Press Releases 2007-08

Date Title
31 July 2008 Mackintosh Italian Job
17 July 2008 New images available from Central Saint Martins Museum
3 July 2008 Iconic poster archive launched online
24 April 2008 Relaunch of online resource provides unique access to visual arts collections
10 January 2008 Photographing the changing face of the East End
10 January 2008 Frederick Parker Chair Collection launched online
10 January 2008 New digital archive celebrates forgotten British sculptor
21 November 2007 New database unveils hidden art treasures
October 2007 Poster collection featured in major new exhibition
October 2007 World art at your fingertips
October 2007 VADS contributes to new publication on digital images

Mackintosh Italian Job

Milan, Sant'Ambrogio, study of south elevation of easternmost bay of nave, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1891

A little known sketchbook used by the world famous Glasgow architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh on a tour of Italy has now been opened up for use online at

The sketchbook, which is today held in the Glasgow School of Art archive, was taken by Charles Rennie Mackintosh on his tour of Italy, France and Belgium in 1891 as the recipient of the Alexander Thomson Travelling Studentship. It provides a unique insight into the architect's formative years and shows Mackintosh as a young architect with a mind of his own. Mackintosh ignored the strict stipulations of the grant body which made his trip possible, and instead pursued his desire to learn more about Renaissance architecture.

In an accompanying diary he dismisses the attractions of much-celebrated Florence and Mantua, and ignores much of the remit for the journey laid down by the studentship, which was created to encourage the study of classical art.

Using funding granted by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Glasgow School of Art's Architectural Librarian, David Buri, and former Fine Art librarian and art historian, George Rawson, spent 3 years examining each sketch and notation made by Mackintosh and, on a series of trips to Italy, tracked down and photographed the sources of each drawing, ranging from building façades to ornamentation and interior details.

Pages from Mackintosh's sketchbook are now available to view online at VADS.

For more information about the project, see:

New images available from Central Saint Martins Museum

Design for LCC Central School of Arts and Crafts and Day Training College building, Southampton Row, by A.Halcrow Verstage, 1903

The Central Saint Martins Museum and Study Collection has added a further 400 images from its historic collections to This outstanding collection includes works by many well-known early staff and students, such as William Lethaby, John Farleigh, Noel Rooke, Cecil Collins, William Newland, Eric Gill, Edward Johnston, Jeannetta Cochrane, Joyce Clissold, and many others.

The collection consists of a wide range of material including: fine art, ceramics, lettering and calligraphy, prints, theatrical costume design, textiles, books printed and bound in the Central School, German film posters, Japanese prints, and a collection of illustrated books used as teaching examples.

The museum has its roots in the Teaching Examples Collection which was established by the first principal of the Central School, William Lethaby. The museum now aims to collect work by former staff and students of Central Saint Martins and the two founding colleges: The Central School of Arts and Crafts, later Design, and St Martin's School of Art.

Over 1700 works from the collection are now available to view online at VADS.

For more information about the collection, see

Iconic poster archive launched online

Gillette Poster c. 1940-1949, designed by Tom Eckersley

VADS is pleased to announce that a stunning collection of posters by Tom Eckersley has been digitized and is now available online at

Eckersley is one of the foremost poster designers and graphic communicators of the last century. He used bold simple designs, often resembling collage, and the collection reflects the range of his work from propaganda posters to his post-war posters. The collection was formed by Eckersley and is held at the University of the Arts London Archives and Special Collections Centre.

Eckersley's bold, graphic statements coupled with memorable slogans and unique use of colour, were seen promoting some of the most iconic of British institutions such as London Transport, General Post Office, The Ministry of Information and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). Eckersley was also a teacher of poster arts and established the first graphic design course in Britain at the London School/College of Printing (now College of Communication, part of University of the Arts London).

Over 100 posters are now available online from this unique archive and further images will be launched on VADS in the coming months.

The collection complements other resources on such as the Imperial War Museum's poster collection which includes works by Eckersley and his contemporaries such as F H K Henrion and Abram Games.

You can search and browse the collection and view more information about the archive.

Relaunch of online resource provides unique access to visual arts collections

Black jersey dress with striped tie, Marlborough, 1967

Students and academics looking for visual arts images now have online access to a stunning collection of over 100,000 images with the launch of The website has been developed by VADS (the Visual Arts Data Service) which re-branded and re-launched itself earlier this month and contains collections as diverse as the National Inventory of Continental European Paintings, the Woolmark Company Archive and the Central Saint Martins Museum and Study Collection.

VADS has been providing services to the academic community for some 11 years and has built up an impressive portfolio of visual art collections. The image resources are free and copyright cleared for use in UK Higher and Further Education, providing a valuable resource to students and academics which can be incorporated into lectures, seminar presentations and essays.

