Prestigious London art college to leave important glass program behind

The new King’s Cross location for the University of the Arts London will not house the centenarian glass program. courtesy: University of the Arts London
The GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet:
The new King's Cross location for the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design will not house the centenarian glass program. courtesy: University of the Arts London
In an article for The New York Times Magazine blog from April 14, 2011, Kabir Chibber wrote that when London’s esteemed Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design relocates to a new site in July, “For the first time in its history, nearly all of Saint Martins’s departments will be under one roof.” However, not all departments are making the move. As the school’s fashion students bemoan the loss of 20% of their space at the new building in London’s King’s Cross, the glass department, which has been around for over a century, will hold its last end-of-the-year show for students in the Postgraduate Certificate Glass & Architecture program. The exhibition, entitled “Fiennale 2011,” will mark the end of the programme at Central Saint Martins after over 100 years of teaching glass artists from around the world.

Svitlana Gunning exhibited Secret Garden as part of "Flux10," the 2010 year-end show. courtesy: the artist
The demise of this one-year program reflects a trend in the United Kingdom across many universities coping with budget cuts, one whose repercussions are yet to be fully felt. As the art world copes with the current economic climate, artists based in the United Kingdom “have lost various glass courses at both degree and higher education levels, [and] there are very few apprenticeships available these days,” notes Alan J. Poole of Dan Klein Associates. As academic courses focusing on glass decline, interested students may have to take less direct approaches to studying the medium, he suggests.

“Some universities and colleges no longer have bespoke glass courses, so that any new artists have to run the gauntlet of 3-D, applied arts, multi-discipline courses and can only ‘major’ in their last year of a B.A. (Hons.) in glass, leading to a whole new complexion on things for he future,” Poole told the Hot Sheet.

Although many sources called the British glass community exceptionally resilient, they all recognized the alarming changes in education options in the country. “We are very concerned at national and local government budget cuts affecting glass courses. Twenty years ago we had the best glass educational program in Europe, with many colleges and universities offering glass and glass-related courses. These have been closing down at a rate of knots and this is likely to radically affect the future of UK contemporary glass,” said ZeST Gallery manager Corinne Alexander.

“Fiennale 2011? will showcase the work of this year’s thirteen glass students: Jenny Brown, Sophie D’Souza, Anna Gillespie, Svitlana Gunning, Matt Hayes, Oksana Kondratyeva, Lujain Razouki, Joe Rowe, Angela Scott, Jenny Sharp, Sophie Sheehan, Lenka Tichá and Stephanie Wright. Hayes and D’Souza were recently awarded first and second prizes, respectively, in the annual Stevens Competition held by The Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass.