The Moseley School of Art Association News Page



A Reunion in New York!

We were delighted to hear from former student Eileen Huckett (Weaver), who now lives 300km north of Perth, Western Australia, telling us about a very special reunion of friends who, last June organised their own Moseley School of Art Reunion in New York!

The four friends, who left MSA in 1972, hadn't seen each other for up to 39 years, and three of them had special birthdays while they were there - they all turned 60 years young, and the fourth had her birthday just a month later.

The friends were Eileen Huckett, Eileen MacLean (Allen) who lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, and 'The Twins' Susan and Sandra (Riley) Mead, who live here in the UK.

Eileen wrote: "Well! It was the best time ever! The twins (Sandra and Susan) and I had seen one another spasmodically over the years but Eileen and I hadn't met up since we were 21 ( which was - gulp - 39 years ago). It was unforgettable. It was if no time had elapsed at all. We had a huge laugh together - it could not have been more perfect. The twins and I celebrated our 60th (another gulp!) while we were there. We've all arranged to meet again in 5 years time, if we can wait that long!"

It's fantastic to see that the spirit of our old school and the friendships formed there was celebrated by four old friends from three of the four corners of the world.



Obituary - Phil Orchard

We've been informed that it was Phil's wish that he didn't want a funeral so, in accordance with his wishes, his nearest and dearest are planning a party to celebrate his life instead. A provisional date has been set of Saturday, 16th July at his home in Leeds, Yorkshire. All will be welcome but the organisers will probably have to ask for confirmation of numbers wishing to attend a little nearer the date. More details will be posted to our Facebook page when they become available.

Phil endured ill health for many years, and recently underwent a double lung transplant which appeared, initially, to have been very successful. Phil was cheerfully looking forward to a full recovery, but, unfortunately, luck didn't bring him that recovery and he passed away during the morning of Tuesday, 21st. June 2016.



The Moseley School of Art 2016 Venice Reunion

It’s nearly time for us to depart for our reunion in Venice!

NB:  If you’re NOT travelling via Monarch flight ZB5480 from Birmingham on the 28th. June, please let me know so that I can advise you on transfers etc.

As you know, Wendy and I have visited Venice each year for the last ten years, so, while we don’t know everything there is to know about the island and it’s treasures, we certainly know enough to help you to get the most from our Reunion trip. Whether you want to explore on your own or join us for all or any part of our flexible itinerary, you’re going to have a great trip.

We’ll all want to do and see different things during our three days but some will, I know, want to do things with Wendy and me, so we’ve put together an outline itinerary of things that Wendy and I will be doing – please feel free to join us or do your own thing. We don’t want you to feel restricted in any way from doing what you’d like to do.

Tuesday 28th. June:

Transfer from Marco Polo Airport direct to our hotel on Venice (approx. 20km.) via Water Taxi in groups of six or eight. Approximate charge 35 Euro pp. payable in cash at time.

Following check-in, unpack and comfort break:

     Purchase 3-day Vaporetto (Waterbus) Pass (unlimited walk-on walk-off)
     Vaporetto ride – Grand Canal
     Visit to the basilica of Santa Maria Della Salute
     Light lunch at local cafe
     Visit to St. Marks Square
     Visit to church of San Giorgio Maggiore and its Campagnile (belltower). Pay for elevator ride to top – fantastic views of island.
     Return to hotel in time for rest break before preparing for dinner at 7.30pm at Mario’s - a local fish restaurant, or restaurant of your   choice.

Wednesday 29th. June:    

Early Start – Breakfast / depart hotel at 7.45am

Gondola Ride (6 persons per gondola, negotiated best rate on day)

     Visit to St. Mark’s Square
     St. Mark’s Basilica (free entry, charge for optional extras)
     Light lunch
     L’Accademia Art Gallery
     Return to hotel at teatime to allow for rest break before preparing for Reunion Dinner at 7 for 7.30pm
     Reunion Dinner: Please see below *
Thursday 30th. June:         

Breakfast / depart hotel 8.30am

     Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace)
     Light lunch
     Whatever you fancy (Rialto Shopping Area / Murano Glass Factory Tour / Other Place of Interest)
     Dinner 7.30pm at restaurant TBD or restaurant of your choice
Friday 1st. July:                   

Breakfast / depart hotel at time to be confirmed

Transfer from hotel to Marco Polo Airport (approx. 20km.) via Water Taxi in groups of six or eight. Approximate charge 35 Euro pp. payable in cash at time.

