A body of art works came into the University collection in 1978 which had a different character from the contemporary, largely abstract, pieces which formed the initial acquisitions. These were from Coventry College of Education which merged with the University to become the Faculty of Educational Studies (later the Warwick Institute of Education). The College had built its collection over a period of some twenty-five years and it reflected what have been described as the Island School traditions of English art; predominantly consisting of representational works, and dating from about 1952 to 1977. There was also a substantial collection of ceramics, intended partly as a teaching resource, pottery having been a strong element within the Art and Craft curriculum.
The subject matter in the collection is varied. There are scenes of life in both urban and rural settings, as depicted in Valerie Thornton's atmospheric The Bridge and Mary Fedden's Mules in Tuscany. Among the artists' prints are lino-cuts, such as the striking image of Cockerel Turning Round by Michael Rothenstein, and etchings represented here by George Chapman's large work Playing in the Street. Those responsible for the College purchases aimed to represent a variety of style as well as media and subject matter. My House in Wales by Fred Uhlman, who came to Britain as a refugee from Germany before the war, is rendered with simplicity and reflects his feelings about sanctuary and freedom. Uhlman, originally a lawyer, was a self-taught artist while Anne Redpath who painted Gorbio, Alpes Maritimes, studied art in Edinburgh and on the Continent. Her work reflects the influence of Matisse and Rouault as well as the group of Scottish Colourists with whom she was associated. Like Uhlman, however, she is conveying an emotional response to a significant place. The final example from the collection is one of its portrait studies. Self Portrait by Diane Ibbotson is an example of realist figurative painting which began to emerge in the 1970s as a discernible trend in British painting, 'New Realism', against the backcloth of abstraction which dominated the previous decade.
A selection of artworks from the Coventry College of Education Collection.