Friday, 30 September 2011

Chessor Lillie Matthew

Born in 1914, Chessor Lillie Matthew studied art, design and architecture at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen. He then moved to Wales where was senior assistant at the Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff College of Technology. In 1958 he was appointed Head of the School of Architecture at Dundee College of Art in succession to John Needham. Matthew clearly made an impression in this role, for just six years later, at the age of 51 he succeeded, H. Adam Crawford as Principal of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art (as Dundee School of Art was by then known). He would hold this post until his retirement in 1978.

Principal Matthew's time in office coincided with a key period in Duncan of Jordanstone's history, when it ended its relationship with Dundee Institute of Art and Technology. Throughout its history the Art College had been a part of what was originally known as the Technical Institute, but by the middle of the twentieth century the College of Technology and the Art College had become virtually separate institutions. By the 1960s the relationship was being questioned with some suggesting closer integration of the two colleges into a polytechnic, an idea not welcomed by the Art College.

Following a review by Sir Charles Wilson it was Matthew's stance which prevailed and Duncan of Jordanstone finally became an independent college in 1975 with Matthew at its head. During the same period Principal Matthew oversaw closer co-operation between Duncan of Jordanstone and the recently established University of Dundee. In a groundbreaking move in 1974 a joint Faculty of Environmental Studies was set up which included departments from both institutions. The ultimate outcome of this process of co-operation was the merger of the Duncan of Jordanstone and the University in 1994.

Matthew’s period in office also saw the College introduce new courses, attract greater numbers of students, and expand the College library. His work as Principal and the contribution he made was praised by his successor Myer Lacome who noted that the College had been left in 'a very healthy state'.

Principal Matthew was a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and an Associate Member of the Town Planning Institute. A lasting legacy of his time at Duncan of Jordanstone is the Matthew Building, erected during his Principalship and named in his honour. More about Chessor Matthew can be found in the records of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, which are held by Archive Services.

Dr Kenneth Baxter

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