INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
RSA University Of The Arts MARCH 2, 2005 - by Andrew Graham-Dixon
LECTURE: IS THE ART SCHOOL DEAD?
Speakers: Professor Roger Wilson (Head, Chelsea College of Art and Design); Brian Eno (Musician); Chaired by: Andrew Graham-Dixon (Art critic, The Sunday Telegraph)
Andrew Graham-Dixon: Good evening. It's my pleasure to introduce the two speakers, who will both address the provocative question, 'Is the art school dead?'
The second of the two speakers is Brian Eno, the well known musician and composer, who also has another life as a visual artist, which is perhaps less well known. He went to art school, he may talk about his experiences there a bit later on, we'll have to see. He tells me that among other things he's been working on a new album, tersely entitled This. He has also spent some of the last week attempting to find a white suit candidate to fight the seat of Sedgefield, Tony Blair's seat, and thus bring down the government, for reasons that may or may not be germane to tonight's discussion.
The other speaker is Professor Roger Wilson, who since 2003 has been Head of Chelsea College of Art & Design, which as many of you may know is facing a huge but invigorating challenge of moving into its new premises opposite Tate Britain, Milbank. Before taking up that job he was Dean of the Faculty of Art & Design and Pro-Vice Chancellor at Manchester Metropolitan University. Recently he has been Chairman of the Council for Higher Education in Art & Design and he currently chairs the Research Committee of CHEAD.
Roger's going to get the ball rolling, so Roger, is the art school dead? Is it unwell or is it in a robust state of health?
Professor Roger Wilson: There are rather too many people I recognise in this audience, this could be the end of a great career; it certainly won't be the start of one.
I remember well speaking at an event, it was in Halifax a long time ago, and as you usually do on these occasions you focus your attention on someone midway down the auditorium to get the eye line right and to have some kind of rapport with the audience. At the end of what I thought was a pretty good presentation, we had tea in the ante room and the woman that I'd been looking at all the way through this presentation came up to me and said, Professori sir I don't speak English but ... so I'll try and avoid that particular error on this occasion.
In a way 'Is the art school dead?' betrays a certain kind of position in terms of the big question about the art school and one's reminded of a quote that's usually attributed to Louis Armstrong when he was asked What is jazz? He said, If you need to ask the question you're unlikely to understand the answer. In a sense the art school question is the same as that.
I was also, when I was doing some preparation for this, we were listening at home to a blues compilation and one of the tracks was a Willie Dixon track which was called I Think I Got The Blues which I was tempted to say well if you don't know you haven't got it. In one respect this could be a very short presentation, 'Is the art school dead?' I don't think so and Brian and I could continue to have a conversation outside the room.
But of course in a way the question provokes a number of other responses, not just to defend the nature of what the art school might have been but actually to speculate on the nature of what that institution might be.
Let's start with my own qualification. Andrew quickly gave me a resume of where I was last and what I do now, but in a way my primary qualification is founded another way. There's a book that you may know written by the Irish writer Flann O'Brien called The Third Policeman. In it it's filled with scientific probabilities and expression of interests in particular phenomena, one of which is when the policeman in question explains to his young apprentice that in fact the atomic theory, which means that the particles we're made of are transferred to other particles by contact, so that if I touch the lectern, part of the lectern takes on me and I take on part of the lectern. He explains that the tendency for Irish policemen to spend most of their lives on bicycles means that most bicycles are part policemen and most policemen are part bicycle and you can probably see where I'm going with this line of argument.
I've spent forty-five years in art schools, so I am in a sense part art school and a number of art schools around the country unfortunately are part me. That in a way is my qualification, it's where I come from and where I am.
For the first part of this presentation I've called it autopsy. Not because of any kind of morbid attention to the corpse in question because autopsy I was told very early on in my art school career means the act of looking with one's own eyes and the act of observation is a key issue for me in terms of what I do pedagogically, what I do professionally and what I do in terms of being an academic leader.
If we look at the art school body over the last hundred years or so then we'd be obliged to note some significant changes over the period for the nineteenth century and the twentieth century. We started, not so long ago, with a crude division of what we thought our business was about, a crude division between the purposeful and the purposeless arts. Not surprisingly the purposeful arts included architecture on one hand and purposes less fine art on the other hand. At that time there was no division called design in the whole process.
Gradually of course we know that the characteristics of these definitions became less clear and the rise in definition of design itself further confused the simple bifurcation of what was seen as a cultural identity.
To skip forward into the mid-twentieth century, the further radical change from the national curriculum to a de-regulated and altogether permissive regime occurred. So there's no longer any certainty in the terms of what that notion of art school was, if there ever was such a thing, it was further dispersed and put apart in the middle of the twentieth century.
But we know, I think those of us that do know, that the lament 'Is the art school dead?' refers to a particular kind of identity of institution that occurred around about the 1960s. A book was published at that time, a useful coffee table book, that was brought forward from a group of people, of curators and historians - Brian Robertson from the Whitechapel Gallery, John Russell and the little known Anthony Armstrong-Jones (the man with a camera) - put together this book which surveyed, was a kind of zeitgeist publication of the period called The Private View. Not only did it try to profile what it thought as being the major artists of the time but unusually it combined that with the profile of the major institutions, galleries, collectors but also the art schools of that period and it's that point in the history of our business that in fact that particular rather sad lament 'Is the art school dead?' connects with.
But let me just remind you of some of the saving features of that period. Brian Robertson particularly charts the miraculous transformation of art education, he says Ten year ago - this was written in 1967 - There were private institutions as it were, mysterious to the outside world. Now at the end of term shows you find collectors, dealers and certainly critics on the prowl, anxious to get in on the ground floor of the career of some new and talented artist, it resonates to some extent with the '90s doesn't it?
They go on and dig the hole deeper. It isn't necessarily true, they say, That the best artists come out of the most go ahead art schools and in fact they go on to cite the Royal Academy schools, which they say is frankly hostile to that modern movement, but they feel make its point by generating such luminaries as Anthony Caro, William Scott, John Hoyland and John Huxley.
There was a point in the argument when they quote Ben Nicholson saying, I don't see how anyone can do more for a student than set him free to discover himself and then Robin Denny, a painter of that period too, put it even more succinctly, he said, The best art schools he said, are the worst. Meaning that in a way it was the art school that had the least influence, had the least imposition on the student that was regarded the most highly.
If you thought this was an open and generous period then again Robertson reminds us that the prime interest is in the exceptional student, but the exceptional student has a way of getting through in any case. Systems he says are for the unexceptional student, and their object is that the unexceptional student should be a more valuable human being for his years at art school and of some chance of earning a living which is congenial to him.
This was a period when people saw it as a halcyon day, as a great moment in the future of our art schools, where in fact it was highly questionable. This point of view was also very London centric, and I can say that with some confidence as a recent arrival here, that's it was a view that was only taken from one perspective, probably somewhere around about South Kensington.
