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Reflecting college life, publicising events, responding to the needs of current and prospective students – it takes a serious multi-tasking news machine to do the job justice! We thought it was time we welcomed you to the wonderful world of Central Saint Martins online

HELLO, SPRING Welcome to the spring issue of CSM Time. In this issue we pay tribute to Byam Shaw which celebrates its 100th birthday in 2010. CSM also comes of age as we mark our 21st birthday this year. It’s 25 years since our BA Graphic Design course rose from merged departments at the Central School and St Martin’s. It’s been a fabulous year for DCL with so many graduates enjoying BAFTA success. As usual, our fashion alumni dominated the capital’s runways throughout London Fashion Week. And, finally, we pay special tribute here to one of our best – Lee Alexander McQueen. A big thank-you to Phil Baines, Drusilla Beyfus, Kirsty Blake Knox, Ellie Mathieson, Seamus Mirodan, Anne Tallentire, Judith Watt, Gary Wallis and Johnny Wilkinson for their contributions to this issue.

CSM website

CSM News and Events



Our website is the mother ship. Here’s where you’ll find our most popular information – our course pages. Alongside key facts, overviews of course structure and so on, you’ll find course pdfs crammed with useful information. You can also view course videos (upcoming!) and read profiles. Elsewhere you can read alumni interviews, learn about CSM Innovation and view graduate profiles on Showtime. Visits (February): 162 141 Page views: 1 147 268 New visitors: 51%

Our News and Events section is the place to find out about exhibitions, talks and shows.

BLOG Our blog is where you’ll find galleries of images and videos of student work, calls for submissions and other CSM news. Leave a comment – we’re always happy to hear from you. Average hits per day 900 and growing. Posts: 89 Age: 12 months

Our next issue, out in June, will be a KX special as we start the final countdown to our move. Email your stories to

TWITTER Our Twitter feed is the place to discover information about all the above and more. Coming soon: new CSM Facebook group, our online prospectus and iPhone apps. For more information contact Colin Buttimer at CSM YouTube channel 2

YOUTUBE Our YouTube channel is the place to find our video archives. Explore playlists devoted to ‘CSM Presents’ (including talks on Hello Kitty, Manga and Joy Division, and conversations with Biba’s Barbara Hulanicki, Grayson Perry and Richard E Grant), plus fashion, graphic design and moving image. Subscribe for updates. Videos: 72 Total upload views: 43 473 Age: 14 months

CSM Time is produced by Marketing and Communications in association with Rhombus Writers, and designed by Paulus M Dreibholz (alumnus and associate lecturer) and Emma Williams. © 2010 Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design unless otherwise indicated. We have made all efforts to credit images correctly. Please contact us if we have omitted to credit or miscredited an image – amendments will be made in subsequent issues.

CSM on Twitter

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CSM Time for spring issue 6—03/10





Over 200 students across disciplines attended December’s briefing to create a visual identity for our new home

Group 4

Group 4

Group 4 (Joint finalists with group 14) – Ricard Toledo, Ivo Federspiel, Lena Kramer and Lourina Botha

Group 5 – Bethany Shepherd, Mai Torvits Dam, Bharat Bhargava and Namrata Krishna

Group 14

Group 14

Group 14 (Joint finalists with group 4) – Jess Morgan and Jack Cardno.

Group 10 – Sophie Chenevix Trench, Charles Hoel, Natasha Mason and Mattia Bonanomi

Group 5

Group 5

Group 10

Group 10

As part of preparations for our King’s Cross move in 2011, the College launched a twostage competition at the end of last term.

For Stage 1 of the project, judged in late February, ‘blue sky’ thinking was positively encouraged.

The challenge was open to all CSM students to develop ideas for the signage, furnishings and overall communications landscape at our new location.

Participating student groups drawn from MA Industrial Design, MA Creative Practice for Narrative Environments, BA Graphic Design, BA Architecture: Spaces and Objects, BA Product Design and MA Communication Design presented initial concepts to a selection panel comprising CSM staff members Tricia Austin (MACPNE ), Phil Baines (BAGD ), Malcolm Johnston (KX ), Geoff Makstutis (BAASO ), Rebecca Ross (BAGD ) and Lee Widdows (Director of Marketing and Communication).

According to the brief, successful proposals would interact thoughtfully with the heritage of the site and the culture of the College while providing the means to publicise events. Standout entries were likely to evoke our spirit and ethos in ways that go beyond the practical requirements of the space.

Also on the selection panel were external consultants Lynda Brockbank, Crescent Lodge, and Benjamin Reichen, Åbäke, both designers. Stage 2 of the project envisages the delivery of a professional calibre specification. Those shortlisted for Stage 2 are: Ricardo Toledo, Lourina Botha, Lena Kramer, Ivo Federspiel; Jess Morgan and Jack Cardno; Namrata Krishna, Bethany Shepherd, Bharat Bhargava and Mai Torvits Dam; Natasha Mason, Sophie Chenevix Trench, Charles Hoel and Mattia Bonanomi. Each group receives £1000 to develop ideas, with final designs to be submitted at the end of Spring Term 2010.

For Stage 1 of the project, ‘blue sky’ thinking was positively encouraged





Artists from Central Saint Martins will contribute to a special celebration of cultural King’s Cross this spring


CSM Time talks to Johnny Wilkinson, Senior Technician in the School of Graphic and Industrial Design, about King’s Cross, epic westerns, and the things that inspire him

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT OUR MOVE TO KING’S CROSS? It’s an ideal opportunity for Central Saint Martins to maintain its standing as a worldclass college and to ensure it continues to live up to its impressive reputation.

WHY DOES KING’S CROSS MATTER TO YOU? I studied BA Product Design at CSM as a mature student. I fully appreciated what a privileged position I was in and consequently made sure I enjoyed every minute of it, both socially and academically. I was always conscious of the history of the course and the College and fully aware of the reputation both had built up over the years. If we get King’s Cross wrong it would not only be a betrayal of the current student body, our staff and alumni, but also of those that have worked so hard, over the College’s history, to build its reputation. Joanna Greenhill, HUT, 2009

Johnny Wilkinson

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR INVOLVEMENT? For ten days in April and May, King’s Cross comes alive with visual and digital art, live music and site-specific performance.

Our Industrial and Product Design Workshop team, with me as its representative, has been, fully involved in the consultation process. The move to King’s Cross and the planning of the workshop space has, for the last two years or so, taken up almost all the spare time we’ve had. In total I think I’ve been to in excess of 50 meetings covering everything from the planning of the space to what will be taught and how it will be taught.

