Transcending Genres: My interview with Journalist Michael K Corbin

Hello all! Getting back in the studio, I’ve been absent from blogging. Today I take time to think of you, hoping all is well and you’re enjoying life with family and friends. Today I include the link to a recent interview conducted by American art collector, journalist and broadcaster Michael K  Corbin.  Michael is the author of ‘Art For The People: A Collector’s Journal’ which won the 2012 Pinnacle Book Achievement Award.  He writes for a number of magazines including Absolutearts and Artbookguy. He took time to ask me a few questions about me and my work.


The James Review: Is the door closing on Educational Opportunities?

Are we going in the right direction?

The long awaited review of capital investment into UK schools represents a major landmark in developing a new approach to investing  in young people’s education. The government-commissioned independent review into procurement in the education sector has concluded that school buildings should be managed by a centralised organisation, designed to achieve real value for money. The ‘Review of Education Capital’ has found the previous government’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme wasteful, bureaucratic and misdirected. I agree that it was wasteful ( partly due to the procurement method and lack of stakeholder engagement) but the jury is still out on the suggestion that bespoke designs for schools aren’t necessary or a more ‘flat pack’ approach would make more economic sense.  The challenge is clear: how do we maintain the infrastructure, an adequate level of investment in suitable facilities and innovation within a tight budget ? A number of local authorities applied for a Judicial Review of Michael Gove’s decision to cut Building Schools for the Future (BSF) but for a majority of schools, up and down the country the predicament remains. I have taught, been a primary school Governor and worked in the construction sector for several years during which time I’ve visited many schools and found a significant proportion are beyond their design life. Key enabling factors such as quality of air, light, acoustics, temperature, comfort and design quality do matter and can influence educational outcomes. It’s worth noting the significant impact a well designed, fit for purpose school has on serving the community as a hub for local activity and amenities. If we are serious about the future wellbeing of  not only the privileged , surely our schools need to be fit for purpose? It is nonsense to believe one size will fit all and that individuals, irrespective of their socio-demographic standing should learn in any old concrete box?!

Michael Gove- Secretary of State for Education

How far can we standardise disabled access or special education provision without being sensitive to local demographics and local needs?  We know we are in a climate of ‘more for less’ and that school investment must compete with other investment priorities but if we can find budgets to fight wars and unrests overseas surely we can ring fence some funds for the what is in effect the nations education? It is an interim report for further discussion and debate but I fear the attitude of not investing appropriately in the physical environment we call ‘schools’ will have a disastrous effect on the standards of teaching, the learning experience of our children and on society as a whole. Let’s watch carefully!

Art Therapy- We all need a Little!

Art in Schools

We all need a little art therapy! We are constantly made aware of new forms of art therapy providing some psychological, physical or social benefit for a targeted group, an unfortunate patient or a statemented child. In truth, we are all in constant need of treatment. There is a great deal of evidence that art  provides therapeutic benefits for every individual and those regularly using public buildings. Carefully chosen, the shapes, colours and atmosphere created by paintings, murals, sculptures or installations have a beneficial effect on hospital patients and staff, school children and communities in general. Art provides stimulation and may add, if not create an appropriate feel for an area. Moreover, it provides ‘landmarks’ the communities can associate with.

With the present UK Government’s debate over the free schools, the continuing growth of foundation hospitals and a very ambitious overhaul to public buildings and services, the competence of all our professionals delivering public services should not be dismissed. Aside from a skilled workforce, studies show the public’s perception of the quality of school, the cleanliness of our healthcare buildings or simply the appeal of the hotel we’ve decided to stay at on holiday is shaped,  to a large degree, by the image and appearance presented. This is not only based on the architectural merits or esthetics of the building but the quality of its interior design of which art plays such an integral part.

With so much riding on the outcome of planning and selecting processes, public art cannot afford to be an afterthought. As with the interior and architectural planning processes, a successful art programme/project  involves many hours of complicated problem solving. The design process requires planning the equipment, flooring, wall covering, and furniture acquisition. The system requires budgeting from the onset of a construction or renovation of  project. The approach in selecting artists or incorporating art should be no different.

Just my little banter as I read through various articles on funding for art projects being cut! Art is important now more than ever.