The 2015 Whole School Reunion and AGM was held at the Moseley School of Art building, Moseley Road, Birmingham on Sunday, the 17th. May 2015.
Our Last Reunion at the Old School Building . . . a Brilliant Day for all who were Privileged to Attend
The 13th. reunion of the Moseley School of Art Association to be held at the old school building took place on the 17th. May 2015, convened to celebrate the award by the Heritage Lottery Fund of a grant of £1.8 Million following our intensive campaign which culminated in the offer of the grant in principle at our 2003 Exhibition.
Once again, we enjoyed an excellent attendance, with a large number of our former pupils bringing in multiple artworks for exhibition on the day. As usual, there were many people present who had travelled the length and breadth of the country from Cumbria to Cornwall, and from Northern Ireland to be with us and to enjoy the especially happy atmosphere that our reunions create. Members from many generations all mixed easily as usual as though they had been classmates, all sharing their experiences and memories of their time at the Moseley School of Art, remembering the teachers who had left their impressions on them - 'Pa' Jenkins, Miss Squires, John Swift, Jack Taylor, 'Moggy' Mason, Miss Pearson, Ralph Sargisson et al.
We were especially happy to see top guy Nick Kane ('78), now a member of the design team at the Modena, Italy factory of Ferrari, who had flown in specially from Italy to be with us. We were also delighted to see Dennis Green ('58) who flew all the way from Perth, Australia just to be with us - both were welcomed and congratulated on their commitment to the Association. We were also delighted once again to be joined by former teacher and Head of Art at our school, Bob Ashby as well as former student ('61) and teacher Barbara Faulkner (Woodward).
Following on from last year's successful format, the exhibition took a "bring whatever you like as long as you created it yourself" theme, and it was left to the exhibitors to decide whether the work was for sale. Entries included paintings in oils, watercolour, acrylics, as well as drawings, quilting, embroidery, electronic media, dressmaking, scale model loco engineering, etching and other disciplines, all displayed to provide a wonderful range of accomplished works throughout the former classrooms. Having turned up early to secure the best positions, our exhibitors were keen to discuss their exhibits and the evolution of their lives in Art since leaving our school.
The President appointed as judges former teacher Bob Ashby and former student Paul Bartlett, a well known Art Educationalist and winner of the £25,000 'Not the Turner Prize' who, after a time at Birmingham College of Art, attended Falmouth College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. The judging process took place after our sumptuous lunch, and the prizes were awarded as follows:
Each of the winners will also receive a special certificate to mark their achievement. We are very grateful to Brian Bailey ('46) (California, USA) for his generous sponsorship of the Brian Bailey Prize, on this occasion presented to the best Craft Work.
The President wishes to praise all of the exhibitors for the quality of their work, to congratulate those who were awarded the prizes, and to commiserate with those who were unlucky on this occasion. Our one-day exhibitions are proving to be consistently popular component of our Annual Reunion, and it is evident that is partly due to the absence of entry fees, hanging fees and other formalities.
Thousands of former students have drifted away from practising the creative skills they possess, and no longer produce works of art. This is a cause for great sadness, and it is hoped that each and every former student will again start to draw, paint and craft . . . the joy of creativity is something that can easily be picked up afresh, and the rewards in terms of health and happiness are great! The President stated that he hoped everyone would commit to producing at least one work for exhibition at our 2016 Exhibition. Please start creating your exhibits for our 2016 show now!
THE 2015 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
The former students were summoned to attend the Annual General Meeting by the ringing of the school bell, and meeting commenced at 11.45 with a warm welcome from the President, Graeme Collins, who called for the Noise to set the tone for the meeting . . . and after some gentle encouragement, those present created the loudest noise possible (absolutely deafening!), sustaining it for a full 20 seconds.