Reveal, an initiative by Create KX and partners, will take participants on a creative journey through the rapidly changing landscape around King’s Cross station. A treasure trail of events and happenings, the Reveal festival maps a unique cultural route though iconic rail yards and landmark buildings, offering artists and audiences rare glimpses of a hidden world at the moment of its transformation. To celebrate Reveal and to comment on King’s Cross and other environments in flux, CSM artists will stage a group exhibition at the Lethaby Gallery this spring.

Gabriel Kuri, Diario Economico, 2009

Curated by Joanna Greenhill, ‘Is This All There Is? – Changing States in the 21st Century’ addresses different approaches to transience and mutability, mixing secret histories with new ways of imagining the future. Artists participating are Gabriel Kuri, Brian Rhodes, John Seth, Seth & Tallentire, Susan Trangmar, Italo Zuffi, and Joanna Greenhill.

Brian Rhodes, Your Home May Be At Risk If You Do Not Keep Up Repayments, 2007

Reveal will be at various King’s Cross venues from 22 April to 2 May 2010. For more information, visit ‘Is This All There Is?’ will be at the Lethaby Gallery from 19 April to 22 May 2010. See What’s On p.28

ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE SWITCH AND IF SO, WHY? Yes, I’m extremely excited about it, but also – as with most changes – apprehensive. As things stand the new site and the facilities would appear to be excellent but the proof of the pudding, as the old saying goes, is in the eating.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU AT WORK AND OUTSIDE? Inside work – our students and staff. Outside work – cinema, books, music, exhibitions and travel, but mostly the conversation of others.

IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING? Directing epic westerns, writing philosophical pulp fiction or maybe laying on a beach drinking cocktails while strumming a ukulele.

WHAT MAKES YOU UNHAPPY? ‘Paresseux’ (my latest favourite word). This, apparently, means someone who would rather put effort into laziness than direct the same effort at achieving an objective. I also don’t have a great deal of enthusiasm for the winter months.

WHO, IF ANYONE, WAS YOUR MENTOR AT COLLEGE? The technicians generally, and Ron Florey in particular. Ron was the senior woodshop technician and, prior to working at CSM , he’d been involved in product design modelmaking for over 20 years. He was incredibly kindly, calm, skilful and wellinformed about his subject and he always managed to retain both his sense of humour and his sense of humility.

IF YOU HAD A SUPERPOWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE? The ability to read minds. I could turn it into an old school music hall act. I can visualise the poster – bejewelled turban, bow tie, staring eyes that catch the viewer’s attention. ‘The incredible Johnny Wilkinson – the man who knows!’





Ruffled feathers and rocked boats – Drusilla Beyfus looks back to 1989 when the merger of two of London’s top art schools caused an almighty stir

Dresses by Hussein Chalayan 1993, Mary Katrantzou 2008, Alexander McQueen, Giles Deacon 1992, Christopher Kane 2006 and Mark Fast 2009

minds of the numerous and vocal detractors of the union of the courses. It was feared by tutors and students alike as a taste of things to come. The two institutions were very different animals it was argued, and had their own histories, reputation and agenda. Moreover, evidence suggested a background of mutual suspicion. St Martin’s primacy was in fashion, graphics and fine art courses and was held to be the more streetwise of the two, whereas Central, with its numerous courses in art and design including textiles, stained glass, and jewellery , was considered to be more craft-based.

At the private view of When Central Met St Martin’s at the Lethaby Gallery in January, the whole occasion struck a celebratory note. ‘CSM is 21’ an0nounced the printed invitation. External guests, artists, students, tutors and administrators viewed work that had emerged from the encounter and mused on the birthday event, wine in hand. Many of those present may have reflected on the ironies of a celebration of a merger that crucially divided the world of London art school education in the late eighties. However, it is to the credit of the hosts that far from burying memories of the controversy, the troubles were on tap. Inside an everyday metal filing cabinet on display was a sound system which, when activated, played recorded interviews with college protagonists in the debate. In addition, photocopies of press cuttings were to hand in the files, as if to remind anyone who would take the trouble to look of the degree of acrimony, competitiveness and sheer desperation that the case engendered in some quarters. One spokesperson stated in the press, ‘it was more a murder than a merger.’

In his recollections John Laing expressed a highly personal approach to the differences ‘People from Central were gentlemanly. People from St Martin’s were more blue collar.’ Threads of Light II, Proto Geo, Katherine Buszaki, BA (Hons) Textile Design, 2001

Two of the interviews on which I have focused in this account are with Jane Rapley, Head of Central Saint Martins, and John Laing, then Head of Graphic Design at the Central School of Art and Design. The interviews were conducted by Sylvia Backemeyer at CSM last year.

to conjoin the graphic design and fine art courses at the two colleges were on the table. The move was at the behest of the Inner London Education Authority. It was ILEA ’s belief that there was ‘too much art provision in London’ (rather a comic thought in the light of 2010 with art students battering on the doors of the capital’s colleges). The geographical proximity of Central and St Martin’s and seeming duplication of art courses suggested to the budget-pressed local authority a natural source of economy in funding and staff.

The narratives below begin chronologically in 1984, the date at which proposals

Notwithstanding a certain comparability, it was largely difference that lodged in the

He conceded that territorial pride played a major role. A bitter outcome for Central was that during the interim period when both colleges continued to teach joint courses, St Martin’s was given the graphic design course to manage. Stating that he was not gifted in the art of management and that he had come into teaching to teach, Laing left his post in 1989, the year when Central lost its independence. ‘The realpolitik of it was that people had to die in order that others could live…’ he remarks. Jane Rapley’s memories begin with her appointment as Head of the Department of Textiles at Central and the announcement of the merger. Recalling that the news had come as something of a shock to her, she wondered whether her job would change or perhaps come to an end. In the event, she found herself on the steering committee. She recalls painful meetings discussing provision Sitzmachine, William Cobbing, 1997 and closing courses as well as contemplating entity, the London Institute. Under the aegis re-opening closed ones. of John McKenzie, its first Rector, the big task of restructuring the management of the On balance Jane Rapley’s remarks suggest a more positive perspective on the long-term College after the merger began. Like the other leading London art schools within its outcome of the merger. Questioned by constituency, Central Saint Martins was to be Backemeyer on whether things had worked administered within a collegiate structure. out as she had expected, Jane said not in relation to her own life. She had not Of McKenzie she says: ‘He was the right man expected to become Dean of Fashion and for the job at the time … He had a clear view Textiles at Central Saint Martins (she of levels of responsibility and culpability. was appointed in 1989) but as far as the He was a drover and we were like sheep. He main case was concerned, she uttered an took the view there were too many meetings, equivocal, ‘Probably’. She says… ‘it was too many people involved, and we were not quite a good mix’. In her view, the merger helped to stabilise the position at St Martin’s using our skills effectively at the coal face of teaching and I had sympathy with him.’ and Central. It was thanks to the new Rector’s background in marketing that the proposed School of She explained that a background to the Design was split into two, securing the amalgamation had been the all-important cultural shift from dealing with ILEA which identities of the present Schools of Graphic and Industrial Design and Fashion and was local government, to an entirely new Textiles.

