By Heshani G. Arachchige
This year, March has been claimed by the arts as National Crafts Month. The celebration of crafts unites all ages and encourages us to use our hands to create something; it is a joyful concept, but also encourages reusing and recycling (egg carton roses, anyone?) without spending much.
More than anything, art is a creative outlet that is accessible to everyone; after all, you do not need to know your way around a paintbrush to create something. As modern technology continues to advance, online sharing makes it clearer that talented artists lace our society; however, when you ask someone about their desired profession, not often is your question met with ‘an artist’. Many talented individuals claim that they ‘wish’ they could be artists, but counter this through the belief that it is an unrealistic hope – why? After all, artists contribute hugely to society through the written word, through architecture and through entertainment.
Certainly, education plays a large part. In today’s age, a career is built through experience as well as talent, and a degree relating to art builds a path to a profession in the field. However, a degree is now not just about skill but about other factors too, the biggest being financial capability. Anna Coatman observes the difference between art schools from the past and art schools now in a nostalgic article addressing the future the education of art. Coatman addresses discouraged art students’ ‘fear of leaving [art school] with huge debt and uncertain career prospects’ being countered by the necessity of having a solid background of experience and knowledge as a foundation for their careers.
However, the survival of an art student is tough either way, since a qualification from an art school is no guarantee of a career despite there being more opportunities (and funding for institutions) than ever. Schools prioritize other subjects and, when feeling financial strains, art courses feel them the most. However, many institutions are very much aware of these issues and seek to help.
This National Craft Month, while enjoying some carefree arts and crafts time, (there’s a shocking amount of things you can actually make with an egg carton,) consider the development of the education of art with the Lutterworth Press by checking out the following titles…
From Leeds College of Art to Leeds Polytechnic, 1963-1973
By James Charnely
Both a celebration and a meticulously researched history, this is a study of the early days of the Leeds College of Art and the radical creativity of its approach to art education.
“Creative License is an important book for anyone interested in British art education. It is not of purely historical interest but also pertinent to understanding the current state of art in Britain. The radical experimentation in art pedagogy that took place at Leeds from 1956 through to the 1970s and the innovatory cultural producers who span out from it underpin the twenty-first century vision of Britain as a creative world centre, such as that promoted during the Olympic Games ceremonies of 2012. It is a must-read for any student of art wishing to understand their place in history.”
Professor John Hyatt, Director of the Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design
A Century of Art and Design Education:
From Arts and Crafts to Conceptual Art
By Stuart MacDonald
A ground-breaking study of the development of education in art and design in Britain from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present day.
“Stuart Macdonald is the founding father of the study of the history of art education in this country. He has now followed up his classic work The History and Philosophy of Art Education with a lively and interesting narrative of key moments in the development of art education from William Morris right through to Herbert Read, with a postscript on the rise of conceptual art. The book is enjoyable to read and very stimulating, and it raises issues which are still highly relevant today – perhaps more than ever.”
Sir Christopher Frayling
The History and Philosophy of Art Education
By Stuart MacDonald
An investigation of the development of art and design education in Italy, France, Britain, Germany, and the United States.
“This is a very welcome reprint, and, just for once, the publishers’ blurb is spot-on. When this book first hit the stands it was unique, and assuredly its contents have been the launch pad for several later studies. Macdonald’s style remains highly readable and his narrative just as fascinating as it was at first. Anyone studying the subject, or training to teach, will find the subject essential. ”
Julian Freeman, Sussex Downs College, in The Art Book