Review of 2017 at Goldsmiths

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The past 12 months have been filled with highlights at Goldsmiths, University of London.

‘Now and Then, Here and There' 2017, acrylic and medium on wood, Ella Jones (BA Fine Art), Warden’s Purchase 2017

The year has seen students and staff winning awards, our pioneering alumni gaining international recognition for their work and our research making both headlines and a difference across the world.

We have also worked closely with local communities to mark vital anniverseries, tackle issues affecting our home borough of Lewisham and reach out to provide expertise and support to London's digital entrepreneurs.

Work is progressing well on Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, the world-class gallery due to open on campus in autumn 2018, and both the Goldsmiths Prize and Goldsmiths Press continued to push boundaries and thought in the world of publishing. 

Here we provide a snapshot of life at Goldsmiths in 2017.  

Review of 2017 at Goldsmiths

One student, artist Djofray Makumbu, finished a journey which started with the Goldsmiths Summer School half a decade ago. Djofray joined the summer school at the age of 18 and this year graduated from the BA Fine Art programme.

Praised as one of the hardest-working students the Department of Art has seen, Djofray’s final year project, entitled Dreams, was given the ALUMNO/SPACE award.

Undergraduates Julia Dos Santos, Minji Kim and Jeanette Lee received a major award from the Royal Television Society (RTS) for their film The Female Voice. The work was also nominated for a BAFTA Student Film Award.

Away from purely academic achievements, members of the Acting and Filmmaking Society from Goldsmiths Students’ Union staged a play about the secret trials of Deptford’s conscientious objectors during the First World War.

Written by Professor Tim Crook from the Department of Media and Communications, Devils On Horseback was performed in Deptford Town Hall to full houses, including the Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock. The play is now being turned into a film.

A man in a hurry this year was Reuben Arthur. The BSc Psychology with Management student, who is part of Goldsmiths Student Unions’ Talented Athlete Programme, is the UK’s reigning student 100m champion after winning gold in a time of 10.75secs at the BUCS Outdoor Athletics Championships in the summer.

No round-up of student stories would be complete without mention of Liam Charles. The Department of Theatre and Performance student was one of the stars of 2017’s Great British Bake Off. Despite a shock exit in the quarter-finals the baker dubbed “Cake Boy” by friends truly won the hearts – not to mention stomachs – of the nation.

Artist Oreet Ashery, Lecturer in Fine Art (Studio Practice), won the Jarman Award, the prestigious annual prize which recognises and supports the most innovative UK-based artists working with moving image. Also in the Department of Art, Lecturer Rosalind Nashishibi was shortlisted for the Turner Prize 2017.

From the Department of Computing, Professor William Latham’s immersive Mutator VR was shown across the globe including at the HYBRIS exhibition in Venice. In December it was in place for the 30th anniversary celebrations of legendary acid house nightclub Shoom.

Naomi Thompson, a Senior Lecturer from the Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies (STaCS) won a Women of the Future award. She was presented with the Professions Award, which recognises women who are making a significant contribution in professions like the legal, medicine, accounting and education sectors.

And staff in Goldsmiths’ security team were presented with two awards at the CIS National Awards. Kuldeep Kainth won Manager of the Year and also scooped the Innovation of the Year Prize with Shajait Hussain, Security Duty Manager. 

Artist Gillian Wearing (BA Fine Art, 1990) became the first female commissioned to produce a work for Parliament Square. In September, Wearing unveiled plans for a tribute to suffragist Millicent Fawcett to “stand as an equal among male statues” in Westminster.

Musician John Cale (Teacher Training) was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The Velvet Underground founder performed the band’s seminal work “I’m Waiting For The Man” at the Grammy Salute To Musical Legends concert in New York in the summer.

Hisham Matar (MA Design Futures, 1996) won the Pulitzer Prize in Biography for his book The Return: Fathers, Sons and The Land in Between.  He received the award at a ceremony at Columbia University in May.

Journalist and writer Sarah Sands (BA Drama and English, 1982) was named editor of Today, BBC Radio 4’s flagship radio news show. Sands moved from the editor’s seat at The Evening Standard to take up one of the most influential media roles in the UK.

Goldsmiths also hosted the first exhibition of artist Keith Church, who was murdered at the age of 27 in 1982. Urge To Paint opened in January on our campus, marking the 40th anniversary of Keith’s graduation from the Art Foundation programme at Goldsmiths, as part of the Goldsmiths cultural event Aspiration and Representation: Looking Back to Travel Forwards, organised by Dr Deirdre Osborne and Professor Kurt Barling.