He held that conjoining the fine art and graphic design courses was like mixing ‘chalk and cheese.’ and no good could come of it. He recalls, ‘… lots of street fighting going on. Not very elegant.’ According to him, Central was ill prepared to fight for its independence whereas ‘St Martin’s had an agenda we didn’t know anything about. They saw an opportunity and went for it …’ He argued that Saint Martin’s had a bigger staff, and so Central was often out-voted… ‘We dreaded the loss of our graphic design course as we had the building (at Southampton Row) and historical resonance.’

Lauren Moriarty, Butterf ly Lamp, MA Industrial Design, 2005

Among the issues that tend to escape official reports are her recollections about the naming of the new baby. During ‘endless squabbles’ about the nomenclature of the amalgamated institution, with the respective protagonists wanting their name to be put first or differently, she remembers that one of the proposals was for ‘Saint Martins Central’. However, Bobby Hillson, founder of St Martin’s MA Fashion course, said, ‘How ridiculous! It sounds like a railway station.’ In fact, the final form of the name came into being through the ministrations of designer Wendy Coates-Smith. She looked at it graphically and, following experiments with variations in design and the order of names, concluded that the best visual balance was to put Central first, show St spelt out in full and Martins to end with. Names spell identity, a fact that Jane Rapley picked up on in her short speech at the private view. She said regretfully that some people still held to the old form and would refer to ‘St Martin’s.’ It was her belief that the scars wouldn’t truly be healed until they were all under one roof at King’s Cross. See p.29 for the private view Drusilla Beyfus was a senior lecturer on our Fashion Communication and Promotion pathway for 19 years. A former features editor at Vogue, she contributes regularly to the Telegraph Magazine and continues to work closely with CSM on special projects.

Clamp Lamp, John Wischhusen, MA Industrial Design, 2003





This year marks a quarter of a century of BA Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins. What better excuse to turn the spotlight on these high-flying BAGD alumni? Wild Beasts’ Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants


Deptford Train Project

MORAG MYERSCOUGH (1986) When she established Studio Myerscough in 1993, Morag was already building a reputation for successfully integrating graphics into the designed environment. Wayfinding, she believes, is about much more than signage. It’s about bringing out the stories in a place and enhancing the pleasure of passing through space.

Portavilion, ‘Winning Portfolios for Graphic Designers’, by Cath Caldwell published by Barrons

Designs for The Arts Council exhibition ‘Origin’ 2009



Launched jointly by Emily and Ruth in 2003, REG delivers bespoke design-for-print solutions to clients great and small from offices near Brick Lane in London.

As indie graphic design combo Marc&Anna the duo collect ampersands compulsively and help clients communicate their messages clearly and intelligently, mostly in print.

The duo’s interest is in intelligent ideas that meet the brief and fulfil objectives. REG builds enduring relationships with clients and suppliers alike in order to create great work with an accent on sustainability.

With impeccable credentials in the art and not-for-profit sectors, Marc&Anna already counts Arts Council England, the Crafts Council, the National Trust, English Heritage and the National Portrait Gallery among its top-drawer clients.

Both Ruth and Emily maintain their CSM links as visiting BAGD tutors.

Recent work for the British Heart Foundation supports the charity’s ‘60 Minutes a Day’ campaign to persuade young people of the benefits of an hour’s exercise.

Morag’s multi-award-winning projects include Westminster Academy and Kentish Town Health Centre in London. Her world-famous Deptford Project train carriage café is a terrific example of a focus on re-use and sustainability in design.

As filmmakers OneInThree, Bugsy and Ross produce pop promos for established international artists like Badly Drawn Boy and Bloc Party, as well as for ‘breaking’ acts like Wild Beasts and Brit-winning newcomer Ellie Goulding. In a climate of shrinking budgets and rising expectations, OneInThree’s talents span the entire production and post-production process, attracting a clutch of nods and nominations at the UK Music Video Awards in 2008. OneInThree is represented by Colonel Blimp in the UK and by La Pac in France.

CLARA BRIZARD (2008) Judged best in class at her BAGD degree show, French-born Clara is attracting lots of attention on both sides of the Channel with conceptual work that explores issues of personal and cultural identity. Among projects in her portfolio are a series of posters that chart the history of type in Germany alongside the designer’s own efforts to learn German; a portrait of the font Avant Garde entitled ‘Return of the Crippled Typeface’; an enquiry into the graphic depiction of time; and a memoir, Mon Papa, of Clara’s relationship with her father.

DAMON MURRAY (1990) AND STEPHEN SORRELL (1990) The CSM graduates set up FUEL in 1991 in a studio in Spitalfields, combining paid commissions with highly personal work that included a self-published magazine and books exploring the relationship between authorship and design.

Other work includes an exploration of cultural forces examining that most English of indulgences – tea with crumpets.

Damon and Stephen have also experimented with moving images, creating the titles for Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation. Today, Jake and Dinos Chapman are among loyal clients. FUEL ’s Russian Criminal Tattoo books have been nominated for Brit Insurance Designs of the Year 2010.

Russian Criminal Tattoo books nominated for Brit Insurance Design of the Year 2010

I love crumpets




Penguin books Great Ideas

ALISTAIR HALL (2002) Launched in 2003 and ‘hand-reared with a little help from NESTA’s Creative Pioneer Programme’, Alistair’s We Made This studio was nominated for Designer of the Year in 2005 for work on Penguin’s ‘Great Ideas’, for which it picked up a D&AD award. Creating print he describes frankly as ‘delicious’, Alistair brings an unfailing humanity to wide-ranging work on behalf of clients from Penguin and Historic Royal Palaces to Tricycle Theatre and Teenage Cancer Trust. His blog has its tasty moments too.

Rebecca and Mike

REBECCA AND MIKE (1995) Since graduating from CSM, Rebecca and Mike have formed a freethinking partnership. Self-employed for a decade, they’ve collaborated with the likes of Paul McCartney and Trevor Beattie while their work has featured on Richard and Judy.

The duo consider ‘never selling out’ and being respected for Print isn’t all. ‘We also,’ Alistair says, ‘dip our toe into the pixelworld what they’ve chosen to do with their lives to be just as important as other aspects of their success. now and again.’

Billboard for Adbusters

JONATHAN BARNBROOK (1988) Big Fat Duck cookbook with Heston Blumenthal

DAVID TANGUY (2000) Besides teaching third-years on the course he had just completed, David set up a studio, Praline, after graduating, focusing on graphics for the arts and culture fields. As Praline continues to deliver ‘interesting projects for interesting clients’, David is chuffed to be working with creative heavyweights like architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and photographer Nick Knight. Of his CSM course he says: ‘I had some amazing tutors who encouraged me to push ideas and to avoid the commonplace.’

