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The Art of Education.

Article written by Laura Mears.

Now in its fourth year, the Artist in Residence programme at King Edward’s Witley has seen pupils benefit from the talents of four practising artists. As the contribution of creative industries to the economy continues to grow; and more pupils opt to study Art and Design at IB, A-level and beyond, the need to foster creativity in young people grows with it. Current Artist in Residence, Matt Tate, discusses how his role helps benefit the young artists he works with.

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“I believe that the role of an Artist in Residence is to dispel the myths about the plausibility of pursuing a career in the arts. Remaining relatively separate from the teaching process I am often better placed to mediate between the academic and practical perspectives of art as both a subject and a passion. Drawing upon my own experiences as an artist, I have been able to provide pupils with an insight into the industry in a way that is perhaps different to that of their teachers.  An important part of the Artist in Residence experience is developing their understanding of the process of applying to study a creative subject at university level, how their work fits into their aspirations and what opportunities are available to them.  In the broader context of education, exposing pupils to the work of a practicing artist creates greater artistic curiosity and provides them with the opportunity to broaden the horizons of their own work. Having an open door policy means I am always available to provide students with direction in new techniques (particularly within the medium of printmaking) and advice on how to cater their artwork towards their chosen careers, which ultimately allows them to begin the transition from academic work to professional standard.”

His view on the initiative is supported by Mr John Attwater, Headmaster, who commented, “At a time when creative subjects are being squeezed in many schools, we need to consider that our future success in a technological world will be in large part down to human creativity. For our artists who may be considering this path, it is a brilliant experience to work alongside someone who is already a practising artist. Our Artists in Residence bring the latest in techniques and thinking, together with knowledge of the many institutions our students will be applying to. That they are with us a relatively short time means that during a student’s time at King Edward’s they will usually encounter a range of artists specialising in different fields. Our Artists in Residence are hugely talented and go on to great careers themselves, and it is hoped that King Edward’s will be an important part of their artistic development.”

So how does Matt feel he has benefitted from the experience?

Matt’s response to this question is simple.“My intention has always been to take the next step in my career by completing a master’s degree. Undertaking a residency has enabled me to spend time redefining my practice and building a portfolio of work that returns to my roots within illustration, which has ultimately been crucial in securing a place at the Royal College of Art and holding my first solo exhibition at the Menier Gallery in London.”

As well as providing free materials and studio space, the role offers the unique prospect of capitalising on the School’s connections, including, for Matt, an opportunity to create a commissioned collagraph on behalf of the School for outgoing Treasurer, and recently inaugurated Sheriff of the City of the London, Peter Estlin. But, whilst he appreciates the success he has enjoyed during his time at the School, for him the experience has been about something much more substantial.

“What I feel has been most rewarding about this is experience is encouraging more male involvement in the arts, I hope I have proved during my time here that creativity is not a statement on masculinity. On a different level, it has been gratifying to watch a group of individuals grow from unsure new pupils to confident individuals ready to take their next step.”

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Matt Tate goes on to study for an MA in Visual Communication Design (Illustration) at the Royal College of Art in September.

Article originally published in Kestrel Magazine edited and written by Laura Mears. Laura is in her final year of studying at Lincoln University reading for a Bachelors in Advertising. After doing a placement year at King Edwards School Witley, she moves on to consider a potential career in Publishing, after doing her Masters.