Álvaro Restrepo: ‘Education is useless’

'If education does not strengthen us, if it does not reveal us our vocation, our inner voice, and if it does not help us to get rid of frustration and the fear of failure, then what is the bloody purpose of education?' Álvaro Restrepo is a Colombian artist, choreographer and educator who has run an … Continue reading Álvaro Restrepo: ‘Education is useless’

It’s the end of the world as we know it

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about the arts (and culture) being in crisis. There will be much more, next week, when delegates gather for a big double conference in York and Bristol, generously funded by the British Council, Arts Council England and others. I imagine hand-wringing, soul searching, frustration and anger, … Continue reading It’s the end of the world as we know it

Beyond control

 I want the heart, I want the soul, I want control right now Badlands (1978) Bruce Springsteen 'Shackled and Drawn' During the 1970s, when the NME was teaching me how to listen to music (and more besides) and punk challenged the Seventies rock nobility, their annual awards became funnier and less respectful. One was titled 'Thanks … Continue reading Beyond control

Men to boys

I was in my teens when Morecambe and Wise were in their BBC glory days, each Christmas Special more keenly anticipated and more rapturously received than the last. They were quite funny, but their culture (Northern music hall) and their comedy (visual, song and dance) seemed old fashioned to someone growing up with Monty Python. … Continue reading Men to boys

Artists (still) teaching art

Many people read the post about the problems faced by artists teaching in Further Education recently, which described the threat of redundancy over many of those lecturing at Chesterfield College. Mik Godley, who worked with me on Winter Fires, producing the wonderful portraits of older artists, was one of those whose very part-time job teaching … Continue reading Artists (still) teaching art

Artists teaching art

Mik Godley, the artist with whom I worked on Winter Fires, is threatened with redundancy from his part-time teaching post at Chesterfield College. It’s the third time in three years and he’s feeling particularly vulnerable because he doesn’t have a formal teaching qualification—though he’s been teaching life drawing and painting to foundation students at Chesterfield … Continue reading Artists teaching art

Artful scientists

The relationship between art and science has been fractious since the Enlightenment, when practices that had often been seen as alternative ways of approaching the same truth began to be separated into competing theories. Aesthetics, scientific method and philosophy were spun out with a kind of intellectual centrifugal force. In recent years there have been … Continue reading Artful scientists

A child’s view of the Miners’ Strike

Yesterday morning, Margaret Thatcher died. Her death has been followed by an explosion of polemic, encomium and vitriol, about what happened under her premiership and how it has shaped Britain in the years since she resigned in 1990. Hearing former miners speaking about their lives put me in mind of the strike. In 1984, I … Continue reading A child’s view of the Miners’ Strike

The useful uselessness of art

Everyone knows the usefulness of what is useful, but few know the usefulness of what is useless. Zhuangzi Human beings do not have to make art to survive, which is why it’s relegated to the highest (last) place in Maslow’s much quoted hierarchy of needs. But it’s a grave mistake to think that those things we … Continue reading The useful uselessness of art

The mailman’s authority

‘Alert always to “Wittgenstein’s distinction between all the trivia you can talk about, and all the essentials you can’t,” Steiner has labored not ever to obscure that distinction.’ George Steiner at the New Yorker (2009) I read this sentence in Robert Boyers’ introduction to George Steiner’s collected essays for the New Yorker. My interest was … Continue reading The mailman’s authority