdonald and writer-illustrator Emily Gravett.

Keith Tyson is an English artist. In 2002, he was the winner of the Turner Prize. His work is concerned with an interest in generative systems, and an embrace of the complexity and interconnectedness of existence. Tyson works in a wide range of media, including painting, drawing and installation.

Rachel Whiteread British sculptor

Dame Rachel Whiteread is an English artist who primarily produces sculptures, which typically take the form of casts. She was the first woman to win the annual Turner Prize in 1993.

Alison Lapper English artist

Alison Lapper MBE is an English artist. She is also the subject of the sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant, which was on display in Trafalgar Square from September 2005 until late 2007. She and her son Parys feature in the ongoing BBC docuseries Child of Our Time.

Students, lecturers and researchers once at Brighton includes sculptor Anthony Gormley, Kate Greenaway Medal winners Emily Gravett, Raymond Briggs and Quentin Blake; artist Mike Chaplin; children's writer-illustrator Lucy Cousins; Magnum photographer Mark Power; fashion designers Barbara Hulanicki and Julien Macdonald. [1]

Emily Gravett is an English author and illustrator of children's picture books. For her debut book published in 2005 and again two years later, she won the annual Kate Greenaway Medal recognising the year's best-illustrated British children's book.

Raymond Briggs English cartoonist, illustrator, and writer

Raymond Redvers Briggs, CBE is an English illustrator, cartoonist, graphic novelist and author who has achieved critical and popular success among adults and children. He is best known in Britain for his story The Snowman, a book without words whose cartoon adaptation is televised and whose musical adaptation is staged every Christmas.

Quentin Blake English cartoonist, illustrator and childrens writer

Sir Quentin Saxby Blake, CBE, FCSD, FRSL, RDI is an English cartoonist, illustrator and children's writer. He is known best for illustrating books written by Roald Dahl. For his lasting contribution as a children's illustrator he won the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2002, the highest recognition available to creators of children's books. From 1999 to 2001 he was the inaugural British Children's Laureate. He is a patron of the Association of Illustrators.

Contributions made to modern visual culture by university members in the arts include Royal Designer for Industry George Hardie's cover designs for Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, and several series of Royal Mail stamps, and John Vernon Lord's sleeve for Deep Purple's Book of Taliesyn.

George Hardie is an English graphic designer, illustrator and educator, best known for his work producing cover art for the albums of rock musicians and bands with the British art design group Hipgnosis.

Pink Floyd English rock band

Pink Floyd were an English rock band formed in London in 1965. They achieved international acclaim with their progressive and psychedelic music. Distinguished by their philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, extended compositions, and elaborate live shows, they are one of the most commercially successful and influential groups in popular music history.

John Vernon Lord is an illustrator, author and teacher. He has illustrated texts including Aesop's Fables,The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear; the Folio Society's Myths and Legends of the British Isles,, and In addition, he has illustrated classics of English literature including the work of Lewis Carroll and James Joyce. Lord has written and illustrated several children's books, which have been published and translated into several languages. His book The Giant Jam Sandwich has been in print since 1972

The longer history of the school of art in Brighton includes artists Conrad Heighton Leigh and Helen Chadwick, and poster designer John Bellany.

See Categories:Alumni of the University of Brighton


19th century, Brighton School of Art

Ideas for the establishment of a School of Art in Brighton resulted from a public meeting in 1858 which led to the formation of a Committee to raise subscriptions and donations. The Committee sought to “instruct working people to do their work better by turning it out of hand neatly and handsomely as well as usefully, and thus enable them to command the best price for their labour, and to compete more successfully with the foreign workman”. [2] Most of the art schools that had been established in Britain by the 1840s and 1850s were linked to local and regional industries. Brighton was not an industrial centre in the most obvious sense but, according to Henry Cole her "industries" were "health, recreation, education and pleasure". [3]

On Monday 17 January 1859 Brighton School of Art opened its doors to more than fifty pupils and was situated in a room off the Royal Pavilion Kitchen provided by the Town Council. The first Art Master was John White, who brought with him experience of a similar post at Leeds School of Practical Art and ran classes for several different constituencies: those of independent means who attended the Day Classes and were segregated by gender; artisans who were provided with evening classes at a low fee rate; and teachers, for whom fees were lower still.

