Hornsey College of Art : the student rebellion of 1968

David Page has written an interesting article on the Hornsey College of Art student protest of 1968, for the current issue of Tate etc, the quarterly arts magazine of the Tate.

In May 1968, some students and staff decided to occupy (sit-in) the art college, in protest at what they saw as increasingly authoritarian control over their education. The local authorities quickly relinquished control, the college Principal left the building, and so the remaining staff and students took over the day-to-day running of the college for the remainder of the term – this included organising classes, staffing and resources, managing the canteen facilities and overseeing essential building maintenance.

David Page was an art lecturer at Hornsey during this time, and, as an active witness to the radical course of events at Hornsey, has since been instrumental in preserving many of the important historical documents and handmade posters relating to the student rebellion – these include the actual lino blocks from which many of the campaign posters and leaflets were printed.

hornsey art school protest 1968

Cutting from the Daily Express, reporting the student occupation of the Hornsey College of Art in May 1968 © David Page Collection. Tate Archive

After the sit-in I gathered up as much as I could, particularly the lino blocks for the Hornsey posters (the authorities were destroying everything they could lay their hands on).  The documents were easier to preserve, as most of them had gone through my house and there were plenty of copies. I stuffed them into some carboard boxes and when I moved, they moved…

hornsey art school protest poster

Page was initially approached by someone researching for their doctoral thesis, and then the writer Lisa Tickner used Page’s personal archive as an important source for her book ‘Hornsey 1968: The Art School Revolution’ (published by Frances Lincoln, 2008). Page has since donated his collection of Hornsey documents to the Tate’s own historical archive.

You can read David Page’s article on the Hornsey College of Art student uprising online here: http://www.tate.org.uk/tateetc/issue18/journeysinto.htm