Primary page content

Eric Fraser- the Goldsmiths Art Student who symbolised the age of modernist broadcasting

2022 is the 100th year of the BBC’s history.

For at least 50 years of that century it was Goldsmiths Art School graduate Eric Fraser who provided many of the illustrations imagining Broadcasting’s Radio Age and its journey and transition into the television world.

The cover for the ‘Radio Drama Number’ 1st March 1929 captures the sense of excitement in pioneering creative sound drama from seven different studios.

All the sources are mixed together using the new ‘Dramatic Control Panel’ live to air from the BBC’s then headquarters at Savoy Hill on the Embankment near Blackfriars Bridge.

It’s only a short walk away from the famous Savoy Hotel on the Strand and the hub of London’s West End theatreland.

There’s a sense of Art Deco futurism, cubism and the Machine Age all contributing to an imagined iconography of the culture and creativity of the BBC’s first ten years.

This special issue is devoted to radio drama for the first time.

At the top is the outline of the orchestrating, piloting, conducting radio producer flying or playing the control panel of sound feeds.

These feeds are panelled in seven parts around the titles of the main articles discussing the past, present and future of the microphone play.

Eric has drawn in pen and ink the pulsating rhythm of live band and symphony, sound atmospheres and spot effects, and actors performing singly and in ensemble.

There are tributes to ‘The Kaleidoscope’- a modernist experimental sound feature auteured by Lancelot De Giberne Sieveking, D.S.C , ‘The White Chateau’- the first anti-war play written by Reginald Berkeley M.C. for Armistice Night 1925 and the first British radio play ever published in book form, the dramatisation of Joseph Conrad’s novel ‘Lord Jim” by Cecil Lewis, and “Carnival” by the novelist Compton Mackenzie who performed the narration of his own book, and had plenty to say about ‘The Future of the Broadcast Play.’

The reference to ‘Speed’ was BBC Radio’s first and original foray into science fiction on the radio- written by its first Director of Productions R E Jeffrey under a pseudonym.

Goldsmiths’ Library has its own collection of most of the original issues of the Radio Times published during the 20th century.

The Goldsmiths History Project has also acquired two original invitation cards designed by Eric when a student in New Cross.

He illustrated the cards for the School of Art’s Fancy Dress Ball on 10th February 1923 and the Fancy Dress Ball for St Patrick’s Day 17th March of that year.

This online feature has been researched, written and published to coincide with an exhibition of Eric Fraser’s work and links to Goldsmiths in the Library’s Special Collections area from June 27th to 12th August 2022. (See more details at the end of this posting.)

Read More »

Goldsmiths History Project Podcasts

Podcasts for the Goldsmiths History Project by Professor Tim Crook

 

Anita Elias- Goldsmiths voice trainer and visiting lecturer

Voice trainer, actor and Goldsmiths visiting lecturer Anita Elias as the candidate in the 2015 advert for Shreddies Nanas

Voice trainer, Goldsmiths visiting lecturer and actor Anita Elias playing the role of the candidate in the 2015 Shreddies Nanas launch NanaState advert.

Longstanding Associate Lecturer in the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, Anita Elias, passed away 22nd December 2021 at her home in Hampstead at the age of 79.

Anita was an outstanding voice coach and highly respected professional actor having studied at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London for three years.

She taught use of voice to MA Radio students at Goldsmiths University of London as an associate lecturer for 25 years.

Many generations of broadcast journalists and radio broadcasters owe her a great debt for the skills and confidence she imbued in them.

She is in a noble tradition in Goldsmiths’ history.

Anita’s willingness to travel to New Cross for the very modest fees paid to visiting lecturers and provide all the benefits of her artistic and professional knowledge and experience represents a vital part of the story of the College.

Read More »

Goldsmiths History Timeline 1930s

The 1930s: Navigating the Depression and the Prelude to War

Goldsmiths’ College students 1932-33. Images: Goldsmiths Archives.

Read More »

How and why did Sex Pistols Manager Malcolm McLaren burn down the Goldsmiths’ College library?

The destruction caused by the fire in Goldsmiths’ College library in March 1971. Image: Goldsmiths’ archives.

For three to four years between 1968 and 1971 Malcolm McLaren, then known as Malcolm Edwards, was a charismatic, enigmatic, disruptive and strikingly original art student activist at Goldsmiths’ College.

It seems likely his behaviour as a Situationist Marxist was being regularly reported to Metropolitan Police Special Branch and then on to MI5.

He helped instigate the biggest, loudest and most memorable art and music festival in the university’s history.

It’s never been repeated because when King Crimson played the back field, they could be heard loudly and clearly in Hilly Fields Park near Ladywell- well over a mile away.

So many thousands descended on the College grounds- lured there with the exaggerated and false promise of Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones, College security and the police surrendered all hope of controlling the numbers.

The scent of marijuana was in the air and lying and rolling around on the grass in the summer sunshine, it could be said people got to know each other much more intimately than would normally be expected in an educational environment.

