Case Study: Goldsmiths

Text by: Peng Zuqiang
撰文: 彭祖強


It is not possible to say that there is such a thing as ‘the best art course’ as each artist has their individual artistic language and as such no single mode of art education can cater for all students – many of whom come from different backgrounds. Still, despite this, Goldsmiths, is renowned for providing one of the most challenging BA Fine Art courses in the world.

Goldsmiths was the first art college in the UK to introduce the radical ‘convenor’ education mode Convenor is a session where 6 to 8 students present their art-work in front of a group of 20 to 30 students made up of a mixture of different years and levels. There are 2 tutors present but neither tutor leads the discussion between the participants. At the time of its introduction, this unconventional pedagogic model was aimed to encourage interaction between artists practicing in different mediums, challenging the students to experiment across established mediums such as painting, sculpture and performance. The Goldsmiths convenor model is intrinsic to the nature of the BA Fine art course, as the course does not provide medium specific pathways. The convenor sessions then lead on to more conventional ‘group tutorials’ among smaller groups of students and their tutor.


在英國,金史密斯學院是第一所納入‘Convenor’討論會的藝術大學。 每場‘Convenor’討論會通常有六到八名學生,在一個二三十人組成小組面前展示並討論他們的作品,學生們往往來自不同年級。與此同時,還有兩位旁聽的老師在場。當這樣一個名為‘Convenor’討論會的教育模式最初被金史密斯學院使用時,其目標就是去激發學生們去跨媒介的實踐與創作。而金史密斯的‘Convenor’討論會,和學校本身無媒介方向區分的大專業設置算是一脈相承。而在‘Convenor’之後,學生們則會被劃分成更小的組,由此和老師一起開展小組討論。

The Goldsmiths BA Fine Art course is also renowned for its list of famous alumni which include Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, and Michael Landy. Just as the title YBAs (Young British Artists) has always been misunderstood, Goldsmiths has also been stereotypically referred to as an art college that exclusively educates artists who share the language of the YBAs. This ignorance fails to recognise the critical success of other graduates such as artist and theorist Liam Gillick, Turner Prize winner Antony Gormley, and potentially its first Oscar winner Steve McQueen. The stereotype also fails to represent Goldsmiths dynamic identity which has consistently continued to challenge and excite the contemporary art world during the last half-century.

金史密斯的本科純藝專業(BA Fine Art)有著一長串的知名校友,這其中就包括了: 達米恩·赫斯特(Damien Hirst),莎拉·盧卡斯(Sarah Lucas)和邁克·蘭迪(Michael Landy)。正如人們常常持偏見看待這幾位藝術家在當年所引領的英國青年藝術家運動(YBA-Young British Artists),金史密斯也經常被誤認是一所僅擅長培養此類風格藝術家的學校。這樣的一種偏見不足以代表金史密斯學院這幾十年來不斷演變的教育文化,和其對當代藝術界的沖擊與挑戰。同樣,這種偏見也忽略了同樣成功的另一批藝術家: 創作和寫作均見長的利亞姆·吉列克(Liam Gillick),透納獎得主著名雕塑家安東尼·葛姆雷(Antony Gormley),以及如今的奧斯卡獎最佳導演大熱門,史蒂夫·麥奎因(Steve McQueen)。


The equally renowned MFA Fine Art course, is recently celebrating its first Turner winner, Laure Prouvost. A common reference point to this course is the two-episode long BBC documentary, “Goldsmiths: But is it Art?” The documentary follows the experience of a few students on the MFA course, from their daily practice to their degree show. However, as many students on the course claimed, the documentary doesn’t resonate with their own experience, and its somewhat misleading, mystification of the MFA studies didn’t do the course any justice. Along with the seminars and tutorials offered, the MFA course has a lecture series which is rigorously organised and invites critical thinkers and practitioners of today to share their knowledge. Recent lectures include the artist and theorist Hito Steyerl, Tate curator Sook-Kyung Lee, and the philosopher Peter Osborne.

As many art graduates mentioned in the documentary, at Goldsmiths their ‘mind’ was trained to become an artist. This critical pedagogy is similarly practiced in the Design department at Goldsmiths. The Design department offers a general BA Design course rather than breaking it down into Product Design, Graphic Design or Industrial Design. The philosophy of the course follows the current design industry trend to expands the territory of each discipline with multi-directional collaboration. This conceptual-led educational model focuses on questioning the nature of design itself, as well as its place within society, it asks the students to use design as a means to address issues and phenomenons which occur in daily life. The MA Design course at Goldsmiths further extends this interdisciplinary approach with more specific research directions, including environment and technological interactions.

