Let’s write about art… new modes and new platforms

Wolverhampton School of Art is part of a national movement exploring new modes of art writing, implementing research and practices which seek to foster a spirit of discovery and exploration in the art student.

A series of exhibition visits will see final year students explore a range of artworks across the Black Country, with art writing workshops held at Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

The aim is to augment curriculum-based writing with the professional writing skills so important to careers in the creative industries.

Louise Palfreyman, writer-in-residence at Wolverhampton School of Art said: ‘I think there is huge value in helping art students find their ‘writing voice’ so that they are able to fully engage with both their own practice and the wider art scene.

‘Writing is intrinsic both to reflective practice and to being able to provide a commentary on your own art, and the art of others.’

FullSizeRender (11)


Wolverhampton Art School is already contributing to national studies in the art writing arena. Laura Onions, Lecturer in Fine Art, recently presented at a New Modes of Art Writing conference in Manchester. She reported the findings of investigations into the BME attainment gap, amid concerns that students are editing out their own experiences of artistic practice in order to adhere to the accepted academic assessment of student learning.

Short, reflective and experimental writing tasks have been deployed at the Art School to encourage a deeper response to learning through practice.

Laura said in her conference presentation:

‘We are embedding alternate approaches to writing into the curriculum… through tasks that draw connections between lived experience, learning, independence and practice. This is a ‘Patchwork Text’ type approach which breaks away from a summative essay structure, proposing a model that does not privilege one form of meaning making (essayist literacies) over another.’

The task for art schools is how to foster confidence and productivity in students who may have had prior negative experiences of, or barriers to, learning.

Students in Wolverhampton are exploring new ways of incorporating writing into artistic practice, using sketchbook and diary approaches, social media, and blogging. Early indications show that students experience increased confidence and assurance away from academic essay writing.

Developing ideas shared at the New Modes of Writing symposium in Manchester, this latest programme of gallery visits and training in reviewing exhibitions will encourage final year students to start thinking beyond graduation.

FullSizeRender (12)

The aim is to augment the academic offer and foster a sense of self-belief that will help across all areas of the curriculum.

Christian Mieves, Course Leader in Fine Art, Painting and Printmaking, and Sculpture and Environmental Art, said: ‘Writing reflects the space we live in and who we are.
In the same way that space defines our artistic practice in physical and social terms, our writing is impacted by the traditions and conventions of the place we live in.

‘The Art School is a place where preconceptions are disrupted, traditions disputed, and orthodoxies shattered (at least that is our aim). In the same way, writing gives voice to narratives that are normally unheard or ignored.’



Did you know…

Wolverhampton has always been at the forefront of arts education and opened the first School of Art and Design in Castle Street in 1851. A larger, purpose-built art school followed in 1854, becoming the Municipal School of Art in 1878, and finally Wolverhampton College of Art in 1950.

Wolverhampton College of Technology merged with Wolverhampton College of Art in 1969 to form The Polytechnic, finally becoming the University of Wolverhampton in 1992.