The technical education provided by the Regent Street Polytechnic and the Harrow School of Art required (what were then) state-of-the-art facilities that would prepare students for the modern workforce they would be entering, just as the teaching reflected the needs and demands of industry. The University Archives holds an extensive and evocative series of photographs documenting the changes to these spaces – and the students who inhabited them – over the years. Backed up with documentary material from the collection, the exhibition will consider the shift between classroom, workshop and studio as a technical education developed into graduate qualifications.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the areas of Fashion and Photography, two subjects in which the University has a long and proud heritage. Both initially offered a ‘sound and practical theoretical training’ but over the years have evolved into Bachelor of Arts courses (in the case of Photography, the first anywhere in the world) with a focus on creativity. Nonetheless the courses continue to require a high level of technical expertise and maintain a focus on employability. In displaying student work and teaching materials from across the decades, the exhibition will demonstrate the evolution from a skills-based syllabus to self-expression.
‘Classroom = Workshop = Studio’ forms part of the University’s anniversary events, celebrating 175 years of world-leading research, pioneering teaching, and providing education for all, regardless of background or financial status. As part of these celebrations, the University Archives have overseen the publication of ‘Educating Mind, Body and Spirit: the legacy of Quintin Hogg and the Polytechnic, 1864-1992’. This multi-authored history critically examines the role of Quintin Hogg and the Regent Street Polytechnic within the development of adult education, and the national trends and debates that led to its evolution into the University of Westminster.
The University of Westminster Archive collects, maintains and provides access to materials documenting the heritage of both today’s University and its predecessor institutions including the Regent Street Polytechnic, Royal Polytechnic Institution, Polytechnic of Central London and Harrow College. Both the book and exhibition draw on new research on the University’s archive collections, presenting a fresh take on an often misunderstood past.
Opening times: 9am-5pm daily, 6 May-9 June 2013
Private view: Wednesday 8 May, 5-8pm
T: + 44 (0) 20 7911 5970
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