The Importance of Transcultural Studies

ART.ZIP: How would you describe the strength of the Slade?

AS: The Slade is a very exciting art school. It is a gigantic argument about what the possibilities for making contemporary art should be. It is a stimulating place where students are encouraged to develop their individual directions and strengths. We treat them as artists from the beginning. In applicants, we’re looking for students able to initiate their own work. Another thing we encourage is experimentation. Skill is absolutely essential, but it is a vehicle to realise your ideas, not necessarily an end in itself. A typical situation that reflects this is when undergraduate students first come to the Slade, we give students a work space and ask them to make something to present to us in perhaps one weeks time – we don’t set projects or push certain technical learning skills at them; we expect them to access the skills as they require them to make their work. I think maybe this is a big difference between the Chinese system and our system.

We typically get around 1,300 applicants for our undergraduate course. From them we interview about 200 and we have only 40 places. So it’s probably the most difficult undergraduate Fine Art course to get into and the Slade ranks No.1 in the Guardian. We are part of UCL (University College London), which is an amazing institution. Often credited as being a key influence on the founding of UCL, Jeremy Bentham argued the doctrine of utilitarianism saying that the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people was the right position for government to take. UCL was founded on that principle and also has a tradition of interculturalism; it was the first university to accept people regardless of race, creed or political belief. So we are very international. We are very lucky to be in central of London, so that we can walk down to National Gallery, British Museum and so on.

The other thing is, the studio programme for the BA and BFA is structured around three studio subject areas: painting, sculpture and fine art media. Interdisciplinary interaction is essential, and the staff have tutor groups from across all three areas. Each tutor would have three or four painters, two or three sculptors, two or three media students, all of whom attend cross-area seminars, do critiques, discuss works and so on. No area is isolated, though they do make their work in spaces based on which of the three areas they have chosen. In addition, we have a very rich programme of visiting artists. We have visiting artists coming in all the time, and very often they give lectures and tutorials to the students; we also have a programme of lectures where critics, curators and theoreticians as well as artists give lectures.

ART.ZIP: 斯萊德藝術學院的強項都有哪些呢?

AS: 斯萊德藝術學院是一所非常令人振奮的藝術學校。現在大家都在爭論到底當代藝術應該如何發展。斯萊德是一個很有啓發性的地方,我們會鼓勵學生發展他們自己的長相并按照自己的方向去獨立成長。我們一開始就把他們作為藝術家來看待,我們在招生的時候會特別注重學生的自主性,另外我們還鼓勵創作的實驗性。技術當然是基礎,但是技術只是實現作品理念的一種工具,而不是最終的追求目標。在本科生剛入學的時候,我們會給學生提供工作空間,讓他們一周之內給我們展示他們的創作,我們並不會給他們設定什麼條條框框,或讓他們專注某項技術,我們希望他們是為了實現自己的作品理念而運用某種技術。我想這可能和中國的教育方式有頗大的區別。

我們通常有1300位申請人來報讀我們的本科課程。我們從中挑選200位進行面試,最終只錄取40人。所以我想這可能是最難申請的藝術學校了,因為斯萊德是排名第一的藝術學院。我們隸屬於頂尖的倫敦大學學院(UCL)。UCL的創立是有深遠影響的,傑里米·邊沁(Jeremy Bentham)提出實用主義的理論,政府應該最大程度地滿足大多數人的需求。倫敦大學學院的創立就是在這個準則之上,並一直保持著跨文化交流的傳統,它是第一所沒有種族、宗教及政治信仰歧視的大學,這也正是我們保持國際化的背景。很幸運,我們校區在倫敦市中心,離國家畫廊、大英博物館等都是近在咫尺,步行就能到達。