Camberwell College of Art MA in Book Arts
Visiting Tutor, Camberwell College of Arts MA in Book Arts, University of the Arts London (1996 to 2000)
This programme attracts a widely varied group interested in the theory, materiality and potential of the book form – paper, binding, sequentiality, seriality, printing techniques, letterforms, publishing in an expanded field, and more. My work with students involved specialist lectures on artists’ books and related issues in fine art, such as ‘Bodies and Books,’ ‘Names and Letters,’ and ‘Scientific Visualisation.’
My work with students for Course Director Susan Johanknecht (whose book, Modern (Laundry) Production you see above) began with a one-off lecture and several tutorials in 1996, and I became officially a Visiting Tutor for the two academic years from 1999 – 2001, working with around 30 students in all over that time.
Because I had completed a humanities MA in the History of the Book at the University of London, Institute of English Studies (1997 – 98, Commonwealth Scholar), I was able to convey to students multiple methodologies and strategies for research, development and production both within and beyond book arts. In fact, teaching the Book Arts MA conversely enabled me to interrogate my own practice in book arts as an artist, and integrate this more deeply with the materials I had researched on my humanities MA.
My knowledge of the history of book arts and artists’ books, from my father’s collection to that of Art Metropole in Toronto, where I had worked in the Artists’ Video Distribution section, was fundamental to my teaching. Projects which I had completed with Lyne Lapointe, such as The Spirit & The Letter & The Evil Eye (Bath Festivals, 1994) were also of considerable interest to students in relation to installation practices and theories of collecting.
From ‘Names and Letters’:
It will sound so obvious that it will be transparent. It will be hard to see why it’s important and then later, we won’t believe that we had never seen it before. Names are made up of letters. But what is in a name? What is in a name other than letters? And are the letters themselves not perhaps more than we think they are, larger than life, and is the name they make up more than the sum of its letter parts? What is a name connected to and what things does it form a connection between? This question of the relation between the spirit and the letter will be familiar to anyone who has drawn the alphabet or part of it as an exercise or out of the kind of compulsion that makes the creative hand trace something — apparently anything, or perhaps little nothings — on the page.
Names and letters are the core of the creative lives of typographers, of novelists, of urban planners engaged in street signage, of graphic designers and so many more. They are present in paintings, films, videos, sculptures, installations, prints. As I say, they are so obvious that they are transparent, and so we need to look at them closely to see them at all.
The position of Visiting Tutor in UK Art Schools is designed to engage highly active practising artists from outside the academy in the teaching of graduate students. Though an hourly-paid position, it is often pivotal to the structure and intellectual direction of programmes for which the actual course leader can sometimes be the only administrator.
I gave advanced individual studio tutorials and student guidance in essay writing and research, as well as supervision and marking of coursework and conferring with the course leader on student progress and learning outcomes.
Student essays I guided include:
‘Public Space: Room for Art or for Authority?’
‘Opening the Text: The Book as a Hypertextual Object’
‘The True Nature of Conservation: Are Conservation Ethics Commensurate with Contemporary Art Practice?’
Further Links: Book Arts MA, Camberwell, University of the Arts London
[Image References: CCW Prospectus 2012, Inventory Design Studio; Modern (Laundry) Production, by Susan Johanknecht, Gefn Press]