Dartington Arts School – the return of Black Mountain College

In an era of neoliberalism and Thatcher dominated landscape in the UK its reassuring to view buds of activism and revitalism in the creative arts education sectors. In Tim Foster’s lovely review of my book Blank Canvas for Echoes and Dust he noted the connection between art schools of the Bauhaus, Black Mountain College (BMC), and the UK with Dartington always an experimental outlier. Both Black Mountain and Dartington existed in stunning rural locations but with an urban experimentalism and social consciousness which aimed for improved human existence, for everyone, through art. Dartington Art School is reborn and offering amazing courses which combine visual and auditory arts with social justice, offering practice which engages with the self and the land. I fancy trying ‘turner’s tides and twilight’ or ‘the labyrinth and the dancing floor’. The prices are good value too.

My studio has a beautiful image of Dartington created by contemporary artist Ant Garratt, whose work is beautifully Turner-esque but with a modern tropical feel. Ant’s work is gaining increasing depth from his earlier beautiful but more minimalist compositions, and artist with visual and auditory sensibility.

Transporting the ideals of BMC and Dartington to the French Pyrenees, Camp.fr offers sonic and nature based courses with experts in their field including Sarah Davachi, Gavin Bryars, Deerhoff and Actress. Mixing minimalist cool with the broad expanse of nature. Black Mountain College was built by students and staff, existing as a breeding ground for the Robert’s Motherwell, Rauschenberg and De Niro: “the school resembled a funhouse hall of mirrors, a space that refracted and distorted anxieties in early Cold War America” (Brigid Cohen, 2012)

Go explore and find yourself.

Dartington College of Art painted by Ant Garratt


Cohen, Brigid (2012), Stefan Wolpe and the Avant-Garde Diaspora, Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.