* The Reunion Dinner: will take place at our hotel on Wednesday 29th. June, with us meeting in the garden with drinks from 5.30pm, sitting down for our dinner at 7pm for 7.30pm. The food at the hotel is very good. We’ve been offered a suggested menu choice of three dishes - meat, fish and vegetarian:

1. Meat Dish

Maltagliata Fresh Pasta
With Veal Ragout, Pecorino Cheese and Truffle Aroma

Irish Beef Cut
With Braised Radicchio, Balsamic Vinegar and Roasted Potatoes

Water and Coffee (Wine not included)

2. Fish Dish

Tomato Gazpacho
With Roasted Scallops and Wafer Parma Ham

Shi Drum
Mediterranean Sauce with Cherry Tomatoes, Capers and Olives

Water and Coffee (Wine not included)

3. Vegetarian Dish

Melanzane alla Parmigiana

With Mousse of Burrata Cheese

Potato Dumpling

With Vegetable Ragout and Smoked Ricotta

Water and Coffee (Wine not included)

Please remember to bring your essentials:

o Monarch booking printout
o Hotel booking printout
o Passport plus colour photocopy
o EHIC card
o Travel insurance certificate
o ATOL certificate printout (from your booking at Monarch website)
o Personal Meds
o Cash – Euro / Sterling
o Emergency Rainwear
o Shawls / scarves - Dress code for religious buildings is that women must cover shoulders and waist to knee
o Sun protection / Mosquito repellent / Electrical adaptors


It’s a good idea to download the Google map of Venice to your phone or tablet while here in the UK.

Tripadvisor has an excellent range of guides to Venice – worth checking them out before leaving.

We’ll meet at Birmingham Airport next Tuesday and we’ll stay together until we reach the Hotel Sant’Elena, Venice.

Questions? Just drop us a line at the email address link above.

We’re looking forward to seeing you for a super trip!



Newton Stewart Community Hospital

We have received a very warm letter of gratitude from the management of the hospital for the cheque we forwarded on behalf of the members of the Moseley School of Art Association as a donation in memory of the highly respected former MSA teacher Dr. John Swift.



The Late Dr. John Swift

John passed away on Friday, 20th. May 2016 at Newton Stewart Community Hospital, a short distance from his home at Garlieston, Dumfries and Galloway. The cause of his passing was Bronchial Pneumonia, although he had suffered frailty for some time having grieved over the death of his wife, Jacquie on the 23rd. January 2013.

John's funeral service took place at 12pm on Wednesday the 1st. June at Roucan Loch Crematorium, Collin, Dumfries & Galloway, DG1 4JF.

If anyone would like to make a donation in memory of John, please send cheques made payable to ''Newton Stewart Endowments', ref. Dr. John Swift 20.05.16 to Marcus at John's former home address:

Seaside House, 2 South Street, Garlieston, Newton Stewart DG8 8BH

Given the contribution that Dr. Swift made to our school and the early development of the Moseley School of Art Association, a donation of £100.00 was made in gratitude on behalf of the subscribing members of the Association in lieu of a floral tribute.

Having agreed to write a eulogy for John Swift's funeral, I thought it more appropriate that someone who had actually been taught by John should write the eulogy on behalf of ALL former students, rather than just the members of the Association.

I invited Dave Allen to do this, knowing how highly he regarded John as a teacher, and his eulogy, together with many others, was duly read out at the service by Marcus, John's eldest son. The eulogy (reproduced below) was very well received. Marcus has described the funeral as a hard but excellent day, with a number of people reciting poetry and personal tributes from friends and former colleagues.

Marcus asked that the family's gratitude be passed to Dave and the other contributors, also for the donation to John's chosen charity (above) by members of the Moseley School of Art Association.

Eulogy for Dr. John Swift by Dave Allen:

"John Swift, teacher and Head of Arts and Crafts at Moseley Art School, Birmingham, and subsequently Emeritus Professor of Art Education at The University of Central England, was a man who’s work impacted many lives. I am writing as one of those individuals, but I hope this resonates with many others who knew him.

John Swift was a maverick. If that sounds like a disrespectful thing to say, it is not.

Maverick, noun:
"An unorthodox or independent-minded person. Synonyms: individualist, nonconformist, free spirit, unorthodox person, unconventional person, original, trendsetter, bohemian…".

