Thanks to everyone who came along and contributed to the Alternative Art Education (Slow) Marathon! We launched URgh!#1, amplified the movement, opened up the discussion on some of the more esoteric aspects of self-organised art education, demonstrated the possibilities of online education and had a lot of fun!
As higher education gears up for two more weeks of strikes about pensions, casualisation, workload and pay levels, and independent unions continue their campaigns on wages, outsourcing and zero hours contracts, the extent of the reforms that the 2010 student protests and occupations were fighting becomes all too clear.
July was a busy month, we had several meetings and got together with alternative art schools to ignite a discussion on cooperation and exchange ideas on the future of education in the arts.
On Friday, 14 July we got together for an open meeting and workshop on self-organisation. We shared ideas and decided to follow-up with a series of workshops to address new questions that came up, to consider the part that self-organisation plays in alternative art education, and to address our own cooperative practices.
Our first stop was the Railway Hotel, where we were joined by Simon Cole down from London on a different route. After catching up over vegan lunch and a drink we headed towards the seafront for a sneak preview of Twenty One, a brand new venue in Southend. We caught the installation of 100% Southend, an open access exhibition for the launch of the new space. We circled back through town to Focal Point Gallery to see the group exhibition Maximum Overdrive and Big Screen Southend, an open access rolling submission public screen. Follow the link to find out how to submit your work.
Then we headed through streets of terraced houses to West Road Tap for a drink and chat about alternative art education and coops. We set off along London Road to Chalkwell Park, home of TOMA and Metal Art School. Emma gave us a tour of the studio spaces, the exhibition and meeting spaces, the cosy living quarters and work spaces with excellent views of the Thames estuary. Visit the website for more information on Time and Space Residencies at Metal, the next deadline is on 30 September 2017.
After bidding farewell to Metal and the beautiful park we got caught in a downpour which let up as soon as we got to Chalkwell station. The sun and tide were both out by the time we arrived Leigh-on-Sea where TOMA artist Richard Baxter’s studio is located. Richard told us about the boat-building history of the studio, he showed us his work and we talked about reading groups, practice, theory and choices in alternative art education.
Still somewhat damp from the storm we piled into the Mayflower to recount the the day over calamari and beer. We eventually had to run for the train back to London because we got carried away with the view of the moody estuary. For more images please see the album on our Facebook page. Thank you TOMA for a fantastic day!
SOTD is an alternative contemporary art postgraduate course based in the UK. The school runs a labour exchange economy based, offering a series of skills hour-for-hour in return for guests’ time, venues workshop provision, etc.
The discussion was entirely unrestrained, we meandered beyond territories relevant to the text in several interesting directions, focusing mainly on pedagogical practice and ethics. We might benefit from a return to the text or a closer look at concepts such as Foucault’s notion of parrhesia (the obligation to speak openly), Adorno’s concept of autonomy and Guattari’s ethico-aesthetic paradigm and transversality in the context of art and education.
We were excited to meet several members of the SOTD class of 2018, aka Year of the Rooster before the book club, and to talk about their work. Sean Roy Parker ran a Wildflower and Floristry walk on the previous day and was busy reconfiguring his collection of found objects into new ensembles. We were sorry to miss the discussion on Self-organisation, Access and Sharing on the previous day and we heard all about the fascinating workshop Thinking with Water: Pooling resources, research and ideas with Emily Wooley.
We viewed the beautiful display of work from Renata’s Freehand Embroidery Technique workshop from the previous day. Renata combines costume design, visual art and art education in her practice, she is interested in pedagogy, communities, education, interdisciplinarity and participatory art, both as member of SOTD’s class of 2018 and in the context of her art practice. She has compiled the School of the Damned Open Library, which focuses primarily on alternative art education.
Thanks to SOTD, Renata Minoldo and everyone who joined this riveting discussion on art, participation and pedagogy. It was a pleasure to be part of this exciting programme of events and to enjoy the positive energy of this friendly, cooperative and creative environment. The fallen fruit crumble was delicious.