I've just gotten back to Edinburgh from teaching at North Lands Creative Glass. Students came for a skills class entitled Concept, Context, and Connection. The class was a thrilling mix. Every student was a professional artist and each one of us was from a different country. On the first day I asked what each student wanted out of the class and there was a unified answer of new idea generation, in addition to greater technical prowess. So whilst a skills class, concentrating on improving technique and solving problems, each students work was in response to assignments reflecting the title of the class.
Each evening after torch work and post dinner we had powerpoint presentations and drawing and concept generation exercises. I've taught several times at North Lands over the years, but this was the first class I've taught since the addition of the new modern space at the Alistair Pilkington studio. How wonderful to have this space to build up a concept table over the course of the week. We began with slides in this room of the students work so we could all get acquainted with each others ideas and motivations. Then we moved from the chairs to a massive table upon which we drew and built up over the week. Ideas, connections, objects from home, objects made during the class, and bits of site for site-specific work were added to the table, where we would sit, write, draw, and discuss each night after slides. This wonderful new room was totally undisturbed during the week. Being separate, and no-one needing to walk through it to get to another space, along with the beautiful architecture, and ability to be both sun-lit and totally dark, meant the room was totally devoted to the class and a safe place. Being free from torches and all extraneous material to the discussion at hand, meant that we could concentrate on ideas without distraction, and leave precious things on the table without worry of their being disturbed. I feel that the architecture and privacy of the room and the room's relationship to the rest of the building gave rise to great trust, and that trust led to deeper levels of discussion. So well done to North Lands for this great new addition that had such a positive impact on this class.
In summary: hats off to the students and their enormous amount of effort, hours, and intention; intense, hard, long, a beautiful mix of different mind sets, and a very wonderful experience. My deepest thanks to everyone at North Lands who make this all possible, working seamlessly to provide a perfect environment for creative freedom and cross-pollination.