By the final summer term, the Y3 art specialists have completed their final placement, assignments and dissertations, and have five full weeks of studio practice leading up to an end of degree exhibition. This exhibition is the culmination of three years of hard work and committed visual research, which is celebrated by friends, families, IoE tutors, the wider university and local community on London Road Campus. With the onset of COVID-19, a term of contemporary, practical and innovative practice had to be re-imagined and transformed into a digital format.
Suzy Tutchell Lecturer in BA Primary Education with Art, said:
“We were determined to create an adapted final ‘practical’ module which would celebrate who the students had become as artist-teachers and ensure the quality of teaching and learning would be intact. It was essential to retain their creative enthusiasm and drive, so that what they would produce online would be testament to their maturing identities and could still be celebrated by viewers, as it would have been in the studio.”
To that end, an alternative term was devised which comprised of online interactive group sessions, small group supervisory tutorials, paired and group critiques and digital sharing via a new website platform. All students and staff set about creating their own online portfolios, which served as a platform to document and exhibit work that was ongoing, as well as the process of making and creating the final virtual exhibition. Some students even tackled the subject of COVID-19 directly in their work, focussing on our environment and natural art forms.
A selection of the portfolios, will also feature on the National Society for Education in Art and Design website, modelling excellent practice for other university art/education departments; this continues to position us as a flagship of excellent art and education practice at national level.
The student’s final sites can be viewed below:
Elisha Harrington: https://www.bulbapp.com/elishajasmine
Esme Weston: https://www.bulbapp.com/thegingerartist
Molly Waring: https://www.bulbapp.com/mollywaring
Freya Lane: https://www.bulbapp.com/freyfrey3
Aaron Duffett: https://www.bulbapp.com/AaronD98
Paige Johnson: https://www.bulbapp.com/Paige-johnson
Imogen Mulvenna: https://www.bulbapp.com/ImogenMulvenna
Bethany Clay: https://www.bulbapp.com/isolationoutdoors
Taya Jarman: https://www.bulbapp.com/tayajarman98
Toby Inchbald: https://www.bulbapp.com/TobyInchbald
Tom Radcliffe: https://www.bulbapp.com/tomradcliffe98
Professor Brian Richards, Emeritus Professor of Education, said:
“I have spent several happy hours browsing the content. I usually go to the exhibition but the online virtual version has the advantage of being more permanent and you can dip in, take your time, reflect and go back for another look and think. Please congratulate the students on a particularly thought-provoking and inspirational collection. I wish I had been taught by people like them when I was at school in the 1960s—it was a rather uninspiring experience!”
The website production took over 6 weeks and throughout the entire process, students were able to dip in and out of each other’s websites, add in constructive comments to make suggestions, acknowledge some outstanding moments and, importantly, appropriate good DIY art ideas in order to learn from one another.
Imogen, a Y3 student, said:
“I actually really liked doing the website and I didn’t find any difficulty in it. I’d chat with Aaron like we were digital buddies rather than studio bay buddies! We all used messenger to make comments – it was buzzing.”
The developing process included the group as a whole attending live artists’ sessions and exhibition tours of galleries around the world. This added a further international layer to the art curriculum by enjoying global ventures on virtual tours and live artists performances in: Hong Kong, New York, Barcelona, South Africa and Sydney. It also fuelled the students’ ideas for their own websites. These were shared with all staff and students at the IoE and across the wider university, including the IoE Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, helping to raise the profile of the London Road studios as a lively hub of art activity – even remotely!
Emily Yearsley, Lecturer in Primary Art Education, said:
“Initially, both students and tutors were disappointed at the prospect of losing out on the exhilaration of the final exhibition but there is no doubt, the impact of what was produced and the process that was undertaken has enriched practice in a profound, thoughtful and reflective way.”
Molly, Y3 student, said:
“I think in the studio, I work with loads of things and then play around, but actually weirdly, I think the ideas I had for this term’s work were possibly stronger because I had more time to think before I did, so there was a lot of more intention and personal input.”
As a result of building on the successful experience of delivering small practical art activities online, Suzy Tutchell has been delivering weekly online art drop-in sessions for Alana House clients (Reading-based women’s community project); it is hoped this will continue throughout the summer and into the autumn term as she seeks a funding source to create a community project with student support and involvement.
Going forward, the adapted online portfolio model has set a new premise for visual/sound assignment work in the future; Y2 art and music students will collaborate over the next academic year to produce a Y2 creative arts digital platform as part of their specialisms in school.