Room 13

Screening and Open Discussion

Room 13

What age can you start being an artist? 

29 March 2014

Standpoint, 45 Coronet Street, Hoxton, London N1 6HD

Vulpes Vulpes organised a screening and open discussion on the last day of Vorkurs at Standpoint Gallery, Hoxton.

We showed scenes from What age can you start being an artist? and screened the film Room 13*.

Some of the questions discussed:

Academic freedom – Perhaps should ask first freedom for whom? Teachers, governors, parents? This is an interesting example of what happened when freedom was given to students who, more than being provided with art-schooling were given access to resources, materials and encouraged by open, critical discussions and independence.

Student led initiatives –  Room 13 was ultimately sustained because it was run as a business, with commissions, prizes and grants buying materials and equipment, paying staff and an artist in residence. The business model was a key part of the project, but to what extent might financial dependence impact the direction and purpose of schooling?

The social purpose of education – These children were given the opportunity at what might be seen by many as ‘too young an age’ to manage all aspect of the studio with a high degree of responsibility and independence (especially when we consider the setting, a formal school). Perhaps more important than artistic ability was an engagement with current affairs, community concerns and even philosophy. This had a wider impact on the children’s lives and learning and the art work they produced.

That the alternatives, need not be a utopia – “Room 13 itself is as untidy as any professional artist’s studio. There are finished and unfinished canvases propped up in several different places. There is a sink full of not very well-washed brushes and paint trays … a few insecure chairs and battered arm-chairs, a step-ladder for children painting canvases too large for them to be able to reach the top and a number of pin-boards with a huge variety of information ranging from posters for art exhibitions to a rather crumpled list of rules.” David Gribble

*Room 13 started as an independent art-room in a primary school in Fort William, Scotland. It grew into an art studio run by a management team of school children who went were responsible for buying equipment and supplies and went on to exhibit internationally and secure funding and commissions to employ an artist in residence.