Art and the law

The Rolls Building Art & Education Trust has been set up to use art works and historical items to promote awareness of the law and the business-related justice system among young people. Stephen Fash explains

The Rolls Building is the largest specialist centre for the resolution of financial, business and property litigation in the world. It is also home to the Rolls Building Art & Education Trust (RBAET) which has been set up to use art works and historical items to promote awareness of the law and the business-related justice system among young people.

Under the Chairmanship of Geoffrey Bond OBE DL, the Trust commissioned through its own fundraising works by Nick McCann, whose updating of the Rhinebeck Panorama of early 19th century London fills the entrance foyer, and by Neil Roland, whose photographic reflections on familiar City scenes depict them in new and intriguing ways. The Trust has, on loan, several large-scale drawings of room interiors from artists associated with the Prince’s Drawing School and has acquired a drawing of London Bridge from one of these artists, Chris Green. It has also arranged the current exhibition of works by Wendy Brooke-Smith. Nick Chambers QC has presented the Trust with a set of the pictures he painted, published as Missed Moments in Legal History (see Counsel December 2012) and the Trust also curates various historical artefacts on display at the Rolls Building, including the Admiralty Oar and the Letters Patent and Seals of Thomas Edward Scrutton (1856 – 1934) who was a key figure in the development of the Commercial Court.

The Trust is in discussion with the National Centre for Citizenship and the Law, which currently runs educational activities for schools and colleges at the Royal Courts of Justice and the Supreme Court, to develop a programme for the Rolls Building. This will draw on the cues provided by the art works and artefacts (there are, for example, case references to be found in the Nick McCann work) to provide case studies for students to discuss. The aim is to educate young people about these important areas of civil law and also, through meeting judges like Sir Christopher Floyd, Sir Peter Coulson and Dame Elizabeth Gloster (the judicial members of the Trust), open their eyes to the possibility of a career in law. As Geoffrey Bond notes: “The Trust was not formed simply to raise money to put art on the walls of this splendid new building – important though that is – but to link this firmly to educating young people about the law. In addition to the NCCL programme we hope to fund a bursary and join with the Slade School of Fine Art to enable students to exhibit work on the theme of law and society.”

The Trust welcomes donations and offers of support. It is a registered charity and therefore able to benefit from gift aid arrangements. Further information can be obtained from the RBAET secretary, Stephen Fash, at stephenfash@rollsart.org.

1. Weeping Willows, Blackwall Reach, 2012, 76 x 121 cm, acrylic and oil

2. Wharf, 2012, 122 x 91cm, oil and acrylic

Wendy Brooke-Smith paintings (above) at the Rolls Building, Fetter Lane, London EC4
Wendy Brooke-Smith’s paintings of transience and contrast in the landscape have brought a splash of colour to the 3rd floor of the Rolls Building. Inspired by layers of history in the landscape, Wendy’s subject matter ranges from container ports to building sites to quiet corners of the River Thames.

Following her recent solo show Upstream at the Menier Gallery, Southwark, she was invited by the Rolls Building Art and Education Trust to exhibit work, as part of their ongoing programme to raise funds and commission art works for the Rolls Building that reflect the work of the High Court jurisdictions now based there (Chancery, Admiralty and Commercial, Technology and Construction). The Rolls Building is open to the public Monday to Friday during office hours. The exhibition runs until June 2013.

Stephen Fash, RBAET secretary

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