Dear Rex and others,
I have been reading with great interest the debate on training
in “Fine art” colleges. I was fortunate in that I took up
jewellery in an adult eduaction area. Discovered that I loved it,
and then went on to do a BA in Craft- major Jewellery at a Perth
university. My skills were way ahead of the other first year
students. I knew how to join metals by soldering or rivets etc.
At least I could express any conceptual ideas and be rewarded by
the joy of doing so, rather than the frustation of not knowing
how to reproduce my ideas. I shall probably be hounded out of my
State, but I very strongly believe that simple soldering and
other techniques should be taught right from the start. I can see
no point in turning out conceptual based art jewelllers who can
not survive in the “real” world. I also feel that students should
work with silver as soon as they can. Whilst this is more
expensive, it is far more rewarding than using copper and brass
and much easier!
I am regularly asked to take in third year students for work
experience. My proviso is that they must know how to solder
silver well and all the basic techniques which go with those
skills. I have been caught in the past where I have had someone
for two weeks and had to teach them from scratch, very time
consuming for me, wasted lots of my silver, and I don’t get paid
for having a work experience student! Somewhere there needs to
be a balance between “conceptual” creative work and having the
skills to produce work. Otherwise there will be a lot of
frustated would be jewellers out there.
I have taught part time in the university area, now teach in
the adult education area. Some of my students have gone onto
Univesity and once again their skills stand out.
I wonder if this reliance on conceptual teaching is because many
of the teachers are not practising artists too! Philistine! My
latest work experience student made individual square jump rings
for one of her projects, because no one could tell her how to
make them the "Normal " way!
I recently received a “Compliment”, courtesy of the economic
rationalists . My adult education classses were suddenly deemed
"Professional Development Classes" The price was hiked up, hours
reduced , the concessions removed, and my pay was increased. The
lack of concessions meant that those on pensions, students,
single parents etc had to pay full fees, instead of half fees. My
students and I were most upset that we and not the other Craft
courses were singled out. A judicious bit of prompting led to
letter writing, questions asked in Parliament and a petition of
five hundred signatures meant that the concesssions were
returned, hours increased , fees the same and I lost my pay
increase (small penalty to pay to promote a great craft) Nice to
think that the" little people can win some times"
sorry to go on!
Felicity in very rainy West Oz