Exhibiting Teachers

6th Form and teacher residential painting weekend at Flatford Mill

Students easily became engrossed and ignored bystanders
















This post was prompted by an email about an exhibition of teacher’s art at the Upstairs Gallery Berkhamstead in January/February. It is open to teachers in the Chilterns and the entryconditions and papers are here Submission document – teachers art. The gallery is at http://www.upstairsgalleryberkhamsted.co.uk/ and the exhibition is from 14th January to 8th February 2014. I hope it is successful for both gallery and exhibitors.

I think we have often had an ambivalent attitude towards being a teacher and/or being an artist. I can recall only a very few exhibiting or sharing their professional work with their students. This is not the case in China. When I visited a few years ago, the teachers there were all keen to be seen as practicing professional artists and often it seemed the classes took the form of an atelier with a master and students as apprentices. We don’t tend to do that much here.

This reminded me of a wonderfully enjoyable project I set up with colleagues, when working as an advisory teacher in Bexley in the early 1990s. We set up a 6th form painting weekend at Flatford Mill. We all stayed in Willie Lotts Cottage and on arrival (Friday evening) every student and teacher was given a large canvas and set of acrylics. From then on both students and teachers worked alongside each other, out in the landscape with the cows in the meadows, and the crowds on the footpath. We all joined the communal ‘crit’ in the evening we all shared our aspirations and difficulties. For us teachers it was potentially a challenge to share our personal creative journey in public, and in front of our students, especially as some of us were not painters by training, and some of the students were outstanding.  But the experience was exhilarating and it was so good for us to be reminded about how exposed you are when working in public i.e. in a classroom.

We did this for quite a few years and the course carried on after I left Bexley. It was a time when working on canvas was uncommon in many schools and the intensive experience did contribute well to coursework, attitude and motivation. There were usually between 30 and 40 students and teachers – artists. One of the best years included primary art co-ordinators as well. That was a really wide range of experience and expertise but it worked really well and we teachers learnt as much about teaching as the students did about art.

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About Dan

Senior Advisor, Art Inspector, Member of the Expert Advisory Group for Art, Consultant working with NSEAD, IOE, QCA, UCE, UOG. Currently lecturer at UCL working on a project in Kazakhstan to develop text books for a new art curriculum.
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