New premises for Brighton School of Science and Art were purpose-built in Grand Parade, Brighton, in 1877, in a Romanesque Revival style, with the façade in brick with Bath stone coping and cornices. The columns flanking the main entrance were in polished red granite, and the façade enriched by a series of terracotta panels and lunettes that had been designed by the Art Master Alexander Fisher, and executed by Messrs Johnson at the nearby Ditchling Pottery Workshop. [4] Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, the most artistic of Queen Victoria’s children, and an accomplished sculptor in her own right, was present, as was Victorian art educational tsar, Sir Henry Cole.

20th century

As a result of new openings for local authorities, a new Municipal School of Science and Technology, designed by F C May, the Borough Surveyor and Engineer, was opened on 20 September 1897. This allowed for an expansion of activities in the School in Grand Parade. At Brighton before World War I, the portfolio of courses at the School of Art included typography, silversmithing, jewellery, leatherwork, woodcarving, embroidery and lace making.

In 1915, the Design and Industries Association (DIA) was established, a national non government-funded organisation that set out to establish stronger relationships between British designers and manufacturers. The Head Master at Brighton, William H Bond, played an important role in promoting the aims of the DIA in the town, explaining how Britain lagged behind her competitors such as Germany and America, claiming that the typographer "Edward Johnston was far better known in Germany than he was in England five years ago". [5] During World War I the School of Art provided opportunities for a number of disabled soldiers at the Brighton Pavilion Hospital, offering training for such occupations as letter cutting in wood and stone, mechanical draughtsmanship, die-cutting and other related subjects that required instruction in industrial arts. Bond was also concerned with the appearance of Brighton, reacting negatively to many aspects of the urban environment, a theme that a number of his British arts and crafts antecedents such as John Ruskin and William Morris had pursued with zeal. Bond complained about the ‘gruesome horror’ of the New England Road railway arch and commented on plans to render it an ‘attractive entrance to the town’. He also argued for the preservation of the ‘distinctive soul’ of Georgian Brighton (cf Georgian Architecture)and that the Town Council should desist from painting the Royal Pavilion ‘workhouse yellow’ as it represented the ‘last despairing cry of colour on its deathbed, and in its raucous tones some devilish influences might be traced’. [6] The work of Brighton School of Art performed well in the international arena. The Daily Telegraph reported that at the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, it received a Diploma of Honour for technical instruction, a Gold Medal for technical instruction in ceramics, and Silver Medals for technical instruction in textiles and metal.

Mural art was a field in which Brighton staff were widely recognised, bringing together the fine arts and interior design. A notable example of this was seen in the interiors of the Regent Cinema, Brighton, which included murals by Lawrence Preston of Brighton School of Art and Walter Bayes, Head of the Westminster School of Art. Lawrence Preston's other mural schemes included his First World War mural at St Luke's School, Brighton, restored in 2007 after a £30,000 fund-raising campaign. Dorothy Sawyers, another member of staff at the School was also widely known as a muralist who worked on cinema schemes.

Following the appointment in 1934 of E A Sallis Benney as its Principal, Brighton School of Art became involved with presenting its own fresh, modern and international profile. While, during World War II, the School of Art was able to demonstrate its usefulness to the wider community through involvement with the propaganda campaigns, in which the Women's Crafts Department provided a particular focus, especially in the ‘Make Do and Mend’ ethos following the introduction of clothes rationing in the United Kingdom in 1941.

