Bauhaus: Art and Education in Practice Symposium

The Old Library, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

£25 (inc. buffet lunch)

This one-day symposium celebrates the centenary of the Bauhaus School of Design. It questions how the innovations in teaching and creative practice it is known to have fostered continue to underpin, inform and challenge both arts education and contemporary art practice.

Founded in Weimar in 1919 and closed by the Nazis in Berlin some 14 years later, the Bauhaus is renowned as a locus of radical ideas, experimentation, as well as practical applications of art, craft and design to everyday life. Although short-lived, its legacy is still felt as one of the most influential art schools of the twentieth century.

The Bauhaus centenary provides an opportunity to engage with the notion of a 'model' art school, using it as a means to critically explore historical, contemporary and potential contexts for alternate forms of making and pedagogy, emerging from crossovers between educational, social, and artistic practices.

At a time of increased pressure on universities and arts education in particular, this symposium explores how early experiments in pedagogy continue to haunt and inspire our institutions of education, as well as impacting on individual artists, artist groups, and collectives. The symposium aims to question the boundaries between disciplines of art, craft and design; to explore the importance of educational and studio facilities, materials, skills and spaces; and to consider wider questions as to what is valued in the arts and in education.

Organised in partnership with the De La Warr Pavilion and the Centre for Design History at the University of Brighton.


10:30-10:55 Registration

11:00-11:10 Introduction by Nigel Llewellyn (Trustee, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation)

Panel 1 Education in Context
Chaired by Annebella Pollen (University of Brighton)

11:15-11:45 Professor Jeremy Aynsley (University of Brighton) Rethinking Bauhaus Teaching

11:45-12:15 Gavin Butt (Northumbria University) Bauhaus Undead

12:15-12:45 Education in Context panel discussion

12:45-13:45 Lunch (1 hour)

PANEL 2 Art School Educated
Chaired by Joseph Jones (University of Brighton)

13:45-14:15 Francine Norris Craft Haus (West Dean College)

14:15-14:45 Sarah Kate Wilson Episodes (Camberwell College of Arts)

14:45-15:15 Art School Educated panel discussion


PANEL 3 Thinking Through Making
Chaired by Ashley McCormick (DLWP)

15:30-16:00 Lauren Godfrey (Artist) Porous Chorus

16:00-16:30 Renee So (Artist) in conversation with Rosie Cooper (DLWP)

16:30-17:00 Thinking Through Making panel discussion

A full programme will be available in early September 2019.

Renee So ‘Ancient & Modern’ at De La Warr Pavilion

This symposium has been convened by Sarah Hughes to coincide with Renee So's exhibition 'Ancient & Modern' at the De La Warr Pavilion (28 September 2019 - 12 January 2020) which includes work made whilst So was artist-in-residence at West Dean College in May 2019. So's exhibition is held to mark the centenary of the Bauhaus and is especially interested in the legacy of female makers who were often pushed towards craft practices within the school. So's new pieces also refer to Anni and Josef Albers' collection of pre-Columbian figurines and textiles, a collection that reveals the influence of non-Western culture on the modernist movement. Find out more about the exhibition here:


Chaired by Dr. Annebella Pollen

Jeremy Aynsley
Rethinking Bauhaus Teaching

The original teaching curriculum in the first incarnation of the Bauhaus at Weimar in 1919 was organised around principles that would prove extraordinarily influential for the future direction of art and design education in many parts of the world. Arranged as a preliminary course that all students would follow in their first months, then organised around workshops identified by material - glass, clay, stone, wood, metal, colour and textile - it was director Walter's Gropius aim that the teaching would lead students to become architects. Many Bauhaus staff and students, however, went on to pursue careers across the spectrum of visual arts and design.

The momentum for this new thinking in design was spurred by the horror of World War 1 and the hope in a 'universal' visual language that could cross borders. Rather than repeat a well-known history of the changing character of the Bauhaus curriculum as the school passed from Weimar to Dessau, Berlin and eventually to Chicago, this talk will instead consider some of the underlying tensions. First, it will place the informing values in the context of experimental Modernism before going on to explore how they were received, adapted and, in some quarters, eventually rejected.

Gavin Butt
Bauhaus Undead

This talk will consider the uneven reception, and translation of, Bauhaus ideas into UK Fine Art education and popular culture between the 1950s and 1970s. Drawing on original research on art education and post-punk music in Leeds, it will consider how Bauhaus pedagogies fared as models of Basic Design teaching in the UK, and how they came to be subsequently implicated and critiqued within the crisis of progressive models of art education in the 1970s. In particular, I'll look at how permissive pedagogies of 'anything goes', developed out of Basic Design initiatives, came to be surpassed by the anti-institutional energies of punk for which "permission" was not required. I will close with attention to post-punk art and music which can be seen to have inaugurated a zombie-Bauhaus - sometimes ignorant, sometimes in full knowledge of - the actual historical Bauhaus, one concerned with the possibilities of utopian forms of social and aesthetic transformation loosened from the institutional limits of the art school.

