Leeds 13 win their appeal for a first for art

September 17, 1999

The self-styled Leeds 13 fine art students, who gained notoriety with two highly controversial exhibitions, have appealed successfully against marks awarded for their final degree show.

The students, who last year duped their tutors and a number of national newspapers into believing they had gone on holiday to Spain with university money, complained when they were collectively awarded a 2:1 for this year's exhibition. The work represents 50 per cent of their final-degree classification.

The students were said to be outraged by their marks, particularly since last year's "hoax" exhibition was awarded a first.

They appealed on the grounds that the industrial action staged by the Association of University Teachers last month rushed the assessors and hindered a full and fair consideration of their work, which they claimed required extra time for contemplation.

At a hearing on Friday it was agreed that the grades for 14 fine-art finalists should be bumped up to a first.

A university spokeswoman said: "The committee on applications has given careful consideration to an appeal by seven students and as a consequence, marks given to all 14 finalists have been revised. It is now for their department to consider whether this will affect final degree classifications."

The latest exhibition was a joint piece of work called "The Degree Show".

The students said the work was intended to challenge perceived reality. It included labels, advertising, security devices, posters and handouts as well as works of art by well-known artists such as Rodin, Henry Moore and Damien Hirst.

Not only were the university assessors faced with the difficulty of judging such an unusual degree show, they also had to grapple with the problem of grading, for the first time, a collectively designed show.

The group's second-year project raised its profile overnight when a number of tabloid newspapers ran an article claiming the students had used university money to go on holiday to Spain. In fact the students stayed in hiding for a week and fabricated holiday snaps on a beach in Scarborough.

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