金史密斯的研究生純藝專業(MFA Fine Art)也同樣知名,這個專業今年也迎來了其第一位獲得特納獎的畢業校友勞拉·普羅佛斯特(Laure Prouvost)。每當提及這個專業,許多人便想到幾年前BBC出品的兩集紀錄片 《金史密斯,這是藝術嗎?(Goldsmiths: But is it Art?)》,這部紀錄片以幾位研究生在讀藝術家的經歷為主要內容,記錄他們的日常創作以及畢業展覽。但是,這樣的一部紀錄片卻遭到不少在讀或畢業的學生詬病。有些學生說道紀錄片裡所反映的經歷跟他們的實在大相徑庭,而紀錄片本身將金史密斯此專業神秘化的語氣,也並未能如實地反映這個課程。這個專業除去常規的講座和研討會外,也會請到當今頗具影響力的藝術家,思想家和作家來校講課,最近的邀請名單就包括了電影人和作家黑特·史德耶爾(Hito Steyerl),泰特現代美術館亞太藝術研究中心的策展人李淑京,以及哲學家彼得·奧斯本(Peter Osborne)。


But Goldsmiths, University of London, is not simply an art college. It may be famous for being the art hub of South East London, but this Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences University is also internationally renowned for Sociology, Media Studies, Music, and perhaps unexpectedly, its Computer Sciences course. One may not be able to find the science laboratories or be overwhelmed by the big lecture rooms at its campus, but the students are certainly proud of the ‘creative atmosphere’ at Goldsmiths. There are not many who are interested in scientific research or financial studies which might suggest that the diversity of students at Goldsmiths cannot be generally compared to other universities in the UK. There’s also local edge, which has for years been helping spread the word that South East is the ‘new East’. The South East London area which surrounds Goldsmiths has become an up-and-coming district in London. With its comparably affordable rent, as well as being the home to a few art schools, the area attracts a young demographic. The New Cross area where Goldsmiths is situated has become edgier over the years with new local initiatives and projects helping. The adjacent neighbourhoods of Deptford and Peckham are famous for their art communities and increasing a number of galleries and art spaces have opened. Not exclusively catering to the creative crowds, green areas, such as Greenwich and Dulwich, offer the possibility to escape to nature for those of who live in the South East.

說到這裡,倫敦大學金史密斯學院,並不僅僅是一所藝術學院。儘管它以作為倫敦東南區的藝術坐標而出名,但這所藝術、人文和社科大學在國際上同樣也以其社會學、媒體傳播學、音樂系、以及更鮮為人知的計算機科學系而持有盛名。或許學校裡並沒有許多大型講堂或實驗室,但學生們卻也在金史密斯獨特的創意氛圍中自得其樂。在這裡可能不常見到對純粹的金融或是科學感興趣的學生,某種程度上,也意味著金史密斯不及一些綜合型大學來得更加多元化。但金史密斯所處的東南倫敦卻有著獨特的文化,近幾年來,東南倫敦一直在和為常人所知的藝術文化聖地東倫敦搶風頭。金史密斯周圍的地區確實是倫敦文化領域發展最快的地段之一,這也是得益於其相對便宜的房租和幾所有名藝術學院,吸引了不少的年輕人。隨著一些獨立藝術機構和組織的進駐,金史密斯所在的新街口(New Cross Gate)地區正變得愈發潮流。而其附近的德特福德(Deptford)和派克姆區(Peckham)早已因其逐漸壯大的藝術家群體和畫廊而成為了倫敦藝術的新晉地段。不僅僅是在藝術文化上豐富,東南倫敦的格林尼治(Greenwich)小鎮和德威士區(Dulwich)也給想要靠近自然的人們提供了去處。


The university is proud of its inter-disciplinary framework, and there are public lectures, seminars, screenings and other events that bridge the diverse range of studies at Goldsmiths. The interdisciplinary culture is also reflected in certain course structures. At Bachelor level, there are often joint courses offered, for instance, Sociology and Anthropology or History and Politics. At Master’s degree level, more innovative combinations are available like Art and Politics or Photography and Urban Cultures and these combined courses effectively represent the experimental educational model that Goldsmiths practices.


In the Fine Art department, this interdisciplinary spirit gave birth to a unique BA course titled: BA Fine Art and History of Art. Over a three year period of study, the students take half their modules from the Department of Visual Cultures, rather than taking the critical studies classes that the Art Department offers. The Visual Cultures department offers courses which explore and produce new art histories and theories. It doesn’t offer a systematic History of Art course, but instead introduces students to broader contexts of artistic, visual and spatial practice. For instance rarely in the classes are classic sculptures from Greek and Roman times discussed. Instead students graduate with knowledge in Urban Studies, Documentary, Continental Philosophy and many other fields which they have chosen from within the realm of Visual Cultures. Goldsmiths critical edge has also made it the go-to place for aspiring young curators and scholars in the field of contemporary art and visual cultures.