Since he launched Barnbrook in 1990, Jonathan has forged a global reputation for innovative and provocative work taking in books, corporate ID, CD covers, websites and journals. He also releases custom typefaces through his VirusFonts store. Credited with pioneering graphic design with a social conscience, Jonathan makes bold statements about corporate and consumer culture that combine wit with political savvy. Clients include David Bowie, Damien Hirst, and ‘culture jammers’ Adbusters. In 2007 Jonathan was subject of a Design Museum special exhibition and profile.

MA FASHION SHOW THE FUTURE HONOURS THE PA CSM ’s MA Fashion show on 21 February began with a tribute to Alexander McQueen, writes Kirsty Blake Knox.

As the lights went down, a recording of the late designer talking about his time at the college rose above the silence. It was a touching but not overly sentimental start. The show that followed was a celebration of past, present and future design talent.

Lilly Heines – joint Harrods prize winner

With 22 collections, including menswear, womenswear, knitwear and textiles, it was an eclectic mix. The pared down lines of Malte Flagstad’s buttonless men’s shirts were Jackie JS Lee – joint Harrods prize winner in stark contrast to Shao-Yen Chen’s dresses, Moments of intense colour lifted an beautiful as snowdrifts. otherwise subdued palette. Tamara Chung’s pumpkin orange dresses injected a bolder Geometric shapes and sculpted fabric had burst alongside her monochrome dresses, a prominent place on the catwalk. From while Martina Spetlova’s colourful way with Anja Mlakar’s taut tubing in primary blue zips and wool added a note of fun. to Thomas Tait’s arresting, angular profiles, the graduating year played with stiffer forms. After the show, Harrods announced the winner of its prestigious design prize. Origami-inspired shirts and dresses The £5000 will be split evenly between continued the theme, with Yusuke joint winners Jackie JS Lee and Lilly Heines. Maegawa’s black pleated skirts and Charles Youssef’s slate grey geometric trousers The judges had difficulty deciding between making passing reference to graduate David Jackie’s precisely engineered grey jersey Koma’s recent collection. dresses and trousers and Lilly’s stacks of caramel chiffon – both looks were executed beautifully.

Moments of intense colour lifted an otherwise subdued palette

Rok Hwang – L’Oreal Professional Award winner

The L’Oreal Professional Award went to Rok Hwang, whose floor-length jersey dresses with pointed star motifs closed the show. The evening reminded us of CSM ’s contribution to fashion history while welcoming a new wave of fashion designers.

Kirsty Blake Knox is an MA Fashion Journalism student at CSM. See p.30 for Alexander McQueen tribute.





As artistic director of Cheek by Jowl he has an enviable repu reputation for risk-taking. creative ative risk taking Is that why Declan Donnellan feels suc such a special Seamus Mirodan finds out kinship hip with Drama Centre? Seam

Lucy Briggs-Owen in Troilus and Cressida © Keith Pattinson

For three decades, Declan Donnellan, artistic director of acclaimed classical theatre company Cheek by Jowl, has found himself time and again drawing on the Drama Centre for a pool of new, talented young actors. Illustrious alumni who have fallen into this category include Anastasia Hille, who was Donnellan’s Isabella in Measure for Measure, Mark Bazeley (Lucio in the same production) and Patricia Kerrigan, who played Viola in his production of Twelfth Night. But in recent years Donnellan and Cheek by Jowl have gone one step further and begun snapping up Drama Centre trained actors as soon as they graduate.

Jodie McKnee in Cymbeline © Keith Pattinson

In 2006 the company held auditions at the Centre itself and cast several graduating students from that year – first in Great Expectations, a co-production with the Royal Shakespeare Company, then, a year later, in Cymbeline, where the company featured no fewer than five Drama Centre graduates, including all three female parts. The following year, Lucy Briggs-Owen (2007) played Cressida in Cheek by Jowl’s Troilus and Cressida alongside fellow alumnus Mark Holgate (2006) as Diomedes. ‘It was an amazing experience so soon after graduating,’ Lucy says, ‘getting to tour around with this large happy company of sixteen people including two girls and fourteen guys!’ She puts Cheek by Jowl’s attraction to the school’s graduates down to a shared vocabulary and methodology.

‘At Drama Centre you are constantly being asked to learn to leave yourself alone. With Declan’s work you’re encouraged to focus entirely on someone else. So the end result, the complete loss of your self-consciousness, is familiar ground for those who’ve been through the training,’ says Lucy. Fast-tracking graduates from Clerkenwell to one of the country’s most radical and renowned troupes shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. This year’s production of Macbeth includes no less than six Drama Centre alumni. Just months after graduating, Orlando James has found himself playing Malcolm in this production. ‘Drama Centre training offers so many different tools, allowing you to just pick up something new and do it,’ he says. ‘Declan likes that – he doesn’t want you to get too comfortable.’

And the habits of the training die hard, it appears, if Anastasia Hille (1991), who has returned to the Cheek by Jowl fold as Lady Macbeth, is anything to go by. ‘Anastasia was still working using the Drama Centre notes,’ observes Kelly Hotten (2007), who plays the Porter and Lady Macduff. ‘It was amazing to see her still going through the methodology in rehearsal, personalising and relating the part to her own story and using those same skills to underpin her entire performance.’ The continuing growth of this relationship seems assured with not only a cast full of the school’s graduates, but also Drama Centre BA Directing alumnus, Owen Horsley. Owen has worked side by side with Donellan as the company’s staff director ever since he joined on a course placement.

Asked about the secret to the ongoing connection, Owen also points to Donnellan’s way of approaching the work. ‘Declan’s very much an actor-based director,’ he says. ‘He likes the work ethic of Drama Centre graduates and their willingness to learn new ways of doing things. And, like him, they tend to combine this with a rebellious streak.’

In total DCL alumni scooped three of the four top acting awards from the London Critics’ Circle, with Anne-Marie Duff winning best supporting actress for her role as John Lennon’s mother in Sam Taylor-Wood’s biopic Nowhere Boy, and Michael Fassbender taking best supporting actor for Fish Tank. Cheek by Jowl’s Macbeth is at the Barbican from 18 March to 10 April 2010.

STOP PRESS! Drama Centre graduates continue to prove their talent this spring, with Oscar-nominated Colin Firth winning BAFTA and London Critics’ Circle best actor awards for his performance in A Single Man to crown earlier success at the Venice Film Festival.

