SUARTS Teaching Awards 2017

Winner of Cross University Teaching Award 2017: Aisha Richards


The SUARTS Teaching Awards serves as a time to highlight, recognise and celebrate the efforts, contributions the achievements of outstanding teachers, technicians, researchers, student reps, etc throughout University of the Arts London (UAL). It was an evening for all to gather and to celebrate one another. This event took place on the evening of Thursday 25th at London College of Fashion. The room was packed full of teachers, technicians, librarians, all staff that are the driving force to deliver the best education possible to the students of UAL.

This year the 2017 Teaching Scholars received their awards from UAL at the annual Learning and Teaching Day. 

Aisha Richards, an academic, creative practitioner, lecturer on MA Applied Imagination in the Creative Industries at Central Saint Martins (CSM), the founder and director of Shades of Noir, amongst a multiple of other hats that she wears won the award for Cross University Teaching Award 2017. I assumed this meant students from cross-wide UAL colleges had voted for her, meaning she hasn’t just influenced her students at CSM but students all over UAL; this is very hard to achieve when only positioned within one college of UAL.The Shades of Noir team are from diverse Colleges of UAL, including London College of Communication, Camberwell and CSM and she has been a teacher/mentor and inspiration to each and everyone of us. She has also become well known within all colleges of UAL because of this.

‘[..] She is a teacher, a mentor, a role-model and above all has been that teacher that comes at that right time in a student’s life to consistently remind them that they are enough [..]’



Unable to attend on the night, I was asked to represent her on the night of the Awards. Naturally, when I was asked to receive the award and attend on her behalf I was extremely humbled but also overwhelmed. I had a 2 minute slot to express from a student’s perspective and as a content developer at Shades of Noir, how important teachers/mentors and academics, such as Aisha Richards, are within higher education in whatever field that may be. In this case, within the arts and creative industries.

2 minutes would never be enough, and words could never really express the importance of teachers that change lives or even save lives in some cases.

‘She has inspired, supported and unlocked the potential in all of us. Potential we had all along but never recognised.’

I spoke of this well known saying/phrase: ‘Those who know do, those who cannot, teach’. I find this one of the most untruthful phrases to exist. I personally view teaching as one of the most important and influential roles on this planet. I also spoke of teaching not being for everyone. I personally view teaching as a calling, it’s a role and skill destined for some. Being able to recognise potential, to listen, to have patience, to take risks, to endure, to sacrifice..aren’t attributes that many have.

Aisha Richards has all of these attributes and much more; she is a teacher, a mentor, a role-model and above all has been that teacher that comes at that right time in a student’s life to consistently remind them that they are enough, especially when they feel like they aren’t, or when they forget that they are and doubt ourselves. Because they are enough, we are enough and you are enough.

Congratulations Aisha Richards, and thank you for your dedication and your inspirational labour in all aspects of your practice.


Shades of Noir Salutes You.