Malcolm left Goldsmiths without completing his degree, spooked the senior management of the College by invading and squatting in their meetings with ‘silent staring’, stole the library’s most expensive art books to sell to Charing Cross Road rare book dealers and later confessed to burning down the College library to cover his traces.

It’s also been claimed he assaulted Andrew Forge, the chair of the Art School’s Academic Committee with a copy of Chairman Mao’s ‘Little Red Book,’ and the agitation and student unrest he fomented generated intolerable stress for the Art School’s Principal.

Cover of the much-acclaimed biography of Malcolm McLaren by Paul Gorman, published by Constable in 2020

In 2020 the back cover of his acclaimed biography by Paul Gorman offered some 86 descriptions and identities to attempt to answer the question ‘Who was Malcolm McLaren?’

Many of his contemporaries and alumni interviewed for the Goldsmiths’ History project would agree with ‘troublemaker, anarchist, exhibitionist, media manipulator, and Situationist.’

Those sympathetic to his complex and creative personality would also agree with ‘cultist, art student, enabler, friend, iconoclast, humorist, performer, painter, raconteur, romantic, visual artist and visionary.’

In popular culture, the Guardian said Malcolm McLaren was ‘the Manager of the Sex Pistols and a pivotal influence on late 20th-century pop culture.’

Dave Simpson wrote that the impresario ‘was one of the pivotal, yet most divisive influences on the styles and sounds of late 20th-century popular culture.’

He is perhaps best known as manager of the Sex Pistols, the punk-rock band that was a rude and loud cultural counter-point to the Queen’s silver jubilee in 1977. When he died in 2010, the BBC reminded us that ‘he was arrested on the Queen’s Silver Jubilee after sailing down the Thames on a boat with the band while they played their anti-establishment song God Save The Queen.’

The lyrics continued: ‘The fascist regime, They made you a moron, A potential H bomb’ when sailing by the Palace of Westminster.

Simpson said: ‘With his first partner, the designer [now Dame] Vivienne Westwood, he popularised looks from punk to fetish, which still dominate the fashion world.’

The journalist Julie Burchill once said ‘we are all children of Thatcher and McLaren.’

Read More »

There Ain’t No Black In The Union Jack by Professor Paul Gilroy

Professor Paul Gilroy is one of the world’s most influential academic intellectuals with a distinguished career of Professorships held at leading universities in the UK and USA.

He was first appointed Professor at Goldsmiths, University of London in 1997 and in the absence of any corrective information from other sources it could be posited that he was the University of London’s first black professor. He is currently Professor of the Humanities and Founding Director, Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Racism & Racialisation at UCL (University College London).

The front cover of his first monograph has a striking portrait photograph by the Observer’s legendary photojournalist Jane Bown. A proud black British serviceman stands to attention at a Remembrance occasion wearing seven Second World War medals, but the title: ‘There Ain’t No Black In The Union Jack’ strikes the discordant and critical note- for the subtitle of the book is ‘The cultural politics of race and nation.’

It was first published by Unwin Hyman Ltd in 1987 and reprinted by Routledge from 1992.  At the time Paul Gilroy was Senior Lecturer in the Sociology Department at Goldsmiths’ College. He had taught at South Bank University and the University of Essex and held a Visiting Professorship at Yale.

Read More »

Meg Hinwood and her life as a Goldsmiths student in words and pictures-1907 to 1909

This remarkable postcard of a tram travelling past the snow-covered front of Goldsmiths’ College in Lewisham Way just before Christmas 1908 was in an album donated to the University’s archives by Meg Rayner, née Hinwood, in 1968. She had been a student at Goldsmiths between 1907 and 1909. The outline of the tram with an advert on its side can be seen towards the right of the picture as it travels past the iron side gate. Image: Goldsmiths Archives. All rights reserved.

Introducing Meg Hinwood

This is the story of a working-class girl from Dover who exceeded her wildest dreams at the beginning of the 20th century of being able to go to University to train to be a teacher.

In her excitement and joy when studying in London for two years and embarking on a future career as a professional young woman Meg would continually buy postcards depicting life and scenes during her Goldsmiths’ College life.

These would be produced by a resident College photographer called Mr Wilkinson.

An impromptu, informal and popular image of male senior and junior students getting together raucously to pull faces and make gestures in front of the College’s photographer in 1909. Standing at the back is the tall figure of one of the two Egyptian students holding four books during a break between lectures. There was gender segregation during the early 20th century with men’s and women’s entrances and corridors and separate follow-up assemblies and College Vice-Principals. Image: Goldsmiths Archives. All rights reserved.

Meg would write notes on the back with her latest news and post them to her mother with instructions to put them in an album.

Meg Hindwood's handwriting on the back of one of her postcards.

Meg Hinwood writing a note to her mother on the back of the ‘fellows in the quad’ picture of Senior and Junior male students taken by Mr Wilkinson, the College photographer. Image: Goldsmiths Archives. All rights reserved.

This was the early 20th century medium of email or Instagram.

A social news picture and text message.

Though at this time it needed a stamp bearing the portrait of King Edward VII and the auspices of the Post Office to carry it to its destination.

Meg was at University during a crucial period in the social history of Britain.

