Camberwell College of Arts

Camberwell College of Arts
Established 1898
Location London, United Kingdom
Campus Camberwell
Affiliations University of the Arts London

Camberwell College of Arts (formerly known as Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts) is a constituent college of the University of the Arts London,[1] and is regarded as one of the UK's foremost art and design institutions.[2] It is located in Camberwell in South London, England, with two sites, located in Peckham Road and Wilson Road. It offers further and higher education programmes, including postgraduate and PhD awards. The College has retained single degree options within Fine Art, offering specialist Bachelor of Arts courses in painting, sculpture, photography and drawing. The College also runs graduate and postgraduate courses in art conservation and fine art as well as design courses such as Graphic Design, Illustration and 3D Design.


The College's history is finely intertwined with that of the South London Gallery, with which the College shares its site.[3] Manager of the South London Working Men's College in 1868, William Rossiter, purchased the freehold of Portland House on which the College now stands in 1889. The resulting Gallery opened in 1891, followed by the Technical Institute, the school's first guise in 1898. The philanthropist, John Passmore Edwards, gave a substantial sum of money for the erection of the building in memory of Lord Leighton. The school and gallery were the fruition of an artistic movement in Camberwell, supported by Edward Burne-Jones, Lord Leighton, Walter Crane and G F Watts. The school aimed to give the 'best artistic and technical education to all classes in the district'. Originally, the school offered classes in specific trades, such as architecture, cabinet design, embroidery, wood carving, wood block and stencil cutting. By 1920, a Fine Art Department had been created.

During World War II, Victor Pasmore was appointed head of the school's Painting Department.[4] He brought in William Coldstream, who in turn brought in Joe Dixon from the RCA and Claude Rogers. These three eminent Euston Road School painters, whose own work was figurative, initiated an exciting period for the School. Many well-known artists, including Frank Auerbach,[5] Lawrence Gowing and Edward Ardizzone taught at Camberwell during this period. The prominent painter Robert Medley was Head of Painting in the early 1960s. Ron Kitaj, Kenneth Martin, Patrick Procktor, Euan Uglow, Frank Bowling and David Hepher all taught at the School during the 1960s and 70s. During this period, the School had a thriving art history department, headed by Conal Shields, that employed painters such as Harold Cohen and academics, including T. J. Clark. In 1973, the School expanded into a modern purpose-built block next to the existing premises. Both of them are now Listed Buildings. The College is currently undergoing a major £62 million redevelopment, working with Stephen Marshall Architects.

In the 1980s, Wendy Smith became the head of Fine Art and employed Noel Forster, John Hilliard, Cornelia Parker, Phyllida Barlow, Gavin Jantjes and Ian McKeever. Tony Messenger and Eileen Hogan took charge of the graphics department, Eileen Hogan established and ran The Camberwell Press, and Eric Ayers presided over the typography school. Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts became a constituent College of the London Institute in 1986, formed by the Inner London Education Authority to associate London's art, design, fashion and media schools into a collegiate structure. The school was renamed Camberwell College of Arts in 1989. During this restructuring Camberwell temporarily lost its Fine Art courses but by the time the London Institute was granted University status and was renamed University of the Arts London in 2004, the department had been fully restored to the College. Well-known artists currently teaching at Camberwell include Richard Slee, Matt Franks,[6] Brian Griffiths, Saskia Olde Wolbers, Fran Cottell, Rebecca Fortnum, Kelly Chorpening, Patricia Ellis, Anna Mossman, David Cross of Cornford & Cross, Daniel Sturgis, Rupert Norfolk, Duncan Wooldridge, Bernd Behr, Jordan McKenzie, Anne-marie Creamer, Danny Treacy and Hew Locke. In 2014 the American academic Hal Foster was appointed as 'Practitioner in Residence' within the Fine Art Department, In 2016 Griselda Pollock assumed this title.


Research projects at the college relate to a number of ongoing theoretical and practical debates in areas such as the interface of new technologies and creative practice; transnational art, identity and nation, and the conservation of Byzantine books and manuscripts. Camberwell is part of the University of the Arts London and its Research Network (RNUAL), which also includes Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London College of Communication and London College of Fashion.

Camberwell also has a number of prominent artists acting as researchers and lecturers such as the painters Humphrey Ocean and John Keane and the ceramicist Julian Stair. With strong links to the local community, Camberwell has a purpose built community art and exhibition space, "Peckham Space" designed by PENSON in Peckham Square. This project commission "new multimedia, location-specific projects connecting art, people and place through creative experience". Camberwell also oversees in partnership with the Arts Council of England the current scholarly research into John Latham, whose local residence "Flat Time House" has recently been turned into a museum.


Camberwell is part of the University of the Arts London, and together with its sister colleges Chelsea College of Art and Design and Wimbledon College of Art makes up CCW, a three college model that allows each college to retain its own individual identity while allowing students to teaching and learning facilities across the three colleges. CCW combined their foundation courses from the academic year starting in September 2011, and bases them at the Wilson Road campus in Camberwell.[7] Other colleges of the University are Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London College of Communication and London College of Fashion.

Camberwell currently holds the highest National Student Survey satisfaction rating for Fine Art at the University of the Arts London.

Internationally, the College has links to other European art schools and Universities, and students regularly take part on ERASMUS educational exchanges to institutions in cities such as Marseille, Leipzig, Milan and Madrid. Further afield the college has links with colleges in Japan and America, with students taking part in projects at New York Studio School, Parsons The New School for Design New York, FIT NY and Yale School of Art.

Peckham Platform

Peckham Platform is a purpose-built public gallery dedicated to commissioning location-specific artworks made in partnership with community groups. Originally known as Peckham Space and part of Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts London, in 2013 it became an independent charity. It seeks to encourage progression routes for young people into creative higher education as well as to increase access to cultural and educational activity in Peckham. Peckham Space is funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), Southwark Council and Arts Council England. The permanent venue on Peckham Square, designed by PENSON, opened in June 2010.

Notable alumni

Notable academics


Further reading

Coordinates: 51°28′27″N 0°04′49″W / 51.4742°N 0.0804°W / 51.4742; -0.0804

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