The end has no end: painting pedagogues and fine art degrees

Trent Building B46
Wednesday 29th November 2023 (16:00-18:00)

Through allegory and anecdote Jake Watts will chart a tentative genealogy of teaching that interrogates the limits of painting in relation to education within Western European and North American contexts over the past hundred years. Their aim is to question what role disciplinary conservatism and/or radicalism can play in the future of fine art education, specifically within their own institution and more generally within Britain.

Jake has been newly appointed programme director of an incoming BA Fine Art (Hons) degree at the University of Edinburgh, the new degree reconciles four existing discipline-specific programmes (including painting) into a singular generalist degree. In advance of this new role, Jake convened a course titled ‘Art as Process: Ways of Learning, Making, Working, Together’ which introduces current students to the history and philosophy of predominantly northern hemispheric art education from the 1920s to current day. Through workshops the course encourages students to experientially sample famous and infamous schools of arts’ by reperforming curricula, studying their ethos and analysing their learning approaches; these sessions, accompanied by contextual lectures, asks students to propose alternative forms of artistic learning environments. A recurrent feature Jake encountered when researching for the lectures on this course was the prevalence of radical or influential pedagogues across Western Europe and North America whose disciplinary focus was painting but who advocated for holistic and experimental conceptions of what fine art and its education could be.

Jake is an artist and educator who has lived and worked in Scotland for the past decade. Their research, artistic and teaching practices are intertwined through the organisation and enactment of artistic learning environments both within and outwith higher education. Their practice-led PhD was titled Workshops: Investigating Participatory Environments for Artistic Learning (2020); Jake is also a member of Shift/Work who produce open educational resources with and for artists and collaborators.


This talk is the part of the CRVC’s research theme for 2023 to 2024 '…and painting continues'.

Centre for Research in Visual Culture

University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2RD