Visit the CSM blog for more details




‘We want to put a positive spin on issues like community engagement and climate change’


Holocaust Memorial Day installation at the Guildhall © Holocaust Memorial Day Trust

Artwork by Charles Drinkwater

Artwork by Charles Drinkwater


PERONI NASTRO AZZURRO Peroni Nastro Azzuro has invited CSM graphic design students to present ideas for an ad campaign linking Peroni Nastro Azzurro with Italian design and promoting the brand’s Peroni Blue Ribbon Design awards.

To celebrate the launch of seven new student accommodation sites in London in 2009, UNITE has invited BA Fine Art students at Central Saint Martins to create artwork on the theme of ‘Inspirational Londoners’.

With the Awards attracting up and coming creatives in particular, Peroni Nastro Azzurro decided CSM’s designers were ideally placed to create promotional materials that hit the spot.

Five pieces, featuring images of Londoners from Sir Norman Foster to Peaches Geldof, will now be exhibited at a new UNITE property in Bethnal Green. Charles Drinkwater created a sculptural piece based on the Bundle Woman of Bow, creator of ‘farthing bundles’ of toys for poor children in the early 1900s.

Five finalists were chosen who showed flair and creativity in responding to the brief. Now the client hopes to develop one idea further, potentially inviting a CSM designer to direct an ad agency team to prepare the outstanding concept for print.

Holocaust Memorial Day installation at the Guildhall © Holocaust Memorial Day Trust

Rose Stuart Smith, artwork inspired by Phyllis Pearisall

Rose Stuart Smith made a series of abstract paintings inspired by Phyllis Pearlsall, who made London’s first ‘A to Z’ by walking and mapping every street. Says BA Fine Art course director Jane Lee: ‘The response was very exciting. Clearly everyone enjoyed working with an organisation that reflects student concerns.’

THE LEGACY OF HOPE CSM MA Creative Practice for Narrative Environments students have created an installation on the theme ‘The Legacy of Hope’ for Holocaust Memorial Day 2010.

Urban Green Line team – regional finalist winners for MAIM


Congratulations to a student team at MA Innovation Management, winners of the southeast final of the Audi Design Foundation ‘Sustain Our Nation’ The installation stood in the courtyard of the competition. Guildhall where this year’s HMD national Three other Central Saint Martins MAIM event was held. Comprising 20 life size pillars or ‘figures’ of wax, the piece included teams also reached the southeast final. candles lit by survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. Aimed at designers with ideas for viable enterprises that benefit the local community, Says Carly Whyborn, chief executive at the the competition makes awards of up to Holocaust Memorial Day Trust: ‘The students’ £10 000 to four regional final winners, plus hard work and vision helped make our a further national award of up to £10 000. national event the most successful to date. All the survivors who lit candles contacted Winning concepts set out to meet me to say how moved they were.’ community needs in keeping with the Audi Design Foundation’s ethos of using design to make a social difference. ‘Urban Green Line’, the MAIM team’s winning project, promotes a network of trails connecting green spaces in London while encouraging grass roots co-creation and guerrilla gardening along the way.

The aim is to foster bottom-up environmental change within a designed universe. ‘We want to put a positive spin on issues like community engagement and climate change,’ says Mikkel Grønkjær Hansen on behalf of the winning team. ‘Too often the debate is about what isn’t being done. Instead of waiting for politicians to make up their minds, we want to empower ordinary people to claim ownership of their environments through greening.’ MAIM ’s winners – Asya Arabadzhiyska, Tina Dhingra, Mayra Frank, Maria Jeansson, Pratima Kalmadi, Luning Liu, and Mikkel – are now looking forward to putting their £10 000 regional first prize to good use.

‘Sustain Our Nation’ has five themes – Crime, Finance, Ageing Population, Health, and Energy & Climate Change. The national winner, announced in February, was Glasgow School of Art.




Signs, and the stories behind them, have held a lifelong fascination for Professor Phil Baines

LETTERS FROM A FRIEND There are strong parallels between the college environment in which I work and my house, studio and garden in Willesden Green, north London. Signs, it seems to me, are a part of that linkage. I like to think I give old signs a new home. I don’t steal, although I’m probably guilty of being in possession of stolen property in a few cases. But if I see a sign in distress and I know it’s not going to be restored to useful condition, I find it impossible to walk by. It started when I was 13 or so, after British Rail pulled down Windermere signal box and my brother and I sifted through the wreckage to find a dozen lever identification plates.

Early finds were related to trainspotting interests, were generally small, and were picked up for modest prices at Collectors’ Corner near Euston on occasional visits to London. The fascination was very much about the material and the subject matter. It was only when I started art school at St Martins’s that I began to appreciate the lettering and the stories behind the objects. With a little space of my own, and later my wife’s, I was able to collect more. From those beginnings grew a wider understanding of public lettering – an appreciation that informs much of my design work, taking in the public lettering website, an extensive photographic archive, and the book Signs: Lettering in the Environment along the way.

Phil Baines is Professor at CSM and a long-time contributor to Eye (see ‘A Design to Sign Roads by’, Eye no. 34 vol. 9), and he has written three books: Type & Typography (with Andrew Haslam, 2002); Signs: Lettering in the Environment (with Catherine Dixon, 2003); and Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935 – 2005 (2005).

To share your private collection contact





To mark its 100th anniversary, Drusilla Bey Beyfus yfus gives past, present and ffuture us a tour of the School’s past utu The Byam Shaw School of Art reaches its 100th anniversary this year having undergone tectonic changes in its fortunes. Yet, somewhat against the odds, the School has retained many of its exceptional characteristics. Among its latter day well known alumni are: Yinka Shonibare, the British-born Nigerian artist whose installation is scheduled to occupy the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in May; sculptor and installation artist Mona Hatoum; Matthew Collings art critic and broadcaster; jeweller Theo Fennell; Paul Simenon of The Clash; Jessica Ogden, fashion designer; Julia Peyton-Jones, Director of the Serpentine Gallery; and Sir James Dyson, the industrial designer. The current prospectus features ‘intense studio-based courses focused on painting, sculpture, print making and photography’ among others. Founded in 1910 by two artists, namesake John Byam Shaw and Rex Vicat Cole, as a small, private school of drawing and painting, it remained independent for long decades surviving World War 1 and World War II. However, in the 1990s its position in the prevailing economic climate became untenable and it made moves to join up with the maintained sector. In 2003 Byam Shaw merged with Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, as part of the University of the Arts London. The tough years of adjustment and change have taken place under the watch of Alister Warman, who was appointed Principal in 1991. His previous appointment was Director of the Serpentine Gallery.

Briefly, in addition to leading negotiations up to the merger with CSM and loss of the School’s independent status, and dealing with the outcome of that in reality, he had to handle a three week student occupation last year.