Brighton College of Art did not have specific industrial links in the way that was the case with similar educational organisations in Manchester and Birmingham. Nonetheless, in the 1950s it was well placed to provide expertise in commercial and industrial design and worked with industry through a number of Advisory Committees alongside local, regional and national arts associations. Such activities found their applications in the development of the curriculum. For example, in 1951, the first cohort of students completed the National Retail Association of Furniture Retailers Diploma, launched at the College in 1949 as the first such course outside London


Following the 1963 Robbins Report on Higher Education and the White Paper, 'A Plan for Polytechnics', there emerged proposals for Brighton Polytechnic, along with Brighton College of Technology. Brighton's Education Committee took the view that the Brighton College of Art should be preserved as a specialist institution of art and design. However, despite the uneasy accommodation of different standpoints at Brighton, the wider national campaigns against the absorption of art colleges into polytechnics continued into the 1970s, an outlook typified by painter Patrick Heron's article in The Guardian in October 1971, entitled "Murder in the Art Schools".

The Town Council decided to employ the municipal architect, Percy Billington, for the new building, rejecting the Education Committee's earlier enquiries into the possibility of bringing in outside architects sympathetic to the Regency style. Considerable local anger had been expressed about the possibility of demolishing a Grade II-listed terrace of Regency houses ignoring the advice of the Royal Fine Art Commission. Michael Viney, however, described it: “Decisively modern and pseudo anything, the building nonetheless makes gradual easy transition from the Regency bow-fronts adjacent in Grand Parade to the sharper, cleaner, more functional lines of 1958.”

From its earliest days Brighton School of Art (and successors) has maintained involved with the town and regional community, whether in such areas as the annual displays of student work or close relationship with many of the trades in the town. On a wider cultural front staff and students’ participation in public performances began in the 1860s and constantly punctuated its history, whether the Carnivals and ‘Vision of Empire’ for Empire Week in the 1920s, innovative performance and ‘live art’ at the Zap Club in the 1980s, or a wide variety of more recent manifestations such as ‘Dance for Camera’ and ‘Smudged’ at Tate Modern led by Alice Fox.

The Art College Basement Club was an important catalyst in the development of live and performing arts at Brighton. It hosted a wide range of performances, such as those associated with the innovative Brighton Contemporary Festival Arts (1977–79) organised by Roger Ely and Neil Butler. Dave Reeves, with Butler, was one of the founding directors of the Zap Club.

A fresh diet of courses and innovations were rolled out during Robin Plummer's headship. During this period the range of courses included Fashion & Textiles with Administration, Graphic Design & Illustration, Expressive Arts (including music, dance, performance, theatre and visual studies) and History of Design, with the development of a number of postgraduate courses including Printmaking and Narrative and Sequential Illustration. A new Department of Art History was formed and headed by Robert Haynes in 1977. David Vaughan was appointed as course leader for the BA (Hons) Wood, Metal, Ceramics and Plastics degree in 1979, later becoming head of the department of Three Dimensional Design. Another key appointment made in these years was that of Bill Beech who was appointed as the head of the department of Fine Art following the retirement of Gwyther Irwin in 1984. In September 1986 the Department of Humanities joined the Faculty thereby setting in place the opportunity to develop fresh curricular initiatives.

Research Development

Robin Plummer was quick to see the importance of research for art and design, arguing for it nationally and implementing it locally, notably in the Brighton Design History: Fad or Function? Conference in 1977. Evelyn Goldsmith's PhD, completed in 1978, led to her book entitled Research into illustration: an approach and a review, published by Cambridge University Press in 1984. The merging of the Polytechnic with the Brighton College of Education in 1976 resulted in the transfer of the Department of Art Education to the Polytechnic's newly created Faculty of Education, long a distinctive aspect of the School of Art in its rite of passage from School of Art to Faculty of Art & Design. However, a number of academics specialising in the visual and performing arts joined the Faculty of Art and Design. This in turn led to the formation of a new Department of Combined Arts under the leadership of Peter Rose. Despite some misgivings on the part of a number of practitioners in the more established disciplinary fields in the Faculty, this proved to be a dynamic, challenging and highly productive initiative, with Liz Aggiss and Billy Cowie playing key roles.