In terms of a prescription, Brian Robertson says, A student needs in my view a studio to work in, decent equipment, a certain degree of technical instruction and an amiable and encouraging atmosphere - I particularly like amiable and encouraging - Occasional direct contact with an older, completely mature artist - I like that too - Information from the outside world in the form of lectures and discussions with visiting pundits and plenty of time for informal contact. He concludes by saying, His education in the large sense he can perfectly well handle for himself.
The section in the book closes with probably the most significant statement that brings our period of educational history to a close, he says There seems to be a movement towards turning art schools in quasi universities and a familiar brand of anti-intellectualism then flows from that point. Even worse he says Is the new insistent on a basic standard of general education. Picasso, Pollock, Brancusi would have never have made that particular grade.
That was the period that's usually referred to in terms of the lament of the death of the art school and in a sense that was my period of education, that's the point at which I grew up. It's important to recognise the school itself, the notion of the art school has never been a static and reliable model. From the nineteenth through the twentieth century and to now that model has changed on a regular basis. To claim there ever was such a thing as an art school as a body recognisable is actually mistaken. It's an act of sentiment rather than a sense of real understanding.
That closes the autopsy for me. My next section of my presentation to you I'm going to call convalescence. Now this again is clearly connected to the former occupation of Milbank by The Royal Army Medical College and in fact I'm very grateful to one of my friends and colleagues, Molly Morris at Chelsea who gave me the training manual of 1925. I'm not sure what she was trying to tell me by this but it does have a section within it where it talks about convalescence depots, this is not staff training, there was a depot called convalescence. The convalescence depot at The Royal Army Medical College in 1925 was charged to do three things. It was required to provide graduated exercises to restore physical fitness (something I'll think about), it was required to ensure recreation and amusement to fill in spare time (so we know where research came from) and thirdly it was charged - and I really particularly like this one - it was charged with the elimination of irksome discipline. Now a lot of my colleagues would find that a particularly challenging and interesting notion.
I see this section of what I'm going to say to you as a kind of restorative section and I want to try and map out some of the salient features of the modern academy and then in the final section I'll move onto one or two views about the way the future might open up for us.
My view on the salient features of the modern academy are divided into three. They are behavioural, cultural and environmental.
The behavioural first. Well there's something in the centre of our ethos, within the arts schools, this resistance to unification. It's a place where descent is more familiar than ascent, where we might be tempted to think of spoiling rather than saving, where we feel that transgression is more condoned than criticised. In his book The Cultural Politics Of Everyday Life John Shotter puts forward a very interesting distinction between informal exchange and sanctioned academic discourse.
Shotter's hypothesis is that it is through the informal discourse (and by implications its images and objects) that we assemble our reality in a social condition that is itself complex, problematic and unpredictable and this has a particular resonance with our design institutions. We've all felt that discomfort as that sophisticated, illusive and radical informality encounters the culture of audit.
It's an informality that permits a community of practitioner, teacher, student, researchers to share academic territory, and that's important that term. It's a precious and high maintenance value, without we fear that only the approved academic discourse will develop and that informality is evident in a number of ways. We show a relative distain for ceremony and hierarchies, we value progress linked to individual achievements (it's anti-corporate), we see the formulation of regulation from experience as the only viable formulation. Scepticism is applauded wherever it might rise and there's a respect for intuition and improvisation over policy. To manage that requires a different set of values and a different set of styles and certainly could not be done by a standard approach to organisational management.
It's also important to remember that the strength of the art school is based on the desire that draws people to it. It's not built on some manufactured notion of what an institution should be, it trades on precisely the reason why people go to it, staff and students, and the reasons are the same for staff and students. That desire is the architecture of the art school. In many respects the art design academy or the art school shows those self organising characteristics that we see in a lot of writing about contemporary science.
I was looking at one particular article - and it had nothing to do with my colleagues by the Thames - about slime mould. Slime mould apparently behaves in a quite an extraordinary way. It lives on vegetation and each element of slime mould, each slime 'mouldette' responds individually but precisely in the same way as the next one does, to the movement of light or the sun around the vegetation they're actually logged on. So what you don't have is a head of slime mould, there's no Rector of slime mould. What you have within each element of slime mould is its own Rector, its own Head, its own leadership, its own subject advocate and in many respects that's rather similar to the self organising characteristics of the art school. Within each member of staff within the art school, you have the total art school experience encapsulated within each of them. And to talk about leadership being given to one person, me or anyone like me, is somehow mistaken because the institution rests on that intrinsic characteristic being embedded within each of the elements within it.
So there is in a very important sense a kind of art school DNA and that's the issue that binds the institution together, that resists intimations of mortality or also it's very illusive in terms of trying to find a body and its vital signs. It means also that the school doesn't stay still, that that kind of institution is more characterised as a disparate than it is as a single, located entity. The disparate of Chelsea or of any of the colleges of University of the Arts London is very wide because the students that have been there and go somewhere else and carry with it, if you like those traces of that experience and that's the nature of the art school, it actually works in that way.
The second point about, in my behavioural category, is to do with itinerancy. We know a lot about this, I'm not going to spend a long time on it but we know that students and staff are more mobile for a variety of desirable and undesirable reasons to do with the economy, to do with the nature of the lives they live. Also to do with the uncertainty about the security of what a subject is, that within our culture, within our cultural practices those discreet notions of design, art or particularly branches of those have become challenged and changed by actions of artists and designer so it's no longer very clear to say I'll appoint the best painter in the class to be that, because in a sense that category is no longer as secure as it was. Which is not a weakness, but actually if everyone enters into the process of discourse, a strength. What it means though in terms of behaviour is that rather than the subject leader, at one time you've got the job at art school if you were the best lithographer in the group, but nowadays you need to be the best strategist, in terms of kind of cultural strategist. That is the nature of the job, it's shifted from subject identity, because subjects become disbanded, to the notion of strategy in a broader sense.
When we were moving Chelsea from its four West London sites onto Milbank, one thing became very clear to me and that is that most people are interested in issues of space distribution and I was interest in space material. I was interested in what you did with the material of space on that site and to try and draw people away from the subject orientation way of thinking into the ((?)) was really the task and remains a task at Chelsea.
The other thing about the behavioural characteristic is that because of the nature of the work that we do and the world we're in that no one is fulltime at anything anymore, we're all part-time at everything. The nature of our work is I've got a portfolio in existence that requires us to relate those different aspects of our being and our working lives together.
My second characteristic is culture and again this is a vast territory, but I'll say a few things about it because it's important that there's some register of this.
