X Close

Slade Archive Project


Archive Project


Archive for September, 2013

Slade Sketch Club, 1899

By Slade Archive Project, on 24 September 2013


Another remnant of ‘Ye’ Slade Sketch Club, a beautiful little leaflet dating from 1899.

Slade students were encouraged to join the Sketch Club, which was structured around a series of set composition subjects and monthly prizes. The 18th-century traditional song and poem ‘Sally in our Alley’ included in the list of composition subjects shows how the club encouraged the exploration of themes beyond traditional biblical and classical subjects. The inclusion of poetry, drama and literature as optional subjects continued under William Coldstream’s professorship. Slade alumni of the 1950s, for instance, have described how T.S. Eliot’s classic poem ‘The Waste Land’ and Dylan Thomas’s 1954 radio drama ‘Under Milk Wood’ were two of the themes set for the summer composition competition. It’s not clear when (or why) the club disbanded; any leads from Slade alumni on this subject would be most welcome.

Set subject to draw, Slade Sketch Club 1899.

Slade Sketch Club, 1895

By Slade Archive Project, on 16 September 2013

SladeSketchClub 1895(Web)

Evidence of the Slade Sketch Club found carefully tucked away in an archive box.


By Slade Archive Project, on 4 September 2013

Archive research is full of fascinating twists and turns. By their nature archives are subject to periods of neglect and changing collection practices so they can be a maze of false leads and missing links. Archives are also subject to well-intended but inaccurate interpretation.

And so, an addendum to a previous post. Reading former Slade tutor William Townsend’s journal I came across this entry, dated 28 October 1946:

… at tea-time with Bill [Coldstream], Sam Carter and [Thomas] Monnington, Monnington gave us a remarkable, objective but nonetheless macabre account of the taking of Tonks’s death mask, in which undertaking he was the assistant of [Alfred] Gerrard. Monnington, who was Tonks’s downstairs neighbour, the closest friend of his last days and in his illness, could not forget his friendly feelings even for the old man’s dead body when the mask would not be detached from the face and he had to assist Gerrard in a tug of war, first on the bed and afterwards as this did not allow for the exercise of all their strength, on the floor, for hours, to remove it. It was a very good mask apparently. Bill is most anxious to get a cast of it – he grows more and more attached to his days at the Slade, the doctrine of Tonks, his teaching and the memory of the master himself.*

This excerpt tells an entirely different (and indeed more layered) story of the casting of Tonks’s death mask than the one described in an earlier blog post. It was in fact Alfred Gerrard and Thomas Monnington who made the mask, not William Coldstream. Let the record hereby stand corrected.

*The Townsend Journals: An Artist’s Record of His Times 1928-1951,
ed. Andrew Forge, Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1976, p.72.