Room 13 International was thrilled to be represented at this event organised by Freelands Foundation and hosted by Tate Modern on Saturday 9th April 2016. Bringing together an eclectic mix of artists, teachers, curators, writers and organisations, the day provided an opportunity to foster unexpected connections and explore ideas about art, education, play and society. Featuring films, talks and a marketplace bursting with ideas and inspiration from a host of organisations who advocate, create and facilitate arts activity and development across the UK.
The 2004 documentary film about Room 13, ‘What Age Can You Start Being an Artist?’ was screened, and found itself in great company, as part of a programme of screenings throughout the day which included ‘Fully Awake’ a documentary about Black Mountain College* and ‘DADA’, Greta Deses’s unique 1969 film about the history and significance of Dadaism.
Mike Fairclough, Head Teacher of West Rise Junior School, took the stage in the main auditorium. His school is not only home to Room 13 West Rise but also a protected marshland complete with bronze age settlement and a herd of water buffalo. For the children at West Rise Junior School, everyday activities include forest school, bronze smelting, caring for the buffalo, sheep and a million bees, construction and maintenance of their very own roundhouse, archery and firearms training. Mike gave an inspirational presentation, explaining how his approach, which involves taking advantage of every possible opportunity to create the most interesting and exciting learning environment in and around his school, has lead to endorsement from OFSTED, Times Educational Supplement and the Health and Safety inspectorate.
The day concluded in conversation with Michael Craig Martin and Mark Wallinger, two speakers with years of experience as artists and educators. They talked of their experiences as professor and student during what could be considered a golden age of art college education. Their discussion included the observation that the most important difference in the study of art is its difference. There is no subject to be studied as such. There is no such thing as a general work of art. It requires an individual to jump in at the deep end on the first day, and grapple with the substance of their ideas and expression on the same terms as their professor, resulting in a specific, very substantial education. So the answer to the question ‘What age can you start being an artist?’ might be – whatever age you take that leap.
* Hidden in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Black Mountain College (1933 – 1957) was an influential experiment in education that inspired and shaped twentieth century American art. Fully Awake: Black Mountain College is a documentary film that explores the college’s progressive pedagogy and radical approach to arts education.
** As Bosnia descended into the depths of war, a group of artists and curators formed Ars Aevi Project as an expression of collective international will. Resisting the destruction of life and culture the group staged a series of contemporary art installations across Europe that focused on bringing the artists together to create and cultivate the heritage of the present day. This resulted in an extensive new collection of contemporary artworks being created and donated by the artists involved. Ars Aevi Project is now engaged in building a new Museum of Contemporary Art in Sarajevo, which will host the collection.
Post Author: Claire Gibb