It's a familiar term and it's one that's used in a number of rather I think dumb and less dumb ways. One of the less dumb ways is through the writing of cultural commentators, one of which, the one I admire most perhaps in that sense is Terry Eagleton, who in his book The Idea of Culture makes a number of very clear distinctions about the nature of this material reality that we have. He says the idea of culture signifies a double refusal, of organic determinism on the one hand and of the autonomy of the spirit on the other. It's a rebuff of both naturalism and idealism, insisting against the former that there is that within nature which exceeds on and does it, and I guess idealism that even the most high minded human agency has its humble roots in our biology and natural environment.
When therefore people talk to me about the management of culture or the design of culture then one would have to be seriously deranged to think that it was a material at your command. We know in a way that we are actually affected more by culture than we affect it and our humility within culture is one of the most important factors of our art school existence.
He went onto say the word culture means both what is around us or inside us and the disruptive drives that can easily be equated with anarchic forces without. Culture is thus a matter of self overcoming as self realisation.
The final section in my mid-piece of convalescence is the environmental bit. Now I get a health warning flashed up when I talk about buildings. My involvement with the Milbank project is such that I'm in danger of becoming really tedious about door furniture. I can tell you an awful lot about soffits and fixings and finishings. I could also pose the question, as I did to a group of colleagues at an HRB meeting, when I said if you want a good research question in terms of environmental issues I would ask you why is that contractors, architects, project managers - and I said it in a different way - are somewhat disingenuous as a group, which seems to be the case.
Well my question really was, what is an art design enquiry based institution like? I came into the Chelsea job at the point at which the broad design parameters for Milbank had been created, so my job was a different one. It was actually to do with designing the college to fit the building rather than the designing a building for the college. If ever any of you are faced with that, I'd say that is the better of the two jobs. I think designing a building for a college is far less interesting than challenging the assumptions about what a college should be to fit any particular kind of building. I see it as a much richer academic debate.
We know and we've always known that buildings teach and some more effectively than others, and we know that values or just the valuing has an impact. We can read the background, we can look at Adorno and his theory of co-location of productive affinities, the purposeful and purpose-free arts are not any more positioned in that radical opposition.
We know that those differences have different opportunities if they're positioned in different ways around the place. This was proved true in the nineteenth century in municipal model at my former place of work in Manchester, the Regional College of Art & Design there signalled its intent over the doors, it told you what it was, it knew that people who came there for two evening classes a week - and there were no fulltime students in those days - were actually entering that kind of place with that kind of expectation. The building worked on people in advance of the staff doing anything at all.
Well then I suppose there was a question mark as to whether the location of the arts school was in itself important, like where it would be, is that question? Is that a value? If you looking at dealing with the majority of the population then maybe the Gatwick School of Art would be preferable or maybe the Motorway terminus or the Motorway service station (not that you could afford to eat there of course) but a motor service station would be a better location than Milbank in that respect. But actually location does have an effect and an impact and there's a trade between location and the nature of the space you're in. It's not a sentimental issue, it's a really practical issue that we know there is an impact of that kind, so it does matter where we work.
Connected with place is time and I think that the timescale that I had to relearn in terms of the Chelsea project at Milbank was an important one. We had been drawn into a short-termism in most of our planning activities for all sorts of legal and financial reasons but I wanted to do something else and I talked to the students at Chelsea about what timescale we'd work with and suggested to them that we worked on generational lines. I took a leaf out of Chairman Mao's book (just for a moment at least) and said let's talk about twenty-five years, let's talk about generational change, let's talk about the college that your kids will come to. In a sense that was a liberating process and if you are talking about buildings and you are talking environments somehow the time envelope has to shift with it and we have to stop thinking about next year's budget or next years recruitment, we have to think about the handover in general terms.
So those are my three elements of the middle section of what I want to talk about. Now what I want to talk about is prognosis. Prediction and retrodiction are both fairly unreliable but equally essential. I think 'Is the art school dead?' is a kind of retrodiction, but we know also the end of certainty has brought about a certain set of questioning that we didn't have before and it's cast people like me and many of my friends in the audience tonight as kind of academic meteorologists. We're required to predict short and long term based on current and past conditions and assumptions about climatic change. That's the nature of the work we do but it means that also the nature of the institutions we work in are driven by that kind of uncertainty.
So my first prognosis for the nature of the future academy is that it becomes a kind of cultural observatory. It remains critically distant from practice, importantly so. It doesn't just become the bed of practice, it doesn't become a training ground for practitioners it becomes an observatory. It takes that view that many people in the sciences have taken them as well, whereby the upsetting of traditional and classic notions of scientific determinism have been challenged, overtaken and expanded, not by the scientists themselves always but by those who observe the sciences in operation and I think there's a role within the art school for that kind of observatory, that position of saying we will look at culture, we will observe it, we'll interpret and we'll represent it.
My second characteristic of the new academy is to do with flow and to do with (I suppose by the same process) with permeability and a kind of institutional porosity. I've talked about the itinerancy of staff and students but actually there's more than that. What we have to be aware of is that our institutions are no longer to do with containment, I'm back to old site, I'm back to not only The Royal Army Medical College but before that, Milbank Prison and thinking that containment started that site and I've used contagion as the middle condition of it and our only inheritance is the next one but certainly containment was an institutional assumption about the fact you drew people to you, you closed the doors behind them and you taught them and the learnt and then you opened the doors and they left. That's no longer true, it's no longer true of the lives that people lead but it's no longer true as a possibility of a learning experience. What we're dealing with now, as I say, is a regulation of flow through our institutions rather than the containment of people within them and that's an implication for the physical design of the space that we use, the ratio between social space and learning and teaching space but also in the attitudes of the people all the way through the organisation that occupy it.
We're in a way in the midst of a new aesthetic condition, and that's the influencing social activity and also our spatial environment and it's really based on the assumption that this new condition is increasingly characterised by those flows. Flows of information, of money, of goods and of people are interconnected and the space of circulation increases all the time. Flow is that statement of where we will be.
The next one is to do with the genealogy, again back to 'Is the art school dead?' The genealogical approach to the art school saying it started there, these are the branches, you can trace it's sources, you can tap its roots, you know where it's going to do is in a sense an inadequate way to describe the nature of the institution we're in now. I actually came across quite fortuitously a Brian Eno quote, which I didn't look for intentionally but I found and I was very pleased to find it - and I hope I'm not taking something away from your presentation Brian but - you said, I think it's a kind of mid-'90s quote, you said 'Art has not ceased to affect us, it's just that the process we call art is happening elsewhere in areas that may be called by other names. Perhaps we've been looking for art in the wrong places'.
In a way I think that the replacement of that genealogical model with what ((Dilas?)) and Gitary called the riso model of a tuber tunnelling underground, sprouting up in unexpected places, places you can't predict. The art school therefore could occur in a multi national corporation, a local government or even the music industry. There's a way in which that art school riso is tunnelling away and the art school of the future has to be aware of that, it has to be connected to that riso-matic activity that's taking place under the surface, because most of the good stuff is underground.