When he taught you it felt like you were being taught by a bloke, a great bloke, who had found himself teaching. He spoke with great authority and gravitas about Art and the arts, without adopting the conventions of most teachers and he didn’t react like most teachers would. There’s a certain amount of acting in teaching and students know this. Yet we were confronted by a man who didn’t seem to be acting. And, far from following a conventional teacher-actor approach he seemed to think from first principles on just about everything. We hung on his every word. My first reaction when I heard of his recent passing was blurted out on social media:

“It wasn’t just that he was funny, drank his whisky, smoked his Gauloises and was a generally great bloke that I liked John Swift. Like Robert Hughes, he talked about Art in a direct and no nonsense way, an intellectual we were lucky enough to have as Art teacher and head of Art at Moseley Art School. A massive role model.”

Others said:

“Expressing a three dimensional form on a flat picture plane possessed him and he passed this onto us.” (Phil Orchard)

“I always remember his odd socks!” (Deborah Dormer)

“Monthly crits at school with John swift were an institution. All art work was pinned up around his big room to the left of the main staircase. He allowed us students to be casual for this, as if for some ordeal. We were allowed to sit on the desks for the plenary discussion. A characteristic little cough and a swing of the leg could indicate that he was not going to be very complimentary about the homework done for the for the crit. You always got good advice about your work and it was usually spot on. He was a plain speaking, fair minded thoroughly decent guy.” (Cate Hadley)

“He turned a blind eye to us being in the pub at lunch times.” (Dave Mattock)

“Although we were an art school, most of my early music education was through John. Rounds (Viva la Musicaaaaaah) and the odd madrigal.” (Ross Moore)

“I loved listening to tales of his life in Sheffield I remember him telling us about the steel mills and how if anyone fell in the vats of molten steel they would be pushed under. Gruesome, but a great diversion when you're supposed to be working!” (Antonia Ajao Burrows)

“Due to the teachings of John Swift somewhere between applied art, history of art and art theory a switch turned on in my brain and the whole world exploded: a great gift he bestowed on me and many others.” (Maria Cataldo)

“He introduced me and many others to folk music at MSA and the Jug of Punch Folk Club in Digbeth.” (Dave Mattock)

“My memory is that he was the first person to show that it’s possible to have a passion for painting. He also allowed us to think outside the confines and restraints of traditional work and be "cool". I always wanted to be Bryan Ferry. My brother always wanted to be John Swift. He showed a sense of relaxation, always had a roll up on the go; the first teacher that you could call John rather than Sir. Our group used to spend most of the theory lessons counting his little cough after each sentence.” (Rob Allen)

His unique approach combined with a huge intellect is a compelling combination. Moseley Art School was already on the map of pioneering teaching methods, as seen in the work of Marion Richardson, and John Swift was perfectly suited to MSA environment. He told me that he would not teach us to pass the
exam, but to be good at Art: he was right – the exam grades and success of students is the stuff of legend.

One of his last publications was An Illustrated History of Moseley School of Art: Art Education in Birmingham 1800-1975 (2004), a project had wanted to undertake when approached by Graeme Collins of The Moseley School of Art Association.

Through my years at Art College I still referred to him as much as to my lecturers, taking my work to his house and getting private ‘crits’. And then we’d often have a drink and a long conversation into the night. This was typical of him. He stayed in touch with his students and attended their degree shows, even after he had moved into the world of academia.

“He encouraged me in my love of Renaissance art and was totally self-effacing when I spoke to him in recent years about the book on MSA's history! He clearly remembered me after 35 years. A lovely human being.” (Susie Venable)

I’ve been teaching for a long time now, and still, when pondering an issue, I ask myself what would John Swift have thought about this? Not everybody has the opportunity to touch the lives of so many others, and not many are capable of doing it in the way John Swift did: an artist, an intellectual and a maverick".


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2017 Reunion and Exhibition of Works

Due to the number of messages from members of the Association who have requested a further Reunion and Exhibition, it is confirmed that the 2017 Reunion and Exhibition will be held on Sunday, 21st. May 2017 at a venue to be confirmed. We'd be grateful for your patience while we reply to your messages, and thank you very much for your kindness and appreciation. We won't lose touch.



The Moseley School of Art Association

It is with very great sadness and deep regret that we have to announce that the decision to disband the Association was made at 1.45pm on the 15th. May 2016 at our Annual General Meeting.