VADS is continuously adding to its catalogue and just this year has added a collection of photographs from the East End archival project which includes 500 images of the Spitalfields area from the 1970s to the 1990s - a period of rapid social and physical change; furniture from the Frederick Parker Chair Collection which demonstrate 350 years of British chair design and manufacture; as well as the archive of post-war British sculptor Peter King.

Other memorable collections available online through the site are 'Spanish Civil War Posters', 'Concise Art', and 'Posters of Conflict' all from the Imperial War Museum, and the Design Council Archives and Slide Collection from University of Brighton and Manchester Metropolitan University respectively.

In addition to providing and building on its online visual arts resource, VADS also offers expert guidance and help for digital projects in arts education. The expert VADS team also offers web development and hosting services for visual arts organisations and projects.

Photographing the changing face of the East End

Brick Lane, 1978, photograph by Paul Trevor

We are pleased to announce that a stunning collection of images of London's East End, captured by award-winning photographer Paul Trevor, are now available to view online at VADS.

Academics and artists at London Metropolitan University have been working with photographer Paul Trevor to make a selection of his images of East London digitally available to artists, students and researchers. The Collection includes 500 images (chosen from a total of 120,000) of the Spitalfields area from the 1970s to the 1990s, a period of rapid social and physical change.

The Paul Trevor Collection is part of a larger archive project at London Metropolitan University, which will eventually include oral as well as visual narratives, that aims to represent aspects of the lives of local East End communities in their distinctive social, economic and political contexts.

In selecting the images, the project team have tried to be reflective and consider why they were drawn to particular images, and which cultural narratives influence their selections and how the present shapes what we identify as significant about the past. They articulated a shared goal of trying to 'capture the spirit of the time', whilst being aware that they were also producing that spirit through their interpretations, discussion and choices.

For more information about the project see:

Frederick Parker Chair Collection launched online

Carved green and gold painted armchair - George III c. 1775

A unique collection of chairs amassed by Frederick Parker & Sons, later Parker Knoll Ltd, has been fully catalogued and digitised and is now available to view online at VADS.

The chair collection demonstrates 350 years of British chair design and manufacture. They are part of the Frederick Parker Collection that also includes a collection of carvings and the Frederick Parker Company archive.

Frederick Parker (born 1845) built up a substantial and high quality furniture making business. He supplied furniture for ocean liners, country houses, palaces and the high-end retail trade. Frederick Parker was convinced that the only way his workforce could produce fine, new furniture for contemporary use was by studying "the old masters". Thus he collected a library of books on furniture, 360 pieces of furniture (mostly chairs) as well as examples of carvings and textiles to inspire his designers and furniture makers.

In 2002 the Frederick Parker Foundation agreed the long-term loan of the chairs, carvings and archive to London Metropolitan University. The chairs went on public exhibition within Metropolitan Works at the Sir John Cass Department of Art, Media and Design.

The Collection is a valuable educational tool, providing research and source material for students and academics from a range of disciplines such as interior design, conservation and museum studies, design, furniture, social and business history.

For more information about the collection, see

New digital archive celebrates forgotten British sculptor

'Standing figure' by Peter King, 1950s

Peter King's untimely death at the age of twenty-nine has meant that he has been largely omitted from the history of 1950s British art. Now his work is being made available to a wider audience, through a digitising project carried out by the artist's son, Dr Mike King, at London Metropolitan University, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

King was undoubtedly a prolific artist whose exceptional talent was recognised by Henry Moore, who appointed him as his assistant along with Anthony Caro. King was part of a group of artists associated with Moore's studio, with the teaching team at St Martin's School of Art, with artists living at the Abbey Art Centre in London, and with Victor Musgrave's Gallery One in Soho. He received the Boise Travelling Scholarship and funding from the BFI for an animated film, and exhibited the film and his work across Europe.

King's central theme was the human body. It appears, frenzied or still, as standing figures, mother-and-child groups, hybrid or masquerade figures; rendered in polished wood with fluid curves, in tough cement proclaiming its modernity and in the intricate chunky wood carvings that are King's signature pieces.

That they contain echoes of art as varied as works by Henry Moore, Germaine Richier, Javanese shadow puppets and Cycladic marbles marks him as a man of the early post-war years whose work is profoundly eloquent of that period's doubts, fears and concern with humanity.

A sample collection with 51 entries is now available to search online at VADS.

When published, the full archive will contain over 1,000 entries, giving a detailed picture of the life and work of the artist.

For more information about the archive, visit:

New database unveils hidden art treasures

Nicholas Edward Gabé (1814-65), 'The Barricade at Port St. Dennis 1848', 1849, Bowes Museum

A new online database available from VADS offers the chance to explore nearly 8,000 European oil paintings in Britain's public art collections.

