Editorial: Shaping Things To Come: Academia's Contribution To Our Future Artistic Heritage

By Dr Jenny Wilson

In his 1999 book, Art Subjects, Howard Singerman saw the university as ‘a crucial structuring site where artists and art worlds are mapped and reproduced'.  University teaching, research and engagement agenda and the strategies that are adopted serve to enhance or restrict how its artists, staff and students, connect with and advance their genres and professions.


In This Edition Of NiTRO

In this edition of NiTRO, we consider how the university does, and should, connect with the myriad of genres, professions, industries and practitioners that make up ‘the art world'. 

Creative arts education is a global endeavour. Pamela Burnard (Cambridge University, UK) highlights the common international need to update T & L strategies in her call for creative teaching for creative learning.  In a similar vein, Arun Sharma (QUT) observes a growing importance for the skills that creative arts disciplines bring to emerging industry developments and reflects upon new approaches which may be needed if creative arts education is ready to meet this demand

Although comparatively new to the university sector, artistic disciplines have long histories of education that can inform techniques and practices to assist students prepare for life as professional practitioners. In a Q & A interview with Jenny Wilson, Clive Barstow (ECU) reminiscences about his own art school experiences and considers how these have shaped his thinking. Meanwhile, through interviews that include a number of DDCA members, Tamara Winikoff  (NAVA) traces some of the key issues that feature in the ongoing art school story.

Eileen Siddins (JCU) and Ryan Daniel (JCU) consider what strategies we can adopt to help build resilience in our graduates as they prepare to enter their chosen artistic profession while Sue Gillett (La Trobe) shares two programs that have delivered closer connection for creative writing students with the broader art world as well as enhancing their employment prospects. Interdisciplinarity is the key for Tracey Benson (Canberra) as she recounts her experiences in a New Zealand project, while for Vanessa Tomlinson (Queensland Conservatorium), it is direct collaboration between students, practitioners and academics exemplified by the recent Australian Percussion Gathering which resulted in a plethora of new compositions and performances. For Ian Haig (RMIT), academia is one of a number of influences that push contemporary art into the role of societal healer, distorting the artist's role to provoke responses in their audiences.

How do our students experience their time as practitioners in academia? What influence does it have upon their practice as professional artists? Artistic Director of the Australian Art Orchestra, Peter Knight a graduate of VCA and Queensland Conservatorium, considers these questions.

Malcolm Gillies (ANU) provides an additional perspective to the discussion on artistic research featured in edition 2, with a personal recollection of his involvement in the Strand inquiry, as he wonders how creative arts research today would measure up against the criteria explored by Strand. Linda Ludwig (FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Switzerland) gives us an insight into European thinking from a recent symposium on artistic research that took place concurrently with the Basel Art Fair in Switzerland.

Despite the ongoing uncertainty for artists at Sydney College of the Arts and the National Art school, positive news for colleagues at UQ, Monash, AFTRS and La Trobe show that all is not negative across the sector as a whole. And as the recent successes by Music industry award winners Professors Paul Grabowsky and Andrew Schultz demonstrate, artists working in our universities continue to advance artistic practice outside ‘the ivory towers'.


Your Views?

How is the contemporary Australian university contributing to our artistic direction as a nation? As custodians of our cultural future, how are our pedagogical and engagement strategies supporting Australia's current and emerging artists for the role that they will play in creating our artistic heritage?

Join the discussion by contributing your views and research reports on these questions or any other issues of importance to tertiary creative arts to our next edition of NiTRO. In particular, we welcome information on your upcoming end of year shows, performances, exhibitions, and screenings for a What's On in Tertiary Arts feature.