PREVIEW: Be Magnificent: Walthamstow School of Art 1957-1967, William Morris Gallery

The William Morris Gallery has confirmed that its Summer exhibition will examine the history of the Walthamstow School of Art. 


Created in partnership with arts agency Create, the exhibition will reveal how the school of art cultivated some of the most influential creative talent of the 1950s and 1960s, presenting original work created by both students and teachers during the 50’s and 60’s.

Be Magnificent will also showcase personal testimony, photographs and archival material, film, music and ephemera from the period alongside the work of the likes of Sir Peter Blake, Ian Dury and Ken Russell.

The diverse work on display will range across photography, painting, music, fashion design and film focusing specifically between 1957 to 1967.

Highlights of the exhibition will include Sir Peter Blake’s 1961 Self Portrait with Badges on loan from the Tate collection, which was painted the same year he started teaching at Walthamstow School of Art. The Tate will also lend Cardinal (1966) by Derek Hirst (1930–2006) who taught in the Painting Department of the School from 1958 to 1967.

By bringing together the early work of these artists, Be Magnificent will aim to reveal how artistic innovation was the result of access to free universal education.

Alongside the exhibition, Create, the London-based arts agency behind Open School East, will run a two week experimental art school on the site of the former school, now known as Waltham Forest College. The specially set up art school will see Alumni and former tutors return to teach classes, aiming to explore the legacy of the school.

Be Magnificent: Walthamstow School of Art: 1957-1967 will be on display at the William Morris Gallery from the 9th June until the 10th September. For more information visit:




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