Apologies Graeme stated that he had received 120 apologies, 12 of these being from overseas members. The apologies included that of Mr. Jack Taylor (former Head), who is well, but felt that the meeting would be too much for him. He asked that we forward his very best wishes to all those who remember him, and best wishes for a successful reunion. Dr. John Swift who was a well-regarded teacher, isn't currently enjoying the best of health. Professor Arnold Morrison who says that he well remembers the day when he first ascended the steps into our school in September 1940, remembering it as a defining moment in his life. He now lives in Stirling, Scotland and is unable to leave his home or he would have loved to have joined our reunion.
The President reminded those who can't attend our reunions that the courtesy of an apology would be welcome so that we may keep track of our members.
Minutes of the 2014 AGM The minutes of the 2014 Annual General Meeting were then related to those present. The most important items were the election and appointment of officers, these being the re-election of Graeme Collins as President, the re-election of Bob Ashby as Academic Officer, and the appointment of Wendy Collins as Honorary Treasurer. Graeme informed the meeting that he never fails to be amazed at the amount of work As Wendy has undertaken a huge amount of work on behalf of the Association, a vote of thanks had been proposed by Ivan Haycock ('44), seconded by Mike Richardson ('49).
Obituary The President announced that the following members had passed away since the last reunion.
Rowena Midya (Faulkner)('75), who passed away on the 29th. June 2014, only a year after being diagnosed with cancer.
Muriel Reay ('34) A wonderful lady who never married, but devoted her life to worship and campanology, Muriel was very well known by worshippers at Birmingham Cathedral, St. Martin's, Bull Ring, and other major churches in the City Centre.
Gillian Thomas (Shaw)('57), who passed away peacefully in her sleep on Wednesday 14th. January 2015. It is understood that Gillian had suffered a long illness.
Ernie Ganner ('51) who attended the Moseley School of Art between 1948-51, who passed away earlier this year. No further details are known at present. Ernie was a very highly respected jewellery designer who specialised in cutting emerald stones.
Len Aston ('33) who died during 2014, and whose funeral was held on the 21st. November at Redditch Crematorium.
Arthur Bishop ('58) who passed away after a long illness on the 29th. October 2014 at the St. Giles Hospice, Walsall. His funeral took place at Bushbury Crematorium, Wolverhampton on the 10th. November. Arthur was the Year Rep for the '58 Leavers, and was married to Christine (Ellson), who also attended our school. He has been succeeded as Year Rep by Tony Wattis.
Robin Boot ('57) who passed away passed away suddenly on Saturday, 19th. July 2014. Robin's sister Linda also attended MSA between 1960-63. Having received sufficient information from Robin's daughter, an obituary has been posted to our Obituary Page HERE
The President then asked all those present to stand in silence for a short time in remembrance of these and all other former students and friends who are no longer with us.
The principal business before the meeting was our relationship with the owners of the school, and the way forward for our Association.
The President provided a history of his dealings with the representatives of the Moseley Muslim Community Association to date, explaining that he had first decided to find out why the (apparently derelict) building was being allowed to progressively decay in 2002. On finding out who owned the building from the totally inept Birmingham City Council Conservation Officer, he had made an appointment to meet the owners at the school. The owners had explained that they had acquired the building from Birmingham City Council for a nominal sum of money in the early 1980's, and that the building had been in a bad state of repair, the basement having been flooded for a number of years. They had carried out a repair programme to the interior of the building, but had no means of raising the funds needed to repair the exterior of the building. After discussion, Graeme had agreed to assist the owners by organising a reunion and exhibition to engender support for a grant to cover the cost of the refurbishment to the building's facade.
Graeme organised the two-week 'Spring Exhibition of Works by Former Students' at the school in May, 2003, sparing no effort to gain maximum publicity for the need for a grant.
The initiative involved nearly four months of virtually full-time work by Graeme and his wife, Wendy, including arrangements for full coverage by the Press, including a two-hour Radio West Midlands show broadcast live from the school, hosted by Carl Chinn, and the Exhibition was officially opened in fine style by former student and UB40 member Brian Travers. Our former students came up trumps with extensive external signage, and with a highly professional exhibition layout designed and installed by top guys Terry Savin and Dave Drinkwater, both professionals in the display and exhibition industry. We owe them, and the team of former students too numerous to mention each by name, a debt of gratitude for helping to make the exhibition the huge success it became. The result was a stunning demonstration of support for the owners of the school involving thousands of man-hours of work and an outcome for which every member should be proud.
