In advance of Leith School of Art’s Fundraising Auction at Lyon & Turnbull on 24 March, Paintings Specialist Carly Shearer met with the School’s Principal, Philip Archer to find out more about the school, its programme and their hopes for the auction.
Can you explain the history of the Leith School of Art and its aims as an independent art school in Edinburgh?
The Leith School of Art was established in 1988 by two of my friends, art teachers Mark and Lottie Cheverton. They were inspired to set up an art school that would allow them to offer the kind of teaching and artistic community that they believed in. They started the school in its current premises, an old Norwegian church, with an Art Foundation and a selection of short courses. Unfortunately, tragedy struck in 1991 when the Chevertons were killed in a road accident. Having been a close friend of them since art school days, I understood and believed in their strong vision and the start they had made, so moved to Edinburgh to continue their vision and become Principal of the school in 1992.
What core programmes does the school currently offer?
The school runs many programmes, all stemming from Mark and Lottie’s original vision and our on-going commitment to allow each student to develop, while providing a strong teaching tradition that trains them to see in a full and holistic sense. The one year Foundation course remains a central programme, running five days a week for a full-year with approx. 20 students, preparing them to apply to art school, and enter straight into their second year there. There are a wide range of other courses that run over a full-year on a part-time basis, covering a range of subjects from drawing and print-making to contemporary art practice and art and spirituality.
As an independent school, there is more scope for you to offer new and innovative programmes. Can you tell us about some of these developments?
At the school we are always keen to develop talent and our artistic community at all stages. This has evolved to include our Schools Outreach programme and the tutor support system, which aims to develop art teaching talent through mentoring and shadowing existing established tutors. The new Graduate Residency programme brings graduate talent back into the school, as we offer studio space, critical feedback and support to launch a professional career to three selected artists each year.
We also offer a programme of high-quality teaching in our discounted community classes, and financial support to students through assisted places and scholarship schemes. At the moment there are 300 students coming through the school each week, taught by a staff of 40, many practising artists themselves, all of whom contribute to the ecology of our artistic community, and the supportive creative environment of the school.
What are the plans for the fundraising auction being held on the 23rd March?
The fundraising auction will include approximately 60 lots of artwork generously donated by a mixture of Leith School of Art staff who are practising artists, alumni from the school and other recognised Scottish artists who recognise the ambitions of the school and wish to support its future. The auction will raise funds to support the school’s central aim to create a nurturing, supportive art school community with a strong tradition of passionate and quality teaching. Funds raised will be put into continuing the school’s programmes in all areas.
Many thanks to Philip for taking the time to speak to us about the school and auction.
Friday 24 March | 5:30pm-8:00pm
Lyon & Turnbull | 33 Broughton Place
Edinburgh | EH1 3RR