On 2 March 2016 we hosted an inauguration ceremony at our Franham campus, to celebrate international contemporary artist Magdalene Odundo’s Emerita professorship at UCA. Magdalene received the award of Emerita Professor (a title conferred on retired professors honoured by a university for their contribution to academia) for her work as a world-renowned artist, her longstanding career with us at UCA and her vital contribution to crafts education. Transition II, her striking 1,001 piece glasswork installation which is currently displayed in the university’s James Hockey Gallery, was the backdrop for the ceremony.
After receiving her scroll from our Vice-Chancellor Professor Simon Ofield-Kerr, Magdalene shared her thanks with the audience who filled the campus foyer and our James Hockey Gallery. “For me, the Emerita is somewhat like one’s first degree, in that they both mark the beginning,” said Magdalene, who studied with us at UCA and taught at the university for over 15 years. “Transition II is the result of three years of working with glass and glass artists. I think the work appropriately gives relevance to this Emerita inauguration and neatly rounds up my 40-years association with Farnham and UCA.”
“I have loved teaching and found the academic environment inspiring,” added Magdalene. “I am thrilled that the Emerita will allow me continued engagement with students and colleagues at UCA and the library filled with great books and magazines.”
The artist was joined by family and friends for the celebratory evening. Her longstanding colleague and friend Professor Simon Olding, Director of our Crafts Study Centre, was the orator for her inauguration ceremony. In his oration, Professor Simon Olding said: “Magdalene is without question one of the great contemporary potters. But throughout her career, she has experimented with other materials – with bronze, with metal and with glass. Much of her work starts with expressive drawing.
“I have had the privilege of seeing her working with UCA MA students. I know how she has cared for, prompted, inspired and challenged our students; and I know how deeply they have respected her wisdom, her modesty and sensitive intelligence.
“I can say with all honesty that one reason why I wanted to work here at UCA was because I knew that Magdalene would become a close colleague and remain as my dear friend.”
Magdalene will continue to engage with our crafts courses in her role as Emerita Professor. Her installation Transition II will be displayed in the James Hockey Gallery at our Farnham campus until 9 April. For more information, please visit uca.ac.uk/galleries. You can also learn more about the range of undergraduate and postgraduate crafts courses we offer at UCA here.
Header image left to right: Professor Simon Ofield-Kerr, Professor Emerita Magdalene Odundo, Professor Simon Olding, Professor Roni Brown.