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Join us for a free workshop reimagining an alternative history of Nottingham School of Art – one that rejected the government strategy of 1843, and embraced local radical activism and self-organisation.

Get hands on with editing and remixing existing and new source material, and help create and expand this parallel universe.

Book your free tickets

Free and open to all. The structured workshop will run from 1–3 pm, followed by an informal opportunity for further exploration until 5 pm.

In a fictional parallel world, the Nottingham Independent Arts School is a thriving institution focused on people, planet and possibility. It offers space to think, to make and to share skills. The school is deeply integrated with the local community and guided by a focus on care and cross-disciplinarity.

This fictional vision was created by a group of participants who came together a few months ago to imagine an alternative history for Nottingham School of Art & Design. While the real-world School is rooted in a government plan to support British manufacture, the origins of its fictional equivalent lie in Nottingham’s radical history.

You are invited to this afternoon workshop to contribute to the next instalment of the parallel-world thought experiment. We will build on and extend the Nottingham Independent Arts School fiction, editing and remixing historical materials from the real-world Nottingham School of Art & Design via hands-on exploration to create a series of speculative documents that illustrate the history of the invented School.

Did you study at Nottingham School of Art & Design? Or have you attended past events at Bonington Gallery? We’d love to hear from you!

A brochure cover from Trent Poly in 1977 showing a group of students standing outside.

We are collecting memories and photos to put on display in our next show, Art [School] Histories which will sit in our foyer and vitrines alongside our main gallery exhibition, The Art Schools of the East Midlands by John Beck and Matthew Cornford. We are interested in capturing and reflecting those informal moments – an exhibition or event you visited, life between lectures, studio time, trips, souvenirs, socialising with your peers, going to openings in Nottingham.

These could take the form of:

How to submit your memories

Email your scans or hi-res photos to us and we’ll print reproductions to add to our pinboard in the vitrines, in the gallery foyer. If you don’t have access to a scanner, then a clear photo taken on your phone will suffice. If you need our assistance in making a copy, or you have any queries about this invitation, then please email the address above.

Share on social media

You can also share them with us on Instagram or Facebook @boningtongallery by tagging us and using the hashtag #artschoolhistories so that we can re-share.

The exhibition starts on 21 September 2023, but we will be adding materials to the wall until the end of the exhibition on 2 December so feel free to contact us at any point between these dates. After the exhibition, the materials will be kept and added to an archive for the project.

By submitting your materials, the assumption is made that you are happy for their public display and retention in the exhibition archive. It might be that certain materials are used for promotional and publicity purposes by Bonington Gallery & Nottingham Trent University.

A photographic exhibition focusing on the region’s art schools, and the vital role that they play in the cultural life of our cities.

This exhibition is the latest iteration of John Beck and Matthew Cornford’s ambitious Art School Project, to track down and document all of the UK’s art schools – including the iconic Waverley building at Nottingham Trent University.

Featuring new photographic work depicting all the art school buildings of the East Midlands, or the sites upon which they stood, the exhibition raises questions about the role of the arts in relation to education, community and history and offers a space to reflect on what the future may hold for cultural institutions in our towns and cities.

There will also be a programme of public events exploring the themes of the exhibition, that will be announced soon. In our foyer space, our Vitrines exhibition, Art [School] Histories will present materials dedicated to the history and future of the Nottingham School of Art & Design here at NTU.

Launch event

Come along to our launch night on Thursday 21 September, 6 pm – 8 pm for a first look round the exhibition. Book your free tickets

Photographs by Jules Lister