New University

A number of highly significant steps have been taken at Brighton since the 1960s, sustained by enhanced and developing intellectual and material resources. These include the establishment of Screen Archive South East, the Design Archives and the establishment of the Centre for Research & Development; the hosting of the CTI (Computers in Teaching Initiative) Centre for Art and Design, the Brighton Photo Biennial, Cinecity and the National Subject Centre for Learning & Teaching in Art, Design & Communications and its successor, the Higher Education Academy: Art, Design Media Subject Centre, and the establishment of the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Design (CETLD). Many other networks, national and international, formal and informal have also been set in place

The institution's re-designation as the University of Brighton in 1992, with Professor David Watson as Vice-Chancellor, resulted in a number of fresh opportunities. Since 1992 there has been a discernible change in the ways in which the Faculty views itself and how the rest of the University, in turn, sees it. Success in art and design in the first round of the RAE which the University was able to enter confirmed two lingering prejudices: from the art and design perspective, there was still an aura of the notion of excellence as something that had been known since pre-polytechnic, independent art college days; from the standpoint of some other parts of the university there was still a lingering view that it was somehow easier for art and design to achieve academic and research success.

In 2009 plans to expand the Faculty came to fruition. From elsewhere in the University, departments of English language and literature, media, linguistics and modern languages became included under the new Faculty of Arts, reinforcing the long-established academic work of the 'Art School' in historical and critical studies, communication and media.


Related Research Articles

Manchester Metropolitan University university in Manchester, England

Manchester Metropolitan University is a public university located in Manchester, England. The university traces its origins to the Manchester Mechanics Institute and the Manchester School of Design, which formed Manchester Polytechnic in 1970. Manchester Polytechnic then gained university status under the government's Further and Higher Education Act, becoming the Manchester Metropolitan University in 1992. Today, it is headquartered in the city of Manchester, with additional facilities in Cheshire.

De Montfort University university in Leicester

De Montfort University (DMU) is a public university in the city of Leicester, England.

University of the West of England, Bristol university in Bristol, England

The University of the West of England, Bristol is a public research university, located in and around Bristol, England, which received university status in 1992. In common with the University of Bristol and University of Bath it can trace its origins to the Merchant Venturers' Technical College, founded as a school in 1595 by the Society of Merchant Venturers.

Sheffield Hallam University university in Sheffield, United Kingdom

Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) is a public research university in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England and one of the UK's largest and most diverse universities. It is based on two sites; the City Campus is located in the city centre near Sheffield railway station, while the Collegiate Crescent Campus is about two miles away in the Broomhall Estate off Ecclesall Road in south-west Sheffield.

Birmingham City University

Birmingham City University is a university in Birmingham, England. Initially established as the Birmingham College of Art with roots dating back to 1843, it was designated as a polytechnic in 1971 and gained university status in 1992.

Central Saint Martins public tertiary art school in London, England

Central Saint Martins (CSM) is a public tertiary art school in London, England. It is a constituent college of the University of the Arts London. It offers full-time courses at foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and a variety of short and summer courses.

University of Plymouth university in Devon, England

The University of Plymouth is a public university based predominantly in Plymouth, England where the main campus is located, but the university has campuses and affiliated colleges across South West England. With 21,645 students, it is the 38th largest in the United Kingdom by total number of students. It has 2,915 staff.

Tokyo Metropolitan University university

Tokyo Metropolitan University, often referred to as TMU, is a Public Research University in Japan.

Edinburgh College of Art

Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) is one of eleven Schools in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Tracing its history back to 1760, it provides higher education in art and design, architecture, history of art, and music disciplines for over two thousand students, and is at the forefront of research and research-led teaching in the creative arts, humanities, and creative technologies. ECA comprises five subject areas: School of Art, Reid School of Music, School of Design, School of History of Art, and Edinburgh School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture (ESALA). ECA is mainly located in the Old Town of Edinburgh, overlooking the Grassmarket; the Lauriston Place campus is located in the University of Edinburgh's Central Area Campus, not far from George Square.