There were nearly 200 works on display, in virtually every medium, and, despite there being drawbacks that make the building unsuitable for use as a selling gallery, we enjoyed a healthy attendance. On the final day of the Exhibition, a young lady appeared unannounced who asked to speak to Graeme. She explained that she was the Major Grants Officer from the Birmingham office of the Heritage Lottery Fund, had become aware of the exhibition and grant appeal from the Radio WM show, and felt that ours was a very worthwhile cause. She and Graeme had a long discussion about the necessity and viability of a grant being made, and the Grants Officer, having been impressed by the case made, provided Graeme with an assurance that a grant of £1.2 (the apparent estimate of costs at the time) would be available, subject to an application being made. This was an offer in principle of a grant for the full amount of the costs.
Graeme had earlier set aside three years to achieve the grant, and there we were, just eighteen months later, with the offer having been achieved. Later that day, Graeme passed this information to Mr. Javed Arain, for the owners, to pursue.
Our President and our members, expecting that the application would be progressed by the owners, continued to support the Moseley Muslim Community Association by organising exhibitions and a further 11 annual reunions at the school while waiting for the grant funding to materialise. This included the major 2005 Spring Exhibition of Works. The challenge of mounting a major exhibition, together with all of the work involved, should never be undertaken lightly, but we found in former student Pamela Headford (Gilbert) an enthusiastic curator assisted by a team of former pupils including the brilliant Terry Neal (now deceased), Bob Sedgley, Ivan Perkins, Mike Richardson, Tony Light, Pam's husband, Brian, Graeme's son Richard and others. Pamela and the team of committed supporters earned a great deal of respect from the large amount of work and dedication they contributed to the campaign for the refurbishment of the school building and the quality of the exhibition.
It is particularly sad to note that such a very large number of the former students who so enthusiastically lent their time and energy to those earlier events are no longer alive. Having freely given so much enthusiasm and energy toward our efforts to promote the ambitions of the Moseley Muslim Community Association, they have passed away without seeing the fruits of their labours rewarded by the renovation of the school.
With each successive annual reunion, an invitation was made to Mr. Arain to address our members from the stage to update them on progress with the grant application. On each occasion, Mr. Arain informed us that 'things were going ahead nicely etc.'
Our President, frustrated at the lack of progress with the award of the HLF grant since the offer in principle had been made in 2003, contacted the Heritage Lottery Fund four years ago to enquire about the reasons for the slow progress regarding the grant. He couldn't have been more bitterly disappointed after so many years of hard work in honourably promoting the interests of the school owners to hear that Mr. Arain had not even made an application. It was clear that after 7 years of hard work and commitment, we were not a single step further toward seeing the beautiful facade our former school building retored.
At each of a number of our reunions, the President has presented a cheque to Mr. Arain for a substantial amount of money ranging from £750 to £1,000 as a donation to be used to carry out urgent works to prevent further damage to the facade pending the award of the grant. We have never seen any of this money actually spent on the purposes for which it was intended - although an amount was, apparently spent in the construction of a lavatory for boys in the playground. A feature chandelier lighting unit costing nearly £1,000 was also presented to the Moseley Muslim Community Association for installation on the landing above the foyer. On learning that no application had been made for the grant which we had succeeded in obtaining in principle so many years before, our President informed Mr. Arain that we would not be making any more cash donations from our own income. This made no sense when the full amount necessary to carry out the work was already available from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the asking.
We now pay a very generous daily hire charge of £350 for the use of the building for the purpose of our annual reunions, to include the services of someone to set up the seating and furniture and complete the clean-up following the end of our attendance.
Having finally applied for the grant in 2014, Mr. Javed Arain asked for and accepted our offer of support for the consultation stage of the application, which included a great deal of work in collating statements of interest and offers of practical teaching, training and educational commitment from our Association members.
