End of an artistic era as University for the Creative Arts in Maidstone prepares to pack up brushes for last time
The University for the
Creative Arts, in Maidstone, has sold to MidKent
by Angela Cole
Its walls have helped some of the most creative minds of the
last few generations forge their way into the art, design and
fashion worlds - but it is now seeing its final batch of students
through its slightly echoing halls.
There has been an art college in Maidstone since 1867, when the
Maidstone College of Art opened - initially in the town centre
and moving to Oakwood Park in 1969.
But in July 2014, the University for the Creative Arts (UCA)
- previously known as Kent Institute of Art and Design -
will pack up its easels and paint brushes for the last
The college's last 416 arts and media students will be the
faculty's final ones to study in the building, which was once home
to artists such as world-renowned artist Tracey Emin.
The final intake of students was made last year, after the
entire site was purchased by neighbouring MidKent College.
The legacy of students who have gone on to great things is still
marked in the college. At the entrance to UCA, pictures hang
showing some of the great names.
They include Emin, pictured left, who graduated in Fine Art
from the Maidstone College of Art in 1988.
Now exhibiting alongside the likes of Damien Hirst, she was
nominated for the Turner prize in 1999 for her piece My Bed, and is
exhibiting at the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate.
In 2011, Emin was made Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy
of Schools in London.
But the town's association with famous artists goes further
back. Tony Hart, whose TV career spanned more than 50 years, and
who grew up in Maidstone, graduated from the Maidstone College of
Art in 1950. He died in January 2009, at the age of 87.
Maidstone-born fashion designer Karen Millen, who still lives in
Wateringbury, and opened her first shop in the town in 1983, also
studied at the college's Rochester campus.
And Where's Wally author Martin Handford graduated in 1980 from
the Maidstone College of Art.
A UCA spokesman said: "Our alumni remain an important part
of our heritage and we will seek to retain strong links with all
students who studied at Maidstone."
MidKent College has already moved into part of the site, while
UCA continues to lease a number of specialist art and design
workshops to deliver its courses for the students still taking
diplomas in art and design, graphic media, photography and
But the college's links with the town will not end when UCA
finally shuts up shop.
She said: "We will retain our link with the town through our
relationship with Maidstone TV Studios, where our courses in
broadcast media are based."
Do you have memories of the University for the Creative
Arts, in Maidstone, or its predecessor? Share them below.
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