The final thing I want to say is to do with producer over consumer and I think we've tended to be production based and I think we should be more consumer based. Most of our students become good producers, all of our students are discerning consumers and we don't construct our institutions in the right way to do that.
I'm going to end Andrew with just one short description of a student encounter that happened to me two weeks ago. A student came to see me and said we're doing this sculpture show and I want to use that place where the skips are. We've got this multi millionaire pound site and he wants to work with the skip, which is no surprise and it was a caged area with large railings around this area of the cage and he said can you get the skips out of there and I said well possibly, tell me more. He said well what I want to do is I want to bring a horse... I said carry on (animal rights started to kind of loom) and he said, I want to bring this white horse into this cage, I said yeah I'm with you so far. He said night time I'm going to shine the lights from the outside, I said you're going to make him into a zebra aren't you and he said yeah. He said then we could probably project a film, I said Black Beauty, he said yeah. Suddenly all the problems of Milbank evaporated through the imagination of one student who animated one space with that kind of wit and the art school certainly isn't dead while that can happen.
Andrew Graham-Dixon: Thank you Roger.
And now Brian is going to address the same question from I suspect a slightly different angle.
Brian Eno: Thank you very much.
Of course I have the luxury that anything I say doesn't have to be put into effect so there are no consequences to it.
I was at art school as you said and I was at art school in the '60s and at a particularly interesting art school, which I'll talk about a little bit, because it sort of informs everything else I shall talk about.
If anything it was the art school that was in direct distinction to the kind that you were just describing. The Robin Denny quote that you gave was just about exactly the opposite of the philosophy of the art school that I stood for, which was regarded by many other art teachers who weren't at the college as a sort of behaviourist totalitarian state. It was run by a very smart man called Roy Ascot who was and still is a kind of pioneer of art education I think.
It was very much disliked because it insisted on really quite severe and very disorientating behaviourist experiments that the students were put through and these involved all sorts of odd things like sensory deprivation and humiliation and so on and so on; all the things that form an interesting character in later life, which after 11 years of Catholic school was about all I needed.
The very beginning of my art school days there I arrived, as did everyone else, with a little box of paints and I was very interested in Mondrian actually and I thought I would like to paint some pictures like that and we were told to put the paints away and we were divided into pairs. There were only thirty-six of us in this little college in Ipswich, we divided into pairs and each of the eighteen pairs were asked to design a game of some kind and the idea of that game was to test everybody else in the group, for them to go through the game and to play it and to see by how they played this game what their reactions were, what choices they made to try to compile a sort of description of that person, a psychological behavioural description of them.
Now I was sixteen at the time so this was pretty new territory for me, but nonetheless we all went through the other seventeen games and we all came out with a sort of description of ourselves. So this person is extrovert, verbose, noisy, doesn't like to be left out of things and so on and so on, physically active and so on. And after that you were then asked to design the precisely opposite character to the mind-map that you had been given as a result of these games and for the rest of the term, which was another ten weeks, you had to be that person. So in my case this translated to spending the remaining ten weeks on a trolley because I was physically very active at that time. So I was on a trolley and I wasn't allowed to boss anyone around, which of course I've spent my whole career doing since, and instead of I had to just execute other peoples wishes. It was a very, very useful experience for me to suddenly live another life and to be encouraged to do so.
The other thing I should say about that art school and about all art schools at that time is that I and probably three or four of the other most interesting students wouldn't have got into that college today because we wouldn't have had sufficient academic qualifications. There was a little nucleus of students who did a lot of things there, one of them had one O level in art and he was one of the best artists there. Another one had fifteen O levels and six A levels and he was also very good. There was a very Catholic group of people there.
The impression that I formed from being at this kind of an art school - and I naively assumed initially that other art schools were like that as well but in fact very few of them were. They were caught most of them in this confusion between should we teach craft and if we don't what do we do? Oh we just let them do their thing and kind of smile now and again, which seemed to be happening... and one of those two seemed to be happening in most of the other art schools. It was either we learn about colour theory or about printing or photography or we don't know what to do otherwise. If we don't teach those things we just provide a sort of encouraging, nurturing atmosphere and generally pat people on the head as you do with young children when they're doing things. Whatever they're doing you say hey that's nice and do a bit more of that.
Ipswich wasn't either of those things. It was extremely critical. I mean in the first term I have to say we had two students leave with nervous breakdowns so it had a fairly high attrition rate. One of them interestingly was the daughter of A. S. Neil who started Summerhill, the free school so she went from a position of a very early version of '60s freedom to this sort of Stalinist college and she didn't thrive at all well.
Thinking about the experience of that college afterwards I thought what does that kind of experience prepare you for? I thought that really there are two very interesting extremes of education in England. One of them is what's called 'greats'. You know some people go to university, to the old universities usually and they study something called 'greats'; I've never really quite understood what it is but I gather it's the classical world essentially. There's really no defence for this whatsoever in a sort of business school sense, it doesn't prepare you for anything but in a sense it prepares you for lots of things. Bletchley Park for instance, our great code cracking empire in the war was largely staffed by people who'd studied greats, who for some reason turned out to be good at thinking things like that out. A lot of our best civil servants - that is not a tautology by the way or on oxymoron I should say - are people who studied greats. Something about that gives people some kind of connection to the texture of the history of their culture, to the feeling of how their culture got to be where it is, the myths and deep structures of culture are somehow exposed by that form of education in an intelligent person.
I think that what I hoped for from art school and what I certainly got from Ipswich art school was something like that kind of undirected, general liberal education that somehow prepared me for looking at the texture of the emerging world, the world that was coming out now.
One of the interesting things about Ipswich was that nothing was really beyond the pale in terms of what you could study and look at and take seriously. In fact I remember one of the very liberating moments there after I'd been there maybe about ten weeks and I was very interested in pop music and I was very interested in painting, particularly early twentieth century abstract painting and I could see no way of resolving them and I thought I had to choose one career or the other. One day Roy Ascot came in holding a single which was The Who's recording of My Generation, he'd taught Pete Townshend at Ealing School of Art, that was his previous art school and Townshend was very a product of the kind of thinking that came out of Ealing. This was a moment of amazing liberation for me, oh I can do both, yes you're allowed to do both, you can think about them both as art or you can think about them both as pop, it didn't matter anymore.
Now I thought art schools really ought to take this job more seriously than they do. One of the things that everybody knows happens at arts schools is that they produce people who are culturally sensitive, they are antennae in some way to stylistic changes and to changes in attitudes and changes in feeling, that's why they make good musicians. You know, they pick up feelings that are just beginning to emerge and they build them into something and other people see them and say yes I got that feeling too, I understand that.
But art schools in their typically sort of bumbling late '60s liberal way don't ever really think that that their job, I don't know really what they generally think their job is.
