11 Course Leaders: 20 Questions

As many course leaders recall in this book, art education back in the 60s and 70s was very different. Dr. Mo Throp, the BA Fine Art course director at Chelsea College of Art and Design states that, in the previous generation, education was free and art students received extra grants for materials, rent and transportation. Nowadays it is becoming increasingly difficult for students to choose to study art and design for its own sake. Students, facing the reality of their future livelihoods, now have to ask both themselves and the art school the question: ‘is it still worthwhile spending so much on an art school degree?’ Certainly, a question with no easy answer.

For Dr. Throp, choosing to be an artist then was a choice to resist all expectations of class, career and bureaucracy; now however, with the highly competitive industry of professional art practice, the prospect of part-timing in shops to support their artistic practice may no longer seem so desirable to many students – let alone their parents – who are paying the fees.

Maybe the institutions are not the ones to blame, however the growing expectation on art schools to do more for their students future employment prospects is putting pressure on many courses. The students are asking for more, and in turn, risk identifying themselves as ‘customers’. As the art school system develops a higher degree of consumerism, there is consequently a risk of losing artistic ‘integrity’ – ironically, a subject which art schools are best placed to critique.

Another common criticism which emerged from the interviewees in the volume is the increasing bureaucratisation of art education. It started in the early 90s when many independent art colleges could no longer financially sustain themselves and therefore either had to become affiliated with a university, or amalgamate among themselves to become a larger community of art colleges. In more recent years, following the switch from art college to university, the art schools are now encouraged to operate in the same way as a university. This not only means the teachers have more paper work and administration, but that the departments are also required to follow the university assessment formula when assessing students’ work. The school also often becomes subsumed into research – a tradition of the university rather than the art school.

正如受訪的諸多課程主任所回憶道,英國六七十年代的藝術教育是相當不同的。切爾西學院(Chelsea College of Art and Design)的純藝課程主任莫·索普博士(Dr. Mo Throp)提到,在他們還是學生的那個年代,藝術教育是免費的,而學生們還可以在材料、房租和通勤方面得到額外的補助。而現在,純粹為了藝術和創作來選擇大學專業,對於學生們來說似乎越來越難了。面臨著生存的壓力,學生們現在得問自己,以及他們的學校:“花這麽多錢上藝術學校是否值得?”。而這可不是一個能隨意給出滿意答復的問題。





Though a frustration shared by many, the undergraduate Fine Art programme director of Camberwell College of Arts Martin Newth reflects on his experience of bureaucratisation, critically ascribing it to the fact that structures in art college are not strong enough. As he continues, ‘If the timetable is completely rigorous and assessment procedures are tied up and all of those things are completely clear and structured, then students can forget about them and do the interesting stuff, which is talking about ideas and making art.’

The questions also introduce a sense of history as they often begin by asking how the course leader became a teacher, and what art courses were like when they were students. This again coincides with Rowles’ intention of ‘getting to grips with how and why art education has become what it is today.’ The exchanges between the interviewer and the interviewees are indeed fascinating; nonetheless, upon finishing reading the 11 different experiences, one might also wonder what the students, those who are the most directly affected individuals in today’s art education and who, incidentally are ultimately the customers, think.

This also led to another question, which is a reoccurring one throughout the book, and one that can potentially bridge the perspective of both the student and the teachers: can art be taught? Jane Lee, the BA Fine Art course director at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design doesn’t think any subject can be taught in a didactic way, saying that, although the practical element can be taught in a more direct manner, ‘the broadest part of our subject, develops through continual investigation by the student.’ Director from Cass School, Rosemarie McGoldrick agrees, saying that ‘Art education can open things up and enable you to develop your work. You can also be shown other artists and how you can use their ideas to develop.’ Art education takes places not only through critiques and tutorials, but also film clubs, art societies and gallery visits. The art schools have always been institutions that pioneer independence and creative collaboration which facilitate students’ free-thinking and decision-making. And this is the strength of the BA Fine Art Course in the UK, which is unparalleled by other models of education.

官僚主義是諸多課程主任所為之頭疼的一個問題,坎伯威爾藝術學院(Camberwell College of Arts)的課程主任馬丁·內爾斯(Martin Newth)認為這是因為藝術學院本身的教育建構還不夠完善與穩固而造成的。在他看來,若是課程設置更為合理,審核評測過程更為嚴謹,所有的框架細節都更為清晰的話,學生們大可以忽略這些條條框框,放心大膽的去實驗,去創作,去討論藝術。


這或許也算是聯系到了書中另外一個能連接起老師和學生們的問題:“藝術是否可以被傳授?”在中央聖馬丁藝術與設計學院(Central Saint Martins)的本科純藝課程主任簡·李(Jane Lee)看來,沒有任何一個專業可以被機械地傳授。或許在藝術創作中,技巧的部分可以以一種更直接的方式去教學,但藝術教育中最重要的一部分是學生的獨立研究和探索。羅斯瑪麗·麥戈德裡克(Rosemarie McGoldrick),卡斯藝術學院的課程主任說道:“藝術教育可以打開你的視野並不斷促使你完善你的作品,而學院的框架也可以給你提供機會,看其他藝術家是如何實踐和發展他們的想法與創作。” 藝術教育中的教學成分不僅來自於小組討論和老師的反饋,教學同樣貫穿於學生們自己組織的放映會、藝術社團和畫廊參觀等。藝術學院一直走在推崇獨立性和創意合作的最前沿,藝術教育所提倡的自由思考和自主判斷正是英國本科藝術教育所獨具的特色。


11 Course Leaders: 20 Questions
– A collection of Interviews with 11 London BA Fine Art Course Leaders.

Interviews and Foreword by Sarah Rowles.
Independently-published, £ 12.50, 239 pp, ISBN: 978-0-9564355-1-4.


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