‘Those who can’t do, teach’ – right? Teaching gets a bad press over here: seen as something an artist is forced to do to finance the creative process at best. At worst we’re teaching because we’ve failed to make it at any other level. So wrong in my opinion, especially after eight weeks of learning in Japan
As an artist, one of the greatest tools I have at my disposal is the opportunity to teach. How else will I get to work with such a diverse crowd of adults and children, all with ambitions, images, ideas, talents so very different from my own? The fact is that I have never taught anyone from age three up who hasn’t had something interesting to say through their work and their approach to printing. To work well I need to be teetering by the toes of my plimsolls on the wrong side of my comfort zone and it’s my students who help to get me there. Left alone, it’s me and Radio Four and no challenging ‘why’ or ‘what if’ or ‘how’ questions.
Japan is different. Teaching in Japan is seen as the art, the finished work is the by-product, and the more I teach the more I see why, though in truth I still see art as the art. With every group of students that leaves me clutching their prints and new found knowledge, the richer my work is for the exchange. I am glad that I have the knowledge to train others in the print process and to do it well: it’s for my benefit every bit as much as theirs.
‘Those that want to move forward, teach’ is the way I see it.
I’m teaching Japanese Woodblock at Oxford Brookes and at Missenden Abbey this summer. There are a few places still available, follow the links on the workshops page of my web site.