By the way I should have said at the beginning, my position is not that art schools are dead but they're a bit sort of dim and tired really. They need waking up a bit.
What I would really like to do is see art schools saying okay one of the things we deal with is understanding, sensing and articulating the emerging culture that we live in. What's new? What's now? What is happening now? How does it relate to what just happened before? If I were running an art school, thinking that, I would want to start employing people who do that professionally. For instance people who work in advertising, in PR, people who design products, people who design trainers for example, they're very on-the-cutting-edge of some kind of cultural awareness. I would also want to employ philosophers, certain scientists who are articulate and who know how to put their ideas across. In fact probably the people I would be least interested in employing, as speakers, would be artists. They're notoriously bad speakers in general and they are used to articulating their positions rather badly and not being picked up on it and they exist in a critical climate that is confusing and muddled as far as I'm concerned. And if you don't believe that go and buy an art magazine.
What I would really like to see also at art schools is really interesting discussions. Not people babbling with whatever jargon is currently thought to be best but actually saying things that matter to them, even if they don't include that kind of jargon. I saw something really wonderful once in one of my first visits to Russia in the mid-'80s, this was Glasnost but not yet Perestroika. There was a great big exhibition of young artists, a huge show in a place called the Palace of Youth in Moscow and in the Palace of Youth they had so many entrants to this exhibition that they covered all the alls from floor to ceilings with pictures and then they put other pictures on easels in front of the walls because there was so much work to see and it was very, very fertile and one of the interesting things that they did was they gave a lot of rooms around the edge of the building for artists, to hold court in, essentially. So artists would sit around in there, people who were in the shows and anyone could walk in and ask them questions. I didn't speak any Russian at all at the time so I recite this translated story.
I was looking into one of these rooms and there quite a few people around and there was an artist there and there was one of the cleaning ladies, you know a real babushka, a little tubby lady with a headscarf on and this artist is going on talking about this picture and she says that arm is much too long and he said well do you think it is and she said yeah obviously it's too long, look it's much longer than the other one and she said why didn't you get it right? And he answered her very decently and he said well I thought it sort of looked right that she was a bit unbalanced and so the discussion went on. But this discussion between babushka and artist was certainly as interesting as any of the other ones that happened in that room and it's a sort of theme of Russian culture which actually is maintained to this day, that it's important to include other people in the discussion and there's a dignity to that, you know, that you don't hitch the discussion in a language that nobody else can understand.
You talked about porosity and flow, that's the way I like flow. I like the idea that people should, well because I'm a pop musician now, I like the idea that people should expose their work to the culture and see what the culture says and actually live or die in some ways by what the culture says. I think it doesn't weaken work, it doesn't force it to compromise, it sometimes forces it to do its thing better, to do what it wants to do better.
I mean pop music I think is a very good example of this in that some of the most innovative stuff that's come out has also been some of the most commercially successful, not always. You know there's stuff like mine which isn't and which is very innovative but there's not the strong connection between popularity and compromise that people assume of the popular arts and I don't see why there should be in the fine arts either.
So I would love to see art schools having public exhibitions all the time, having people rate the work, having people talk about the work, inviting their comments, seeing which things are most popular, seeing which things nobody understands, seeing which things could be presented more successfully, asking the students or the artists themselves to talk about those things and you know we don't expect everybody to be articulate but what we don't want is for them to babble meaningless because they think it impresses critics, which unfortunately it very often does.
I was an external examiner at a school for a while where Roger also was teaching, though we weren't contemporaries there, and one of the most depressing things was to see sometimes very good work accompanied by, I've forgotten the name for these terrible pieces of writing that were handed in at the same time as the work, which were sort of supposed to be rationalisations of the work and they were infallibly sort of last week's flash art shuffled up a little bit, you know, and they were subject to criticism from the staff on the most arbitrary basis. I remember one girl being reduced to tears because she had said that, she'd quoted somebody as saying 'An artist in his work should be aware of his position of art' or something like that and this lecturer got so offended that it was in the male personal pronoun, the 'his' and the girl realising that she'd made a terrible ideological mistake was in tears from it. I thought this is irrelevant really, especially as it was a quote anyway.
So carrying on with that theme, what do I want art schools to be doing? What do I want them to be thinking about? What do I think would wake them up?
Well what I would like them to do a little bit formally than they do now is to think about all the things that art students do think about, which include very importantly media, how do media work? You know what's the difference between a film and a painting? What's the difference between a film and a piece of theatre? What's the difference between a piece of theatre and something on television? What's the difference between a very slow thing on television and a picture? What's the difference between seeing something that reflects light as to something that emits light?
Surely these are the basic questions of anyone working in a medium? How do media work? There's no systematic study of that as far as know in any art college and I'll guarantee if there is it takes about twenty minutes a week and is regarded as something that you do to please the examining board. It ought to be a very important option at least.
The second thing is style . Now style I could talk about a lot, but style is in many ways what art students are interested in, this is why they all dress in such funny ways because they're experimenting with style. They're often forerunners in arcane arts like body piercing, as I recently... I went to a show at St Martin's not long ago and there's a guy standing there with a champagne glass talking very reasonably as people do at openings and he had a coach bolt about seven inches long through his nose; it was a great moment.
But the reason I include style is because I want art schools to broaden their definition of what comes under their umbrella. What do they consider as culturally worth looking at? I would like to think that an art school could seriously invite a fashion designer down, not as a sort of 'our pet', our derivative fourth generation trickle down effect pet but as somebody as an artist, as somebody who's doing something now in the world that should be taken seriously. I'd like them to do the same with cake decorators or anybody else really. I think that style and culture operation absolutely through all of us. I have this definition which is, culture is everything that we don't have to do. By that I mean it's every stylistic that we add to the instinctual things that we do. We have to do some things but we don't have decorate them in the way that we do.
I would like art schools to think that it's part of their brief to look at all of that range and to take all of that range seriously. Not to make this division that you suggest earlier, that there's the high arts and then the sort of low arts and then there's crafts. Science has got past that a long time ago, scientists and engineers don't hate each other anymore and don't distain any longer.
Now perhaps the most important thing for me is to do with the encouragement of teamwork. One of the big lessons of Ipswich was that most of the time that we were there we weren't working alone as individuals, we were working in groups. Now I think there's a huge appetite among people for working in collaboration with others and very often there are some people who amazingly good cooperative characters. They're not very good on their own but they're amazingly good at gluing groups together. I remember one girl at Gwent who in her degree show produced almost no work at all, because all she had done that year, that last year, was to organise things
- events, shows, performances - which she entirely orchestrated but which everybody else shone in. Now we gave her a first actually, after quite a lot of thought, because we thought she was probably the most important person on that course. Now Gwent of course was run by Roy Ascot so that was an unusual course, an unusual college again and it's the kind of college where you could give a first to someone for that.
