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Bring it to the table 2

The Artist Teacher Network session at the Freelands Foundation last night was the second session I've led using the theme 'Bring it to the table'. The format is quite simple, I invite the group to bring a poster, an image or a resource that is significant to their practice, whether in the classroom or studio. We sit around a table, layout what was brought and then use them as the focus for discussion and sharing.

I introduced the session by offering a challenge, a provocation to 'Re-think the resource'. I set the context of a resource, a visual stimulus for making and teaching and why it had been on my mind. I have for the last year been working as an advisor for the 'Visualise: Race and Inclusion in Art education' project (Runnymed Trust) and the 'Seeing Differently' project (Autograph). We have been developing resources that re-think representation and inclusion and support teachers in taking an anti-racist approach to pedagogy.

My provocation to the group was based around the observation that there is an increasing reliance on the digital format of teaching materials in classroom. Pupils endure endless hours of PowerPoint presentations, with poor quality images, which is often projected by poor quality equipment. With an ever increasing demand on teachers time, it is understandable that this has become the default position when preparing. However, many in this post pandemic period are realising the importance of a 'thing', a real object, an actual poster/photograph/image. We discussed examples I had brought from the NSEAD AD magazine, including the Big Landscape poster before moving onto the group examples.

Themes from the discussion included:

  • Why are visual resources important - what are the qualities?

  • What sort of information is conveyed - how can the understanding be enhanced?

  • How do we communicate ideas through the visual?

  • What is appropriate?

  • How do we develop different perspectives or reactions?

  • Why would you want to hold or pass something around?

  • Do we use the visual resource differently in our studio practice to the classroom?

  • Why is slow looking important to making?

  • How can we generate a 'Wow' moment?

We were fortunate to have Henry Ward with us who gave an introduction to the Freelands Painting Prize exhibition which had recently opened. The evening ended with a few more glasses of wine and a debate on what we might want to focus upon in the next session in December.

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