By contrast, the Bohemian artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were often outcasts – perceived as drug fuelled hippies or worse. However, whatever the status of artists in any society at any period of time, they have all served to document the culture around them. Today’s artists share this intent.
Melbourne Grammar students gain an authentic understanding of the role and status of the contemporary artist through the School’s Artist-in-Residence programme which enables direct interaction with practising artists.
Tilo Kaiser is a Senior School Artist-in-Residence this year. Tilo is a successful fulltime working collagist and multi- media artist who has held exhibitions across the world.
“Tilo introduced me to collage as an art form,” says Matthew Olney-Fraser, Year 11. “The notion that every item can contribute to a piece of art seems to take away the sacredness, or self-importance, of art. It makes it more accessible.”
In addition to collaborating with students on art creation projects, Tilo’s visit has also highlighted possible career options for students who have a passion for art, but may not wish to pursue an artistic profession. Tilo is working with Year 11 students to create an art exhibition. Guided by Tilo, students are responsible for the staging, curation, promotion and, ultimately, the success of the exhibition. Accordingly, some students may begin to see the possibilities of combining their interest in art with, say, business disciplines, public relations or museum studies.
A pioneer of the Melbourne street art scene, Regan Tamanui, spent five weeks at Wadhurst during Term II. He will return for another visit in Term III. His unique perspective on art introduced the boys to new ways of thinking. “It has taken me six years to get Regan to the School,” said Adam Cawood, Head of Art at Wadhurst, “but it was worth the wait.” Regan worked with students generating multilayered stencil art. This abstract art form is quite complex and visually challenging to create, according to Mr Cawood.
Grimwade House will also host an Artist-in-Residence later this year.
“It is really important that students are exposed to specialists in their field,” says Ms Cat Poljski, Head of Creative and Performing Arts. “In addition to teaching technique, we intentionally choose Artists-in-Residence who can bring a new way of thinking into the studio. They often show that you don’t always have to present art in a photorealistic way.”
Most teachers of art at Melbourne Grammar School are also practising artists. “Being a working artist makes us better teachers,” explains Cat. “I can confidently go into a class and help open the way students think because that is what I have to do in my own studio. There is a big difference between a teacher who is an artist and a teacher who is a teacher teaching art.”