Campden Street Studios in the 1950s

I interviewed him recently at the School and asked him whether he had contemplated chucking in the towel? ‘I did think about it’ he told me, ‘but it seemed ridiculous to have spent a lot of time and effort keeping the School going not to be involved in a rather good future.’ As things have panned out to date, Byam Shaw has kept its own Principal and its name, continues to focus on the fine arts, remains comparatively small scale in student numbers, and the generous studio spaces at the School’s Archway base are still in use by the people for whom they were intended. I asked him how he had managed to pull off, what seemed close to a double identity. ‘We have always been somewhat oblique to the main system,’ he told me. ‘Survival as an independent art school obviously required particular habits that included resourcefulness and a capacity to dodge and weave our way through a whole series of crises. Being small we are resourceful and able to adapt more quickly to changing circumstances than larger organisations.’ He thought that the University of the Arts London appreciated having something that was a bit smaller.

Panel painted by Valentine Waterhouse in Commemoration of the opening of the School, June 1910

From a selection of drawings by students 1924

50th Jubilee, 1960

Seminar discussion 1996. Staff present are Stephen Carter and John Seth

I witnessed some of the reasons for this in my tour of the learning environment. The studios were full of students getting on with their stuff, heads down. If one wanted a picture of a proper art school, as it used to be, messy and proactive and with generous studio space, this was it. Warman believes that the studio space available encourages a hands-on approach to activities.

There would be more people for students to meet, and who knows, perhaps fall in love with! ‘We could in the past have been accused of being inward looking and too cosy.’

the post in 1991 making way for his own appointment.

In the sixties, Maurice de Sausmarez took over as Principal. He had been at Hornsey School of Art and already knew the syllabus and was aware of a forward looking curriculum. Warman implied that from that stage on, Byam Shaw embraced modernism. ‘Up to that point, perhaps I would say that we had kept out of it,’ he said. The modernist was followed by Geri Morgan, a painter very much committed to the figurative tradition of the school but also encouraging of other tendencies, who had been at St Martin’s and who left

Come the merger, recent consequences were felt. In his view, the recent occupation had come about primarily through the students ‘sensing that something of the intimacy of scale might have been lost through their joining Central Saint Martins, a big organisation.’ He realised there was no hostility to the School or any individuals, including himself. The occupation was ‘well-conducted and high minded’ and he had been impressed with the idealism of the students. He admits he had been taken by surprise, even though he had been aware

Warman sounded positive about the future. ‘We want as close a relationship as possible with CSM, ’ he said, citing a shared programme which would kick in at King’s Cross at all levels including postgraduate. His students could make use of Central Saint Martins’ facilities at King’s Cross and their students could take advantage of Byam Shaw’s. It was relevant that King’s Cross was only 12 or 15 minutes away by bus, tube or bike.

Looking back to the 1990s when the future seemed bleak, he explained that he had taken the view that in order to remain Warman gave me a snapshot of the history lively Byam Shaw could not remain a small of the school since the retirement of the satellite and needed to be connected to the founders. Ernest Jackson, a distinguished main show. He recalled stressful meetings draughtsman in his own right, moved from with the School’s bank manager. He had The Central School and became Principal sought strategies for keeping the School’s from 1926 to 1940. He was a passionate independent status but this affected the advocate of academic drawing. A photograph school’s eligibility for some sources of public taken in 1929 shows him in a suit and tie funding. So, of the options available to with a white overall teaching the students him – having pursued these other avenues – anatomy. he came to the conclusion that approaching the London Institute, which was committed Up until the sixties, they had been a fairly to art and design, would be the way to go. small, traditional art school. Students In addition, his students had come to him signed on for anything from three months some years earlier and said they didn’t want to two years. Like most art schools of the diplomas, they wanted a degree. In 1994, time, the majority of students throughout the School had its degree validated (by the were women. University of Southampton).

of existing doubts. The students had been very clever in keeping things to themselves. However, he believed that among students there is now a wider acceptance of all the very considerable advantages that come with being part of something bigger. ‘The students are finding that the University of the Arts is approachable, and in many respects things are working very well, including a very constructive and forwardlooking relationship with the School of Art at CSM . A collaborative spirit is gaining momentum.’

Yinka Shonibare, 1988





A new exhibition by CSM Professor of Fine Art Anne Tallentire includes works created specifically for the Irish Museum of Modern art, Dublin

The Readers, 2010 © Hilary Knox

Nowhere else © Denis Mortell

Doodle workshop



An exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, of key works from the last ten years by Anne Tallentire is a new high water mark for the CSM professor.

Central Saint Martins is hosting a one-day public workshop at the V&A in March with the aim of ‘knitting together’ textile design and social science.

In presentations and creative workshops, CSM textile design staff will show how research informs their thinking and how designers are addressing important and complex social needs.

Sessions include specialist talks on socially responsive textiles and future textiles, as well as hands-on workshops in the Museum’s galleries led by CSM and V&A staff.

Inspiring and fun, the event promises to Rapidly evolving technologies, scientific expand our awareness and understanding As part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science advances and social issues like wellbeing and of how research-led design impacts, and 2010, Textiles Scrap Box explores the ways in sustainability are among factors influencing will impact, on UK society. textile design today. which research methods and design trends influence the clothes we want to wear, the Textiles Scrap Box is at the Victoria and Albert As Textiles Scrap Box sets out to bags we like to carry, the wallpaper in our Museum, Tuesday 16 March 2010. All sessions demonstrate, research is helping to ensure homes, and much more. are free. tomorrow’s textiles respond to the global and local challenges of the 21st century.

‘This, and other things, 1999 – 2010’ brings together two earlier works by the Irish artist and four more recent pieces created in response to the environment at IMMA . ‘Nowhere else’, ‘The Readers’, ‘Document’ and ‘Drift: diagram xi’, all 2010, are shown for the first time alongside ‘Instances, 1999’ and ‘Manifesto 3 (… instead of partial object), Drift: diagram xi, 2010 © Hilary Knox 2004’, a joint production with regular A text work developed specifically for this collaborator John Seth (4D Pathway Leader, exhibition, ‘The Readers, 2010’, attests to Fine Art, CSM). the identities, activities and interests of the day-to-day work lives of IMMA personnel. ‘Nowhere else, 2010’ invites viewers to navigate hundreds of images offering glimpses of daily life and detritus taken ‘Instances, 1999’, created for the Venice from sites identified by overlaying a chart Biennale in 1999, when Tallentire was the of the night sky onto a map of London. sole representative for Ireland, considers the passage of time in relation to perception. For ‘Drift: diagram xi, 2010’ Tallentire A real-time video projection in three parts, worked with Irish architect Dominic Stevens it features dawn breaking over the city, a to create an eight-screen video installation series of improvised actions, and a singleencased within a freestanding structure. image video loop. Each manifestation of ‘Drift’ is devised specifically for the demands of the space A version of ‘Manifesto 3 (... instead of partial and identified as a numerical ‘diagram’ to object), 2004’, reconfigured specifically for draw attention to the necessity for critical the space at IMMA , exploits the ordering and consideration of context. disordering of things and the juxtaposition of action, object and image.

