The Visual Arts – Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Term: 1 Year: 2021

The visual arts thrill the viewer, excite the senses and touch perception. When we stumble out of an exhibition, reeling with possibility, it is often not the mastery of skill that holds us enthralled, but the magic. The intimacy and the innovation, the exploration of the unknown, a compilation of the familiar in a novel way.

In 2020, the visual arts were asked to pivot to a completely new way of teaching and learning. How to teach an applied learning, hands-on course, without shared resources, immediate visual feedback loops and that all-important emotional connection with our students and their works? It was challenging! Coffee, soy sauce and beetroot became paint. Grandparents, brothers and sisters became their scrutinised subject matters. Traditional forms, textile arts and digital techniques were explored as each student combed his or her now all-too-familiar home for inspiration.

Students took over kitchen tables, lounge rooms and garages with a flurry of agency, energy and creative practice that forced us to recognise, more than ever, the importance of the visual arts. Art connects positive to negative; it shines a light on the academics around it, bringing theories to life, adding colour to process and practice. The fostered creativity, innovative teaching (combined with a good dose of IT support), enabled the fires of the visual arts to continue to burn.

We all – as artists, students, teachers and administrators – tapped into our inner artist during this trying time. The visual arts were humanity’s first literacy: its first way of letting those that would come along after the first caveman had fallen prey to the local carnivore know, I was here.

Megan Hall
Head of Learning – Visual Arts
St Leonard’s College