John Gillett, Programme Leader, Fine Art
Welcome to our 2020 Yearbook, a record of Fine Art Students attending Winchester School of Art and graduating in 2020, and some of the studio activities we conducted together.
I am drinking too much tea just now, and all of it at home. The favourite mugs are literally wearing out in the dishy, becoming pale and tired. I long for new ones, new household things of all sorts; not just new; not just mail-ordered in; but discoveries, properly re-thought, and properly exciting; the heralds of a fresh start and a corner turned. We do not know quite when it will be, but it will come, the new World Festival of Britain, lifting us out of here, raising our spirits to seize the opportunities of a new age. Artists will lead this; you will lead this. You will set the tone for a very special generation: the designs; the look; the shapes; the feel and the touch.
Much of the current discussion about the arts, about the future funding of organisations and the preservation of our live cultural heritage, emphasizes participation, understandably and rightly. Political decisions will have to answer everybody’s need to get busy, reconnect, and join in. You – we – have given ourselves the training and the experience to be part of this, to lead it; for we have long and fluently spoken the language of collective creative endeavour. You know how to do this, how to involve others in new activity, nurturing a shared drive towards the big new ideas and intuitive understanding. Thinking on your feet, improvising, working together around problems of resolution; this is what you do. Alongside participation there will be a strong and renewed demand for excellence in the physical object, for things which exist to embody ideas which cannot be put any other way; things which are thought through by expert touch and look and material testing; things which are crafted by eye and by hand and resolved in themselves. You know how to do this too, thinking through making, transforming materials at the service of ideas.
At the heart of this new situation is the digital medium, the network which allows for the sharing to be thoroughgoing and complete. There will need to be a new interplay between the virtual and the actual, to reconcile the twin impulses towards the new, distinctive objects of excellence on the one hand, and towards shared, collective experience on the other. This need will be less about any constraints which we may have to continue living with and more about the fact that we have very suddenly seen the immense potential of new approaches. Material experiences need points of focus, and then to be folded back into a bigger mix, to have virtual counterparts which make the sharing broad and all-encompassing and – strange to say – more real. You – you collectively, and you individually – are ready for this too. We were hurled into new ways of working without warning, but we have made them work, and there is a new excitement in them. You are ready.
Everybody has done brilliantly, and my hopes are high. Perhaps the most exciting thing in all this is that our network is so strong: we will stay together, even as we move out and grow.
Very, very well done. And thank you for your ideas and your strength and your energy. I’ll put the kettle on.