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ceramic courses closing in the uk

updated mon 26 nov 01


Janet Kaiser on sun 25 nov 01

Richard and all the other 22 Clayarters in the UK... (I
know a few, but who else is out there lurking? Better
watch my Ps and Qs :-)

It really breaks my heart... So much experience and
teaching talent being lost to future generations. Now
the generation of real Old Timers like Frank Hamer and
Derek Ems are long retired from active teaching, it
should be the next generation of lecturers now gaining
stature. But, no! Not at all...

The Royal Forest of Dean was really a centre of
excellence. Jack Doherty, erstwhile Chair of the Craft
Potters' Assoc. GONE...

Up North, Jim Robison pushed into GOING and the whole
department GONE or being so badly run down, that the
powers-that-be can close it with a "good conscience".
Indeed, I hear that they want to sell the campus to
make up a massive hole in their finances... Truth or
gossip, I could not say, but it sounds about right.

In London, whole ceramic departments GONE and to add
insult to injury, all the equipment dumped into skips
and sent to landfill sites without being offered to
students, tutors, schools or anyone else. Such utter

Now you tell us that Bournemouth ceramic department has
GONE too... It says at lot when a college decides its
future is in the Media... Spin doctors have replaced
real workers and others with talent, so now even the
colleges prefer the Dream Machine to solid
craftsmanship and manual labour/work. Where on earth
will it all end?

What annoys me most, is that it was official government
policy to make sure everyone had access to higher
education and various bits of paper leading to BA
degrees and higher. They turned polytechnics, technical
colleges and whatnot into universities and were
surprised when people were just not into their
airy-fairy, look-I'm-an-artist courses, but wanted
real, hands-on, practical training.

And now a generation of politicians (who are only where
they are because of the FREE further education they
received themselves) have imposed fees and removed
grant aid to students! We have adopted the US system,
but with none of the backup... No stipends,
scholarships or other means for students from poor
families to contemplate further education without going
into thousands of pounds of debt. Which is probably why
those departments which were traditionally either
purely academic (like Greek and Latin) or art
orientated will die out anyway... How many young
graduates will be able to pay off their debt from being
professional artists?

Those of you who were "saddened" and "pissed-off" at
what I was trying to express last week should just
consider our historical background and these current
trends... The age-old struggle between the well-meaning
intellegencia and the ordinary folk or proletariat. We
like rolling our sleeves up and working, not eulogising
about a cup with a hole in the bottom. If we now remove
the very courses where we could have learned, what do
we have left? This is a question to the simple potter,
not those who are happy and quite entitled to pursue a
career in design or pure art.

Apprenticeships became a dirty word and despised as
"slave labour" back in the 1960s, so the half dozen
places with working master potters are rarer than gold.
Without practical training available, there will be a
generation of teach-yourself-to-pot people, who will
have to reinvent the wheel (almost literally), because
there is no one around to pass on millennia of
knowledge to them.

"Saddened" and "pissed-off"? You bet I am!!

Janet Kaiser
The Chapel of Art . Capel Celfyddyd
Home of The International Potters' Path
8 Marine Crescent . Criccieth LL52 0EA
Wales . GB . United Kingdom
Tel: (01766) 523570