Birmingham School of Art art school that is in the center of Birmingham, England

The Birmingham School of Art was a municipal art school based in the centre of Birmingham, England. Although the organisation was absorbed by Birmingham Polytechnic in 1971 and is now part of Birmingham City University's Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, its Grade I listed building on Margaret Street remains the home of the university's Department of Fine Art and is still commonly referred to by its original title.

Colchester Institute

Colchester Institute is a large provider of further and higher education based in the town of Colchester. The institute includes the Colchester School of Art, Faculty of Creative Arts, the Centre for Hospitality and Food Studies, and the Professional Training Centre. Colchester Institute provides courses for a wide variety of learners including 14 to 19 year olds, adults, businesses and employers. Undergraduate and Postgraduate Higher Education courses are validated by the University of Essex.

University of Galați university in Galati, Romania

"Dunarea de Jos" University of Galati is a public university located in Galați, Romania. It was founded in 1974.

University of Westminster public research university located in London, United Kingdom

The University of Westminster is a public university in London, United Kingdom. Its antecedent institution, the Royal Polytechnic Institution, was founded in 1838 and was the first polytechnic institution in the UK. Westminster was awarded university status in 1992 meaning it could award its own degrees.

National Taiwan University of Arts A national university in New Taipei

National Taiwan University of Arts is a university in Banqiao District, New Taipei, Taiwan. It is the oldest and most prestigious art college in Taiwan.

University of Castilla–La Mancha Spanish university

The University of Castilla–La Mancha (UCLM) is a Spanish university. It offers courses in the cities of Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cuenca, Toledo, Almadén and Talavera de la Reina. This university was recognised by law on 30 June 1982, and began to operate three years later.

Birmingham City University School of English academic unit at Birmingham City University

The School of English is part of the Faculty of the Arts, Design & Media at Birmingham City University. The School offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, is home to the Research and Development Unit for English Studies.

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities is one of the 11 constituent faculties of University College London (UCL).

Kingston University university in Kingston upon Thames, London

Kingston University London is a public research university located within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, in South West London, United Kingdom. The university specialises in the arts, design, fashion, science, engineering, and business. It received university status in 1992, before which the institution was known as Kingston Polytechnic. Its roots, however, go back to the Kingston Technical Institute, founded in 1899. The university has four campuses situated in Kingston and Roehampton.

Paul Clark (designer) British designer

Paul B. Clark is a designer, design historian, model rocketeer and curator whose designs established his reputation with the birth of British pop culture in the 1960s. By printing silk-screened Pop decoration onto cheap, mass-produced products, Clark was among a group of young designers who undermined accepted ideas of good taste, by elevating everyday items into fashionable objects. Clark's interest in science and space travel led him to create model rockets for international competitions as well as commercial model rocket kits. He is the founder of the British Space Modelling Association.


  2. "The Royal Visit to Brighton. Inauguration of the New School for Science and Art", Sussex Daily News, 3 February 1877
  3. see Elizabeth Bonython and Anthony Burton, The Great Exhibitor: The Life and Work of Henry Cole, London: V & A, 2003. See also Louise Purbrick, "Building the house of Henry Cole", in Marcia Pointon (ed) Art apart: art institutions and ideology across England and North America, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994.
  4. The two main panels and a small number of lunettes were saved when the building was demolished in the 1960s and are on public view in the current Grand Parade Campus.
  5. ‘Design in Manufacture: At Upheld by Commerce, Brighton Herald 13 October 1915.
  6. ‘How to Beautify Brighton”, Brighton Herald , 30 March 1918
  7. "University Sallis Benney Theatre" University of Brighton. Accessed 17 July 2017
  8. "University Gallery" University of Brighton. Accessed 17 July 2017
  9. "University of Brighton Design Archives" University of Brighton. Accessed 17 July 2017
  10. "Screen Archive South East" University of Brighton. Accessed 17 July 2017

Further reading