ART.ZIP: With regard to the learning process, do you think there are any differences?
JS: Yes, students are expected to learn in quite a different way. I was taught in very traditional and academic system, so I learned to draw through life drawing, and even there the kinds of classes I took were often contradictory. Some people were trying to teach me to draw very accurately, a certain kind of accuracy, in terms of spatial drawing. And then other people were encouraging me to draw with your eyes closed, with spaces between things. It was completely different. On our foundation course, you would be given very different models of what to draw. I think that is the major difference. For people to understand that can be quite challenging, and it can affect confidence, because they think, ‘Oh I don’t know where to go, I’ll get lost’. If given fundamental skills, people begin to trust the process, which unfolds over time.
You have to find your own way. But obviously you are doing that with a lot of support. We foster strong staff-student relationships, put people together and talk about these things all the time as well. If you can create strong mentor-style relationships, it helps individuals to find their own paths. You have to come to your own understanding, uncover the ways in which you yourself work best; people think in such different ways. Some people think conceptually, they want to work out what they are doing before they do it, and then they find the way to do it, acknowledging that there are always changes along the way when you make anything, because you can never have complete understanding in your head before something has been done. Other people work on hunches, without a plan; sometimes they don’t know what they’re making until it is done.