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The women behind a booming School of Art

25 May, 2017 — By John Gulliver

Isabel H Langtry, third from left, on Tuesday night with prize-winning Hampstead School of Art students, from left: Diana Vowles, Susan Martyn, Brigitte Ali, Amy Swaniker-Dzah, Samantha Laub, and Lucille Smithson

SOMETHING clicked between the two women – the artist Isabel Langtry and the high-flying businesswoman Angie Franklin.

Angie certainly admired Isabel as a sculptor, Isabel, in turn, was fascinated by the sharp, focused Angie.

Whatever it was, they became a team – Isabel as the principal of the Hampstead School of Art, (HSoA) and Angie her “partner”, as it were, as chairwoman of the school’s trustees.

Henry Moore. Photo: Errol Jackson

And within a couple of years, the HSoA has been transformed – moving out of its shambling Victorian house in Kidderpore Avenue, Hampstead, into a brand new building that has given it a golden sheen, making it one of the leading art schools in London.

And it all started when Angie was so impressed by one of Isabel’s works at an exhibition that she commissioned her to create a sculpture for the garden at her home in Majorca. It became a two-and-a-half metre high work weighing two tons and it had to be moved from London across France to Majorca by lorry.

Once the school had a few hundred students on its books, now it has more than 1,000 – so many, in fact that Isabel believes she could easily open a second school. Suddenly, I saw a chain of HSoA schools across the capital, incredible though it may sound, as I sat among the swirling students on Tuesday evening at the school’s annual exhibition.

Angie Franklin

What’s so special about HSoA is that unlike other art schools they accept any student with a keen interest in art – whatever their talent or ability. Lack of formal qualifications, of any sort, is not a barrier. The principles are founded on those held by its founder, the great sculptor Henry Moore who created, in effect, a co-operative­ly run school.

As part of its develop­ment, the HSoA now also offers the equivalent of an A-level course, enabling a student to access a university degree course.

It is a bewildering transformation. Isabel Langtry modestly puts it down to enthusiastic team-work but emphasises the “robust” support of her trustee partner, Angie Franklin.

A portrait of Flick

Lib-Dem Cllr Flick Rea. Photo: Dieter Perry

VETERAN Lib-Dem councillor Flick Rea is the subject of a masterclass at the Hampstead School of Art on June 6 when the eminent artist Valerie Wiffen – her portrait of Prince Philip hangs in the National Portrait Gallery – will paint her in a three-hour class. A new show of Wiffen’s works opens on June 7 at The Broadway Bookshop, 6 Broadway Market, Hackney.

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