March 28, 2019

Epsom & Ewell’s Long History in Supporting Art & Design

In fact, scroll back to 1896 and the embryonic seeds of what we now know as “Art School” were planted with the opening of The Epsom Technical Institute and School of Art on Church Street.

Epsom School of Art and Design prospectus 1957

The Institute was funded by some enterprising local residents, including Lord Archibald Philip Primrose Rosebery, a former Prime Minister.

In the UCA archives we can see from the Epsom Technical Institute prospectus from 1920-21 that classes were taught in English, French, Shorthand, Cookery, Building Construction, and Woodwork, there were disciplines requiring a little more flare and flights of fancy. Model Drawing, Drawing in Light and Shade, Plant Drawing from Nature. Yours for around £1 per term for morning classes and five shillings for evening classes.

The first known prospectus for the Epsom Technical Institute and School of Art

The Art School also ran a Student’ Sketch Club where all students were eligible for membership at a nominal subscription.

“The club holds an informal exhibition in the school about once a month, and a criticism of the work is generally given by a visiting artist or art teacher,” notes the prospectus, while also mentioning that the space given over to budding artists was “efficiently heated and lighted by electricity.”

In the 1930’s the Technical Institute & Art School was transferred to Surrey County Council “under trust for the continuance of art and technical education within the Epsom district.” By the late 1930’s, they’d introduced new courses in Dressmaking, Weaving, Embroidery, Dress Design, Illustration, Lettering, Bookbinding, Commercial Design, and to accommodate the British weather, Outdoor Sketching Classes in the summer.

By the 1950’s they’d added Typography, Layout, Textile Printing, History of Architecture, Photography, and classes ran as late as 9pm in the evening. Over the years the Technical Institute & Art School separated, and in 1973 the Epsom School of Art and Design that we all know and love was opened.

The University for the Creative Arts (UCA) in Epsom, as it is now known is a specialist art and design university and there are currently around 1,300 students from all over the world studying here. Come and visit us here.

A selection of prospectuses from Epsom & Ewell School of Art

Dr Sophie Beard MA (RCA) PhD
Senior Lecturer Graphic Design
University for the Creative Arts, Epsom

Courtesy of the archive at UCA Epsom

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