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Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Hornsey sit-in

When I was asked to write for the this blog I was at a bit of a loss as to what I could write about, not through lack of things that interest me but rather a lack of clarity about what genuinely excites me in the art world. I used to be pretty clear about my ideas concerning art but with everything that's happened recently such as the voluntary work I took on at the beginning of the summer, moving house twice and being involved in the Summer School, I've had to re-think much of what I previously thought; what am I actually trying to convey by making 'art'? how can I do this? do I even want to do things that fall within the realm of being classified as 'art'?

I then read a little into the 'Hornsey Sit-in' (because of its connection to my university) and this really caught my interest...

There was an event held at Middlesex University at the end of last academic year to mark the 40th anniversary of the Hornsey Sit-in (the school of arts and education based at Cat Hill used to be Hornsey college of art before becoming part of Middlesex Poly in 1973) I knew a little about the Sit-in, what I'd been told by my peers, the talks at college spurred my interest further. Lisa Tickner (who spoke at the event at Middlesex) released a book this year; Hornsey 1968: The Art School Revolution which gives an incredibly lucid account of the events of the Sit-in, the aftermath and the reason why it occurred in the first place.

The Sit-in (which, according to Tickner was triggered by the freezing of student union funds and was intended to last only 24 hours) involved epic debates about entrance requirements, the education of art history, student's input on the curriculum and moved onto discussions about education in general. There were over seventy documents produced, MORADE (the Movement for Rethinking Art and Design) was formed (although this was short lived), a three day conference at the Roundhouse in Camden and an exhibition at the ICA took place as a result of the Sit-in. By many accounts it was an incredibly productive period at the college; there is the famous remark made by one of the students that they "learnt more in six week than they had done in three years".

What I found really compelling about the Sit-ins was the way in which students seemed to run the college themselves, pursuing art and design research projects, holding talks (often lasting from one day to the next) with guest speakers such as Buckminster Fuller. What also made it distinctive was that unlike much of the student unrest happening at LSE or Paris for instance, the large majority of those at the Sit-in were aploitical before it took place and it was the process of being there and participating that brought about student's political awareness.

Reading about the Sit-in has made me want to learn more about issues important in art education, this is imperative for me because I'm currently a student on the Fine Art course at Middlesex University, feel it necessary to have an awareness of these . I also feel it's important because education of course, can be such a formative experience in a person's life.

1 comment:

Sam Trotman said...

as you are interested in education and new models of it then this event might be of interest to you: