Odds and quads

These images are taken from the first film ever made in and about an art school, certainly in Britain and probably in the world.

January 13, 2011

It was filmed in 1929 at the Manchester School of Art, now part of Manchester Metropolitan University, and is housed in the institution's North West Film Archive.

The footage actually consists of three separate elements: two 25-minute films - A Visit to an Art School and The Manchester School of Art - and a reel of more informal candid shots of staff and students.

The director was a 35-year-old mature student, George F. Higginson, who had served in the First World War and then made a career as a cotton engineer.

Together, the films offer a vivid picture of art school life: students being interviewed, nervous first meetings with tutors, and typical days in class.

Yet they are also shot through with humour, as when the architectural students, shown furiously at work on their drawings, are later revealed to be playing noughts and crosses.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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