It's not, again, systematic in art schools to encourage teamwork. Why should it not be? I think one of the reasons so many rock bands come out of art schools is because people desperately want to work together and there's no way of doing it in painting, no given way. It's not something that is encouraged very much in the colleges. I would think that there's a lot of room for a different model of teaching, which is a model you see in the sciences. I have several friends at Imperial College, particularly in the physics and cosmology area and the way they work with students is very, very different. They don't come in and talk to them about things, they come in and work with them on things so for instance Lee Smolen the physicist announces a project and people join it and they join as sort of apprentices but co-workers to him, so they're not apprentices in the sense that they don't have any input, they have a lot of input but the project is guided by him.
Now I would think that that would be a much better way to work with artists, to say to them you come to this place and you do your work and these students help you, they're your assistants if you like, if they choose to be. This would bring out what is very good about artists, which is watching what they do, and would suppress what is not so good about them, which is listening to what they say, by and large; of course there are many exceptions to this. But I think some sort of graduate science system applied to the art schools would be very successful.
Okay my last comment. One of the things that I think has made art schools interesting places to be is that they've always been places where people watched where the action was in culture and then moved into it. Again this is why so much popular music came out of art schools. I mean really, really a lot came out of British art schools and a lot of the seminal things that led to other things started in art colleges.
I suppose what I feel is that again we could start to encourage this, we could say where are things really happening now in the culture? My feeling is comedy at the moment is the place where the most interesting things are happening. For example Chris Morris is probably our most interesting British artist right now. If you think of his work as media critique if you like there's nobody doing it better. Is any art school employing Chris Morris? I very much doubt it. Again if I were a principal of an art college I would have him there.
I would be looking for where in the culture ... at any point in a culture something is the container that can hold anything. For a little while that was pop music, for a little while anyone who wanted to do anything thought they could probably do it by forming a band and for a little while that was sort of true. A lot of the stranger art music movements of the '60s found their outlet actually, their success anyway in pop music.
I would like art schools to be 'farming' the culture scene, to be looking around and saying where is it happening now? Where are all those people, those bright people who've got something to do and they don't quite know where it fits in? What are they putting it into? What's the container they're using, and as I say comedy would be my choice right now, followed by painting funnily enough, I think that's an interesting area. For once Charles Saatchi was right.
The last thing I would say is forget accountability. This has been the most lethal thing to happen to British education I think. It's destroyed secondary school education and it's on its way to destroying art school education as well, but what can you count in art school? What can you count - the number of hours people stay there? What can you measure? I don't know, you can only measure very long-term and then it's much too late to do anything about it anyway so that whole bureaucratic structure that's built up over the top of the art schools of boards of inspectors coming in and sitting round and watching studio practice, in my experience it only has the effect of seriously worrying the staff and demoralising the students so I think we've got to start out on a completely different basis from that, that is not the way to measure success.
I suppose all I've been doing really is not addressing the subject as coherently as you did but saying what I would like to see an art school being now. These are some of my prescriptions for reawakening art schools and making them central, exciting places again.
Thank you very much.
Andrew Graham-Dixon: Well thanks very much Brian. I thought before turning this over to the audience I ought probably, because Brian had a chance to hear what Roger had to say, Roger didn't have a chance to respond. I'd like to just turn it over to you Roger to respond to this blistering attack on all that you and your institution stands for.
Professor Roger Wilson: I agree with everything you've just said. There's a point Brian when you started off and acknowledged the fact there'd been a kind of crisis in craft, there had been a point where the art schools had no longer been able to rely upon that kind of learning experience, that kind of sense of mastery as it used to be called and it was replaced by something else. Certainly in the '60s when you and I were both students then, that was replaced by a much more liberated, permissive, adventurous approach to things and your line of argument would seem to continue that particular theme, that what it says that you want more of that, you want more of those sort of people that upset the status quo, more that challenge the way things are. But you did leave behind the stood up poised area of saying how do we value this in some way? Not how we measure it but how do we value it? I think that when craft went we lost that ability to, with any certainty, talk about any notions of measurement and your liberal regime would certainly be interesting but it certainly wouldn't replace that notion of return on effort if you like that people had.
Andrew Graham-Dixon: Do you think that's true?
Brian Eno: Yes, I was going to suggest something that would be very unpopular and so I will. I would like to see something approaching the charts. Now I suggested this to the Tate Gallery once, I thought why don't you have a Top 40 so when you go to visit... just imagine this. You go to visit the Tate and you get a little block of green stickers - okay, twenty of them say - and every picture that you really like you put a little sticker on a pad beside it and if you really like one so much you can put all twenty on there. Now every month they assemble the top fifty pictures and put them in a gallery. The reason I say this is because popular taste is so much more quixotic and unpredictable than people think.
For instance I came to this idea because I was asking someone what were the two most popular pictures in the Tate, this was before the new Tate and one was that little Richard Dadd painting, you know the fairies, that tiny little, very elaborate picture and the other, funnily enough, was a Damian Hurst picture. They couldn't have been further apart in some ways and I thought how interesting to have a show that just accepted that people can make interesting choices about pictures and you don't have to make any big deal about it but you just say these are the fifty most popular pictures of the month. I'd love to see that in art schools as well, I'd love to see students actually voting for each others work or sending shows off to other colleges and saying what do you think of this? Because you know how it is in art colleges, there are some strong personalities always look like they're stars in that little context but you know it would probably do them good to know that they're not, in a broader context.
So I think you can replace theoretically objective evaluations that examinations give you with something like the charts. In fact I thought of a lot of more sophisticated versions of the charts. I thought okay most popular, the other one is least popular and the other one is most controversial, so if you got two kinds of stickers, reds and greens - popular, I hate it, I love it - so the one that got most reds and most greens that's an interesting category in itself isn't it? You know the ones that are most loved and most hated. Anyway I won't go on too much about that.
Andrew Graham-Dixon: I'm struck by the way in which there did seem to be some common ground between you both, in that you spoke of art school as a cultural observatory and of yourself almost as a meteorologist trying to determine the climatic conditions of the subject that doesn't yet actually exist for you to teach, as if art is such an imponderable area that you don't even know what it is before you're going to teach it and you spoke about art similarly in a sense being so porous and unpredictable that the greatest artists of now might be a comedian.
To me, if you don't actually have the core belief that sculpture or painting are actually 'things' that you can teach then who is going to teach them? That would be my question. Who is going to teach those things? And if nobody teaches them maybe everybody will forget that they can be interesting media. So is there not at least some duty to certain disciplines that we can agree constitute art or am I too old fashioned?
Professor Roger Wilson: Yes and no. No of course Andrew you're not old fashioned. In a sense I think we were both talking with the assumption that those things were in place anyway. I mean I don't, in a way I wasn't trying to challenge the fact that there wouldn't be things like paintings and sculpture and designed objects and so forth in the world and they wouldn't be valued and cherished in some way. What I was talking about what we did in addition to that, I was assuming that was the given within the process, mainly because no matter what you do those things arrive anyway. I mean art in a sense is rather like sex and crime, it survives no matter what conditions prevail so the bit you don't have to worry is the fact that people will turn up wanting to do stuff and they do.