All of our members will shortly receive a newsletter which will provide a full account of the reasons for this decision. An account of the wonderful but emotional day we enjoyed at our 2016 Reunion & Exhibition will appear on our 'Reunion' webpage shortly.

In the meantime, membership will continue for those members who pay their subscription by standing order, who paid their subscription at our Reunion meeting, and ALL overseas members until the 1st. May 2017. News and updates will continue to be forwarded by email and post.

Will this mean the end of planned reunions? It is emphasised that members should have NO FEAR WHATSOEVER about us losing touch or not meeting again. It has taken many years for us to build our network of contacts throughout the United Kingdom and across the world, and we will make sure that the spirit of the Moseley School of Art is kept alive. Plans for our future are already in hand.


The Venice Reunion

The Venice Reunion will, of course be unaffected by the above. We will be sending out joining instructions and a pre-departure brief and checklist shortly to all those who will be joining us for our fantastic trip.

If you haven't yet let us know that you've booked to join us, please let us know via the email link above so that we can include you in the transfer arrangements from the mainland Marco Polo Airport direct to our hotel on the island of Venice.

Our transfer will be via high speed water taxi, taking just 40 minutes, taking us direct to the hotel as opposed to the Vaporetto which takes up to 2 hours.





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2016 Reunion and Exhibition of Works - Update

Additional Exhibition Prize We are delighted to announce that former student BRIAN BAILEY ('46) and his wife Valerie have once again very generously donated $150 to the Association to be used as an additional prize in our exhibition this Sunday. Both Brian and Valerie have had health problems recently and I'm sure that all our members will join us in thanking them for their generosity, and wishing them a speedy recovery. Brian is pictured (left) at his recent Reunion attendance.

Thanks to all who are helping to make our 2016 Reunion & Exhibition special! We now have 14 exhibitors bringing works including former teachers Bob Ashby, Barbara Faulkner (Woodward) and our former Exhibitions Secretary Pam Headford (Gilbert). We already have a great attendance pre-registered and it's going to be a meeting to remember. Thanks go to all those members around the country and around the world who have wished us success and have forwarded their apologies for not being able to attend - a full update on proceedings following the meeting will be posted as always.

2016 Reunion and Exhibition of Works - Final Call!

FINAL CALL for the Annual Reunion this Sunday at Kings Heath Cricket Club, 247 Alcester Rd South, Birmingham B14 6DT this coming Sunday, 15th. May 2016.

We have to get the final order to the caterers by 6pm this Friday. If you haven't yet confirmed your intention to attend, it's essential that you PLEASE PRE-REGISTER so that security badges may be prepared and the catering order arranged - failure to pre-register could result in long waits. Please email your pre-registration HERE stating your full name, years attended MSA and the full name of the person attending with you.

Admission is for Members Only - your subscription fee may be paid at the door and will entitle you to admission and lunch for yourself and one other person. If you have any doubts as to your eligibility for membership, just email us.

The doors will open at 10am, and coffee and biscuits will be available. Our (brief) AGM will commence at 11am and our super lunch will be served at 1pm. The bar will be open from 12.00. We already have a great attendance pre-registered, and we're looking forward to a very full day filled with friendship and happiness among our members.

Everyone attending will receive a Moseley Art School keyfob, and copies of Professor John Swift's 'History of the Moseley School of Art' will be available at the specially discounted price of £12 to members (one copy only per member). Payment of your membership subscription of £17.50 entitles you to free admission and a sumptuous lunch for yourself and one guest. You can pay at the door by cash or credit card.

You'll be in good company - there'll be former pupils present from every era of the school, and there are no strangers . . . only friends you have yet to meet.

We're also likely to have our highest ever number of exhibits thanks to our hardworking Exhibition Coordinators Cate Hadley and Jan Williams. It's going to be a great day! We look forward to seeing YOU at Kings Heath Cricket Club for a very happy day full of renewed friendships and happy memories of our old school, no matter what years you attended.


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You can contact us here:







The Moseley School of Art Association is an association formed to:

Promote and maintain, through exhibitions, reunions and other means personal contact between all former pupils and staff members of the Moseley Secondary School of Art, Moseley Road, Birmingham B12 England

Promote the activities of members who are active in any of the fields of art and the crafts, by means of publicity, sponsorship and procurement of artist materials at discounted rates




© Graeme Llewellyn Collins 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

No part of this website may be reproduced, transmitted or stored in a file retrieval system without obtaining prior explicit permission from the author, who retains intellectual copyright..




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