On show

Alan van Wijgerden: Lanchester Faculty of Art & Design in the 1980s

It is a pleasure to host this exhibition of photographs taken by Alan Van Wijgerden between 1980 and 1983.

Van Wijgerden first visited the Lanchester Faculty of Art & Design in 1980 when he was undertaking studies in electronics. He was drawn towards the activities and people on the fine art course and in his spare time began unintentionally documenting the Fine Art course and the lives of the students who were undertaking their studies. As a result, many of the images in this exhibition were taken in and around the Graham Sutherland Building.

The images he captured act as a record of the kinds of art and activities that took place; students can be seen in their studios or hanging out together in front of the building. Fine art students from the time have stated that Van Wijerden was ‘un- stoppable’ with his camera. He captured the homes of students, and his photographs give a gritty and vivid picture of what a fine art student’s home looked like in the 1980s.

More importantly the images show a group of students that were politically active, conscious of the effects of the rationalisation of arts education on their own educations. Van Wijerden attended several different marches and protests, either as an observer or as an active participant. The images that will be exhibited show marches for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and a selection of students protesting cuts that were being imposed on the Lanchester Polytechnic.

The exhibition takes its title from the nickname for the Graham Sutherland Building, which since 1959 has been home to the Faculty of Art & Design.

Matthew Macaulay