Mr. Arain has seen fit to refuse the participation of our Association in any aspect of the planning of the future uses of the building. Indeed, there has been no communication whatsoever with Mr. Arain since he received the formal letter of support forwarded by our President and our collected offers of practical support, and he has not responded to messages sent to him from our President via his consultant.
Our members are composed of people who were selected to attend our school because they possessed special creative talents. We later branched out to virtually dominate every aspect of creative endeavour in commerce and industry in the Midlands and beyond, producing many world leaders in the fields of Fine Art, Music, Design, Commercial and Industrial Art, Communications, and the Craft Trades. As a group, our former students form an unrivalled cohesive pool of authoritative achievement in their respective fields, and, given our proven track record as an Association, would provide credibilty to any project.
We would have been prepared to continue to dedicate the weight of our accumulated resources and proven track record of commitment to the endeavours of the school building's owners in their aim to become owners of one of the most prestigious social centres in the area, but our experiences thus far have been extremely frustrating.
The revelation at our AGM that one of our number had purported that he represents the interests of members of the Moseley School of Art Association at meetings with the Moseley Muslim Community Association was met with incredulity, astonishment and indignation by the members who attended the meeting. The person, who has consistently recorded our verbal business at our reunions for use elsewhere, was permitted to address the meeting to explain himself, but could not explain why he has acted without any office in the Association or mandate to speak on our behalf, and why he had not divulged to the Association that he was taking these actions. It is surprising that Mr. Arain has allowed this individual to attend his meetings and act as a representative of our members when he knows very well that I have not authorised such a representative. Having consulted with a large number of our more prominent members, our President has exercised his prerogative in excluding the member from membership with immediate effect, and from attendance at all future meetings of our Association.
This action was unprecedented, and was only taken after a great deal of thought, reflection and consultation. The individual has not been named publicly to protect his family from embarrassment.
At the meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund on the 17th. March 2015, the Moseley Muslim Community Association was awarded the first £150,000 to enable them to prepare a feasible scheme which will release the major (£1.55Million) portion of the grant. They now have until March 2017 to produce a viable plan. Mr. Javed Arain has decided not to reveal any aspect of the details of his progress with the grant application, however, and a news embargo has been invoked by the Moseley Muslim Community Association and the Heritage Lottery Fund. A number of our members feel that this affair would benefit from the oxygen of publicity.
Our President has spoken to the Heritage Lottery Fund case officer to explain our position and the reasons behind the decisions taken at our AGM. The case officer has asked if we would be prepared to meet with the Moseley Muslim Community Association to try to resolve the various issues.
Our President was quick to agree to any meetings that might assist in a positive resolution. We look forward, not only to hearing what has been said in our name by our excluded member over the last twelve months and more, but to the reasons why the members of the Moseley School of Art Association have been treated so shabbily and disrespectfully by Mr. Javed Arain and his Association after working so hard for 13 years to advance their cause.
There has, since 2002, never been a single statement of thanks or acknowledgement of the tremendous amount of work and loyalty contributed by us to the Moseley Muslim Community Association in achieving the Heritage Lottery Fund grant in principle, and the consistent support for their cause since 2002.
Following an extensive discussion of the situation as it presently stands, our members resolved to take a different direction toward a much more stimulating, productive and rewarding future for the Association and its members by passing two separate motions;
Motion Number 1 That all future reunions, Annual General Meetings and exhibitions should be held at venues other than the old school building. The motion was carried by a substantial majority.
The President said that future meetings and exhibitions will be arranged at venues that are far more suited to our needs and related a number of venues which he had already explored. Each of the venues is very comfortable and more appropriate to our needs, has excellent licensed lunch facilities, exhibition space and extensive car parking.
Motion Number 2 That the Association withdraw it's support from the Heritage Lottery Fund grant application by the Moseley Muslim Community Association. The motion was carried unanimously with the exception of one dissenter.
Graeme has written to Mr. Arain to inform him of these motions, adding that he and other colleagues would be happy to attend the forthcoming meeting he has arranged during the month of June. No reply has yet been received. Graeme stated that the Association should now concentrate on promoting the interests of its own members.