Chaired by Joseph Jones

Francine Norris
Craft Haus

West Dean might appear to be an outlier in the history of art colleges and certainly at first encounter seems a long way removed from the legacy and influence of the Bauhaus. However, through a consideration of West Dean's institutional narrative, its particular approach to craft education and its site, within an adapted country house, this paper will explore how West Dean fits within the broader context of art, craft and design education, and in particular the tradition of small, experimental institutions that had a particularly influential role in the Twentieth Century.

With reference to current critical debates in both craft and education, West Dean provides a 'slippery' discourse of craft, one that moves between process and outcome, verb and noun, and one, which locates itself, both physically and conceptually, as an outsider. Specifically, the paper will reflect on how craft education is defined and structured by the architecture of the institution in its broadest sense.

Sarah Kate Wilson

Skateboard paintings, spirit beings, colour wheel dances, portals to other worlds, cheese toasties, incessant questioning, augmented reality, atemporal soundscapes, the body, walls and surveillance clouds.

Artist Sarah Kate Wilson along with students and her colleagues at Camberwell College of Arts, UAL have revisited Xanti Schawinsky's performance-installation, Spectodrama: Play, Life, Illusion (1936), producing episodes formed of performances, costumes, sets and soundscapes that reimagine the work in 2019. Schawinsky, a Bauhäusler unrestricted by media, worked across painting, photography, architecture, graphic design, stage design and played saxophone in the Bauhauskapelle. Later on, he founded the Stage Studies Workshop at Black Mountain College. Schawinsky's "total experience" theatre works, known as Spectodramas, can be understood as early forms of 'happenings' which were later developed at Black Mountain College by artists such as John Cage and Allan Kaprow.

This paper will give an account of Camberwell's episodes staged at the new Bauhaus Museum, Dessau as part of the Festival Stage TOTAL, one of the highlights of the centenary celebrations.

Chaired by Ashley McCormick

Lauren Godfrey
Porous Chorus

Following my exhibition Group Hat at De La Warr Pavilion, Summer 2019 and my recent body of work around bespoke sculpture in response to an individual or groups' needs, I will be exploring 'Thinking Through Making' as a proposition for opening up artistic practice to collaboration and interaction. Much of the work produced for DLWP was made in direct conversation and collaboration with local Bexhill groups ranging in age from 6 to 60 and beyond. Through the process of making together and enacting related practices such as drawing and discussion we developed elements of the exhibition with which the same groups and extended members of the public can directly interact. Creating an immediate ownership of the space and facilitating a relaxed learning environment. By employing tactics of turning teaching on its head and being open to learning from the 'students', I also learnt a lot and the resulting work took a (learning) curve from my usual output. In my talk I will discuss the work we made for DLWP as well as related works that led to this point of departure, reflecting on the development of thinking through making and drawing parallels with the Bauhaus approach to making and teaching.

Renee So and Rosie Cooper
In Conversation

Renee So's exhibition Ancient & Modern is a new body of work including hand-woven (a new skill) and knitted textiles, tiled murals and figurative vessels. It references the pottery and representations of the female figure from various prehistoric cultures such as Neolithic China, ancient Egypt and Meso-America. So uses the history and language of craft to make gently satirical commentary on social codes and power structures and to address the hierarchy between art and craft - traditionally seen as women's work - less serious, domestically-inclined, invisible and un-authored.
Renee So will be in conversation with the De La Warr Pavilion's Head of Exhibitions, Rosie Cooper.

Her exhibition is one of several projects taking place at the De La Warr Pavilion that mark the centenary of the Bauhaus School, founded in Germany in 1919. One of the most important art schools of the 20th century, Bauhaus practitioners believed in the integration of design, technology, craft and fine arts into daily life. So is especially interested in the legacy of female Bauhaus practitioners from the Weaving Workshop, such as Anni Albers and Gunta Stoltz, whose artistic contributions have not received the same recognition as their male counterparts.


Professor Jeremy Aynsley is Professor of Design History at the University of Brighton where he is director of the Centre for Design History. Jeremy's research focuses on modernism and design in the 20th century with a particular emphasis on graphic and interior design and their inter-relation. His publications include Graphic Design in Germany, 1890-1945 (2000) and Designing Modern Germany (2008), as well as many edited anthologies and essays. His most recent research is towards the forthcoming book, Modernism and Design in Germany with Bloomsbury Academic.

