ISADA Conference

The Independent Schools Art & Design Association annual conference was hosted by the Edinburgh Academy Art Department this weekend. It started on Friday with a day of gallery and museum visits punctuated by artist talks. Meeting in Old St Pauls Church in front of Alison Watt’s alter piece ‘Still’ was about the only time that we were. From there we went to the City Art Centre where Bronwen Sleigh talked about her work and being an artist in Scotland in her wonderful group exhibition “A Fine Line”. After a talk at the Fruitmarket Gallery on the work of Jacqui Donachie, we then met the wonderful Robin Gillanders in his exhibition at Stills gallery, before then carrying on up the hill to the Dovecot Studios.

From here our group divided, with some visiting the Surgeon Hall Museum and some to the Talbot Rice Gallery. After a brief visit to the Museum of Scotland and lunch we then split again with some appreciating a wonderful tour of the Edinburgh College of Art by two of their students, while others went to see Turner’s watercolours at the National Gallery of Scotland and the BP Portrait exhibition at the Portrait Gallery, followed by a visit to various Dundas street galleries.

In the evening the main hall was beautifully set up for a series of short thought provoking presentations by three wonderful speakers at our first ‘food for thought’ dinner. The first speaker was Helena Good who is a lecturer in Graphic Design at Edinburgh College, who spoke about her aims to link Creative Industries with Colleges and Schools to ensure that pupils are aware of the creative skills required and the changing Creative Economy we are entering into. She was followed by Kate Latham from Jupiter Artland who is head of Learning, who not only spoke about this wonderful resource Edinburgh has but also about the need for risk taking and discovery in natural spaces for our children and pupils. The last to speak was Alison Williams who gave us a more academic understanding of the perception and meaning of the word creativity and raising questions about how can we create an ecology of creativity and lose the bias that can exist against creatives. All together these three inspirational speakers provided us with much ‘food for thought”

On the Saturday, the group of 38 teachers were in the Art department, where Barbara Rae RA gave a wonderful workshop on monotype printing with fantastic results from the teachers. We also had superb workshops by Mark Doyle in casting, Tricia Thom in pottery, Martha Ellis in Wicker Sculpture, Iko Emersleven in After Effects, as well as life drawing session where staff could share good practice. An amazing day with so much covered and all the teachers coming away elated.

On the Sunday we walked to the Gallery of Modern Art via the Dean village and enjoyed Alice Strang’s curated exhibition A New Era and the rest of the work on show at the galleries before teachers started to make their way to the airport and back to their school tired but inspired.

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