Art Gallery

Our Art Gallery opens with a 1927 poster announcing an annual event that was to continue through to 1961. Every exhibition of ours was announced in the local papers despite the BSoA being regarded as a bohemian oasis in what was then a very middle class and leafy suburb on the outskirts of London. These exhibitions were always well attended, particularly by envious students and teachers from other art schools as well as headhunting representatives from the commercial art industry. I am sure that those of us who were former students there will remember that we worked throughout the day and evening to meet the deadline. And, now over forty years later, I believe it is safe to confess that secret keys were made and windows left unlocked so that we could sneak back in and work all night. Proudly we can therefore claim that we must have been the only school in the world where students actually broke into to work! Considering that we used machinery through the wee small hours without staff and technician supervision, such would be prohibitive today given safety rules and regulations.

The opening day was a ritual we all looked forward to as Principal John Cole would stride in a manner resembling Groucho Marx along the ranks of our paintings, graphic design, pottery, illustration, calligraphy and furniture with a smile of considerable approval, before proudly escorting the local mayor, dignitaries and governors of the School on a tour. I don’t remember him ever individually praising a student or department for their work, however just noticing his pleasure on opening day was enough to know that we had done all right.

Exhibition corridor 1957

The following examples are but a fraction of over 600 pieces of work donated to the BSoA Archives. They are taken from sketchbooks, portfolios and examination submissions. Looking back at this work it is astonishing to realize that it was accomplished by teenagers and not professional artists and designers. In fact, I have estimated that the average age of the student who’s work is included in this gallery was only 18. Our curriculum, based upon the Classical, Modernism and the Bauhaus is clearly evident in this collection.

It is hoped that more will be donated, displayed in this gallery and added to our official BSoA Archives situated at the Central Library in Bromley Kent. There is at the moment, a shortage of examples of paintings and pottery, so if you have any of these and would like to show them off on our website, please digitally photograph or scan them and email them to me for inclusion. A contact email address is at the foot of this page.

(gallery under reconstruction)

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Our Art Gallery ends with a few examples seen at the BSoA’s last exhibition in 1961.

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