Art Cannot be Taught
A Borough Road Gallery Commission
Part of “Keep the Paint Moving”: David Bomberg and the Art of Radical Teaching
Lucy Harrison is comparing David Bomberg’s teaching methods with the ways in which students and staff at LSBU feel about their own education, and education in general.
David Bomberg taught at Borough Polytechnic (now London South Bank University) from 1945 to 1953 with a radical approach that rejected conventional art teaching methods of the day. Instead, he encouraged a new way of seeing which was about learning to look at a subject by understanding its essence, and then trying to capture that experience. Bomberg’s classes were transformative experiences, and he inspired fervent followers among his students. A few believed his approach to be close to a “master / apprentice” system, a method which created an intense dynamic. During his time at Borough Polytechnic, some of Bomberg’s students formed official groups that were established to further the aims of Bomberg with their own work. The first of these, the Borough Group, was active from 1946 to 1950 and includes artists in A David Bomberg Legacy – The Sarah Rose Collection.
Using quotes by Bomberg and his students, Lucy Harrison invited LSBU students and staff to interact with a series of statements that were displayed in the Borough Road reception area, by agreeing, disagreeing or commenting with their own experiences. The aim was to find out how students feel about their own education and the ways in which they engage with learning, both at LSBU and before their arrival there.
What is most important, the teacher or the peer group? Can students be seen as apprentices? Is success limited to those who choose to be part of a group? Is self-expression encouraged? These and other questions were explored with students over the course of the project.
The results of the project will be compiled into a manifesto using the students’ thoughts and responses, which will be displayed around the university and online.