King's Worcester

29 September

Interview with our Artist in Residence – Ian Murphy

We are delighted to announce the return of Ian Murphy! Pupils and have had a brilliant week in the Art School with our Artist in Residence.

“I’m a big fan of sharing skills because skill is just a mechanism for doing the artwork, intellect is what makes the difference between good and average art, so that’s why I like it, it’s completely different to me in my studio.”

Ian has predominantly spent the week working with our Lower Sixth art students at the beginning of their 2-year cycle. During his time with them, he has been looking to get them used to risk-taking and learning new skills, rather than repeating the skills they learnt from GCSE. This allows the student to start thinking more diversely through the use of small-scale studies they can do in their sketchbook, then in the studio and then that culminates into Saturday sessions, where it cements their learning but on a larger scale.

King's Artist in residence

The Saturday session consists of a seven-hour drawing session, with the student concluding in that time. For many students, this is a threatening prospect, as usually a good piece of artwork usually takes 2/3 weeks to produce. However, using the techniques shown by Ian it can easily be done, with at least half the group being able to finish comfortably. Ian says “It’s a luxury to be able to get a workshop in, but it’s very useful in that it tells them they don’t have to be pedestrian or rigid, changing their thinking on what good art is, expanding their knowledge.” Having completed the Saturday session, the Lower Sixth students displayed some impressive work.

King's Worcester Artist in residence

Ian relishes his time spent in schools as an Artist in residence, as it is hugely contrasted to his time in his studio. When Ian is in his studio he is on his own all day, but that’s what he loves, and states this is where he’s at his best. Compared with his time at King’s, he loves working with the students and seeing them grasp the opportunity they have been given. Ian emphasises “I am tough with the pupils, if I can see they’ve got the capability and intellect to understand, then I will challenge the pupils. In a session like this, it’s full-on for the time frame, but I like that and that’s how I want it to be.” It is a full-on week but the rewards are in seeing the pupils grow, and the expansion in their knowledge and understanding.

Whilst spending time in the school, Ian’s preferred method is to share skills, philosophy and technique with the pupils, and then say “well I’ve given you the technique, what do you want to do with it?” This gives the pupils an opportunity to think. When working with a student in a creative subject, two things are going to happen, they are going to grow technically, but you can’t allow the technical growth to mask a lack of intellectual growth, because the two are intertwined.

Ian’s key message to the pupils is that art is not a risk-free subject, yes it’s skilled but it requires intellect at the same time and making sure that both are taken into account.