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Posted 19.05.17

‘Making comes before knowing’ at Clerkenwell Design Week

By Phillip Buchan
Plymouth College of Art’s Principal and Chief Executive, Professor Andrew Brewerton, will speak at the Design in Education panel at Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW) on 23 May 2017, 6-7:30pm in the Milliken showroom.

Celebrating its 8th year, the award-winning CDW is the UK’s leading independent design festival and annually attracts the international design community to this small area of London for three days of events. 34,973 attendees and over 300 exhibiting brands visited Clerkenwell for CDC in 2016.

Professor Brewerton, who has ten years experience working in the glass industry, including five years in glass crystal production and five years as Head of Design and Development at Dartington Crystal, will speak in conversation with designer Jay Osgerby, Crafts Council Creative Director Annie Warburton, and Jade Ilke of Designing Futures, in a panel chaired by design journalist Katie Treggiden.

Speaking about design in education before the event, Professor Andrew Brewerton, who also acts as Chair of Governors at Plymouth School of Creative Arts, said: "Creative practice and inquiry is by nature transgressive, crossing boundaries and straying outside the ‘subject silo’. Design is more an approach to thinking and problem-solving than it is a ‘subject’ and, as a thinking process, harnesses knowledge and intelligence from diverse sources and fields of study."

"In art and in education, making comes before knowing. The true challenge of art education resides in making. Making is as important as reading and writing, as mathematics and science."

– Professor Andrew Brewerton, Principal of Plymouth College of Art

Since joining Plymouth College of Art in 2010, Professor Brewerton has been instrumental in developing a design curriculum which now extends to a wide range of BA (Hons) and Masters degree awards at the college.

New MA Awards for 2017 include 3D Design Crafts, Ceramics, Glass, Digital Fabrication, Disruptive Design and Textile Design, enjoying access to the college’s £8m investment in specialist Craft, Design and Fabrication Workshops, designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, and a wide range of specialist tutorial expertise.

Professor Andrew Brewerton appeared alongside Graham Brown-Martin, author of ‘Learning {Re}imagined’ and founder of Learning Without Frontiers (LWF), as a guest on the talk show Renegade Inc.

As a Founding Associate of Tate Exchange, Plymouth College of Art created the intergenerational and interdisciplinary Making Learning: Pop-Up School and Symposium at Tate Modern, along with Plymouth School of Creative Arts, at the end of January 2017.

Making Learning stages a conversation on creative pedagogy that covers learning, teaching and research throughout the full educational continuum, from early years through to postgraduate study, professional development and lifelong learning.

The college will now develop the public dimension of Making Learning as a biennial symposium on creative pedagogy, planned to begin in 2018 along the lines of Making Futures, the college’s biennial multidisciplinary symposium on craft, design and sustainability. The fifth edition of Making Futures will take place on 21 and 22 September 2017 with the theme 'Crafting a sustainable Modernity: towards a maker aesthetics of production and consumption'.

Keynote speaker, Making Futures conference 2016

In October 2015 Sir Nicholas Serota, newly-appointed Chairman of Arts Council England and current Director of Tate, formally opened Plymouth School of Creative Arts’ award-winning landmark building The Red House, hailing the opening as "a historic event in the history of education in this country". Collectively, the college and school offer a progressive continuum of creative learning and practice from early years to Masters level postgraduate study, research and professional practice within the creative economy.

Discussing the reasons behind setting up a free school where making is prioritised, Professor Brewerton said:

"The risk is that the learning experience of young people is profoundly compromised by the prevailing target culture in which school imperatives are driven by institutional anxiety around school ‘league table’ standing, and the transactionalism of ‘teaching-to-the-test’. Students are increasingly impatient with the unintended consequence of a policy climate long preoccupied with control measures, metrics and institutional structure at the expense of pedagogic innovation, quality, research and the holistic learning experience.

"Design thinking involves a kind of hunger for making things better, for what’s next."

– Professor Andrew Brewerton

"The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei wrote that ‘creativity is part of human nature, it can only be untaught.’ Through Making Learning we want to develop an international community of practice focused on the extended continuum of creative learning that the college established in Plymouth with the founding of Plymouth School of Creative Arts." 

"There is strong, gathering interest in our educational continuum, nationally and internationally, and the recent film commissioned by the Freelands Foundation, ‘Thinking Making’ directed by Henry Ward, is a very beautiful meditation on our pedagogical ethos."

The £1000 speaker fee for Andrew’s participation in the CDW Design in Education debate is being donated to Street Factory, a Plymouth-based community interest company founded in 2008 that transforms lives through hip-hop culture and street dance. Street Factory was based at The Red House from its opening until this year, and is currently creating its new studio space in a building opposite.