What was the Artists Union?

Notes by Avis Saltsman -
Page Two

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(in relation to Oxford College of Art)

In the early 1960’s Diploma in Art and Design Courses (Dip.A.D.) were introduced after the recommendation of the Summerson Committee, in an attempt to form an academically acceptable degree-equivalent for Art. At about this time the Oxford School of Art was incorporated in the College of Technology on the present Polytechnic site. This provided the opportunity for developing advanced courses in Art and Design when the College of Technology was designated a Polytechnic. This opportunity has been missed; two attempts were made at gaining Dip.A.D. recognition in the 1960’s, the first was inadequately prepared, the second failed largely because of internal politics - weakened because of disagreement over the independence of the School of Art within the College of Technology. Subsequent attempts have failed to get off the ground, because the art section has not been strengthened; no extra staff in art have been appointed despite the considerable expansion of the Polytechnic in other departments and overall, Art has been ignored. Oxford Polytechnic, together with Plymouth, is rushing headlong toward the unique position of being the only two Polytechnics without Art courses.

A London Branch newsletter woodcut of the destruction of the Battersea Mural

At present the Department of Design here runs four full-time courses: 1) College Diploma in Cartography
2) College Diploma in Book Publishing 3) College Diploma in Communication and Design 4) one year Foundation Studies Course.

There are plans to replace Cartography and Publishing by CNAA degree courses. The Communication and Design Course is being closed - there was no intake this year. The Foundation Course is to be transferred to the College of Further Education because it is government policy that non-advanced courses should not form part of Polytechnics. For the same reason all part-time, non-advanced courses in Art and Design at the Polytechnic are to leave. These part-time courses and the Foundation Course are the only ones in the Design Department which serve the local community - once again a Polytechnic cuts itself off from its community roots.

Degree courses only! Become mini-universities! The government wants a university education on the cheap. Do you?

What sort of education do you want here? Do you want one which excludes a whole area of our experience - the visual?

Art is essential, a vital part of a Polytechnic. But art education here must not be solely advanced courses in a department isolated from the rest of the College. It must serve everyone in the College. It must include part-time courses and serve the community. It must provide opportunities for studying fine art, design and applied art at all levels.

Make your voice heard now. Begin by helping to save Art.

Save Art Action Group

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Contact: Avis Saltsman (or Saltzmann), 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)20 7359 6294 or e-mail her
URL: http://www.art-science.com/Avis/au/au2.html
Last revised 14/10/2002 Copyright: Avis Saltsman 1998 - 2002