Graduation ceremony held for first fine art post-graduates from The Margate School

The post-graduates (Helen Marsh was unable to attend) Photo Isabelle de Ridder

A graduation ceremony was held at the weekend for the first students to complete their European Fine Art Masters Programme; Art, Society, Nature DNSEP (National Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art) at The Margate School.

The ceremony, held at Turner Contemporary followed by an auction and drinks at TMS, was attended by some 100 people including North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale, MP, former council leader Iris Johnson, Margate Mayor and Mayoress Mick and Shirley Tomlinson, representatives of French partners and patron and Oscar-winning director Arnold Schwartzman OBE who had flown in from LA to make the awards.

Margate mayor and mayoress, Uwe Derksen, Arnold Schwartzman and other guests Photo Maria Gilbert

The six graduating students had all received a pass or distinction in their assessments. Their group exhibition and final show, Thinging the Thing, had been on show at the TMS premises in the High Street,

The six are  Lo Lo No, Hayley White, Angela Malone, Jacob Calland, Helen Marsh and Aude Povie.

Photo Isabelle de Ridder

The Art, Society, Nature DNSEP was initiated in 2019 and is the first higher education qualification in Fine Art offered and delivered in Margate and the only European qualification of its kind in the UK. The European qualification, The Diplôme National Supérieur d’Expression Plastique is validated by the renowned L’Ecole Supérieure d’Art et Design Le Havre-Rouen (ESADHaR), one of the oldest art schools in France.

Iris Johnston and Roger Glae Photo Isabelle de Ridder

French language sessions feature as part of the course and students had the opportunity to collaborate with French counterparts and artists and participate in the School’s community outreach programme and arts events.

The ceremony took place at Turner Contemporary followed by the public auction at TMS, which was led by Colin Sheaf from Bonhams Fine Art Auctioneers.

The ceremony began with a film of TMS director Uwe Derksen cycling along the coast to the TMS. This is a journey he makes seven days a week.

Photo Maria Gilbert

Mayor Mick Tomlinson spoke about the importance of initiatives such as TMS to the regrowth in Margate and Uwe spoke about establishing TMS and its history.

Arnold Schwartzman awarded the Masters degree certificates to the pioneering first cohort. He said: “I first visited Margate from my birthplace of London as a two a year old, later returning after World War II to live in the town. I attended Holy Trinity Infant School, continuing onto King Ethelbert’s in Birchington.

“On leaving school at age fifteen, I was employed as an assistant projectionist at Northdown Road’s Cameo Cinema. I loved viewing the MGM musicals, never imagining that one day I would work and live in Hollywood. Those flickering shadows on a screen I later rubbed shoulders with  – stars as Esther Williams and Danny Kaye, I went to direct movie legends such Elizabeth Taylor and Orson Welles.

“As a teenager I enrolled at Margate’s Thanet School of Art & Crafts, thanks to the advice of a famous designer who was a guest at my parents small hotel. This set me on path to become a graphic designer.

“And so, here I am having been given the distinct honour and pleasure, to present the diplomas to this year’s graduates as The Margate School’s patron. It’s remarkable to think that it has been some 70 years since my own graduation from a Margate art school.
I feel most privileged, as I’m not the only Margatonian that has over the years, achieved some recognition in the arts.

“I wish to offer my sincere congratulations to the school’s inspired director Uwe Derksen, and his team whose unwavering energy has nurtured the school, which has blossomed a hundred fold since its inception. The school  has now become yet another important landmark in the town’s stellar contribution to the visual arts.”

Photo Andy Hillier

Lo Lo No spoke for the students and course co-ordinator Francesca Remmy concluded the proceedings.

Photo Andy Hillier

Uwe said: “This first cohort of Fine Art Masters students graduating here in Margate, is a very special occasion for The Margate School and for Margate. We announced our aim to establish The Margate School back in March 2015 at an event hosted by the Turner Contemporary and explained that it should be an independent post-graduate school in and for Margate, locally embedded yet globally connected offering a European qualification with our partners École Supérieure d’Art et Design Le Havre-Rouen, unique not just to Margate but in this country.

“With its anticipated technical facilities and supported studios The Margate School could become a catalyst to encourage cultural and creative production in Margate alongside the local cultural tourism offer. Then the majority of guests praised our enthusiasm but doubted that this would ever be achievable.

“Three years later and against all the odds we had a breakthrough allowing The Margate School to develop and then deliver the first European Masters in Fine Art qualification, manoeuvring our way through Brexit and COVID along the way. This is the achievement we are celebrating together with our partners and expanding community of supporters. We are looking forward to our second cohort graduation next year and welcoming our new students.”

The event photographers

The auction raised money for Art, Society, Nature MA 2021-2023 student bursaries. Photographs of the event were taken by Alyson Hunter, Isabelle de Ridder, Maria Gilbert and Andy Hillier.

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Applications are currently open for the 2021-2023 European Fine Art Masters Programme. Visit to find out more and apply before this Friday (September 17).


  1. Basically I agree this might have been more relevant, but graduation ceremonies as such aren’t situations where these are on display.

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