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The National Fine Art Education Digital Collection

Context & History

In 1974 the body responsible for the validation of the bulk of the art and design courses in the UK (The National Council for Diplomas in Art and Design - NCDAD) decided that it should pass that responsibility to the CNAA (Council for National Academic Awards). The CNAA had been validating for almost a decade, and the NCDAD a few years longer. NCDAD passed on not only its validation work but also a collection of some 50-60 significant paintings, sculptures and fine art prints that had been brought together to celebrate the continuing history and achievement of fine art education in the UK. On the dissolution of the CNAA the Trust was established, with a modest amount of funding, to manage the collection.

In 1992 the first public exhibition of the Collection was held in North London. A second exhibition was held in 1999 at a new venue, the Wingfield Arts gallery in Suffolk. At this later exhibition the Collection was augmented by other works by Henry Moore, Graham Crowley and William Coldstream - artists who had had strong links to fine art education in the UK.

The idea

Coinciding with the Suffolk opening, the Trust, together with support from the National Association of Fine Art Education (NAFAE), devised plans to set up over the next three years a living collection to represent the nature, history and achievement of UK art schools dealing with the study of fine art practice. The strategy was to establish a National Collection, using the CNAA Collection as a nucleus augmented by artworks from HE college collections and to make the collection available to UK higher education institutions (HEIs) offering degree level fine art, to other organisations and to the public.

In 2001, a study was commissioned by the Trustees of the CNAA Collection, that aimed to ascertain the holdings, interest and enthusiasm within UK Higher Education. Having solicited the thoughts of HEIs surrounding this theoretical idea, a report was published and the Trustees accepted the recommendations of the study. In it, it was decided that the best context within which to develop and launch a National Digital collection was through JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee of the UK further and higher education funding bodies) which would fund a new project designed to produce a prototype and framework for developing a digital National Collection on a continuing and larger scale. VADS were employed, on behalf of JISC, to carry out this second study which began in October 2001, to run for one year.



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