The Cosman Keller Art & Music Trust supports exceptionally gifted postgraduate students at the Slade School of Fine Art through the Milein Cosman Scholarship for Drawing.
The Scholarship was launched in 2021, to mark the centenary of Milein Cosman’s birth, and the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Slade, where Milein herself studied in the 1940s. Milein arrived at the Slade in 1939, just as war broke out, as a Jewish refugee from Düsseldorf in Germany. She was interviewed in the Slade’s imposing building in London, but by the time she started her studies the Slade had been evacuated to Oxford, where it was temporarily amalgamated with the Ruskin School of Drawing. Milein spent a magical few years in Oxford, where her studio became a gathering place for poets and musicians as well as artists — an imaginative haven from the loss and destruction of the war.
The current holder of the Milein Cosman Scholarship is Gabriel Kidd (b.1999 Manchester, UK), who completed their BA in Fine Art at Manchester School of Art in 2021. That summer they completed a month’s residency at the Cyprus College of Arts supported by the Grampus Heritage Trust. On graduating, a year’s studio scholarship was awarded by Paradise Works. In 2022 they were selected for the New Contemporaries 2022 cohort and retained a studio at Paradise Works with the Haworth Trust New Graduate Award. They are now studying their MFA in Sculpture at Slade School of Fine Art.
Gabriel Kidd turns to stories and romances of mythical transformation, and processes of biology and geology to explore the substance of queerness. Gathering as an act of worldbuilding is central to Gabriel’s practice; broken things, fragile ephemera, bone, wood, grass and rock bound to fabrics hand dyed with iron, woad, onion skins and other natural pigments. These textile works meet assemblage and pencil drawing to realise imagined goings on.
Gabriel is looking for a queerness that works outside of sexuality alone; a presence or undercurrent, something that inhabits the space we move through. A force that shifts the landscape, encourages the evolution of its creatures, enriches the soil and moves in the wind. Gabriel reflects on their personal queerness and the ways in which the landscapes around them respond to, inform and formulate it.
Gabriel describes the importance of drawing like this: “It’s the refuge from other ways of making, the place I come home to and feel most able to lose myself in. In drawing my characters are built, their histories and interactions emerge and solidify. It’s both the initial working out and the final crystallisation. It’s the practice that joins me everywhere, sitting in my sketchbooks/notes app ready to capture ideas before they flee from my head. I love its speed and its slowness. A page endures a minute or six months of work before a drawing is concrete, passages of time that are clear and/or disguised by the removal and/or accumulation of pencil mark. It is powerful, I think, because it is soft and is strong and is faint and is bold and is swift and is gradual all at once.”
Photographs of some of Gabriel’s work can be seen below, and images from their 2023 exhibition I’ve Always Kept a Unicorn are available here.
The inaugural winner of the Milein Cosman Scholarship was Hannah Uzor. Hannah joined the Slade’s MA Painting programme in September 2021, having just completed two years of Fine Art Higher Education studies at Morley College London, where she obtained an overall distinction in her final year and was awarded the Chelsea Curriculum Award for Higher Education in the Morley Student Awards.
Hannah spent an extremely successful two years at the Slade, graduating in the summer of 2023. Images from her degree show can be viewed here.
Hannah was born in Zambia but lived for a few years in the UK in the early 1980s while her father was studying in the UK. Her family moved back to Zambia where she completed her primary and secondary education. Her artistic gift had been noticed and encouraged by her parents from a young age and she was the recipient of many awards in school, local and regional competitions. After secondary school she joined the Zambia National Arts Council and was one of its youngest members taking part in both national and international group exhibitions. However, with little prospect for a young artist in Zambia, she was encouraged by her parents to pursue an alternative career and in 2003, following her father’s footsteps, she returned to the UK to complete studies in Computing.
It would take a few years after she relocated to London to find her way back into art. After completing her Computing degree with the University of Greenwich and a Postgraduate Diploma in Software Solutions, she began a corporate career punctuated with several attempts to return to the art world by participating in local exhibitions around London and two solo exhibitions in 2010. During this period of transition Hannah’s practice was a reflection of her transient state shifting between ideas, cultures and artistic expression.
However, 2016 marked a turning point for Hannah when, following the death of her mother, she decided to quit the corporate world to focus on art full time whilst juggling the demands of a young family. Obtaining an art qualification was a top priority, but the cost and time constraints of studying at one of the top universities meant she had to follow a more flexible and cost-effective option, which she found at Kensington and Chelsea College (now Morley College – North Kensington branch). Her focus was reflected in her practice as she began to tackle bold themes and streamline her creative expression focusing on portraiture and film, underpinned by her love for history and storytelling.
In 2020, a portrait painting by Hannah of Sarah Forbes Bonetta was acquired by English Heritage and displayed at Osborne House throughout October 2020 for Black History Month in the UK. Hannah discovered the life of Sarah Forbes Bonetta and several other Black British historical figures during her research into British history and has used both portraiture and film to bring their stories to a wider audience. She has since appeared on numerous British and American programmes including CBS This Morning, ITV, BBC, CNN and Sky News to talk about her artistic practice and discuss the historical context of her work and its relevance in society today.
The acquisition of the portrait of Sarah Forbes Bonetta led to the commissioning of five other portraits of historical figures of the African diaspora by English Heritage as part of a project titled Painting Our Past. This project has been widely covered in the media with several articles featuring Hannah’s work in The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Economist, BBC History Magazine, British Archaeology and a special podcast of Hannah in discussion with English Heritage’s properties historians’ team leader, Dr Andrew Hann.
Hannah’s art has continued to build on her research-led practice exploring themes related to race and the complexities of the Black identity and experience, driven by her interest in history, diasporic culture, personal and public memory. You can discover more of her work at hannahuzor.com.