Tell Us What You Think

What you think:

  • I am an artist from the golden age of art education-I spent four years at Saint Martins in the 1960s...choosing it even over a place at Oxford University. Even today I look back and realise how incredibly lucky I was in my choice.

    It taught me to look at the contemporary world directly, to analyse what I saw and to think, independent of academic and conventional authority - a fresh eye. I did not sit in libraries regurgitating written tomes of knowledge but was left completely free to explore, examine, record and reflect upon the living hub of London, of life around me. Freezing in a meat market, sinking in Thames mud by the docks, traipsing factories, tip-toeing the House of Commons - always looking, drawing, talking to people, reading, thinking. 

    Then the long, searching hours in the studio, the exploration of colour, of tone, of composition - of human bodies shading rosy from the bars of an electric fire. "Look at her sitting there!" Anthony Caro would inspire us."Look at her like a great, fat, rolling Buddha!" And we would struggle, often pathetically, to get what we saw and felt on to paper, into clay, in our own way. 
    We learnt to look, (and it was hard) to reflect, to abstract, to invent. To make something new.

    The world is not fixed but incessantly fluid and constantly needs reassessment, new direction, to shape our lives in a positive way. There is Guernica, there is Don McCullin there is Matisse or Jeff Koons , Tarkovsky or Oliver Stone - and an infinite number of other artists of all media who have profoundly affected the way we think and act. I was and still am, even more, appalled by the low esteem with which art education is held is this country - the subject to be dropped?

    Going by my experience, nothing can prepare a young student more thoroughly, more rigorously, more exhaustively than the art education I had at Saint Martins. (Merete Bates)

  • "To me watching from the position of secondary education, possibly soon to be delivering Gove's nasty curriculum for art – I think it will take a bit more than this type of rhetoric to slow and turn the of the governments reform tanker."

    No one is making an evidenced argument for the advantage of the arts. That in itself hints at the very same common sense functionality that art can and must creatively compete against. We all know the value of open and discursive communities exploring democratic structures in creative education, particularly when young people, or learning artists as I like to call them, and artists meet. We have already been offered wonderful ways for the future, such as Joseph Beuys’ Free International University. Beuys specularised the distribution network with a sculpture, of sorts, Honey Pump at the Workplace (1977). Beuys’ propersition was, ‘the queen bee’s place lies between head and heart, and the drones become the cells which are constantly renewed. The whole builds a unity which has to function perfectly, but in a humane warm way through principles of cooperation and brotherhood.’ Hannah Arendt, who was name checked today, observes, ‘We are not b orn equal; we become equal as members of a group on the strength of our decision to guarantee ourselves mutually equal rights. ( … ) the public sphere is consistently based on the law of equality as the private sphere is based on the law of universal difference and differentiation.’

    I think the leading art schools need to provide some strong leadership. The international art market is buoyant and London art schools are part of it. They ought to take a bit of responsibility and not defer that responsibility to emerging learners, or emerging artist for that matter. It is the next generation who will suffer the consequences of all the now privileged culture of the past.

    The point of an art school must be to act as a dynamic forum to make contexts for creative learning in the present as Bertolt Brecht said some time ago, ‘Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.’" (Andrew Stooke)


  • "Someone at Saint Martins said to me,"in our year, there are only two real artists. The rest of us will probably end up doing something like teaching, curating, advertising, whatever. Before the 70s, art schools were very skills-orientated, however, in order to gain degree-level accreditation and presumably to satisfy the needs of all those "non real-artists", they became more and more academically-biased.  That's fine, but I've seen many really talented artists grow disenchanted, lose confidence and curiosity because they were not academics. Georgia O'Keefe said "I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.

    Unfortunately, today you won't last long in art school, no matter how brilliant an artist you are, if you cannot describe yourself in the form of written artist statements, dissertations etc. Why? Perhaps art schools should be split into two streams to cater for real artists and others. The point of art schools is to to inspire and help people gain skills that will enable them to become confident, passionate artists. This isn't happening." (Iain Maclean)


  • "Going to art school is an amazing and exciting experience for those who are genuinely artist and designers. To learn new things you never learned. For those who is married to art and design. A chance to meet, greet, and connect people from all over the world who have the same interest as you and explore different things happening in our everyday and busy modern world. The opportunity expand creatively, broaden horizons, perpective and helping out the world of humans." (Jennifer Chan)


  • "It's an opportunity to be introduced to a range of creative approaches that will help inform your outlook and practice. You get to experiment and discuss ideas that will shape your creative thinking. Of course self-teaching is possible, but taking 1 or more years to focus intensively in an environment where mistakes are allowed is an ideal situation for building and artist's confidence and kick starting their career. You also have the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships that have the potential to benefit your professional practice." (Akua Obeng-Frimpong, Zealous)


  • At last art schools have been found out. As an ex pupil of several i can testify that many vary in quality of teaching,teachers and curriculum. I often clashed with tutors when my work did not fit their concept of what art and design should be. I was often ejected or had to leave.

