With Kenneth Rowntree suceeding Gowing as Professor and following Pasmore’s departure in 1961, this decade saw the increasing influence of Richard Hamilton in teaching, more emphasis on British 20th century acquisitions and younger contemporary artists’ exhibitions.

While Evetts, McCheyne, Holland and Hodgson remained on the staff, others such as Geoffrey Dudley, Eric Dobson, Derwent Wise and later Ian Stephenson took prominent roles.



  • Original prints of the French Impressionists

    1 - 21 March 1959
  • Contemporary French Prints

    1 - 22 May 1959
  • Education Year exhibition

    6-13 June 1959
  • Summer Exhibition by Students of the Fine Art Department

    22 June - 4 July 1959
  • Odilion Redon

    17 October - 7 November 1959

Staff / Students

1959, Charlton Lecture

The 1958 Charlton Lecture was postponed from its usual November slot until the following February, presumably in order to allow George Heard Hamilton, Professor of Art History at Yale University (1936-1966) to deliver it.

Student alumna Mary Webb (1958-63) recalls Heard Hamilton’s visit.

1959, Summer Exhibition, catalogue

The 1959 Summer Exhibition took place between the departure of Lawrence Gowing and appointment of Kenneth Rowntree as Professor. The catalogue lacked an illustrated cover, a simple type-written information deemed sufficient.

In 1959 the external examiners were Claude Rogers and Bernard Meadows.

1959, The Developing Process, catalogue

The Developing Process was the first exhibition and publication project that summarised the development of the ‘basic course’ up to that point. Organised by Victor Pasmore and Richard Hamilton in Newcastle and Harry Thubron and Tom Hudson in Leeds, it was first shown at the ICA in London before touring the country.

1959, The Developing Process, catalogue spread

Through texts by the 4 main organisers, as well as Alan Davie, Terry Frost, Geoffrey Dudley and J Ravetz, placed alongside (unattributed) examples of students’ work, the catalogue aimed to explain both the underlying principles of the ‘basic course’ and the intention behind specific exercises (as in in Hamilton’s text ‘Diagrammar’).

1959, The Developing Process, catalogue spread

Hamilton explained that the objective behind the exercise on the left was to represent ‘forces’ or a ‘kinetic situation’ through the use of signs. The image on the right by Kathleen Brown (Kate Stephenson) is described as a ‘space filling exercise’, with a specific aim of not repeating any particular ‘configurations’.

1959, The Developing Process, press review

Frederick Laws’ review in the Daily Telegraph of ‘The Developing Process’, which he largely attributes to Pasmore, is critical of the catalogue – ‘prettily printed,…a poor job of communication’. However he recognises the value of the ‘basic course’ which ‘as demonstrated is progressive, logical and practical…It is analytical and intellectual, but gives room for free creation.’

1959, The Developing Process, press review

Scott Dobson’s review from the Evening Chronicle of The Developing Process, as seen at the Laing Art Gallery in 1960, emphasises the source in nature of many of the principles of the ‘basic course’, but rather than the ‘literal motif’, ‘the underlying forms…and the world that microscope has made know to us’. Like many artists and writers at the time he identifies the risk of the ‘basic course’ leading to a specific style and students being led into imitating the work of their tutors.



Press cutting, 1959

Leading up to and following Gowing’s departure, acquisitions slowed down. However, as this local press article celebrates, his successful application to the Gulbenkian Foundation meant that his successor, Professor Kenneth Rowntree, could continue the development of the Collection through the 1960s.

Determined Progression, 1953

Adrian Heath

Adrian Heath (1920-1992) - 'Determined Progression' 1953.

NEWHG : OP.0032. Oil on board presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 1959.

Letter from Contemporary Art Society, 1959

Leonard Evetts

Letter to Leonard Evetts, who was briefly the Acting Head of Department between Gowing and Rowntree, from Pauline Vogelpoel, who worked at the Contemporary Art Society from 1954 to 1976, confirming the allocation of the Heath painting, apparently the 4th choice.