|All Images: 'From The New School 1, 4, 3, 6, 5, 2', Acrylic, Inkjet Print & Paper Collage, 2017. |
Rushed Mead Academy (Teaching School), Leicester, September 2017
I regularly allude to my day job in a large Leicester Secondary School - possibly with a suggestion of ambivalence on occasions. It’s not that I dislike my job at all – I couldn’t have stuck around for eleven years if that were the case. It’s probably just that, like most amateur artists – I’m often slightly conflicted over the need to pay the bills, and the time taken up with that - when I might be producing art instead.
However, I’m pretty lucky really - not least with the people I work alongside on a daily basis, and the interest and encouragement they often express regarding my own creative endeavours. My role as a Technician inevitably has its menial and routine aspects and, sadly - no one will ever get rich on the kind of wage it commands. But the upside is, it still allows me the mental space to remain a creative entity. And beyond that, I’m regularly invited to apply my subject knowledge to my dealings with teachers and students alike, and am generally encouraged to regard myself as an artist working within the faculty, rather than just “that guy wot cleans the paintbrushes”. Another of the more rewarding aspects of my role is periodically being invited to contribute to enriching the school environment - something that has included a significant commission in recent years. This post relates to the latest move in that direction.
I’ve already showcased the six existing pieces in my ‘From The NewSchool’ series (along with some of the thinking behind them), as they were produced earlier in the year. Although work on the series has given way to other activities over the summer, It’s still very much a live project. It’s definitely something to which I intend to return, and I envisage the series ultimately extending much further than it currently does. However, for now, it was gratifying to be asked to display the existing panels on one of the school walls, on a kind of long-term loan arrangement.
This is all somewhat appropriate, given that each of the panels was actually produced on the premises, during lunch breaks and after hours. As they also encapsulate certain possible questions about the purposes of, and theoretical justifications for education, it seems fitting that they should hang in the building housing the Teaching School arm of the overall Academy. It’s also really useful for me to see them on a wall, in a quasi-exhibition context (and a pretty clean, white wall at that!). Most artists will tell you it’s impossible to fully evaluate any piece of work until you’ve seen it trying to hold its own - out there in the world.
I’ll conclude this post with the short information text that accompanies this hang. Before I do so, I should also thank Head of Art, Tim Durham; and Jolan Woolridge, Leicester SCITT Director – and a teacher of Art in her own right. Both proved keen advocates of the work, and were instrumental in pushing for its installation.
Hugh completed a Degree in Fine Art at Bristol Polytechnic in 1984, and has worked as a Technician in Art and Design-Technology at Rushey Mead Academy, since 2016. Much of his free time is devoted to producing his own artwork. In 2015 he completed a major commission for the school, situated in the Art Dept.
‘From The New School’ Series
(L – R): ‘Untitled (From The New School) 1, 4, 3, 6, 5, 2’
Acrylics, Inkjet Print & Paper Collage On Panel, 2017
The paintings by Hugh exhibited here, belong to an ongoing series, which also represents part of a collaboration with fellow Birmingham-based artist, Andrew Smith. The intention is that each artist should periodically reinterpret or ‘remix’ a piece of work by the other. The original inspiration here is Andrew’s painting, ‘The New School’ (2016).
Hugh has extracted Andrew’s central, motif, and plans to repeatedly reinterpret it within a standard compositional format - exploring a wide range of media, methods, and modes of depiction. Each panel should suggest its own mood, or possible meanings.
The title, ‘The New School’, and the suggestion of architecture in each image, might relate to the ongoing processes of expansion and physical transformation imposed on many establishments like this one in recent years. However, the shifting aesthetic within the series, may also reflect the ever-changing theoretical, philosophical, or political contexts in which Education must exist. Each generation promotes new schools of thought regarding the value and purposes of Education, just as it erects new school buildings.