Kent Institute of Art & Design

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The Kent Institute of Art & Design (KIAD, often /ˈk.æd/) was an art school based across three campuses in the county of Kent, in the United Kingdom. It was formed by the amalgamation of three independent colleges: Canterbury College of Art, Maidstone College of Art and Rochester (Medway) College of Art. In turn KIAD merged with the Surrey Institute of Art & Design, University College on 1 August 2005 to form the University College for the Creative Arts at Canterbury, Epsom, Farnham, Maidstone and Rochester. In 2008, this gained full university status and became the University for the Creative Arts.

KIAD offered further education, higher education, postgraduate and part-time courses at three campuses, in Canterbury, Maidstone and Rochester.


Students work at the Sydney Cooper School of Art in 1941

Maidstone College of Art was founded in 1867, and Rochester College of Art in 1886. The origin of Canterbury College of Art lies in the private art school founded by the Victorian animal painter Thomas Sidney Cooper in 1882, and known then as the Canterbury Sidney Cooper School of Art. After Cooper's death 1902 his art school continued until 1935 when it was taken over by the City of Canterbury Education Committee. The Education Committee took on all the assets and liabilities of the art school and until 1972 it remained housed in the building that had been Cooper's home and studio in the centre of Canterbury.[1] It then moved to a new site on the New Dover Road.

Canterbury College of Art was by this time operating under the aegis of the newly reorganised Kent County Council, along with the art schools at Maidstone and Rochester. Ravensbourne College of Art located in Chislehurst was also in an informal relationship to these three, by virtue of being technically in the county of Kent, but under the administrative control of Bromley Borough Council rather than Kent County Council. It was the three colleges under the direct control of Kent County Council that went on to form KIAD in 1987.[2]

The founding director of the Kent Institute was Peter I. Williams, an artist in his own right and former principal of the Lincoln School of Art and Medway College of Design, Rochester, who ran the institute from 1987 to 1996.[3] He was instrumental in gathering the three art colleges together, but reframed from amalgamating them into one single campus because he recognised their individual cultural connections within their communities.[3]

A notable feature of the Canterbury College of Art at this time was the number of former-Leeds College of Art tutors and students who started working there. This arose from Thomas Watt being made Head of Fine Art at Canterbury in 1968, Watt having previously been a teaching colleague of Harry Thubron at Leeds College of Art. Under Watt the radical Leeds teaching methods developed by Thubron were imported into Canterbury through the employment of other artists from Leeds, such as Stass Paraskos, Tom Pemberton and Dennis Creffield. Another key member of staff was Eric Hurren, who led the Foundation Course in Art and Design from 1963 to 1988.[4]

The merger of institutions to create KIAD was not without controversy and was effectively imposed on Kent County Council by the central government's National Advisory Board for education. This was in spite of concerted opposition from the County Council, the colleges concerned, the local Member of Parliament, David Crouch, and a large number of figures in the art world at the time, who petitioned Parliament. In the government's original proposal the intention was to merge the colleges and then close at least one of them. The creation of KIAD was, effectively, a compromise solution that saw duplicate courses at the different sites closed, but the individual colleges themselves remained open.[5]

One of the ironies of the history of Canterbury College of Art is that the original home of the art school, in Cooper's house, again became a place for teaching art in 2004 when another educational institution in the city, Canterbury Christ Church University, used the building to house its fine art faculty.

Notable alumni and staff[edit]



Tutors include: Ian Dury, Stephen Farthing, David Hall, A. L. Rees and David Hockney.

Artist Mike Chaplin was a technician in the early 1970s, and Quentin Crisp a model at Maidstone College.


  1. ^ Education Committee Minutes, Canterbury Cathedral Archives, Canterbury, Kent, ref. CCA-CC-A/SC/139/2
  2. ^ Hansard Parliamentary Debates (HC Deb 24 October 1984 vol 65 cc583-4W).
  3. ^ a b 'Obituaries, Peter Williams: Art educationist whose college vision became a reality', The Guardian, Wednesday 11 January 2006, p. 31
  4. ^ Jac Esterhuizen, Obituary for Eric Hurren, The Guardian (London newspaper), Wednesday 30 November 2005
  5. ^ Hansard Parliamentart Debates, (HC Deb 26 October 1984 vol 65 cc911-78).
  6. ^ Treneman, Ann (14 March 1998). "Profile: Wendy Dagworthy – Mentor a la mode". The Independent. London. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  7. ^ CDM, Dave (15 April 2017). "Bill Mitchell, Wildwork's critically-acclaimed artistic director, dies aged 65". Cornwall Live. Retrieved 18 April 2017.[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°16′16″N 0°29′55″E / 51.27111°N 0.49861°E / 51.27111; 0.49861