Goldsmiths: But is it art?

Goldsmiths College is to be immortalised in a two-part BBC Four series that starts tonight. "Goldsmiths: But is it art?" goes out at 9pm and the promotional blurb says:

Goldsmiths is renowned for producing a generation of well-known contemporary artists, including the likes of Damien Hirst and five other Turner prize winners. But what is behind its unrivalled reputation for producing the art stars of the future?

The first in a two-part documentary follows a group of artists from Goldsmiths University as they struggle to make art and a name for themselves during the run up to their final masters show, where dealers and collectors jostle to sign up the latest art sensation.

The artists are all desperate to make the kind of work that will propel them to centre stage in the art world, but only a chosen few will succeed. The film explores the culture of contemporary art through the ambitions, influences and attitudes of the next generation of young British artists.

On the basis that it's BBC Four, we can expect something more edifying than the the area's last reality TV adventure, Young, Dumb and Living Off Mum, even if artists sometimes lapse in to self-parody.

Goldsmiths is Brockley's best hope of attracting more small businesses to the area. Clusters form around centres of academic excellence and Deptford owes much of its recent success to the college, which has established a reputation for converting creative excellence in to business success.

Goldsmiths' Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship (ICCE) has attracted the support of serios players in the creative economy, including Ingenious, the company that's invested in everything from Avatar to Hat Trick Productions and, through the work of its Director, Gerland Lidstone, is helping to create a new generation of businesses that blend creativity with business expertise.

Brockley has always been the home for many former Goldsmiths artists. With Deptford and New Cross on our doorstep and excellent links to established creative clusters via the East London Line, we have the opportunity to be home to many of their businesses too.


Anonymous said...

New Cross and Deptford's problems lie in the area north of New Cross Road and west of Deptford High Street.

This large pocket of poverty is home to vast and dense housing estates, where crime can be carried out with relative anonymity.

Until this area is sorted out New Cross, Deptford and to a lesser extent Brockley, will always be somewhat unattractive to both new potential businesses and residents.

Anonymous said...

The font used makes 'clusters' look like 'dusters'.

pol said...

Well Goldsmiths has been around an awfully long time and most of that time it has had very little relevance to the local area.

It is a little island of academic self exploration stuck in the a rough and ready part of South London. Its focus is the wider academic community, not its back yard.

As soon as any artist achieves some sort of success, they are off. So it was with the Brit Art/Saatchi clique of conceptual artists.

I believe, in urban regeneration circles, it is held the creative arts can be an engine for developing a deprived area. That the impoverished Wards of New Cross and Deptford can be reborn vital and funky on the back of creative artists married to sassy enterprise with an eye on a global market.

After all, if it could happen to Brick Lane/Shoreditch/Hoxton, could it not happen anywhere?

I have serious doubts about this, but welcome any improvement in the depressed areas of this Borough.

John said...

To solve the problems of Deptford and New Cross the type of business that needs to be provided is one that offers large scale employment for low skilled workers; something which has declined drastically since the move away from an economy based on manufacturing. I don't see how the success of Goldsmiths will bring about a great change in that respect. BT opening a call centre would be of much more benefit than a few graphic design (etc.) companies.

Anonymous said...

When Paul McCartney was attending Goldsmiths wasn't it reported he poured money into the area by visiting a New Cross Fish & Chip shop?

And another thing is it true Princess Beatrice chose not to do clay modelling because people would say she's just another Beatrice potter?

Anonymous said...

Goldsmiths does have an impact just by encouraging an influx of young creative people every year, many of whom stay in the area.
Without the College New Cross would be deserted high crime area.
Other than that the College doesn't do a lot for the area.
For example the College owns a whole row of shops along New Cross Road yet it has allowed them to become derelict and run down for many years.
If it cared about the area it would have done these up years ago.
It would also have encouraged a greater interaction between the college and the local community. Why is there no public gallery of Goldsmiths students art? Why no theatre open to the public or interaction with local theatres when performing arts are a big part of the college?

Ed said...

My sister lived in my TeaFactory flat whilst doing her masters at Goldsmiths and many of the students you see in Costcutters go there...

Mb said...

Actually not a bad question for the hustings.

"what do you intend to do to encourage greater involvement of Goldsmiths College with the borough? Students involved with local schools could be an option? Or some 'free' public art as part of projectwork?"

no pickled sharks though.....

Pull your finger out Goldsmiths! said...

Goldsmiths have threatened to regenerate their shop fronts on New Cross Road for years now, but still nothing has been done!

If it's a funding issue, surely Lewisham council can come to some kind of agreement with them. They have the potential to really transform New Cross Road.