There was bad news for child geniuses: a survey by Sophie von Stumm and Rachel Latham (Psychology) discovered that extraversion is the personality trait mothers most want for their child ahead of intelligence and conscientiousness. Only 10% of mothers rated intelligence as most important despite strong evidence it is linked to success in careers and relationships.

Pollution levels in South East London reached six times the World Health Organisation limit on several occasions during the last year, a study by Jennifer Gabrys (Sociology) and the Citizen Sense team showed. The study, which involved local people gathering air pollution data, suggested that pollution from construction sites and river traffic should be investigated.

Giving students the confidence to make mistakes when they learn to write computer code could enable them to become more successful coders, research by Matthew Yee-King (Computing), Mick Grierson, and Pro-Warden Mark d’Inverno suggested.

Sue Clayton (Media and Communications) explored the plight of children left behind when the Calais Jungle refugee camp closed down in 2016 in a new documentary, Calais Children: A Case to Answer. The film presented key evidence supporting a legal challenge brought against the Home Office.

A study by Rebecca Cassidy (Anthropology) found that gambling and football are now so inextricably linked that television watchers cannot avoid industry branding even if they avoid commercial TV. The study was highlighted in a House of Lords debate about children and gambling advertisements.

Led by Director Sarah McCrory, who joined Goldsmiths in the spring, Goldsmiths CCA is due to open in September 2018.

She says of the gallery: “Some of the spaces are going to be very exciting for artists to use, other spaces will be challenging. Hopefully the spaces will provoke or inspire different ways of working.”

In addition to the gallery, work has also begun to transform the George Wood Theatre on campus into a modern performance and teaching space. The work will create a contemporary facility which will be a true asset to students, staff and our local community.

In further estates news, Goldsmiths this year honoured two pioneering women whose work and practice has had a huge influence on the College and beyond.

Following a campaign by students and staff to ensure the historic contribution of women is more widely recognised, the Education Building was renamed the Margaret McMillan Building in honour of the social reformer who changed the face of early years education in the early 20th century.

This was shortly followed by the opening of the Caroline Graveson Building, the newest addition to Goldsmiths’ campus. Housing nearly 200 Professional Services staff, the building frees up central campus space to be used for frontline student-facing services.

Caroline Graveson was the institution's Vice-Principal in 1905 when Goldsmiths' College formally opened

Autumn 2017 saw the first students start on the MA in Queer History – a groundbreaking programme led by Professor Jan Plamper in the Department of History which examines themes and research methods in Queer History.

There was also work on a cross-College level too. A huge collaborative effort with real input from Goldsmiths Students’ Union saw the launch of a new Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy for the next five years.

LTAS 2017-2021 has five strategic priorities, aiming to: 

  • Liberate our degrees
  • Develop research-teaching synergies
  • Ensure access, inclusion, and robust learning support for all our students
  • Extend our reach
  • Enhance graduate futures


This summer saw a range of events to mark this ­– including the unveiling of a plaque on Clifton Rise which faces our campus. The commemorations also made national headlines as well as provoke debate around issues facing society to this day.

Goldsmiths also worked with local partners as part of a landmark report by the Lewisham Poverty Commission. Dr Simon Griffiths, from the Department of Politics and International Relations, has pledged to support a “Lewisham Deal” to tackle poverty in the borough and create more work and enterprise opportunities.

The College also helped sponsor of the Telegraph Hill Festival, south-east London’s biggest community festival, with John Price from the Department of History leading radical walking tours around our neighbourhood.n

The Death of Public Knowledge?, by Professor Aeron Davis from the Department of Media and Communications, insists upon the value of shared, publicly accessible information, and suggests that the erosion of its most visible forms, including public service broadcasting, education and the network of public libraries, will have worrying outcomes for democracy.

Liberalism in Neoliberal Times questions what it means to be liberal in neoliberal conditions. The collection of short essays argues for the continued relevance of liberals and liberalism in a seemingly illeberal age. 

Also announced in 2017 was Stuart Hall: Conversations, Projects and Legacies. The collection of essays and photographs evaluates the legacies of Professor Hall's particular brand of cultural studies and demonstrates how other scholars and activists have utilised his thinking in their own research. The book will be available in January 2018.