The London Meg Hinwood chose to study in between 1907-9 was the biggest and richest metropolis in the world, but New Cross and Deptford were mainly working-class with much over-crowding, poverty and child mortality. Around seven million people lived and worked in London. The Jewish community was the largest immigrant group. Chinese and Indian immigrants became more prominent and established, and a small but significant African and Black Caribbean community continued to prosper. The Pan-African Conference had been held in London in 1900 and this was a sign of the capital becoming an important centre of counter-imperial political activism.  The 1901 census recorded 33,000 Londoners as having been born in the British colonies or dependencies. This is a crowded scene in Petticoat Lane market around 1909. Image: George Bain news agency, US Library of Congress. Public domain.

Suffragettes were taking direct action in the campaign to win the right to vote.

London was the capital of an imperialist world power boasting that it controlled one fifth of the world’s surface with racist subjugation of many other countries and peoples.

This was an age when the working classes were beginning to organise for better pay and conditions through trade unions, and Parliament through Liberal governments were laying the foundations of a Welfare state.

The Edwardian period was attended by growing industrial unrest as trade unions began to organise Labour to improve pay and conditions. This is the entrance to the Great East India Dock during a strike circa 1910. Image: George Bain news agency, US Library of Congress. Public domain.

A disadvantaged and Working Class Background

Meg (Marguérite) Hinwood was brought up in her grandparents’ home in Dover by her widowed mother.

Her father, William Hinwood, was only 27 years old when he died in 1889- just two years after she had been born.

She was too young to properly remember him.

He had been an accountant’s clerk and Meg and her mother Anne had been devastated by what the local newspaper described as his ‘deeply regretted death.’

They had to leave their life in Malmesbury Wiltshire to move in with Anne’s parents in Dover.

Meg was brought up in the terraced house at number 30 Clarendon Road overlooking the port and only a few streets away from Dover Priory railway station. They called their home ‘Fern Bank.’

The house is still standing in this residential part of the town.


Read More »

When Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu came to Goldsmiths- only months after the release of Nelson Mandela

Black and white photograph of the Great Hall of Goldsmiths on May 4th 1990 taken from balcony looking down at stage in front of the organ where his most reverend Desmond Tutu is receiving the honorary freedom of Lewisham. Lewisham Council dignatories, local MP and Goldsmiths' College staff and students present.

The Admission of the Most Reverend Desmond Tutu as an Honorary Freeman of the London Borough of Lewisham, Great Hall, Goldsmiths’ College 4th May 1990. Image: Copyright Goldsmiths archives.

Sir Desmond Mpilo Tutu is the world’s most revered living anti-apartheid and human rights activist.

He was the first black African to hold the position of Bishop of Johannesburg and then Archbishop of Cape Town.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his advocacy and activism of non-violent opposition and protest against the South African apartheid regime. In his acceptance speech he said:

Colour photograph portrait of Archbishop Desmond Tuto.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Image by Benny Gool, public domain.

“This award is for mothers, who sit at railway stations to try to eke out an existence, selling potatoes, selling mealies, selling produce. This award is for you, fathers, sitting in a single-sex hostel, separated from your children for 11 months a year… This award is for you, mothers in the KTC squatter camp, whose shelters are destroyed callously every day, and who sit on soaking mattresses in the winter rain, holding whimpering babies… This award is for you, the 3.5 million of our people who have been uprooted and dumped as if you were rubbish. This award is for you.”

His steadfast and dignified campaigning for the rights of Black South Africans is credited with playing a key role in persuading the apartheid regime in South Africa to relinquish power, release Nelson Mandela and hold democratic elections in 1990.

Goldsmiths, University of London hosted Archbishop Tutu’s return to London to receive the freedom of Lewisham in May 1990.

Students and staff created the music and poetry which celebrated his achievements in bringing about peace and reconciliation.

The South African cleric and theologian’s links with Lewisham had been and remain affectionate and meaningful.

Read More »

Nigel Perkins- a Zen lecturer who gave Goldsmiths more than four decades of teaching and inspiration

A portrait of Nigel Perkins in sweater and open necked shirt taken in studio of Goldsmiths main building in 1996.

Nigel Perkins in the third floor studio of the Blomfield building of Goldsmiths, University of London in 1996. Image by kind permission of Paulo Catrica.

Lecturer Nigel Perkins passed away from COVID in January 2021 after a brilliant career lasting forty one years teaching photography and image communication in the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies.

The postgraduate MA he convened, now called ‘Photography: The Image & Electronic Arts’ has been one of Goldsmiths’ most successful.

Nigel can be credited with producing more than forty cohorts of students from all around the world who have had outstanding careers as artists, photographers, and influencers in all spheres of culture, media, and academia.

He should also be remembered fighting for and preserving film making at Goldsmiths when in the 1980s the pressure to focus on television and media theory threatened its extinction.

The story of Nigel at Goldsmiths is the story of advancing and sustaining the arts in university media and the wider cultural industries.

The powerful expression of tributes from past and present staff and students in the days following his death provides a significant document about the purpose and value of the arts and humanities in university teaching.

It is clear he was a legend and inspiration.

Read More »