    This goes against what art and design should be. Is it any wonder that many designers have to go abroad? Students should be allowed to focus on producing work which is fresh and unconventional and not merely ape concepts from the past.

    Lastly if the leading art colleges art to be relevant to broader society they need to drop their elitist tag and include those from poorer backgrounds and ethnic minorities. This is why grants were phased out and student loans were brought in." (Roddy Jones)


  • "Firstly they are NOT universities and should never be called such! Art colleges have produced some of the greatest money earners in the UK if that is the sort of justification you want. It has allowed freedom of expression. As a country we have produced some of the worlds finest fashion,product and graphic designers as well as painters and sculptors.

    Pop groups from the Beatles to the Bonzos started their careers in Art education and they probably are bigger earners than what is left of our industrial base. It allowed young people to express themselves in creative ways when academic education was not an option. Long live Art School education!" (Ian Logan)


  • "The point of art school is surely self-evident; it's the reality of it that needs to be looked at. The limited opportunities to develop basic knowledge and skills under the instruction of expert tutors (in painting and drawing, at least) was a serious problem during my time at art school, and I've been trying to catch up ever since. From what I hear from more recent students, little has changed. Had fun, though." (Carl Chapple)


  • "It allows people to explore their own creativity and develop other influences, within a supportive environment. Develops creative individuals for the national work force. Gives individuals a life long appreciation and understanding of the arts. Channels people creative skills into worthwhile satisfying careers. Allows like minded people to colaborate for work (network)." (Loraine Morris)


  • "Creative thought and the mental space to carry out ideas. The rot in our art schools sadly began when they thought they should make them into universities and the results have proved the point. Art schools should never be considered univiersities but places to expand visual ideas, if you want more art cirticis let them go to art history courses, the mental state required for the creation of art is not the same as for intellectual criticism, and in many cases people with artistic abilities are very dyslexic or not academically. Today there seems to be a huge confusion of educational ideas- art schools should go back to the format they had, that did not stiffle creativity like the mess they have now where even drawing is not considered useful any more. My son's experience at Camberwell was so ghastly. Over-subscrition of entrance students, no tutors in sight, no desks, no lockers, nowhere for the students to work, nowhere for work to be left safely so that cleaners wrecked work- so to protect it- it had to be brought home by taxi every day. Quite ridiculous! About 2/3 students left at the end of the first year, (sculpture) so the lesson he learned was that the courses appear to be 2-year courses in reality, the first year is the year for the college to amass money, hopefully from as many froeigners as possible, giving what appeared to be no education at all in the hope that the majority leave and then use that money to give the rest who hung on, a two-year course - even that- messed about with - I would never encourage anyhone to spend any money at all on art schools as they are in the UK today. Is this being too cynical? This is our experience with my son and his friends- and you have to pay a fortune for this mess? Disgraceful." (Corina J Poore)


  • "What is the point of Art School? If you see art school merely as the institution for training the next generation of artists and designers, then the point is simple and straight-forward. You might argue that we need designers, but that fine-artists are a luxury that we cannot afford. HRH the Prince of Wales said that a degree in Fine Art is the best general education one can get. I checked that with his office. All professions are, essentially, restricted-entry clubs. You join the Art club by going to art school. Teaching at art school used to be a sinecure for those artists who couldn’t sell enough work to live on. It has been a forum for debate and discussion, the platform from which to declaim your manifesto, and a hotbed of dissent and revolt. It’s where new ideas are tried out to see if they are shocking enough. It’s where you learn what other people think being an artist is. Where else would art-students go?" (Tim Appleby)


  • Recently I was key note speaker at Southampton City Art Gallery at a brilliant event called Beyond the Frame a Career in the Arts aimed at Sixth Form and Uni students...the first question I was asked was "is it worth doing a Fine Art degree" you can imagine my dilemma. I am Fine Art through and through...with a passionate belief in education, but I am also fully aware of university fees. 

    If this question had been put to me five years ago my answer would have been a simple YES if you are passionate about your subject; my answer this time was virtually the same with caveats. Don't go just because your friends are, be sure this is the right choice for you, do a pre degree Foundation to confirm your career path first, work hard etc. (apparently what I said went down was positive but mindful).

