Here in BA Fine Art, you know us as part of Arts and Creative Industries at Middlesex University, but you may not know about the interesting history of our course!

It began at the Hornsey College of Art (HCA), located in Crouch End, London. The college was founded in 1880 and its curriculum consisted of Fine Art, Advertising Design and Industrial Applied Art. During World War Two it was one of only two London art schools that remained in the capital during the blitz.

In 1968 it became notorious as the scene of prolonged protests, as students occupied the site in Crouch End Hill. They were calling for a major review of the way that art and design was taught, and they were supported by sympathetic academic staff and visiting artists. They began a sit-in and temporarily took over administration of the college. The sit-in lasted for six weeks. The scale of these all-night protests and sit-ins brought national attention to HCA and started a wave of similar student action in art schools across the UK.

A book about the protests by students and staff called ‘The Hornsey Affair’ was published in 1969, and a documentary film ‘Our Live experiment is worth more than 3000 textbooks’ was made and broadcast the same year. In 1973 the college became part of Middlesex Polytechnic, later to be Middlesex University. The course moved to its current home in the Grove Building on our Hendon campus. Part of the Hornsey Archive is held in the special collections at the Middlesex University Sheppard Library.

The changes that these students initiated can still be felt today in the unique way that Fine Art is taught, with an emphasis on teaching and learning through making and discussion. On BA Fine Art we are proud of this radical history and we still value a student-led approach to teaching. We hold regular Student Voice Group meetings to receive and implement feedback.

Here are a few famous names you may have heard of, who studied at Hornsey College of Art: Sir Anish Kapoor CBE RA – artist Allen Jones RA – artist Wendy Dagworthy OBE – fashion designer and academic Neville Brody – graphic designer Stuart Goddard aka Adam Ant – musician Sir Ray Davies – lead singer of The Kinks Ana da Silva and Gina Birch – members of post-punk band The Raincoats

By Georgia Clemson