The launch of NICE Paintings (The National Inventory of Continental European Paintings) on 21 November 2007 will be the first time many of the pre-1900 oil paintings have been accessible outside the museums and galleries in which they are housed.

The database has been created by the National Inventory Research Project - a groundbreaking research project designed to gather and present information about Britain's public art collections. A team of researchers from the University of Glasgow and Birkbeck College (University of London) visited 200 museums from Penzance to Inverness in order to collate information and shed new light on European paintings from 1200 to 1900.

Project Director Andrew Greg, from the University of Glasgow's Department of History of Art, said "This project has been an innovative and productive partnership between the academic world and national and regional museums across the UK. By working with the museums for three years we have been able to uncover a lot of new information on the paintings that the museums themselves didn't have the resources to unearth."

"Through the stories and interpretations of the paintings provided on the website the project addresses the lack of publicly accessible information about collections as well as the decline of collections research in the UK."

The launch of the database coincides with an exciting new exhibition at the National Gallery, London, from 21 November 2007 to 10 February 2008.

Discoveries: New Research into British Collections will reveal some secret stories uncovered by the new research. The exhibition features eight paintings, spanning 500 years, from institutions across the country. For information about the exhibition, visit the National Gallery website.

The database is available online at:

Notes to editors
For more information about the project please contact Kate Richardson in the University of Glasgow's Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3683 or email

The research project has been awarded grants from the Getty Foundation, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Research contributing to the database has also been enabled by grants from the Pilgrim Trust, made to 29 participating museums, and the Neil MacGregor Scholarship scheme through the National Gallery Trust, which supported ten scholars on the project.

Poster collection featured in major new exhibition

'Your Talk May Kill Your Comrades' poster designed by Abram Games, 1942

VADS provides online access to over 7000 war posters from the Imperial War Museum's collection, and some of the most eye catching and iconic designs are now on show in a major new exhibition.

The exhibition, entitled Weapons of Mass Communication, runs from 4 October 2007 until 30 August 2008 at the Imperial War Museum in London, and explores how the greatest designers and advertisers of the day tried to influence the wills of soldier and civilian alike. The exhibition includes some 300 works, from the iconic image of Alfred Leete's Kitchener recruitment poster to the pioneering designs of Abram Games.

The poster collection is an essential resource for looking at the development of mass communication, propaganda, publicity, commercial art and graphic design, and you can delve even deeper into this vast, internationally important collection at VADS. Thousands of posters from the collection are available to view online thanks to a three digitisation project by the museum in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University. You can browse all the posters or search for particular designs, or find out more information about the collection.

For details of the exhibition visit:

VADS also provides access to the museum's collection of Spanish Civil War posters:
Imperial War Museum: Spanish Civil War Posters Collection

And the museum's collection of 20th century war art:
Imperial War Museum: Concise Art Collection

World art at your fingertips

Figure of a walking hippopotamus, 1880 BCE, Egyptian

A click of the mouse is all that is needed to take a closer look at objects and art works from around the world, thanks to a new online collection available at VADS.

Artworld includes digital images of around 900 objects from Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Pacific, spanning thousands of years of human creativity. It provides access to the extensive collections of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, and the Oriental Museum at the University of Durham. Valuable to students and museum visitors alike, this new resource gives the opportunity to take a look in the museum stores at objects not normally on view to the public.

Look at the objects from the front, the back, up above and down below with help from multiple images taken from different angles. These high quality images are available to anyone to download for educational or personal use along with detailed information and new research.

Artworld was a joint project between the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and the Oriental Museum, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council's Joint Information Systems Committee.

You can browse the Artworld collection or search for particular images, or find out more information about the collection.

VADS contributes to new publication on digital images

JISC Images Book cover

VADS has contributed to a new publication entitled Digital Images in Education: Realising the Vision, published by the JISC Images Working Group in October 2007.

In 2005, the JISC Images Working Group set about formalising its vision for the provision of digital images in UK higher and further education. In doing so, it consulted widely among those with an interest in creating, using and managing images for learning and teaching and in academic research, for the vision was to be strongly grounded in community needs and concerns.

The book Digital Images in Education: Realising the Vision provides a comprehensive view of the digital image landscape by setting out:

  • the vision, its background and progress towards its realisation
  • digital image creation, use and management in and beyond UK education
  • a summary of the findings from a series of reports commissioned by JISC to examine different aspects of the provision of images for use in education

The book presents the results that emerged from The Digital Picture project run by VADS. The project was designed to establish an overview of the issues, and potential solutions, relating to the use and impact of digital images within visual arts higher education institutes and associated organisations.

You can can order print copies or download the complete version of the book from the JISC website.



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