Why a blog
I’m a former teacher and teacher educator.
I decided to do this blog because I believe from all my previous work that being a reflective practitioner is the best way of learning. I’ve been looking forward to doing this fine art course and thinking about what we’ve done and what I’ve learned is really important to me. Maybe others might like to read about it – maybe they won’t.
When working with teachers I tried to encourage them to keep journals about what they were learning. Blogging is the obvious thing to .
I studied music for my first degree at the University of East Anglia and have an MA in English and Education.
I live in Lewisham in South East London. For the past two years I’ve been heavily involved in the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign. I am secretary of the campaign and do the campaign website and FaceBook etc. I’m also currently working on a big website for parents about books and reading for young children. My husband Tony is a paediatrician in Lewisham and our daughter Leila lives in Manchester.
My art history
On our courses we used to ask teachers to write their ‘reading histories’. This is part of my art history.
As a child I loved drawing, I drew all the time apart from when I was reading. I grew up in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, a mining town. My grandad was a miner. My Dad was Polish and an extraordinary character (he died very recently). Dad drew a lot in my childhood, and sometimes when he was fired up carved wood and made things from metal. He was a welder.
I can’t remember art at my primary schools at all. But I enjoyed art very much at Barnsley Girls High School. I loved the feel of the art rooms at the top of the building. But I had to ‘drop’ art at the age of 14 to concentrate on ‘academic’ subjects. I chose to study music at university and played piano and cello. I went on to be a music teacher and then on to more general teaching and working with children with special educational needs. Many aspects of teaching are to do with doing and making things, all of which I enjoyed, particularly making books with children.
About 20 years ago I went to work at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education in central London. I worked with teachers all over the UK and internationally. For a 5 year period in the early 2000s I spent 5 years working with teachers on how to use IT more creatively in their practice. Then I developed a project called the Power of Reading which started out small but now has been running in many primary schools nationally for 10 years.
One of the most significant things to come out of that project, which was based on the work of the Centre, was the development of children’s involvement in books and reading through art, drama, poetry, IT etc As part of that project I developed a huge website containing thousands of examples of writing and artwork created by children all over the country in response books they’d read. Some of the art and writing produced was stunning. At the time this was completely alien to different governments’ focus on targets and breaking learning into bits (Labour) and grammar and phonics (Tories).
Over the years I’ve drawn and painted occasionally, sometimes using pastels, but generally would be frustrated because things didn’t turn out like I’d hoped. One drawing I like from many years ago is of my daughter asleep when she was around 3 which hangs on our landing.
Living in London and having access to so much art is great. Also I was lucky as part of my work to visit New York regularly for several years and was able to visit the galleries there. I particularly remember Mondrian and Matisse retrospectives at the MOMA and Hopper retrospective at the Whitney Museum. A teacher friend of mine in New York is married to Brooklyn artist Simon Dinnerstein who told us once that he could spend two years on a painting. That stunned me at the time, it still does, but realise now he didn’t mean he was doing that one painting every day.
I love visiting the main galleries in Paris. Recently we spent some in Warsaw – to my shame I’ve been totally unaware of Polish artists from any period. My visits to Poland previously were mainly in a rural area or small town with my grandmother and other family. We visited the National Gallery in Warsaw and saw an exhibition by Gierymski as well as other older and more modern works.
I particularly liked Korolkiewicz’s 13 December 1981, morning when martial law was declared following the wave of Solidarnosc strikes.
i’ve enjoyed looking at art much more since I started at City Lit – am more aware but at the same time see how much I’ve got to learn about looking.
Coming to a City Lit has been brilliant. It’s an amazing, enabling place. I’ve spent about 2 years on drawing courses including 2 courses on portraits, and in the last year I’ve done painting courses in acrylics and oils. I was extremely nervous about painting initially but found it hugely liberating. I’ve done a few pieces since starting at City Lit that I feel pleased with.
Some of my attendance in the last 2 years has been majorly disrupted by work on the campaign to save Lewisham Hospital – the government announced plans to close most of its services in October 2012. We saved the hospital and If you want to read about it follow the link here .Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign. Our campaign continues, but at a lower level at the moment.
And now I’m on the City Lit Fine Art course…