There is a belief that “you cannot teach anyone to become an artist.” And there is a great deal of substance to that view, that is if you believe Artists are born and not made...
…this debate has gone on for many decades if not centuries, but perhaps none more so than from the middle of the 20th century to present day. In many ways the valid point that every single human on the planet is an Artist, is an argument that many Artists make and it is one that the Editor of painters TUBES magazine has firmly believed in.
Obviously the criteria of a natural or a made artist have opposite opinions which is an ‘old bone’ we all chew over now then, as is “What is Art.” – Intellectual theories and academic definitions don’t really clarify the debate on those particular pieces of well chewed bone, and it probably never will. Today, it seems that the only real option left open to us is to simply to say “everything is Art” or “as long as the object is shown in an Art Gallery, then it must be Art”, by the very fact that it is in a Gallery”. This neoliberal viewpoint has perhaps led to an Art that is more open, free and diverse, some people have said, although many will totally disagree.
We live in a world that is constantly updating itself on social media, especially on their, ‘likes’ but rarely on their ‘dislikes,’ as far as Art is concerned. Some see this as a way to encourage, rather than discourage any person who throws their lot into creating Art. Personally, as an painter, I do agree with that position, but I can also add that pointed criticism can be delivered in a positive way and not necessarily with polemic negative criticism, as some people elect to do, one presumes based on only their subjective and personal judgement.
What’s all the ‘to-do’ with Education of Art?
It’s clear that academic dogma of what Art is and what Art is not, has pervaded in the UK’s Universities and Art colleges, if not now, then certainly over the last 30 years or so. For example, ‘painting’ has not only been taken off most of the University curriculums, but they have actively discouraged students to submit paintings in their portfolios for consideration for a degree. Indeed, I have been told by at least one parent, that a professor told their ‘child’, categorically, that by including ‘painting’ in their final year assessment portfolio, would lead to automatic failure. There may well be a change in that academic policy, for it is clear that ‘commercial interests’ have realised that paintings are far better suited, as far as turnover and regular profit is concerned, than much of the other forms of art can generate- say like, installations. And like all things in this world, money talks the loudest. Before I continue I have to declare a conflict of interest. I went to an Art School from the age of eleven years old. And so I may be bias with my opinion in this article. However, I am hoping many other voices will present themselves to contribute to either substantiate my thoughts or provide arguments in diametrical opposition to it, and thus create a much needed debate in the area of Art and Education.
1947/9 to 1984. The Manchester High School of Art.
Children who shown a more than the normal ‘interest’ in creating art, ones that continued to do so, on a year by year basis, from their first days at elementary school, was the basis for the creation of a specialised secondary school. This school (one of the few in the UK) was made into a sort of experiment by post world war two Governments. Perhaps it was the need to nurture the natural talent of children that would become a sort of creative backbone for the needs of a society that was rebuilding after the second world war that was the main motivation behind the concept. A society that required designers and innovators in industries such as product manufacturers, textiles, construction and numerous new creative industries like advertising and marketing. The essential concept was to take selected children from various social, ethnic, religious and economic (classes) and provide a curriculum that was slowly graduated from the normal academic teaching (the 3 ‘R’s) to have a bias on creative skills as the child progressed through the School.