This long decade marks the tenure of Lawrence Gowing as Professor of Fine Art and the establishment of new and vigourous programmes of exhibtions, acquisitions and teaching.

By 1954 Victor Pasmore and Richard Hamilton were established as members of staff, joining longer-serving staff such as Leonard Evetts, Murray McCheyne, Louisa Hodgson and art historian Ralph Holland.



  • An Exhibition of Contemporary Painting – Arts Council Collection part 1

    8-25 February 1956
  • Summer Exhibition, Fine Art Students

    24 June - 4 July 1956

Staff / Students

1956, Student Summer Exhibition, flyer

Annotated flyer / press release for the 1956 Summer Exhibition, the significance of the pencil figures appears to relate to the length of each line of text.

1956, Student Summer Exhibition, catalogue

Cover of the 1956 student Summer Exhibition catalogue, designed by Rosemary Saunders using the then new and exciting medium of felt-tip pen.

1956, Student Summer Exhibition, press cutting

Following the paragraphs on Edward Seago’s ‘square but efficient’ portrait of the Queen on show at the Laing Art Gallery, are W.E. Johnson’s thoughts on the 1956 student Summer Exhibition, where he finds himself at a loss at the quantity and quality of the many abstract paintings.

1956, studio photograph

This photograph from c.1956 shows that although Pasmore and Hamilton’s ‘basic course’ was underway and being taught to First Year students, more traditional painting from still life continued to be available and actively pursued.

1956, Pasmore & students exhibition, press cutting

In November 1956 Pasmore arranged an exhibition of contemporary abstract artists in a commercial gallery (Austen Hayes) in York, opened by Herbert Read, it included Kenneth and Mary Martin, Terry Frost, as well as Pasmore himself and some of his current students. The exhibition was described here by W.E. Johnson as ‘a supreme vindication of the work of a number of the students of the Department of Fine Arts, Kings College, Newcastle.’

1956, Scarborough Summer School

The course outline and list of exercises for the 11-day 1956 Scarborough Summer School for teachers, where Wendy & Victor Pasmore, Harry Thubron and Tom Hudson discussed, honed and passed on their ideas for the development of a ‘basic course’ in art education. They explained that the course ‘provides opportunities for the study of form and colour at all levels by analysing their fundamental structure and aesthetic functions.’



Landscape with Green Church, 1951

Keith Vaughan

Keith Vaughan (1912-1977) - 'Landscape with Green Church' 1951.

NEWHG : OP.0056. Oil on canvas purchased from the Keith Vaughan exhibition, 1956

A letter to Keith Vaughan, 1956

Lawrence Gowing

The Hatton’s Keith Vaughan exhibition had taken place earlier in 1956, as Gowing’s apologetic letter confirms, after offering a discount on the price, the College then failed to pay him for several months.

The Goats, 1952

William Roberts

William Roberts (1895-1980) - 'The Goats' 1952.

NEWHG : OP.0062. Oil on canvas presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 1956.

A letter to William Roberts, 1956

Lawrence Gowing

Roberts was apparently encouraged to paint ‘The Goats’ at the suggestion of Wilfred Evill, who was not only a Roberts collector, but also a buyer for the Contemporary Art Society between 1946-56. Simultaneous with the acquisition Gowing was also trying to persuade Roberts to exhibit in the Hatton, unfortunately due to other commitments he declined. The Hatton held a major William Roberts exhibition in 2004.

The Holy Family, 1520

Andrea del Sarto

After Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530) – ‘The Holy Family’ c.1520-1530.

c.1520-1530. NEWHG : OP.0103. Oil on panel purchased at Sotheby’s, 1956.

Letters from Gowing, 1956

Lawrence Gowing

Following the purchase of the ‘The Holy Family’ Gowing engaged in a range of correspondence, which show how personally, if occasionally haphazardly, he was involved in acquisitions. The commissioning of a new frame proved ‘grossly expensive’ and the question of the use of oil or tempera in the extensive restoration required detailed correspondence.