Central Saint Martins' move from Holborn sparks paint protest

Published: July 28, 2011
by JOSH LOEB

THROUGH the hallowed corridors of Central Saint Martins the likes of Frank Auerbach and Lucian Freud once passed – so per­haps it’s no surprise some students are upset at leaving the historic studios.

And, as removal men began lugging equipment out of the famous art school’s buildings in the West End and Holborn this week, heading for swish new premises in King’s Cross, it was hard to ignore slogans daubed on walls by those angry at what they view as the end of an era at what has been known as the Oxford of the art world.

Inside the Lethaby building in Southampton Row, Holborn, graphic designers have registered their anger in the best way they know with protest posters, stencils and graffiti.

The artwork shows “the sense of loss at something very special, in this case the building that has been an important part of Central Saint Martins’ history,” according to ceramicist Leo Richardson.

Second-year graphic design student Jamie Smith added that he feared the new St Martins campus in King’s Cross would lack the character of the Lethaby building.

“We’re being shipped into a building that could end up being quite sterile,” he said: “The King’s Cross building seems to have lots of computers, and we don’t see why they need that. There will be no screen printing, the traditional form of printing, or book-binding as this is being moved to Archway.”

The school’s managers point to the benefits the move will bring students. These include use of a full library, currently split between the sites in Holborn and Charing Cross Road, a new 300-seat theatre and a 100-seat studio space. Screen printing, book-binding and etching facilities will be available at Byam Shaw College, off Holloway Road.

An art school spokeswoman said: “Some courses will be very pleased not to have to vacate top floors when it rains and can look forward to efficient heating in winter and air con­ditioning in summer.”