International Journal of Art & Design Education

‘But when are they going to produce some artwork?’ Against Pastiche: Issue-Based Art and Authorship within the Key Stage 3 Curriculum

Volume 30.3   2011



Ideas and issues based contemporary art is often seen as something to be avoided in schools, as the controversial subjects that it broaches are often perceived as problematic and inappropriate. However, by censoring education, it can be seen that educators are missing vital opportunities to confront the relevant personal, social, political and cultural issues that shape young peoples' lives in our postmodern, contemporary society. This article reflects on the experiences of an artist/teacher gained through the Recreating Landscapes (Illuminate Project), which aimed to utilise LeWitt's concept of the ideas ‘machine’ to broaden the way that Key Stage 3 art is taught and explore student voice. The construct of the teacher as giver of knowledge was challenged, informed by Barthes' work on the deconstruction of the modernist concept of Authorship. Issues were derived from a pupil voice workshop and the ownership of response to this stimulus belonged to the students. The aim was to challenge mimetic, technical achievement often favoured in ‘traditional’ school art pedagogy, allowing ideas and discussion to be the lynchpin, shifting away from the emphasis commonly placed on outcomes. Through this practice it was hoped that the ‘landscape’ of the learning environment would be recreated: a discursive setting where issues perceived as ‘challenging’ could be broached in a supportive environment, enabled by a reconsidered, culturally relevant pedagogy.