Professor Gavin Butt is a transdisciplinary scholar working across the areas of performance studies, queer studies, visual culture, and popular music. His publications include Between You and Me: Queer Disclosures in the New York Art World 1948-1963 by Duke University Press and in 2004 Butt edited the anthology After Criticism - New Approaches to Art and Performance. Butt is Research Curator for the current exhibition Still Undead: Popular Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus at Nottingham Contemporary.

Rosie Cooper is Head of Exhibitions at the De La Warr Pavilion, where recent major projects include Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance co-curated with Irene Aristizabal and Cedric Fauq, How Chicago! Imagists 1960s & 70s co-curated with Goldsmiths CCA and organised by Hayward Touring, as well as exhibitions by Hayv Kahraman, Caroline Achaintre, Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj, and Alison Wilding. Until 2016, she was Head of Programmes at Liverpool Biennial, and before that she was public programme curator at Barbican Art Gallery.

Lauren Godfrey is an artist based in London. Her work invites interaction and collaboration, often swerving close to furniture or the quasi-useful. Recent exhibitions and collaborations include Group Hat solo show, De La Warr Pavilion; Hidden Harlequin with Lauren Coullard at Centre For Recent Drawing, London; House Work, 53 Beck Road, curated by Art Licks. Recent residencies include Triangle, New York, 2016 and Kingsgate Workshops, London, 2015.

Sarah Hughes is Curatorial Assistant and Fine Art Tutor at West Dean of Arts and Conservation. She is a practicing artist, performer, and composer with a long standing interest in alternative modes of living, creative agency, and acts of resistance.

Joseph Jones is a PhD student at the University of Brighton and course tutor at West Dean College of Art and Conservation. His AHRC funded doctoral research focuses on transnational modernism and exhibition history, including the production, distribution, and reception of modern art in Latin America.

Dr. Nigel Llewellyn is on the Board of Trustees at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. He is an expert in Art History and taught at the University of Sussex for 25 years, during which time he also served as Dean and Pro-Vice-Chancellor. This was followed by time at the Tate as Head of Research, leading on research projects across all four Tate sites.

Ashley McCormick joined De La Warr Pavilion as Children and Young Peoples' Programmes Manager in 2014 and was appointed Head of Learning & Participation in 2016. Previously she worked as an artist, educator and curator collaborating with award winning urban design teams including muf architecture/art, East and erect. She has also worked at The Building Exploratory, Open City and Tate Britain and has taught at London Metropolitan University and West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. She sees art is a vital opportunity to engage, invigorate and mobilise people to reimagine the world.

Francine Norris is Director of Education at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. Formerly she was Dean and Head of School of Crafts and Design at University of the Creative Arts. She studied architecture at Manchester University and worked in architectural practice in London before moving into design education. Her on going research is concerned with the mechanisms and media of arts education and with the impact of architectural space on creative arts disciplines and practices.

Dr. Annebella Pollen is Principal Lecturer and Academic Programme Leader in History of Art and Design at the University of Brighton. Her books include Mass Photography: Collective Histories of Everyday Life, The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift (an exploration of a British interwar artist-led camping and campaigning organisation) and the forthcoming Art Without Frontiers, a history of the British Council's use of art in cultural relations, 1935-present.

Renee So was born in Hong Kong, spent 30 years in Australia and now lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions include a survey show at the Henry Moore Institute 2019, the London Open 2018 at Whitechapel Gallery, and group exhibitions in Turin, Perth and Melbourne. She is represented by Kate MacGarry, London, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney and HopkinsonMossman, Auckland.

Artist and researcher Sarah Kate Wilson lives and works in London, she is a senior lecturer, and 3rd year leader of BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting at Camberwell College of Arts. She received her MFA (Painting) at The Slade School of Fine Art, London (2010) and PhD from the University of Leeds (2017). She has staged large scale painting performances at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2018) and Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2017) and has had solo exhibitions at BALTIC 39, Newcastle and Armory Centre for the Arts, California, USA. She is currently developing a ballet on the subject of mimicry to be staged in October 2020.


Bauhaus: Art and Education in Practice is organised in partnership with the De La Warr Pavilion and the Centre for Design History at the University of Brighton.

The De La Warr Pavilion is a pioneering cultural centre where everyone can enjoy contemporary exhibitions, music, events and entertainment in a Modernist building on Bexhill's seafront. Opened in 1935 as a democratic space for progressive thought and creativity, this unique Grade One listed building has been modern in spirit and aspiration ever since. Find out more

The Centre for Design History applies a cross-disciplinary perspective to understand how design in all its forms has shaped things, spaces and actions across time. Find out more