    I am an artist and Course Leader for Art and Design at an FE college .8 (I have an MA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins) this year non of my students progressed to Fine Art...but to graphics, textiles, fashion and drawing....I am so interested in this debate because I am fearful for Fine Art. (Melanie Rose)


  • "I know when I see a work of art it makes me can make me can make me feel emotion...its a view from another time,its an expression,it is a way to share without words. Its time travel ,its every language,its personal expression,its free thinking ,its a human skill,its mind exspanding ,its understanding and acceptance. If there was no art its like turning out the lights, its like looking down,its like silence with an empty ringing,its robotics,its without....Its like the paper bird hanging under a bridge in Vauxhaul London,its like a nose stuck on a London arch,its the elephant dung beautiful paintings in the tate modern, its my childs first drawing,its words with no words, a painting of an empty room with a I felt when my Uncle passed,its the first time You go to Paris, its the shared yet personal juxtaposition of a human...its a link to something,its an identity of time, its just because." (Sally Ann)


  • "The point of a Bachelor of Arts is to break ones thought and process to dust and form a richer ore from those sympathetic or surpassing molecules found in research. The point of a Masters in Art is to learn, independently, how to build ones better artistic self, or practice, which of course is the artists self." (Max Anthony)


  • "Our entire modern experience, from surviving to communication to the educational system is made up of linear, logic-driven processes. Art school provides one of the few ways to examine some of the functions of the right side of the brain - emotions, creativity, non-linear logic. Schools like these nurture innovation and change in our world. Without them the creative problem-solving skills we are capable of would go largely unrealized. What's the point of living in a world of someone else's creation?" (Court)


  • "The point of art school is, that you have a chance to contribute to the creative reputation of the United Kingdom as a country full of innovation and originality. Unlike the university system, art schools encourage original thinking and right brained creative thought. The alumni of our art schools have supplied genius in all walks of life: Mick Jagger, Sade, Zandra Rhodes, John Galliano, to name a few. Art school isn't for the faint hearted, and it isn't an easy option, unlike many professions, there isn't necessarily a niche to walk into, you have to make it for yourself. This is enriching and culturally necessary for our national identity and this is why our risk taking creative individuals are universally admired and copied throughout the world." (Mary (Isabelle) Gladwin)


  • "In the context of society and obviously the job sector many non creatives like to put down art school and believe were all just fantasist's who don't want a 'proper' job. In reality studying at UAL I was surrounded by the most thought provoking intelligent people and tutors i have met and I gained self confidence that it's ok to have different opinions to others. Art school gave me a passion to keep asking questions not just accept the way things are, the passion you gain for your subject is something you carry on learning throughout your life it doesn't stop once you graduate. Even if you may think you have an unrelated job there's always people that make their own birthday cards, make their children's clothes set up local exhibitions or art groups just so they can fulfil their personally creative urges.

    However being creative isn't just about drawing or painting it exposes you to different ways of thinking allows people to be more open minded and empathetic, to think of new approaches and ways of communicating. With the job sector at the moment there is a big wave for art therapy and community art workers to get people back into work or to help support them in all sectors of the community such as mental health, learning and physical disabilities, children, adults everyone is included in art.

    For this reason my experience of art school is it's an education establishment that does and should give everyone a equal chance and a voice regardless of class, nationality or gender. In the terms of the long term I have seen fellow classmates from more deprived areas go to art college, go to study for an art degree and now are studying for a PGCE to be a high school art teacher these are people who were expected to be teen mums and not contribute to society, I could go on but i believe the positives and long term benefits of art it's contribution in society is paramount even if it's a long hard and sometimes financially challenging road to get there. Finally If having a passion for drawing or music is the one thing that inspires you to grow academically and personally then that's one really positive point of art school." (Amy)


  • "It was a great place to be where creativity was the point and being able to be with other creative people, thank you LCC and ILEA who made it possible for me." (Carolyn)


  • "British creative thinking educated by art shools is fuelling industry around the world and making huge fortunes for the people who take the profits at the end so what's not the point of art schools? Consider Apple, most of the Hollywood film industry for design, the worldwide fashion industry - British designers!" (Heather James)


  • "Get rid of degrees and let the art schools be about learning how to make things. Forget A level entry and look at portfolios. Ban conceptual art in art schools; art students are too immature to have concepts and it makes them too reliant on technicians. Bring back observational drawing from the model, from plants, and in the museums. Copy the masters. Bring back junior schools at art schools, so that 12 year old talented kids can get good teaching." (Andrew Aarons)


  • "A place for young people who have true passion, enthusiasm and talent for art and design to work, learn and progress together, and help build their future, and become better artists." (James Hanks)


  • "Art School is an institution that forms a community of people who have a passion towards a subject. It allows an individual to experience a form of education that inspires and provides knowledge of the art and design world. It prepares you for what you have chosen to do for the rest of your life. The point of art school is to help you engage in a space that allows you to practice your passion and work towards a dream." (Nikita Rao) 


  • "Art School for me learn human effort to imitate,supplement,alter,or counteract the work of nature. The study of these activities the product of these activities; human works of beauty considered as a group we learn this in Art School." (hermontekle)



  • "Being a student at different art schools with different approaches to teaching art I came to the conclusion that the main point of art school is endless motivation. If you are already ata rt school, that means that you are somehow an artist, therefore, the purpose of your education is in developing what you have, what nature gave you, maybe what people call talent. Another thing is challenging: art school should create a competitive and challenging atmoshpere, in which strving for the excellence should be every day normal process. Encouraging students to think out of the box, making them believe in themselves and the power of their imagination, that's the point of art school, in my opinion." (Asya)