Cathy Wade

Meet your Course Director Cathy Wade 

MA Arts and Education Practices.

Could you tell us about what you do? 

I am an artist, writer and academic whose work is concerned with how art can be created and distributed in collaborative partnerships and through the creation of commons. My work is performative, bendable, durational it seeks to understand the experience of the contemporary present and is undertaken with others.

The connection with the course comes from diverse perspectives, from being informed about the life of the school through the 2015-2016 Wheatley Fellow at the School of Art to being invested in the arts ecology of the West Midlands and beyond.

What teaching approach do you take as course leader?

My teaching is informed by a spectrum of experiences in education, from Steiner Schools to comprehensives to Art Schools. As an artist, I have always connected to education by working with long-term socially engaged projects with diverse participants, as well as embedding my knowledge through lecturing. I seek to instil a sense of independence and agency in students on the course so that they can realise their research in a variety of settings within a community of art educators.

What is the philosophy of your course?

The spirit of the course is to investigate pedagogical arts practices in their expanded field, to look at innovation and the avant-garde within arts education and consider how it could affect present and future provision. We work in with institutions and projects so that the student has one foot in the School of Art and the other out in the world. The spirit of the course is one of collectivity, mutual support and learning through the direct experience of the life of a project.

If you had to name one thing about your course that makes it distinct, what would it be?

Arts and Education Practices focusses on the unique perspectives that artists, creatives and researches bring to pedagogical institutions. Our Arts Education MA in the UK based in a School of Art, providing an exceptional platform for the art educator to build their coursework through both practice and theory in dialogue with their peers.

Why is Birmingham a good place to study/ work?

Birmingham is a growing city with a strong identity and art scene that celebrates its offer each month with Digbeth First Friday. Birmingham also has some fascinating pedagogical connections, in the 1880’s William Morris delivered lectures at the School of art, after graduation Marion Richardson worked to change how we see children’s art in the 1920s and in the 1960s Stuart Hall led the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies from the University of Birmingham. In the 1980s the BLK Art Group was formed in the region, these rich histories inform the city in the present as a place to shape the arts.

Why do you believe it’s important to study an MA? 

An MA develops your professional skills as a researcher, practitioner and as an educator, it refines the studies you have undertaken and enables you to independently lead them. The Arts and Education Practices MA enables you to focus your research within the context of your own creative field and workplace. Through this study, you build independent research leading to your major project that can be focused through educational models, workshops, artistic practice and encounters that inform and are responsive to art educational contexts.

Where will the students be based in their time here? 

The course is taught within the School of Art predominantly on Tuesdays, with some content from option modules and core modules on other days. For the Full-Time student, the course offers an immersive experience within the art school setting, for Part-Time students; this provision is mapped across two years so that it can be managed alongside working life.

Outside of these contact hours, the School of Art workshops, technical support and library are available for you to work independently. There is access to bookable studios, and the course is supplemented by group tutorials, visits to projects and institutions, and reading seminars.

What can students do to help prepare them for the course?

Reading Felicity Allen’s Documents of Contemporary Art: Education, Stuart Hall’s Familiar Stranger, Sidsel Meineche Hansen & Tom Vandeputte’s The Politics of Study are useful places to start. As is investigating the strategies and subjects that you wish to bring in to play in your studies.