Winchester School of Art: a timeline
1870: WSA founded
WSA was founded by the Winchester College Dons, who sought to put Winchester on the map as a centre for art and art education. The first classes were held at the Bishop’s Palace in Winchester, which adjoins the ruins of Wolvesey Castle.
1876: Winchester Guildhall
WSA moved to its purpose-built premises in the Guildhall, the sign for which can still be seen today, carved into the lintel above the door. This was funded in part by a grant from the government department for science and art.
c1939: North Walls, Winchester
Due to space constraints at the Guildhall and growing ambitions, WSA moved to a number of locations throughout the city, including the old Reference Library building on North Walls. The Second World War would make this approach more permanent than initially planned.
1966: Park Avenue, Winchester
An initial survey of Park Avenue for WSA’s new home was first conducted in 1945, and the site confirmed for use in 1947. The School would finally move to its new home in Park Avenue nearly 20 years later, opening in 1966 with courses commencing that same year.
1996: University of Southampton
In August 1996, WSA joined the University of Southampton. At this time, the School had over 800 students and a staff cohort of just under 100. It retained its identity as WSA and remained in Winchester, becoming the University’s first campus outside of Southampton.
1999: Campus development
The campus was renovated and developed with the addition of three new buildings and a range of upgrades to facilities and infrastructure, all completed in 1999.
2020: 150 years
150 years since its founding, WSA now welcomes an annual student cohort of over 1,800 students from across the globe.
150th anniversary activity
We are extraordinarily proud of our history of creative education, and will be celebrating and exploring it through a series of projects and events, running throughout 2020 and beyond.
150 Years of WSA Exhibition
Journey through the history of WSA in this exhibition featuring many items from our archive and other local collections. See the development and evolution of our WSA prospectuses over 150 years, key documents and letters relating to the School’s founding, historic photographs, and other items unearthed in the County Archives.
The Exhibition will open with a private view on the same evening of our undergraduate Degree Show: Thursday 11 June.
We would be delighted for alumni to attend both the Exhibition and our BA Degree Show private view. More information for both these events will be available on our webpages soon.
Starting in early autumn, we plan to feature several of our alumni in exhibitions throughout the city, currently including the City Space Gallery at the Winchester Discovery Centre, and in the Winchester Gallery at WSA.
Showcasing work from several disciplines, these exhibitions will highlight a cross-section of the impactful work our alumni have created since graduating from the School.
We will be announcing the exhibitions and more details on our webpages soon.
Son et Lumière
In celebration of our 150th anniversary, we will be hosting a Son et Lumière: a projection-mapped light, image, video, and sound installation, responding to our history and the students, staff, and art that made it.
This collaborative work will bring together colleagues in different disciplines – at both WSA and the wider University, including Music – and is planned to take place in early December.
Invitations, and more information about the event, will be announced on the WSA webpages.
Archaeological Survey of our Winchester Campus
We are working with colleagues and students from Archaeology to survey, investigate, and explore the history of our site at Park Avenue.
This has already started with a ground-penetrating radar survey of the vacant old Police Station site, and will look at the campus in the wider archaeological context of Winchester and its position on the boundary of the Roman city.
Rendering of the data captured by the ground-penetrating radar survey of WSA, showing the old Police Station foundations and suggestions of earlier features beneath
Pending the results and analysis of the initial survey, we hope to dig test pits and do additional work throughout 2020, potentially leading to a larger-scale archaeological dig.
As a part of this collaboration, our own Fine Art students will be responding to the work creatively, which we hope will result in an exhibition, documenting both the archaeological work and the response to it.
We are planning a number of long-term projects celebrating our 150th, starting in 2020, and to be completed in the following years. The first of these will be the full digitisation of our physical archive, stored on-site at WSA.
This will allow staff, students, and the public to browse its content, and potentially contribute new items. As a part of this project, we will be working to see how else we might record our history, such as a project to capture the oral histories of staff, students, and people associated with WSA.
Playful Augmented Reality
BA Games Design and Art students at WSA will be exploring the 150th anniversary through the lens of a module centred around augmented reality, developing an interactive experience for persons visiting the School.
Augmented reality is, in simple terms, the integration and interaction of digital assets and information with the real world. Most commonly, this is experienced through handheld devices and larger displays, though it has many applications you may have experienced already: one of AR’s first applications was in live televised sports analysis. Our students will be exploring the ways in which AR interaction can be playful, citing recent examples such as the hugely successful Pokémon Go app for mobile devices.
Demonstration of AR on a mobile device, shot in the corridor at WSA
The students will begin by exploring some key locations at WSA. By researching and documenting these spaces, they will begin to form narratives, and explore what experiences they might share or enhance with AR. This work will be supplemented with material from the School that has been archived as a part of the ongoing work for the 150th anniversary.
We are really excited to see what sort of experiences the Games Design and Art students will craft over the coming months, and will be sure to share their progress. You can also follow BA Games Design and Art on Instagram, and see previous examples of their work online.
Share your stories
Did you study at WSA? We want to hear from our alumni during our 150th anniversary!
Whether you’ve a particularly fond memory or experience, interesting story, or photos from your time with us at the School, share them with us on social media using the hashtag #wsa150.
And for more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll be exploring the detailed history of Winchester School of Art in our next edition of Southampton Connects – come back in July to check it out. In the meantime, keep an eye out for more details on the webpages.