Future degrees in jewellery and glass studies will no longer be available in NSW when the University of Sydney closes Sydney College of Arts in the Kirkbride buildings in Callan Park. Ceramic studies currently available at the National. Art School at Darlinghurst will also disappear if the school is shut down by the NSW Government, as feared. With the concurrent loss of most crafts and visual arts studies at TAFE colleges through out NSW this will bring to an end a broad based tradition of tertiary craft education established over a period of 60 years. It will be almost impossible for future generations of young people to become professional jewellers, silversmiths, glass and ceramic artists unless they study interstate or overseas.
A retrospective of the artworks and materials produced in the campaign to save Sydney College of the Arts.
It has been a troubled year for the visual arts in NSW, with the on again, off again merger of Sydney College of the Arts and the threatened closure of National Art School in East Sydney.
In November last year, University of Sydney announced plans to ‘gradually over the next three years’ move SCA out of the historic Callan Park campus. Then in a surprising turn in June 2016, Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence announced that University of Sydney and UNSW had signed a Heads of Agreement for students at the college at Callan Park to transfer to one of the courses offered by UNSW Art & Design in Paddington. What was touted as a merger was really the closure of SCA.
I completed my BVA at Sydney College for the Arts, and later went on to do my post-graduate Masters at the College for the Arts, now UNSW Art and Design. My decision to do so was based on not wanting a singular voice to inform my art education. If art is about a larger conversation, if it is about an exchange of dialogue, then that needs to happen, first and foremost, in it’s own local as a first step. We can not talk to the world if we do not know how to talk amongst ourselves. Anyone who suggests that a homogenous experience of the arts is a step towards excellence clearly has no insight into the multi faceted ways the visual arts are informed.
THE BELOW IS AN ITERATION OF A SPEECH WRITTEN FOR THE SAVE SCA PROTEST ON FRIDAY 15TH JULY OUTSIDE THE AGNSW. I WAS INVITED TO DELIVER THIS SPEECH BY KATH FRIES ON BEHALF OF THE FRIENDS OF SCA. THIS VERSION HAS BEEN REVISED FROM THE ORIGINAL SPEECH IN COLLABORATION WITH SHANE HASEMAN.
I studied at SCA as both an undergraduate and post-graduate student. My colleagues, many of whom continue to make work as artists of much note, were also my classmates at SCA.
Last night I was recalling some of this cohort: Mark Shorter, Bilijana Jancic, Clare Milledge, Jonny Nietsche amongst many others. What struck me about this group was its weirdness. Each artist, including myself, has this sticky-ness, or, sense of resistance in their practice.
Even though I can imagine nothing more different than these four artists and their cultural harvests
– Renny Kodger’s giant appendage, Clare’s marsupial sorcery, Biliana’s unwavering formal and political discipline, and the smooth, unbroken sheen of Johnny’s surfaces – I can also see something in common.
It is an uncertain time to be a student of visual arts in Sydney, or indeed Australia. Funding cuts and campus shutdowns send a toxic message to young people whose ambitions and talents lie in the arts. These same young people are now fighting back – the past month has seen sit-ins at the Archibald Prize, citywide marches from all art schools, an ongoing occupation of Sydney College of the Arts, and 138 visual arts students lodging legal claims totalling $4.1 million in damages against the University of Sydney.
At 9min 55 sec.