The bit that's interesting is the bit you do after that and so no I'm not by any means, I didn't say it, but that is the given within the process. That's there anyway.
Andrew Graham-Dixon: I think we should probably open this up now.
Crispin Reed: Picking up on Brian's theme of pop charts, we're inundated with reality shows, we've had Pop Idol, how long before Art Idol?
Brian Eno: Well the only thing about all the reality shows that's disappointing is that they all became very unreal very quickly. They were actually a good idea at the beginning I think but suddenly they started selecting sort of deliberately strange people like Portuguese transsexuals and so on so they didn't last very long. But yeah you'll probably find such a show soon, Chris Morris will do if anyone does.
Andrew Graham-Dixon: Ten art students in a house for a month.
Jonathan Pennington: I've been to two art schools and my daughter went to one and my wife went to one. I went to one in the '60s at Kingston and you haven't mentioned design, which became part of art school education at some stage, you have mentioned the fact that art schools suddenly have become academically respectable and I was one of the first people who did something called DipAD but the best years of my life at art school were when at Kingston we did a foundation course, modelled loosely on Bauhaus lines but including philosophy, culture, film, making things and it was by far the best experience I've ever had, it should have gone on for three years not one. My daughter went to art school, I was the only person who ever gave her a tutorial. I used to go up and stay with her one night a term, she was a painter, she got no useful instruction from anybody, or advice or assistance when she wanted to learn how to put a glaze onto an oil painting no one thought that she should be told how to do it or seemed to know how to do it. Now I'm not against art schools being institutions where students and teachers both relax and find their way into the culture Zeitgeist if we can afford these institutions I think it's immensely valuable. Brian, you mentioned the idea of a kind of apprenticeship, I would shut art schools that teach painting and sculpture and I would have people go to disciplined art schools to learn to use their eyes and I don't think discipline is any way contra to creativity and in fact sometimes the more discipline there is the more likely the individual is to find themselves and find out what they want to say. That's not a question, I beg your pardon.
Brian Eno: Well it sort of confirms the point I was making about the way advanced science colleges work where there's enormous discipline of course. You know you can't be a good cosmologist if you ignore the maths or the physics that are involved so there's implicitly discipline in that and nobody ever complains about it, you're quite right, it's part of the structure of the deal. I'm certainly pro-discipline, that was a big part of the Ascot message that whatever you were doing it had to be intellectually rigorous in some way, it had to be rigorous so that's fine by me. I know from my own experience the teachers that really made a difference to me were the ones that made strong statements, not the ones who said hey that's pretty cool or whatever they said and then sort of swanned onto the next roll up. It was the ones who said that is really trash or that is really great, if you weren't lazy it would be even better, you know something like that.
Professor Roger Wilson: There's an interesting phenomenon in British art school education and that is that it's become the biggest target to criticise and most students who succeed claim success entirely for themselves and deny any kind of influence or benefit arising from their education. The ones that don't succeed tend to blame it on their education and it's a common feature of our art education that most of us that have been within it are well used to but what it doesn't tell you is the real story. It doesn't tell you the story of success and failure, the support that's given to students in their struggle, and it is a personal struggle not just an educational one. The ways in which in a sense put - back to what Brian was talking about of making things public. Of all the higher education activities within this country art and design is the most publicly accountable you ever know, what other course shows the work of its students to the general public with that frequency that art and design does? What is bigger nationally than every June all of the degree shows around the country, the whole cultural output of the whole of the country's young people and not so young people is shown publicly for open challenge and criticism at that time. There is nothing in that line, the scientists certainly don't do it, the humanities people certainly don't do it; art and design does it and it's to its credit. It's part of its education experience that students go through that process, which is a tough process, critically and personally a demanding and difficult thing to go into.
I have heard all the stories about art students and their reflections on their experience, I can assure you in my time I've heard everyone there is but the one that's never told adequately is that one and I think that one deserves a credit of its own.
Professor Vaughan Grylls: This debate about the death of an art school is in a way almost like sort of thirty-four years too late since Patrick Heron wrote his article in 1971 about the death of an art school, which some of us had pinned up on our lavatory door and elsewhere for many years afterwards. But one of the things that Patrick Heron was talking about, I think, was the pro-activity of art school in the culture and notwithstanding the section on private view you read out in 1967, it was a very pro-active time and what I wanted to ask Roger particularly was for him to say a little bit more about how he sees the art school as a cultural observatory because I may have got it wrong, but are you saying that's what it is now? It's almost a rather passive view of art to be sitting in a cultural observatory and not actually pro-actively doing things out there.
Professor Roger Wilson: In a sense it was the point at which probably Brian and I came closest together in terms of what we were both talking about in that I was trying to put forward a model of institution that was connected to the things that were important, not just things we're always obliged to be connected to. In a sense it was trying to get away from the idea of an art school being driven by the 'approved' culture but actually taking a much more critically disinterested view of things and saying that culture actually could occur elsewhere, that my model of the kind of riso-matic institution was one that actually would tunnel for culture it wouldn't just sit there and wait for it to come to it. So the observatory is actually a kind of ethical position if you like rather than a pedagogical position. You're saying where is the art school in relationship to the world in which it lives? What it has I think is that it has to have that critical distance because it is not credible without it but it has to have a critical distance as connected in to those streams of consciousness and activity that are not just the approved culture of the time but are the one that are tunnelling underground and twined together as well so I think we were kind of agreeing on that point.
That's not to say that's what people, that's where the art school sits within a kind of cultural construct but what people do in it is make stuff and they will continue to make stuff but it's the positioning of the school in its own, I suppose in its own ideological sense of where it is and where it sees itself that I saw the observatory was a good model.
Christopher Sharrock (Dean, Camberwell College of Arts): I wanted to slightly paraphrase Frank Zappa and say that the art school is not dead it just smells funny. What's been raised tonight is a lot of question because it's actually quite a complicated set of issues that you're both talking about and also both of you I think, or maybe for reasons of the shortness of time, talked as if art schools are somehow separate from the main part of educational development in this country and we are involved in all of the issues that govern the way education is carried out and the way that politics is a big influence on what goes on and I'm pleased to hear Brian talking about the audit culture and the impact it has. I think the pop music example is a really good one because yes by default over the years art schools have produced an awful lot of interesting bands and they have done precisely nothing about it. They've never pursued that, they've never said oh my God we've got this sort of situation that produces this other kind of cultural activity so therefore we must look at what we're doing, they just say Oh yeah there they are, that was good wasn't it, Syd Barrett went to Camberwell - where are we responding to those situations? So how bureaucratic are we? How fixed are we in what we're about and how flexible can we be about responding to the impacts on the culture that we generate?