Anonymous said...

Why dont they just paint the shop fronts and open them up as student Art Gallery's.

Cherry Darling said...

I was a Goldsmiths student and me and lots of my friends from Uni are still in Brockley, having found it during our student years. Most of us are now working in professional jobs and are starting to buy homes and settle permanently in the area. If we assume that graduates tend to be higher earners, and therefore bigger spenders, I think Goldsmiths can only be good for the area. As long as all the art students don't immediately run off to the East End.

pol said...

I think Goldsmiths does contribute to the local area indirectly.

Every year it attracts a large number of a very green students from well heeled backgounds who are wont to walk the streets in the evening listening to their ipods and carrying their new laptop.

Whereupon, should they happen upon the local yoof, they may find themselves encouraged to donate said items to a greater good.

Such cultural exchanges give the New Cross an edgy social cache that beats Hoxton into a cocked hat.

Anonymous said...

Lets not underestimate the influence a local educational establishment like Goldsmiths can have. i am a local born and bred and i went to Goldsmiths 94 -97 and have been working as a Theatre Director ever since. Several other family members all trained at Goldsmiths and are local primary school teachers and a social worker. The George Wood theatre always used to be open to the public but work is not very well advertised. there is no commercial impetus to do it. There are any numbers of events and public lectures and showings but again not well advertised. Maybe brockly central can share the love. Also many retailers and publicans/cafe owners bike shops etc benefit from all the students Goldsmiths brings to the area.Not to mention landlords/ladys

Anonymous said...

Goes into shops, nicks stuff, eats it, poos it out.... Erm, think I prefer a nice landscape

Tamsin said...

I think I agree - give me Leo Stevenson's work any day.

Individual Goldsmith's students are a boon for the area - and do engage with the community, but as an institution it is rather too full of itself. It sponsors the Telegraph Hill Festival insofar as it takes advertising space on the back of the programme for the courses that it must open to the public, but an approach five years or so ago to collaborate on producing a water fountain for the park was something that the art department simply could not be bothered with.

Looking at what was put on there, engaging although a couple of the artists were, I do rather feel we would be better off with the Laurie Grove building turned back into a swimming pool.

Kim Howells said...

Is it art? Self-indulgent craftless tat if you ask me.

There. That should stir things up a bit

Anonymous said...

Goldsmiths has just made an application to alter the Listed Laurie Grove baths.

Anonymous said...

It ain't all art...and the college has done research into the local community..

Anonymous said...

If the swimming pool is still there,what a great Idea it would be to turn it Into a sunken Gallery.

Michael Dick Director of Estates Goldsmiths said...

New Cross Road Shops & Goldsmiths

Just picking up on the various comments about the New Cross Road Shops on behalf of Goldsmiths College Estates Department. These buildings adjacent to the Old Deptford Town Hall are in the ownership of Goldsmiths College. The sad state of the buildings has come about through the occupation of the buildings by illegal squatters for a number of years- we have been unable to obtain access to many areas. (exceptions here are Cafe Creme and Pranksters who are legal tenants) The College has been using legal means to gain occupancy throughout this period and in the past few has months finally gained full possession of the buildings. There is a lot of damage to rectify and the buildings have to be made safe and fire regulation compliant to allow for future use. The buildings are in a conservation area so it is likely that the buildings will need be retained in their present form. We are just now very keen to explore and develop future uses for the shops and spaces above for the College and the wider community. Anyone who has an interest or views on future use is welcome to contact the College through my e-mail address
Our current draft masterplan can be accessed through the following link

Anonymous said...

I heard got a few interesting insights into Goldsmiths Art degrees recently from a student.

These courses are very lightly supervised and the work load is exceedingly light. It is very much up to the student to extract training in techniques that they think they need. Consequently some hardly bother, subsisting off their student loan and finding more interesting ways of filling their time. It is difficult to fail an Art degree.

This seems to be a degree as an alternative to the dole.

I don't doubt that there are some students who try to get as much out of their course as possible. Though what percentage work hard at their creative development rather than take it easy for three years is unclear.

You can never be sure just how much work goes into conceptual art.

I am curious to see whether this is reflected in the BBC documentary.

Unknown said...

A small point, but Paul McCartney definitely never attended Goldsmiths. The Sirius Web site simply states that he paid a 'passing visit'. No more, no less.

Fool's gold. said...

But Mick Jagger DID attend LSE and that's why the Stones are cooler in my book than the Beatles.

henry said...

Problem is, MJ was also in my mum's year at Dartford Grammar in the 50's, which kills the image for me!

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