Alexandra Maggs, Student Talk

This play between image and object is explored further in ‘Document’ a new work questioning the value of labour and material production. Born in Co Armagh, Anne Tallentire has lived and worked in London since 1984, studying Fine Art Media at the Slade School of Art from 1986 to 1988. She is a co-convener of the ‘Double agents’ project based at Central Saint Martins. Supported by Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, and the British Council, ‘This, and other things, 1999 –2010’ continues at IMMA until 3 May 2010.

Jane Harris, ‘A’dressing the Avatar

Carole Collet, Talk





It’s an exciting time to be at Central Saint Martins and UAL. Don’t forget, your Students’ ents Union is here to represent your views on anything and everyth hing that matters SHOWCASE YOUR WORK HERE! Did you know there are more opportunities than ever to showcase your work through the Students’ Union?

Richard Willsher, Activities and Volunteering Officer

As well as providing galleries and exhibition opportunities to students free of charge, we’re in constant contact with business and the London community to develop new ways to share your talents with a wider audience. Proposals for outdoor artworks in London’s parks are currently being developed with the City of London, with a display date set for this summer.

The new UAL building in High Bolborn

Our flagship annual exhibition, Xhibit, will take place at the new gallery at LCC from 8–25 March, showcasing the very best of student work, regardless of college, course, or year of study.

As a student you can take advantage of opportunities to showcase your work in our award-winning magazine Less Common More Sense, now including online content at

In summer our We Are Arts galleries at CSM and LCC will be joined by a new gallery at 272 High Holborn – available exclusively to our students.

Our website (new for this year) includes inhouse bloggers and our unique feed aggregator – bringing together web content from students and alumni across UAL .

It’s all aimed at boosting students’ profiles and raising awareness of what you do. Visit for more information about these opportunities.

UAL STUDENT HUB – AN UPDATE Yes, there’s been a lot of fuss. Yes, we made our concerns known. But finally we’re moving the Students’ Union and other central facilities to a bigger and better home. By the time you read this everything will have relocated from 65 Davies Street to our new HQ in 272 High Holborn. Key for UAL students will be the reorganisation of student-facing facilities, with the basement, ground floor and first floors designated the new UAL Student Hub. The new Hub houses facilities ranging from the SU and Student Services to an improved learning zone and a better social space.

Damian Kruhelski – from the series ‘Killer Tips for Killing Landscapes’

Louis Hartnoll, President

Robyn Minogue, Education Officer

We’ve even gained an activities studio with showers, a student-led gallery space, and a room for our fledgling radio station!


At its new home the Learning Zone will continue to offer late-night opening and longer hours than are available at many sites, allowing you to work more flexibly throughout the week and offering a handy, central location for collaboration. Meanwhile, the SU is delighted to be working on the launch of our new bar, its name – Blueprint – chosen by student competition.


Millie Findlay, Vice-President ‘This year we’ve highlighted the need for better communication at CSM, and liaised with students and staff to encourage a dialogue between the two on issues such as timetabling and the forthcoming move to Kings Cross.’ Lizzie Rose, Vice-President ‘This year is has been our aim to create a better sense of community with in CSM, we are currently The King’s Cross site will have a large lecture in talks about a student led club night and campaigned for a bar at Kings Cross.’ theatre permitting briefings of whole courses, not to mention a host of other specialised areas for students. Jolyon Wardle, Vice-President

Naturally, the thing that REALLY concerns us as students is THE BAR , says Millie Findley and Lizzie Rose, Vice-presidents of CSM .

There’s been much debate, controversy even, The new building doesn’t just house a bar – surrounding CSM ’s forthcoming move to there are student-facing spaces and exhibition opportunities all over the shop! King’s Cross. We’re here to dispel the myths. From what we’ve seen, the new site is a marked improvement on what students could ever expect from our existing buildings.

It’s eco-friendly too. The building was designed to be sustainable, and green. It uses locally sourced electricity, making it 30 per cent more efficient than the National Grid.

Much loved though they are, the old sites are The King’s Cross site will take our college unable to meet the needs of the everinto the future, offering students the best expanding student community. possible environment in which to build our heritage. Space has always been an issue for CSM , especially given the size of some of the courses on offer. There simply isn’t room for And don’t worry – we’ll make it nice and mucky in no time! us all.

AND YOUR 2010/11 SUARTS TEAM IS … Louis Hartnoll, President ‘I’ll bring dedication and passion to the role’ Jolyon Wardle, Vice-President ‘Beautiful students of CSM , I’m extremely proud to represent you all’ Richard Willsher, Activities and Volunteering Officer ‘I want to create a buzz around the university’ Robyn Minogue, Education Officer ‘Fighting to protect the interests of students. Winning!’ To find out who else represents you and how to contact them, visit:




PICTURES THAT SPEAK VOLUMES It’s another CSM landmark! This year marks ten colourful years of illustrated textbook publishing at Central Saint Martins. Art and design students work with images – they learn visually and create images and objects that communicate visually. In 2000, Central Saint Martins teaching staff started working with Laurence King Publishing to write illustrated textbooks. After a decade we’ve produced ten books in 47 editions and 15 languages, and we’re not done yet! Look out for ‘Illustration’ by Andrew Hall, ‘Lettering and Process’ by Andy Haslam and ‘Digital Fashion’ by Sue Jenkyn Jones, all published by Laurence King Publishing in the coming months. Cover artwork from our illustrated textbooks appears in the latest issue of Halo, the Central Saint Martins magazine for business, due out this spring. You can view and download back issues of Halo by going to and following ‘Innovation’.






Our regular roundup of events, happenings and the new free lunchtime lectures at Central Saint Martins


The launch of When Central Met St Martin’s was well attended by friends old and new, staff and alumni

A packed house

Joanna Greenhill, Hut, 2009

Jai Mahal (Water Palace), Jaipur © Deborah Cherry

20 April 2010 Lethaby Gallery

28–30 April 2010 Lethaby Gallery



In a talk accompanying a group show with the same title, themes explored include transience and mutability, and how we understand them. The title refers to the 1960s Leiber & Stoller song made famous by Peggy Lee, which in turn drew on Mann’s brooding short story ‘Disillusionment’. Artists exhibiting are Joanna Greenhill, Gabriel Kuri, Bryan Rhodes, John Seth, Seth & Tallentire, Susan Trangmar and Italo Zuffi. The exhibition is at the Lethaby Gallery from 19 April to 22 May.

