As part of the IALS Transformation Project, IALS Library was keen to loan modern artworks from the CNAA Art Trust Collection CNAA Art Collection (senatehouselibrary.ac.uk) which is part of the University of London Art Collection to adorn the walls of the refurbished building and to provide a source of inspiration and creativity for those who visit, study and work at IALS.
The CNAA Art Collection was created to celebrate the history and achievements of Britain's art schools. It is made up of works by international artists who worked in the UK and taught in its art schools. It was assembled by one higher education accrediting body (the NCDAD - National Council for Diplomas in Art and Design) and gifted to another (the CNAA - Council for National Academic Awards), in 1974. The gift, of large and uncompromising contemporary artworks, stood as a declaration of the significance of higher education in art and design practice in the UK. A CNAA Art Trust Collection was formed in 1993 to assume responsibility for maintaining the refurbished collection, mounting public exhibitions and publishing catalogues, and in 2016 the University of London agreed to display and maintain the CNAA collection.
Professor Fiona Cownie, Chair of the IALS Library Committee, made the initial suggestion to loan and install the modern artworks and encouraged the project throughout. Professor Carl Stychin, Director of IALS, also encouraged the project and championed it within the University. David Gee, IALS Librarian, led the project and liaised closely with Senate House Library conservation staff (particularly Dr Karen Attar and Dr Salvador Alcantara Pelaez) and the two appointed art consultants from Dickson Russell Art Management.
The theme of most of the art chosen from the University of London Art Collection was large modernist works created in the 1960’s and 1970’s. This was thought to be appropriate as the listed Grade II* IALS building was designed in the Brutalist style by the renowned British architect Sir Denys Lasdun in the 1960’s and opened in 1976 .
The University of London Art Collection had not loaned its artworks outside of the Senate House building before, so there was much to be discussed and agreed to ensure that the loaned pictures would be ideally located, properly protected and sufficiently insured within the IALS building. Eventually an initial three year loan period was agreed. We were also fortunate that the IALS Transformation Project Steering Group agreed to finance the project by paying for the costs of the two art consultants and the costs of the specialised moving contractors.