Thursday, 13 May 2010

An interview with my art teacher

If you're a regular reader here it won't have escaped your attention that I'm a bit of a magnet for online art courses and collaborations. Earlier in the year I came across artist Amelia Critchlow's blog and was drawn in by her storytelling. When she wrote that she was running her own experimental art course... well.... I just couldn't resist!

Am I having fun?
Am I getting messy, sticky and leaving a trail of destruction in my wake?
Am I learning, experimenting and developing as an artist?

Well, I have no hesitation in answering yes to the above. Amelia was kind enough to agree to an interview, so please join me in giving her a round of applause to artist extraordinaire - Amelia Critchlow - cue theme music...

Amelia Critchlow

I'm kind of imagining myself as a female Jonathan Ross here (complete with messy hair and loud suit). For those living away from these shores, Wossy (as he is affectionately known), is a chat show host.

Let's kick off...

Have you run online courses before?
Courses I’ve run previously have all been in museum, gallery, university, or community based settings, so this is the first time I have taken my art teaching on-line. It’s all very exciting because I can put forth exactly what I choose and love without having to tick any boxes!

by Slevek, student on Experimental art e-course

What was the inspiration behind this course?
My main inspiration stems from teaching family groups where parents want bring their kids and I noticed it’s often the parents that want to do art, but the most legitimate way is through their children as people often lack confidence or time to pursue their own interests. Also, the idea of it being on-line means that it can be accessed any time and there is no need to turn up at a set time and place each week, which suits people working and those that may need childcare to go to a college class – no childcare needed, just wait until the kids are in bed!

by Amelia Critchlow
This course also allows people to look at art in new ways, (experimental ways) as lots of people will not do art if they think they have to get it ‘correct’ – look at kids, they don’t worry about this, they just get down and get messy and play – I think adults should do this too. Who isn’t happiest when absorbed in something creative that one loves doing?

This course is a bit like a mini foundation too whereby you have a chance to try lots of different things and decide what you might like to pursue further. I am looking to run a second course when I know what people would like the most having done the first course . . . . .
by WrightStuff, student on Experimental Art e-course

What’s your personal art history?
I was fortunate enough to be brought up in a really ‘arty’ family. My father is a trained artist and now lectures, writes and teaches art, and my mother was a trained dressmaker and now patchwork and quilter. I saw nothing but creativity when growing up and was always encouraged to make, make, make. As a result I took art at GCSE and A level and although my first degree was meant to be in English and Art, it ended up being mainly academic. So when my eldest went to school I returned to Morley College in London to do a Foundation degree in Art and went on to Wimbledon School of Art to do a pure Fine Art Degree – it was both the hardest and the best thing I did! Throughout my life I have always attended evening and other art classes too. I adore learning with a passion and have had some amazing teachers. I am sharing a lot of what I have learnt on the experimental art e-course.

By Amelia Critchlow

What exhibitions or works by other artists have blown you away recently?
I particularly enjoy the work of Wangechi Mutu whose painterly collages are powerful, evocative and revealing depictions of womanhood and in particular the experiences of women of colour. I also happened to go and see Annette Messagers recent exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London and her obsessive collection of things, the stuffed animals, the hand-stitching on fabric was amazing. There was one room filled with nothing but huge sheets of red satin that spilled out of a small gap in the wall and then covered the entire floor, there was a machine billowing out air that made it ripple and move and light up and shift over hidden objects. It was so evocative and surreal, and one day I long to do a huge installation art piece too. I enjoy contemporary art for the way it pushes boundaries and makes us question ourselves and the world around us.
I also went to the Whitechapel Art Gallery not so long ago to see Sophie Calle, another female artist who pushes herself out as far as possible and involves others in her artistic interactions. I won’t say too much here, but do go and look these artists up. As you can tell I like female artists that draw on both their own personal experiences, but also question the world around them too.

What were you hoping participants would take away from this course?
My biggest hope for this course is that it would entice those who love being creative or who are really keen to be artistic in some way but lack confidence or don’t know where to begin. It gives me so much pleasure to see adults find something unique and special for them in amongst the stresses and strains of contending with life! I know what doing art has meant to me it’s been a life saver, particular over the last few years when I have had to deal with a horrible split from my ex partner and finding out my youngest has asperger syndrome, and dealing with all this entails. Art is therapy and pleasure and a means of expression.

I also hoped that people may get from the course that art is not just about painting or drawing something technically correct. The world is full of potential art materials and ways of being artistically expressive and it’s a fun journey to embark on. It’s also designed for those that are practicing artists who may want to try something new and get some fresh inspiration.

This course is all about giving ourselves permission to PLAY!

by KayaKutie, student on Experimental art e-course

How has it met or exceeded your expectations?
I am loving every moment of it, seeing what wonderful creations people are coming up with. What will appear next on the course group pool. Hearing people’s positive feedback and how they are getting so much from it. This means so much to me. I am still learning as I run it so I will have to give full feedback at the end of this first course!

How have your students inspired you?
My students have inspired me because they have risen to the challenge of being experimental and have come up with some of their own great ideas of materials to use in response to the assignments I have put out there, and people have made some of the most inspiring and interesting creations, and often I find myself wanting to go off and do the same thing too!

What are your plans for future courses?
My plans for a future course would be to go in to one of the weeks in more depth. At the end of this course I am keen to hear what people particularly enjoyed on the course, and ask them if they could do a second course what would it be in, ie. what would the like to re-visit in more depth. It’s much better that I give people what there is a need or asking for! I’m inclined to think it may be something along the lines of a mixed media and collage course. I am really interested in interesting methods of application and image transferral. I enjoy playing with surfaces and getting surprise effects and there are some very interesting ways of getting marks, surface effects and also applying one surface to another . . . .ooooh, I can feel the excitement just thinking about it!

Art makes the world go round!

The next course begins on 14th June. You can sign up here.

By Barbara Rae, Student on Experimental art e-course


  1. You are a true friend, Lisa for giving Amelia (love that name) an ad. Looks like lots of fun and I must say, the student might outshine the teacher :) Shhh

  2. Lisa, in looking at the amazing things you've created in this class....WOW, you're amazing. Amelia's done a fabulous job in preparing us to enjoy what we love. Stretching us and teaching us really to just play and I think the end result is "better" and more satisfying than if we were "playing by al the art rules!" I do look forward to a shortened intense course with Amelia. Thanks for interviewing her and for featuring one of my pieces (kayakutie) ! I'm still nagging her about getting together a retreat for all of us and offering Austin TX! Pat

  3. Terribly really make me want to take an online class...Just where am I going to fit that in right now...our busiest time of the year here. Hmmmm.

    Thanks for sharing this and 'wossy' watch out!


  4. Fabulous interview Wossy? oops, I mean Lisa. Just wants to make me sign up even more. IN fact - it makes me want to go right over there and see her in person!!! Great post!

  5. ooooh great interview! ;)

    Glad you're still enjoying getting wild and messy and having fun playing!


  6. Amelia is a contact, so it great to learn more about her - well done Lisa.

  7. Lisa, this is the first chance I've had to comment, I loved the artical on Amelia, and Thank you for posting my art. I crashed my computer and I had a rough time getting up and running therefore, I havn't been on the web for a few days. I also love your blog its well done. thanks again, Barbara Rae


Thank you for your comments - I always love to hear what you think :)

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