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.



  • Art Education Group

    12-20 May 1958

Staff / Students

1958, Student Film

Filmed by student Michael Dawson towards the end of the term in 1958, this short piece of film really shows the fun and social side of life in the Fine Art Department at the time, with staff and students dancing and enjoying the music together on the Hatton Gallery’s roof and some orchestrated larking around in one of the Departmental studios.

1958, Students Summer Exhibition, poster

The 1958 Summer Exhibition poster, and the catalogue cover which used a detail from the poster, look very much like an example of a ‘basic course’ exercise looking at the relationships of simple shapes and contrasting use of black and white.

In 1958 the external examiners were Claude Rogers and Bernard Meadows.

1958, first year course outline

This simple outline for the first week of the first year gives an idea of the concepts of ‘basic form’ which new students would be introduced to from the very start of the course.

Student alumni Mary Webb (1958-63) and Rose Frain (1958-62) describe their introduction to the Basic Course.

1958, Leeds Winter School, brochure

Similarly to the earlier Scarborough summer schools, this Winter School held in Leeds was intended to develop teachers’ practical teaching skills through specialist courses on visual education, acting and producing and orchestral string playing. Working on the Art Section were the originators of Basic Design, Victor & Wendy Pasmore, Harry Thubron and Tom Hudson, as well as sculptor Hubert Dalwood, teaching a course ‘comprising studies in the basic problems of colour, form and space…’

1958, ‘Architecture and You’, exhibition catalogue

King’s College staff were involved though committees and as advisors in the wider cultural life of the region in a variety of ways. The catalogue for this Northern Architectural Association exhibition ‘Architecture and You’ at the Laing Art Gallery was produced at King’s College and the Committee was chaired by Professor of Architecture W.B Edwards. Fine Art staff Murray McCheyne, Geoffrey Dudley and Leonard Evetts are also thanked for their ‘generous assistance’.

1958, Art, Machine and Environment, private view card

The private view card for Art, Machine and Environment indicates that Pasmore and Hamilton were the advisors to the organising committee, which included current students in the Fine Art Department Terry Marner and Roy Ascott.

1958, Art, Machine and Environment, catalogue

The Art, Machine and Environment exhibition held at the Laing Art Gallery was very much a product of the Fine Art Department at King’s College. The catalogue featured a detailed ‘Forward’ from Pasmore where he calls for an integration of art, machine and handcrafts with society as a whole. He identifies as central to this ‘new integration’ the education of artists through ‘a pedagogical approach to the study of the basic elements of form, colour, structure etc., from an objective and subjective point of view’.

1958, Art, Machine and Environment, catalogue

The catalogue list of works in Art, Machine and Environment reveals a fascinating range of new art, design and architecture, relating to Pasmore’s theme of ‘integration’ expressed both in his text and that of local Architectural firm Ryder & Yates. While many of the art examples come from the ‘centres’ of the ‘basic course’ – Newcastle and Leeds, the design pieces are drawn from an impressive range of national and international sources.



Letter to the Gulbenkian Foundation, 1958

Lawrence Gowing

During the 1950s Gowing had been utilising funds provided by the 1909 Joseph Shipley bequest to the College, originally intended for equipment and materials, Gowing had persuaded the University authorities that by 1952 these were in plentiful supply and the money would be better put towards the Permanent Collection. By 1958 the Shipley funds were diminished and a fresh source of money was required. In this letter Gowing lays out his justification for developing the Collection to the Gulbenkian Foundation, who would ultimately make £2,000 available for this purpose.