Local students exhibition at mac birmingham

Art school experience produces summer show.

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This summer mac in partnership with artist and curator Trevor Pitt developed an experimental approach to learning and making art – the Cannon Hill Art School. Influenced by ground-breaking radical art schools such as Black Mountain College, USA and DIY art schools such as Open School East in London, over 70 students from across the West Midlands embraced the opportunity to develop as artists, culminating in their very own Summer Show exhibition within mac’s First Floor Gallery, from Sat 18 July to Sun 6 Sep.

Developed amidst a backdrop of increasing student debt and an art education now increasingly the preserve of the rich – Cannon Hill Art School has been from the outset, open to all, in the belief that everyone can benefit from an art education. CHAS offered a team of personal tutors – established artists in their own right – acclaimed cultural broker Peter Jenkinson OBE as its Pop Up Chancellor and world-renowned artist lecturers including Cornelia Parker – all for just £50 – with full bursaries available. All places sold out in just three weeks.

With its history of creative learning and an ethos that embraces creativity and art for all, mac, alongside Trevor, embarked on a journey which started in 2011 with Anticurate followed by The Open Project in 2013. Both offered rich opportunities, lifting the lid on curatorial practice as well as offering artistic development.

Cannon Hill Art School continues this commitment, ambitiously offering a real opportunity for individuals, from any social class, educational background or age to dedicate their time and energy to a personal project, while learning the curatorial and artistic approaches needed to succeed. All the students have grown in confidence, rising to the challenge, while embracing a collective approach that has seen each initially question their art practice, then using the time they have to reflect and shape their work.

Ella, a Cannon Hill Art School student, said: “It’s been a really valuable experience – such a good idea and a really great opportunity I think for many people who otherwise haven’t had the support and drive to develop and produce work due to jobs and other life circumstances. For me at least it’s been really critical in overcoming that barrier of wanting to make my own work but not quite having the confidence and support network to do so and develop it into something I would want to show, so in that sense it’s been so helpful and I am so glad that I decided to get involved. I’m excited to see how the exhibition looks and the final outcome of everybody’s projects.”

Her fellow sudent Tarla added: “For me CHAS has given me the confidence to work on my own projects but with a view to having it seen. I don’t see it as an end and I plan on working and experimenting with my work but also collaborating with some of the people I have met.”

Dorothy Wilson, mac Chief Executive and Artistic Director said: “Cannon Hill Art School has been phenominal in its approach and desire to create a supportive environment that nurtures and supports artists. The breadth of learning, the depth of teaching and the talent that has emerged is a testament to this ambition. mac, Trevor and the Cannon Hill Art School Team have succeeded with an artistic experiment that will no doubt become a reference point for many of the students – a time that offered enjoyment, increased confidence and a realisation that art is important and can change lives.”

Peter Jenkinson OBE commented: “I am very proud to have been involved with Cannon Hill Art School as its Pop Up Chancellor and congratulate Trevor, mac and the art school students, lecturers and mentors for everything that has been learned from this unique experience. It has been and continues to be a fascinating journey and I am certain that it will stay with people for the rest of their lives. Art school education should be available to everyone. Cannon Hill Art School has shown that this can be made possible in 2015.”