Aldrich Collection of Fine Art and Artefacts University of Brighton Faculty of Arts

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About the Aldrich Collection

Portrait of Michael Aldrich by Kenneth McKendry, Aldrich Collection, University of BrightonInitiated in 1995 by Michael and Sandy Aldrich, the Aldrich Collection  comprises about 300 works of contemporary visual art. The vast majority  of these have been produced by students and tutors working at the  Faculty of Arts and Architecture at the University of Brighton,  as well as its distinguished institutional precursors in art and  design education which go back over 140 years.

The Aldrich Collection has been established with the express intention  of reinforcing and further developing public recognition of the  Faculty of Arts and Architecture as a quality provider of art and  design education in Britain and a recognised national Centre for  creativity, innovation and research in the visual and performing  arts.

The Aldrich family decided to collect and commission artworks to  be donated to the University’s registered charity, the Foundation  fund. It is envisaged that the Aldrich Collection will evolve and  develop through purchase, commission and donation, actions that  will be overseen by a Selection Committee. In February 2000, as  a means of further enhancing the initiative, the University decided  to donate some of its own collected works to the Aldrich Collection.  In its expanded form the latter will also serve as the founding  collection for the new centre for Contemporary Visual Arts.

A visual analysis of the Aldrich Collection reveals that creative endeavour at Brighton is – and has always been- about much more than mere economics. It is concerned with the worlds of imagination and invention, the exploration of the personal and idiosyncratic as well as the corporate, the experience of emotional shifts engendered by joyful exuberance, agonising pain and sophisticated refinement, as well as the redefining of aesthetic possibilities and cultural boundaries across the spectrum of artistic activity.

To date, representation in the Aldrich Collection is dominated by the work of recent graduates. In ceramics these have been drawn from the late 1990’s, although for much of the 20th century there have been a number of distinguished designers associated with Brighton.

Whilst it is clearly impossible in this brief introduction to mention all dimensions of creative work at Brighton, over recent years editorial photography has emerged as a potent force with a number of significant practitioners.

A number of key areas of artistic endeavour are yet to be represented in the Aldrich Collection. At the beginning of the millennium, in the context of radically changing practices in collecting and exhibiting the visual arts, it is intended that as the Aldrich Collection further shapes and refines its strategy for acquisition and display this will reflect the broad dimensions of artist practice at Brighton.

Michael Aldrich 

Michael Aldrich and his family have had a strong supportive relationship with the University of Brighton since sponsoring student employees for electronics engineering and computing degrees in 1977. Michael became a member of the Governing Body in 1982 and is the Founding Chairman (1988-1998) of the University of Brighton.

In 1996 the University of Brighton dedicated the new Moulscomb Library to Michael Aldrich. In June 2002 the final stage of the Aldrich Gardens at Moulscomb was opened. In July 2002 Michael Aldrich received an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the University and in 2008 agreed to donate the Michael Aldrich Archive to the Aldrich Library.

The Michael Aldrich Archive offers an invaluable insight into the work of one of the founders of modern information systems. As CEO of ROCC (renamed after the buy-out of Rediffusion) Michael Aldrich was an innovator in a large number of speciality data processing techniques and processes including large scale data capture with keyboards and scanners, real-time minicomputers and networks, handprint data capture and voice response systems. He invented online shopping in 1979 and designed, manufactured, sold and installed online shopping systems from 1980 to 1990. He developed and patented Signcheck (1984) the world’s first practical static signature recognition and verification system.

Read more about Michael Aldrich and the Michael Aldrich Archive 

Image: Portrait of Michael Aldrich by Kenneth McKendry, Aldrich Collection, University of Brighton