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Just What Is It That Makes Today's Art Schools So Different, So Appealing?

Situating current art schools within the context of an historical legacy of self-organised, experimental and alternative education models, this symposium aims to interrogate the content of art and design education.

In May 1968 students and a few staff occupied Hornsey College of Art in a protest derived from frustration and discontent of teaching methods, curricular relevance and art school resources. Hornsey College of Art, later to become Middlesex University, became renowned for its experimental and progressive approach to art and design education. In the North East, Richard Hamilton and others pioneered a new, radical method of art training at Newcastle University which was to influence higher art education for generations to come. In London the St Martins 'A' course took sculpture students into a radically new pedagogical experiment whilst Art & Language founded their collaboration within Coventry School of Art.

From today’s standpoint, where art and design pedagogy has gained new attention and prompted strong criticism within contemporary art discourse, this moment can be seen as the start of a new wave of thinking about how art and design is taught in the UK. What is interesting from a contemporary perspective is that these new forms of teaching and resistance emerged from within the art institutions, detaching them absolutely from past modes of teaching and learning.

Beset on one side by the emergence of ‘open schools’ and gallery-led pedagogical projects, and on the other by the emergence of independent commercial ventures that teach specialist skills and techniques, today’s UK art schools may be arriving at a similar turning point. In a climate where University managements suspend students over participation in protests this symposium will examine the possibilities for change and ask how art school teaching can equip our young people for their futures.

Situating current art schools within the context of an historical legacy of self-organised, experimental and alternative education models, we will probe further, aiming to interrogate the content of art and design education. It will explore current concerns around the desire of students to learn ‘skills’ as well as the role of the tutor who is no longer the expert. It will examine the art school as a community of ideas and resistance as well as how the institution develops ‘officially’ and ‘unofficially’. In a discourse dominated by models, this symposium will ask; can art and design be taught? And if so, how? What is the current art school experience and what could it be?

Speakers include scholars of the history of art pedagogy as well as tutors, students and those engaged in pedagogical initiatives external to established institutions.


Scholars of the history of Art | talks


Date and Time:

29 March 2014 at 10:00 am





12 Carlton House Terrace
020 7930 3647

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