Special Collection: Albert Adams

The University holds a significant collection of prints, paintings and studio objects by South African Expressionist artist Albert Adams (b. 1929 Johannesburg, d. 2006 London). The works were both purchased and generously donated by Adam’s surviving partner Edward (Ted) Glennon in 2012, with support from the Art Fund.

Adams, who was of African and Indian heritage, was denied access to formal arts education in South Africa due to apartheid policy. He moved to London in 1953 to undertake a scholarship at the Slade School of Art; here he met Salford based artist Harold Riley, first visiting Salford to stay with Riley’s family over Christmas. After returning to South Africa several times between 1959 and the 1990s, Adams eventually settled permanently in London and taught at schools and colleges.

Much of Adams’ work focused on political oppression and abuse of power, from imprisonment of activist friends and relatives to more recent conflicts and human rights violations in Darfur and Abu Ghraib. Through an ongoing series of self-portraits, Adams also continually explored his own sense of identity.

A selection of Adams’ works is on permanent display in the Albert Adams Room in The Old Fire Station, University of Salford, renamed in honour of the artist in February 2015.

In Spring 2020 Dr Alice Correia, Research Fellow in Art History at the School of Arts and Media, was successful in a small funding bid to the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art; to co-host an online symposium around Adam’s life, work, and themes. Read more and view the recordings here.

Purchased with Art Fund support, made possible with the generosity of Edward Glennon.

All images courtesy the artist’s estate. Additional photography by Museum Photography North West.