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The University of Chichester Art Collections

We exhibit, store, care for and loan paintings, prints, ceramics and sculpture from three art collections – The Bishop Otter Trust Art Collection, The University of Chichester Art Collection and The Charles Wollaston Collection.

The first paintings were purchased shortly after the Second World War and from that time onwards original works of art have been displayed around the University campus for the benefit of students, staff and the wider community.

If you would like to contact the University about the art collections please contact Janet Carter on or call 01243 816087.

Alfred Wallis (1855-1942) Boat, c.1930, oil on paper, Courtesy of The Bishop Otter Trust

David Hockney (b.1937) Postcard of Richard Wagner with a Glass of Water, 1973, etching on paper, Edition of 100 © David Hockney, University of Chichester Art Collection

The Bishop Otter Art Collection

The University of Chichester grew from a merger in 1977 of Bognor Regis and Bishop Otter Teacher Training Colleges – the latter taking its name from William Otter (1768-1840), who was appointed Bishop of Chichester in 1836 and today gives his name to this significant collection of twentieth century art.    

John Linnell (1792 – 1882) Bishop William Otter, 1840, mezzotint on paper, The University of Chichester Art Collection,
On display in The Otter Room, University House

In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, there was a movement to make art accessible outside of museums, so called ‘Art-for-All’. There was a particular push towards integrating art with education and it was against this cultural backdrop that The Bishop Otter Trust Art Collection was founded.

In 1947, Eleanor Hipwell - Head of Art at Bishop Otter College - purchased three original works of art from a Pictures for Schools exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Using funds from her equipment budget, Hipwell purchased Hares by Margaret Horder, Desert Flower by Kathleen Moss and Figure Holding Autumn Leaves by Michael Rothenstein (1908 – 1993).

Margaret Horder Hares, 1946, Lithograph on paper, Courtesy of The Bishop Otter Trust

Shortly after this, in 1948, K.M.Elisabeth ‘Betty’ Murray (1909–1998) was appointed Principal of Bishop Otter College and in 1949 Shelia McCririck (1916-2001) was appointed as the new Head of Art.

Both women shared a belief in the civilising influence of art and in the educative value of its challenge. Together they decided to continue building an inspiring art collection for the college around two core beliefs:

  • That living with works of art added a dimension to life and a quality not available in any other form
  • That original works were the only ones capable of bestowing this extension and enrichment

Doorway in Cloisters on the Bishop Otter Campus, c.1953, showing Graham Sutherland’s Entrance to a Lane © University of Chichester Archives

In January 1950, Autumn Stream by Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979), who lived in nearby Petworth, was acquired and as the first work in the Collection provoked much debate amongst staff and students.

Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979) Autumn Stream, undated, oil on canvas, purchased from the Artist 1950, © The Artist’s Estate, Courtesy The Bishop Otter Trust

In 1952, Mother and Child by Willi Soukop (1907-1995) became the first sculpture to enter the Collection and today is on permanent display behind the altar in The Chapel on the Bishop Otter Campus.

Willi Soukop (1907-1995) Mother and Child, Polyphant stone, Purchased from the Artist 1952, Courtesy The Bishop Otter Trust,
On display in The Chapel, Bishop Otter Campus, University of Chichester

There was no particular budget for purchasing works of art but undaunted Shelia McCririck, with the support and tenacity of Betty Murray, began to source a mix of figurative and abstract pieces, some of which were purchased but more often were lent to the College for lengthy periods. Amongst early supporters were the artists William Gear (1915-1997) and John Craxton (1922-2009), often under the auspices of the Contemporary Art Society. Gear, for instance, allowed his paintings White Feature and Black Figures to be acquired by the College at a low cost.

William Gear (1915-1997), White Feature, 1958, oil on canvas, purchased from the Artist 1959, © The Artist’s Estate,
Courtesy The Bishop Otter Trust

William Gear (1915-1997), Black Figures, 1957, oil on canvas, purchased from the Artist 1964, © The Artist’s Estate,
Courtesy The Bishop Otter Trust

By various means, the Collection continued to grow and thanks to the insight of Shelia McCririck and Betty Murray today features work by some of the most important British artists of the twentieth century, such as Terry Frost (1915-2003), Patrick Heron (1920-1993), Peter Lanyon (1918-1964), William Scott (1913-1989) and Stanley Spencer (1891-1959).

William Scott RA (1913-1989) Harbour, 1950/51, oil on board, 57.2 x 99.1cms, © Estate of William Scott 2018, Courtesy of The Bishop Otter Trust

Student work also features in The Bishop Otter Trust Art Collection. Eileen Hunt (b.1950), for example, gave her painting Apples to the University at the end of her time as a student. She recalls –

"I was a student at Bishop Otter College from 1968-1972, with Art as my main subject.  At that time... the art works were displayed around the college and mainly in the oldest buildings.  They were used as a learning resource and inspiration to the art students in particular. Students were sometimes asked to donate a particular painting to the collection at the end of their course.  I was asked by Sheila McCririck and Sally Mather [Senior Lecturer in Art] to donate my painting ‘Apples’ at the end of my four years, which I was pleased to do."

Eileen Hunt (b.1950) Apples, 1972, oil on board, © the Artist, Courtesy The Bishop Otter Trust

The amalgamation of Bishop Otter College with Bognor Regis College to form the West Sussex Institute of Higher Education in 1977 caused uncertainty about the Collection’s status and how best to protect its future. The solution was for the Collection to stay on the Bishop Otter College site and in the possession of Bishop Otter College and its Residual Trustees. In 1979 an Agreement was constituted between the Trustees of the Bishop Otter Trust and the Institute Trustees. In this the Bishop Otter Trustees undertook to loan the Collection to the Institute Trustees, together with what might be added ‘and to continue to display it in a manner designed to enhance quality of life at the College…’.

The University of Chichester Art Collection

The University of Chichester Art collection has developed since the late 1970s through the acquistion of staff and student work, commissions and external gifts or donations.

Over the years the University has been the recipient of a number of generous gifts and bequests, which have enabled our renowned art collections to evolve. New acquisitions are carefully selected with regard to the way in which they strengthen and develop the existing Collection. Many of the recent acquisitions are contemporary and by living artists, which adds a new dynamic to the Collection.

Katherine Jones, Tap, 2015, watercolour on paper, © The Artist, University of Chichester Art Collection, gift to the University 2017, on display in Gifted in University House, Bishop Otter Campus, University of Chichester

Gifted, the current display in University House, is not only a gesture of thanks to our recent donors but importantly builds on the beliefs and vision held by Sheila McCririck and Betty Murray to exhibit original works of art around the University campus.

Peter Hodgkinson (b.1965) The Murray Relief, 1993, limestone and bronze, University of Chichester Art Collection, on display in the Cloisters Courtyard at the Bishop Otter Campus, University Chichester. Commissioned in 1992 in honour of Elisabeth ‘Betty’ Murray

The Charles Wollaston Collection

In 1977, on his retirement after 27 years, Charles Wollaston (1914-1992) painter, printmaker, ceramicist and Head of Art at Bognor Regis College, bequeathed a collection of some 80 works of art, including his own, into the care of the College. In 1978 he established and endowed The Wollaston Award, which is presented annually to the most distinguished work in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. The majority of the Wollaston Collection is held at the Bognor Regis campus of the University of Chichester.

John Hitchens (b.1940) Woodland Coloured Depth, oil on canvas, © The Artist, The Charles Wollaston Collection

Charles Wollaston (1914-1992) Sussex Flood 1, 1964, watercolour, University of Chichester Art Collection