Kounellis, Candela

26 April 2010 Cochrane Theatre, 6.30pm


From the outset, Kounellis charged signs and motifs with metaphorical values and symbolic functions. His works, which never restrict themselves to two dimensions, fuse different forms, including painting, sculpture, music, theatre and poetry. For this ‘Shaping Sculpture’ event linked to a major new London exhibition, Kounellis talks to the Guardian’s chief art critic.

For programme information and ticket details visit

Marian Hadley and Jamie Wagg

What happens to monuments when empires die? What makes a monument, and under what conditions does it endure? Speakers include Professor Tapati Guha Thakurta (keynote lecture evening 29 April), Hilal Ahmed, Tracy Anderson, Sutapa Biswas, Zeynep Celik, Sudeep Dasgupta, Sona Datta, Adam Hardy, Clare Harris, Raminder Kaur, Saloni Mathur, Partha Mitter, Pratap Rughani, Gayatri Sinha, and Deborah Cherry. For details or to reserve seats contact

Bobby Woodward

James Roper Burberry and Lee Widdows

Thérèse Oulton

10 May 2010 Cochrane Theatre, 6.30pm

The Joker by comic artist Brian Bolland

28 April 2010 CSM Innovation, Procter Street, 1pm


In one of his rare appearances, the legendary comic book artist, author and CSM alumnus discusses his meticulous, eye-catching compositions. Having self-published his first comics in Britain, Bolland became the toast of the US industry in the 1980s and 1990s, delivering definitive versions of Judge Dredd, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Joker. He continues to produce monthly cover art for DC Comics today.


Natalie Gibson and Professor Rodney Kinsman

Professor Chris Wainwright

Tom Karen

Professor Caroline Dakers

In 1987 Thérèse Oulton became the first woman artist to be nominated for the Turner Prize. One of the foremost painters of her generation, the CSM alumna integrates a rich painterly practice with the uncompromising philosophical position that allows her work to resonate in a male dominated arena.

Professor Margaret Buck and Jane Rapley

Peter Towse, Mrs Aisha Caan and Michael Talboys

Anne Smith





Professor Louise Wilson, MA Fashion Course Director at Central Saint Martins from 1993, is succinct in describing McQueen on the MA . ‘Like any other student, he was extremely hard working – obsessed with his vision and what he was doing. He was very tactile with fabrics, was truly innovative, was able to take risks and took a totally modern approach. One of his pieces had magazine articles papier-mâchéd onto a burnt calico skirt, which was exquisite.’ Lee McQueen graduated from the Central Saint Martins MA Fashion course in 1993. As has been much chronicled, the stylist and editor Isabella Blow crucially bought his degree work, yet it was the first collection which he, as the now ‘Alexander’ McQueen, presented at the Bluebird café later in 1993, that realised his potential. ‘That was when I realised just how talented and complex he was, swept along by the sheer force of his imagination,’ says Bobby Hillson. ‘The overall effect was extremely beautiful, the clothes entirely white and worn by barefoot models. He also shrewdly presented something new in fashion – the bumster trouser. Cut to elongate the back, shorten the leg and reveal the bottom’s cleavage, the innovation introduced a brand new erogenous zone in womenswear that was based on a homoerotic ideal. It was a first taster of what New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn described as McQueen’s trademark ‘erotic blend of masculine tailoring and feminine underpinnings’.

Lee Alexander McQueen at the Blow Family home in Gloucestershire, photographed by Gary Wallis, Senior Lecturer, BA (Hons) Graphic Design

‘I’ve met some students of yours in Italy and they said I should come and see you,’ announced Lee McQueen, standing diffidently outside the first floor office of the then Central Saint Martins MA Fashion Course Director, Bobby Hillson in 1992. The Savile Row trained 23-year-old wanted to learn pattern cutting and had brought along a selection of his cutting work at Romeo Gigli. Impressed and intrigued by his skill and versatility, Bobby Hillson instinctively asked him if he could draw. When he replied that he ‘did all the time’, she made up her mind to discover more.

His drawings convinced her. ‘I said there and then I can’t offer you a job but I can offer you a place on the MA . Then I went through and told Jane Rapley, then Dean of Fashion and Textiles, that I’d offered a place to an amazing boy who was enormously talented.’ With over 20 applicants for one place it was an act of faith – in McQueen’s talent and dedication, and in the idea that the MA course was the right home for him.

McQueen once said: ‘If you don’t have passion for something, you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.’ But Bobby Hillson concedes: ‘It was very tough for him to begin with, partly because he’d worked first. He’d interrupt lecturers, giving them the benefit of his opinion, arguing his point. But once he’d relaxed and found friends among the other students – particularly textile designer Simon Ungless, with whom he later collaborated – the MA course worked for him. And at Central Saint Martins he had the freedom to ‘block off commercialism and do it from the heart’ as he put it.’

‘Every part of my background comes from something, be it the Jacobites or the Huguenots,’ McQueen explained. ‘His interest in history was profound,’ says Alice Smith of Smith and Pye, his first agents, who wrote on his brand new file after their first meeting ‘This is a Star’. ‘I’ve never seen anyone so absorbed in getting it right – his complete focus was his work. His drawings were beautiful, very architectural, with precise, full-length slim figures. And he loved fashion then. He would run up our stairs saying ‘fashion, fashion, fashion, fashion’ over and over again, leafing through the magazines, looking for what was interesting, exciting.’

Presentation Paris 9 March 2010 © Chris Moore

Later, when he signed with the Gucci Group in 2001, McQueen had a more measured but no less dedicated view: ‘You strive to get that perfect equilibrium and you try to crack that perfect ideal of creativity and commercialism. I believe in my integrity, and I believe the sole purpose of fashion is to create and not accumulate.’ Professor Wilson describes him as pushing the boundaries of the female form not only in general but specifically with the bumster, ingeniously influencing the high street with what was a marvellous combination of skilled cutting and homoerotic vision.

‘His aesthetic had never been seen before. His work had an anger, a spirit, a sense of woman diametrically opposed to anything that was happening at the time. His shows were like the finest theatre. Basically, his work sent a shiver down your spine, and very few designers can do that. His legacy is immense and he will be referenced for years to come.’ Lee Alexander McQueen, born London 17 March 1969, died London 11 February 2010. The writer, Judith Watt, is a fashion historian and consultant. BA Fashion and Communication pathway senior lecturer at Central Saint Martins and contributor to British Vogue, she is editor of The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century Fashion Writing and author of Ossie Clark: 1965 –1975 and Dogs in Vogue.

CSM Time 6 - Time for Spring  

In this issue we pay tribute to Byam Shaw which celebrates its 100th birthday in 2010. CSM also comes of age as we mark our 21st birthday th...