在藝術學院中,這樣一股貫穿於全校的跨界意識,衍生了本科純藝/藝術史雙專業(BA Fine Art and History of Art)的學科。在這個專業的三年學習過程中,學生們一半的學分來自於視覺文化系的藝術史和藝術理論課程,這也就取代了純藝專業中批判性研究的文本學習部分。金史密斯的視覺文化學院,開設研究與創作新藝術史和理論的課程。不同於大多數藝術史專業以線性歷史發展角度,提供傳統藝術史學的課程,學院注重於給學生傳授更為現代和當代的藝術,視覺與空間文化理論。視覺文化系的課堂中鮮有出現對傳統繪畫和雕塑的分析,取而代之的是學生們可以自主選擇的城市研究,紀錄片文化,或是歐陸哲學等等文化藝術理論的範疇。近幾年來,金史密斯視覺文化系的不斷發展,已經使其成為了當代藝術界中眾多年青策展人和學者深造的首選之一。

But what are the differences between these two BA Art courses? We try to find out by interviewing the joint Programme Leaders for the BA in Fine Art and History of Art, Dr. Ayesha Hameed and Marion Coutts.

但這樣一個純藝和藝術史對半開的專業設置,跟金史密斯長久以來盛名的純藝專業相比,有多少的不同呢?為了一探究竟,我們采訪了純藝/藝術史雙專業的兩位課程主任艾伊莎·哈米德博士(Dr Ayesha Hameed)和瑪麗昂·科斯(Marion Coutts)。

ART.ZIP: What was the reason for creating the BA Fine Art and History of Art course which runs in parallel to the BA Fine Art course? Especially when one of the philosophies of the BA Fine Art course is not to put any special emphasis on the studying of art history.

AH&MC: The strength of the Joint Honours program is that it combines the expertise of two departments – Art and Visual Cultures. Students in the Joint Honours program have access to two completely different faculties and so it is like they are doing two degrees at the same time!  As a result there is more emphasis on the written portion of their degree, as opposed to the single honours fine arts program, where in the joint honours they spend 50% of their week reading and writing, compared to the single honours who spend about 20% of their time reading and writing in Critical Studies courses.

It’s an unusual course in that students navigate the theory/practice question for themselves thorough their work. As they progress, they choose courses in Visual Cultures tailored to the directions and interests of their practice. That makes it very exploratory and fluid.

ART.ZIP: 金史密斯是出於什麽樣的原因開設了這樣一門雙專業課程,尤其是當本有悠久歷史的純藝專業中,藝術史的學習並不占主要部分。

AH & MC: 雙專業的優勢在於它結合了金史密斯兩個不同學院,藝術以及視覺文化兩個學院的強項。雙專業的學生在兩個不同的學院裡接觸到不同的師資和同學。由此而來,雙專業的學生比起純藝的學生要花更多的時間在閱讀和寫作上。在雙專業中,平日學習時間百分之五十的比重在閱讀與寫作中,而純藝專業的學生只被要求用百分之二十的時間比重去專注於他們批判性研究課程的讀寫內容。



ART.ZIP: How do you select applicants? And how do you decide whether the joint honours degree or the BA Fine Art is most suitable for successful applicants?

AH&MC: Students make the choice themselves when they apply as they have to select which course they want to apply to. We have open days at Goldsmiths where staff present both programs to prospective students and give tours of the respective studio spaces and students then make their own choice.

Students generally are very self selecting. Our students tend to be decisive that this is the course they want. It’s not a default option as its very hard work!

ART.ZIP: 作為面試官,你們是如何選擇學生的,你們是如何判斷一個學生是否比起純藝專業,更加適合此雙專業呢?

AH & MC: 學生們在申請的時候往往就已做好了自己的選擇。在金史密斯我們有學校開放日,我們會給學生平等提供兩方面的信息和資料,以便他們自己做出選擇。學生們確實自己都比較清楚自己適合哪一個專業,雙專業並不一定適合所有學生,更何況它有著更多的學習任務!


ART.ZIP: How much contact and interaction is there between these two courses?

AH&MC: Students from both programs attend public lectures and events in both departments. However they take completely different courses with different members of staff. On a personal basis there are tons of connections. Students curate shows and show work with friends and peers they make across both degrees. Some schemes, like the masterclasses, operate across both courses.

ART.ZIP: 兩個不同專業之間,學生們的互動和接觸有多少呢?

AH & MC: 兩個專業的學生都會參加到兩個學院的公開課和其他活動,但他們平日所選的課程是由不同的老師所教授的。學生們私下也會有很多的聯繫,他們會聯合策展,或是互相展示和評論作品。而有一些教學內容,比如邀請知名藝術家來上課的 “大師課程”是平等橫跨於兩個專業中的。



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