Meet your Course Director: Esther Windsor
MA Fine Art
Could you tell us about what you do?
I am a curator, artist and writer. I have curated at The ICA, Camerawork Gallery and Darkroom, The Photographers’ Gallery and established two art school galleries, the waiting room, University of Wolverhampton and mirror, LCP London. I was director at Hull Time Based Arts and Co-directed, with Dallas Seitz, an artist led space 1000 000 mph, London. I have taught across Fine Theory and Practice for fifteen years, most recently on MFA & MA Art and Space with Cullinan and Richards at Kingston University.
I hold a BA from Goldsmiths and an MA in Photographic Studies where I had Oliver Richon and Helen Chadwick as tutors. I also studied on a reading year at The Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research and on an MA in Psychoanalytic Studies with Darian Leader, Parveen Adams and Slavoj Žižek.
My research and practice emerge from practice based Fine Art PhD study at Kingston University, where I made text work, photography and expanded sculpture, including a novel about characters in a contemporary art world history. My research looks at political subjectivities, femininity, reactivated psychoanalytic concepts and texts, and the exhibition as art work.
I have lived in Tokyo, New York and London. I am interested in the international Art World’s subcultures, events and codes and embrace the global and the local, wherever I find it. I welcome diverse practices and backgrounds on Fine Art, as I consider these intersections a rich way of learning.
What teaching approach do you take as course leader?
To try and find the thing that makes each artist passionate about making and doing art. Everyone has a unique way of learning and practicing art. I encourage students to claim this and take responsibility for it and make it operate to show them at their best. I am influenced by Bauhaus, Rudolf Steiner, conceptual practices of 60’s 70’s, thinking though making, and social and group dynamics. I believe studio work, collaboration and good student teacher relations make a good learning environment.
What is the philosophy of your course?
Fine Art uses all of life, including the forgotten, the mind stretching, the spaces, the city, the left overs, the people you share time with, your wardrobe, your kitchen your sketchbook, words, conversations, problem solving, skills, networks, idea’s first and foremost and the hard work of finding your voice and making those idea’s communicate in the world.
If you had to name one thing about your course that makes it distinct, what would it be?
Making art is being the best version of yourself. Your mind is your tool box.
Why is Birmingham a good place to study?
It is in the midst of new developments and many spaces are temporary and affordable, providing artists with studio’s and testing ground. Digbeth is an area of great community for artists where they are able to experiment and respond to dialogues including original thinking in contemporary art practice. Many of the local art galleries, residencies activities and studios are linked to The Art School.
Birmingham is not too big, so you can walk across it and be connected to places and people while it still has an international airport, fast intercity trains and local links to beautiful countryside. Galleries like Ikon, Walsall, BMAG and Wolverhampton City Art Gallery close by, profile contemporary art, archives and collections.
Why do you believe its good to do a MA and why might students want to do your course?
- To Develop a critical thinking and a community of people and ideas around your practice
- To have a mature and self-conscious responsibility for making art in the world.
- To challenge yourself and explore new ideas and position your practice professionally.
- An ability to think creatively can be applied to any profession and allows bold thinking.
What can students do to help prepare them for the course?
- See exhibitions from small commercial galleries and artist initiatives as well as public galleries and museums.
- Look at a range of art press off and online: frieze, art monthly are consistently good
- Go to art bookshops
- Visit the library at Margret street look at new books, journals and see the catalouges of exhibitions and artists portfolios.
- Identify artists you like and research and read around them
- Go to a Digbeth first Friday in Birmingham
- Sign up to arts listings and news and notice what types of artists and conversations are occurring and see art wherever you are, especially small collectives.