Whatever the results of any meetings to which we might be invited by the school owners, however unlikely, our members are now looking toward a bright, new, happy and self-fulfilling future, with emphasis on the promotion of our own interests and careers instead of the financial aspirations of others.
Financial Statement On behalf of the Treasurer, the President briefly discussed the Association's finances and announced that we have a satisfactory balance at the bank.
Election of Officers The President, Graeme Collins, invited proposals for the office of President. In the interests of democracy, he specifically invited our (now excluded) self-appointed representative to shoulder the burden of becoming President himself, in order that he might legitimately represent the membership. The invitation was declined. There being no other proposals, those members present voted unanimously to re-appoint Graeme as President for the forthcoming year. The President then asked for nominations for the office of Treasurer. Wendy Collins was unanimously re-elected with acclamation, the members being grateful for all of her hard work in supporting the President. The President stated that he felt sure that former teacher Bob Ashby would wish to continue as Academic Officer, and he also was re-elected unanimously. The President thanked Jannette Williams (Cox)('60) for her work as Exhibitions Secretary and, after being duly proposed and seconded, she was elected unanimously. The President stated he felt confident that the exhibition at our 2016 reunion would be a great success under her leadership, and asked that all of our members should support her.
Subscription for 2015/16 Given the decision to hold our future reunions elsewhare, the President suggested that the annual subscription should remain unchanged at £17.50, this to be reviewed when firm plans are made for our future venus. Members who live overseas will continue to be entitled to membership without payment of a subscription. The President emphasised, however, that the number of members paying via Standing Order had decreased slightly over the last two years, and that THIS WAS A TREND HE WISHED TO SEE REVERSED. The work and future of the Association was, he said, the concern of every former pupil of the school, and he expected to see everyone who cares about our aims to become a subscribing member. The best method of subscribing was by means of a standing order, a copy of which can be downloaded HERE
The Treasurer had intimated that a large number of members were still paying the wrong amount because they hadn't submitted fresh Standing Order forms following the increase to £17.50 some years ago, with some members still paying £10.00 or £15.00. A fresh Standing Order form should be downloaded from HERE and be forwarded as soon as possible as per the instructions on the form. The President reminded those present that it is their commitment that helps the Association to thrive and progress with everything we do.
Email Addresses for Members The President said that more than 60% of the email addresses held for our former pupils are now out of date due to them either moving home or internet service provider. He requested that EVERYONE send him an email so that their email address could be updated where necessary. When the burden of running the Association falls to a single person, ease of communication is essential.
Any Other Business
There was no other business.
Most Senior Former Student Present It has become a custom at our meetings for the most senior female former student present, representing the many thousands of girls who passed through the gates of our old school, to be presented with a bouquet as a token of our love and esteem. Our thanks to Dave Allen for his photography.
On this occasion, our bouquet was once again awarded to "Auntie" Ruby Colson (Summers) who left our school in 1935.
Ruby is pictured (right) being presented with the bouquet by Wendy Collins.
Following the AGM everyone thronged down the stairs for our sumptuous lunch among the exhibits.
2016 Reunion The 2016 Reunion and Exhibition of Works will take place at a venue to be announced on Sunday, 15th. May 2016 - a date for your diary.
DON'T FORGET - we're always happy to assist SUBSCRIBING MEMBERS to find their friends from their time at our school with our search. We're resonsible for around 900 reunions so far! To become a subscribing member and be part of what is keeping the Moseley School of Art alive, please download a standing order form HERE complete it and forward it to the address on the form. Don't forget - membership entitles you to admission to our Annual Reunion and AGM and lunch for two, as well as your right to vote on resolutions of the Association.
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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 12 England- promote the restoration and continued maintenance of the Moseley School of Art building, and
- to 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 discount rates
© Graeme Llewellyn Collins 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. No part of this website may be reproduced, transmitted by any means or stored in a file retrieval system without obtaining prior explicit permission from the author, who retains intellectual copyright.
The Moseley School of Art Association 2003