Brian Eno: Did any of you hear of the band called Nice Style? It was Bruce ((MacLaine?)) and what's the guy's name? Paul Richards yes, they formed what actually was the greatest art school band of all time because it had no music so they sort of cut out the difficult part, which is actually, it was called the world's first posed band and they made really the best pop video ever made, which was them posing with a room full of white goods, there were seven of them in white suits and they would choreograph the opening of fridge doors and so on. It's an absolutely fabulous film and a very economical solution of the 'I want to be in a band' problem.
Andrew Graham-Dixon: I'd always imagined the reason that so many artists became pop stars in this country was because the atmosphere surrounding the very activity of becoming an artist in Britain was somehow shrouded with hopelessness and futility and that if the same people had been alive and young in America they would have actually become artists and this wasn't the fault or the genius of the art school it was actually the sentiment of a wider cultural condition, you'd know that better than me, having trodden the path.
David Hayes: Artist and writer, and for my sins thirty years an art teacher and for sixteen of those a head of fine art. Before I criticise our two eminent speakers I should point out that I was a fellow student with Brian Eno at Ipswich and of the Roy Ascot regime and a colleague of Roger's in the National Association of Fine Art Education - a grand sounding name.
I think the title of this discussion is somewhat misguided inasmuch that it is saying about the death of an art school, I don't believe that; I don't believe anybody in their right mind would. I think the confusion in the speakers, with all due respect, has been they've been talking about art education as if that's the death of art education. Art education is not dead, is as exceedingly vibrant at the moment but, and having written a long history on the art school, from it's inception with this wonderful institution here and Mr Shipley who started his own drawing school in London, the art schools were set up as design schools initially. We haven't heard much about design so far, art came in the back door through the middle classes because they had to pay the schools through fee payers so it wasn't set up as art schools per se, they were set for God's sake by the Board of Trade, they weren't set up by The Royal Academy. The Royal Academy was against them from the start and denied them using life models for 25 years, so we're talking about a reality here which, with all due respect, I don't think has been touched on. The institution of the art school is over, we had it up there, the University of the Arts. In 1900 there were ninety art schools in London, they've all been melted down and we now have the University of Arts. We have a University which is totally different to an art school. The very term art school has the name art in its title and the things we have now are very broad based, they are as universal as you would wish Brian because they are alongside all the other subjects in the new universities. Outside London if you go to any of the universities you will see the arts and the design schools alongside the physics, the science, the general studies and whatever. Cultural studies is now at the kernel, it's at the heart and so I would have liked to have a little bit more about these new institutions, particularly from you Roger. I thought let's flag it up, if you believe - and you slipped in academy. You're not an academy, go down to Burlington House, there's an academy. Go into the academy school, there's the rump of what used to be academy art schools. Academy art school students went for seven years, they weren't allowed to touch paint for three years, they were drawing the outlines, they were drawing from ((?)) and so on. So let's get our terms right and if so, I will send you a copy of my book and perhaps we can sort out...
Professor Roger Wilson: I'll look forward to that David.
Andrew Graham-Dixon: So would you like to respond to that Roger, I mean in the sense that do we actually have a category mistake that's been committed here? Have you not actually been discussing art schools at all?
Professor Roger Wilson: No I was looking at a characteristic rather than an institution and I think it's a characteristic that actually is located within all of those departments, faculties, schools at large. I use the term academy as a kind of generic one not as a specific one, but I think that actually the identity 'art school' is one that I tried to suggest. It's a troubling identity, it's like a diaspora, rather than drawing the fixed location of a location. It actually occurs within all of us that have travelled the country, as I have, and taught in many institutions - polytechnics, universities as well as Chelsea College of Art and Design - and you find that same characteristic arising in all of those places, and that's what I was referring to rather than anything else.
Dapo Ladimeji (Fellow): I just wondered if I could challenge the speakers. The impression I got from hearing them was that this sense of being sensitive to the zeitgeist, being sensitive to things moving was something peculiar to the art schools and different from other things and I still recall a paper by the leading professor of business planning, which is about the most boring form of mathematical modelling, of a Canadian, who said actually if you get behind it to do it well you need an ascetic sense of what's right and what's in place and what's moving. If you find a lot of scientists what you actually find is before they actually choose what they're going to work on there's this kind of ascetic sense of hey what actually is going to move? You don't do it in reverse, you don't wait for the something to be successful and you work on it, so if the art schools are sensitive, are able to teach people this sensitivity to start that's something that ought to be spread through the culture. If they're not able teach it then you're claiming part of the art school as something that's just happening anyway and actually you can't teach it.
Brian Eno: I was very much trying to make the point that this is not something that is the province of art schools alone and that there are a lot of people who are doing that kind of cultural research or who have that kind of cultural sensitivity and art schools should be much more systematically inviting them in. They should be part of the picture, as I said, those people, professionals who deal with culture - particularly business professionals - talk about it very, very clearly. I had dinner with a guy the other evening who has made a huge amount of money advising businesses on how they look for cultural changes. He works for Nike, Scandinavian Airlines and Coca-Cola or someone like that and various other clients and he's probably one of the most interesting people you can talk to about what is happening in culture right now. You might not like his reasons for doing it but you can't deny that he's got a lot to say about it and I would really like to see people like him appearing and talking about it. I met a perfumier in Paris last year, because I fiddle around with perfumes a little bit, and I went to Givodan, which is the biggest perfume house in the world, and they have, in that house, they have people who are called 'future feelers', this is a job, future feelers. This woman was telling me well yes you know the sensitivity has changed now and right now this year we're thinking that we need more powdery, softer, warm, secure forms of perfume and she's talking about large scale drifts of the culture that she's detecting. She's had this job for a long time so I guess she detects it successfully, so yes I think exactly the contrary of what you just accused us of. I think those are exactly the kind of people that I would like to hear from more.
Barbara Cole (Sculptor): I'd just like to, I suppose defend art schools in a way because I think that even if you're not very happy with the teaching you come out with the confidence to explore your own work and by hook or by crook you do it yourself anyway, and I think that's a big part of what the teaching is. Nobody taught me to criticise my work or anybody else's per se but what I learnt was that if you go out and actually look at work then you can decide these things for yourself. I think picking up your point Brian about artists not being able to talk about work very well themselves, I think it's possibly because they're always asked to talk about their own work and when they talk about other work then it's a lot more successful because you can never really truly describe your own work because what the hell are you doing it for in the first place anyway?
There's another point that I just think that pop music could come out of music colleges.
Brian Eno: Pop music never comes out of music colleges.
Andrew Graham-Dixon: On that note, I will conclude tonight's proceedings by once again thanking the two speakers, Professor Roger Wilson and Brian Eno. Thank you.