Archives for the month of: February, 2012

WAC | Joseph Beuys | Teaching and Learning.

I have worked in a lot of art rooms over the years but by far my favourite was the one at GMS. The old Victorian one with the high ceilings and vast windows would be second. I had a lot of fun in that one and largely learnt how to be an art teacher in it but I wasn’t there long. At GMS I had time to sort it out just how I wanted it to be.

It had glass down one side and a view across the playing fields to the tennis courts. It was on the ground floor for ease of access and handily next to the DT room for the borrowing of kit and use of large saws and so on. It was also handy for the dining room. Staff room and offices were just over the hall though it could be a little cut off and sometimes noisy with basketballs bouncing against the wall. I got used to it and it stopped bothering me after about five years.

The room had a kiln in it that I got very fond of. We had to install a fan on top of the school to vent the fumes and this was a massively over engineered piece of kit that sucked paper off the floor two rooms away. I made a lot of plates and huge piles of ceramics with the pupils over the ten years I was there.

There were two sinks and three cupboards in the room and another one just outside in the corridor. I could accommodate a class of pupils with 50x60cm paper and a set of paints and still have room for palettes on the table. And still there was a table along the back wall where I could work, demonstrate things and use a computer. I had a smart board at the front and display boards and shelves around three walls. In the far corner stood the sculpture made by Laurence Edwards for many years. I did a huge amount of work with the pupils whilst I was there and we made a lot of stuff. We had artists in residence in and made work that was shown in galleries nearby and at the art college in Norwich.

We had to pack the room up at the end and on the final day of the school’s existence the kiln was taken out and Laurence came and took away his sculpture. It was a traumatic day and I am still getting over it in many ways.

This written in response to a Keri Smith exhortation to write about your favourite room.

We are still playing around with triggers, starters and instructions at school and in my notebooks and sketchbooks. I am thinking that this could be applied in reverse too and that much of art history could be reverse engineered to their ‘simple triggers’.

Draw your sexual partner in the nude. Draw a stranger in the nude. Draw yourself in the nude. Draw yourself with an injury. Draw your chair. Draw the room. Draw dinner. Draw your idea of God. Draw your boss. Make a figure out of bronze/clay/wood/things that come to hand/floppy things and so on and so on. We are taking Y11 to Tate Modern in a couple of weeks so it might be fun to do that to everything in there. Then what would happen if your made them into file cards and gave them to the kids. We are going to reconstruct the contents of Tate Modern from these simple instructions children. Let’s see how it goes.

Or we could do it entirely with jelly babies. I think that might be cool. I know someone has made Damien Hirst and his shark with Lego already. Making it to scale would be funny. Tate Modern as a model village or perhaps even the entire London art world rendered as a model village. I love model villages.

I never quite get the instruction ‘draw a stranger in the nude’ i.e. the life room. It has been mentioned at school that there are a couple of people that will come in and ‘do’ a life drawing workshop for a price. How do I just know it will be a bloke and a woman and the woman is going to be the one that strips off? As soon as you try other combos; man strips off and woman stays clothed, two men, two women etc. the idea goes a bit woozy and wants a lie down.