Hats off to Edmund de Waal, author and ceramicist, and the Crafts Council. On Monday De Waal launched the Crafts Council manifesto – Our Future Is In the Making: An Education Manifesto for Craft and Making. Craft-related courses are under the cosh in schools and Art Colleges. De Waal points both to the £3.4 billion that craft skills generate for the UK economy and to the link between making and entrepreneurship, citing Josiah Wedgwood whose childhood experience as a potter was instrumental to his becoming one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the eighteenth century. The manifesto places the A of Art amongst the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), pointing to its importance in careers such as Architecture – hence the re-fashioned acronym, STEAM.
This links in my mind with what I heard in the presentation given by the Bedales Schools’ Art departments to our governors on Friday. Bedales Head of Art, Simon Sharp talked about how the place was “a school of seeing where it was cool to be creative” and where, because of the strong emphasis on Art and Design in our prep school, Dunhurst, students coming through to the senior school established this culture whereby “there was no cynicism about the value of Art” and where students quickly accepted that “worry and struggle are part of it – if it’s easy it’s not Art”.
There are two current and vibrant examples of this: the Art auction, launched with a display last week of some of the most prominent work, including an Ivon Hitchens (pictured above), kindly donated to help raise money for our new Art & Design building and now online at Paddle8; and the Barnsley Workshop exhibition in the Gallery, which will be viewed amongst others by many of those attending the Edward Thomas event on Sunday, when we will celebrate his brief life of an associated kind of craft – that of poetry.
Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.