Hampstead School of Art prepares to move into first permanent home in 70-year history

If all goes to plan, in early June the Hampstead School of Art will take possession of its first permanent home in its 70-year history.

But the school, which aims to “unleash the artist in everyone” with diverse courses, workshops and events, is still working towards achieving its target of £1.5 million for the new building in Kidderpore Green, close by the present premises in Kidderpore Avenue, Hampstead.

On Sunday there is a fundraising event, a musical soiree and art auction, at the historic home of actor Tom Conti and his wife Kara.

A programme including music by Debussy, Haydn and Bach will be performed on cello and flutes.

The auction has artworks by Highgate resident Frances Aviva Blane, known for emotionally intense paintings and drawings, and by the new patrons of the school, distinguished artists Frank Bowling and Alan Gouk.

Bowling is Guyana-born British abstract painter, a graduate of the Royal College of Art.

Since the mid 60s he has spent part of each year in London and New York where he maintains studios.

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The school’s principal, Isabel H Langtry, remembers that when she was a postgraduate student at St Martins, his work was what everyone aspired to achieve in their own but couldn’t.

She recalls that Gouk, also an abstract painter, was an inspiring teacher who was a pivotal player in the development of students’ thinking.

“He relentlessly challenged your approach and practice and he remains the visual link between painting and abstract sculpture,” she says.

His paintings are in the current exhibition at the school’s gallery, Impressions X5, a celebration of medium and materials that includes glass and ceramic pieces.

Gouk’s intensive three-hour workshop on July 15 promises to be a highlight of the summer term.

Langtry believes that the school is enriched by developing a relationship with such artists, who produce work of exceptional quality that explores the architecture of painting through colour and form. “Through them we inspire quality and aspiration in making and doing,” she says. “In working alongside them for the good of the school we can open new pathways, new thinking, make new friends.”

They are the first new patrons since the original trio of Henry Moore, Sir Kenneth Clarke and Lord Cottesloe gave their support to a small group of artists to enable them to found Hampstead Artists Council, in 1946.

Teaching and exhibiting started immediately at what was to become the Hampstead School of Art.

Moore was the patron for over 40 years, lending credibility, high profile support and the benefits of public relations. “The art world has always consisted of a symbiotic relationship between artist and patron,” says Langtry.

“Where would Picasso be without Gertrude Stein or Botticelli without Lorenzo de’ Medici?”

The gallery is in the school at 19-21 Kidderpore Avenue NW3 and opens Tuesday to Thursday 9am to 8.30pm, Friday noon to 5pm and Saturday 9am to 5pm. Phone 020 7794 1439 for information about activities, booking for Gouk’s workshop, £55, and contributions towards the new building, including items for the internal fit-out.