Tutor, Printmaking and Sculpture
Susan came into teaching after substituting a sculpture class at Kensington and Chelsea College and never left! She joined the teaching staff in 1989, first in the sculpture department before becoming Head of Printmaking for 12 years and specialising in printmaking going forward, now for Morley College London. She is a real champion for her students many of whom have gone on to achieve acclaim, either going on to other Art Colleges or exhibiting in major shows at the Royal Academy and Woolwich Contemporary Art Fair. Susan talks about what is important to her about teaching and print as an art form.
You are really focused on student experience – can you tell us more about some success stories?
“The students have had really good success. We had a student who got into the Royal Academy Summer exhibition (in winter this year because of COVID), Sarah Granville, and three students got into the Woolwich Contemporary print fair, Suzanne Moxhay, Zoltan Marfy and Malcy Delacour, which is very high profile now and difficult to get in to. These exhibitions show printmaking at its most exciting and really represent the highest level in London at the moment. That’s fantastic and I am very proud.
Some of my students have had some successes before. Many of them have been coming to the college for quite a long time. They know the industry, the shows to apply for; if they don’t then we help. They come and go, studying different things but usually coming back for further study. It’s such a specialist area. As tutors we talk about these exhibitions but the main thing is helping the students realise their talent and letting them know how good their work is and that it meets that high standard.”
What is special about print?
“Printmaking is such a rich subject. It has so much to offer in terms of, little accidents and things that just happen along the way. The process itself is very creative, very fluid, forgiving yet highly complex and skilled at times.
And seeing some of these students go on to be professional artists who include printmaking in their artistic practice. Some of them are painters or sculptors or ceramicists but print is so applicable and flexible you can apply it in all the other areas; I love to see the cross-over of different disciplines coming together. That’s Art for me.”
What do you get out of teaching?
“As a teacher I just absolutely get a buzz from helping my students to find their own creativity. From people who come in thinking ‘I’m not much good’ or ‘I haven’t ever done anything creative before’ and then finding it for themselves. I just give them some help to reveal their own uniqueness really. It’s in there somewhere!”
“I get a lot of students who perhaps went to Art college years ago have gone on to do other things and are now revisiting their passion, and their creative paths. I love to excite them about a subject that I’m so passionate about as a practitioner myself. It is such a joy to share. Really. So it’s the sharing and helping them to to find who they are creatively, which I find so rewarding.
One of my students went to Camberwell, finished last year. Now he’s back to the Advanced Printmaking course on Friday and he’s choosing to use our facilities. It shows that we achieve a high standard of teaching. To want to come back after having been at Camberwell, I think it’s a great accolade!”
You’ve described student success as a ‘real buzz’ – tell us more?
“I really enjoy visiting degree shows and MA shows and seeing the student flourish into confident artists. Suzanne Moxhay for example, her work is being recognised and she is exhibiting with some prestigious galleries.
We have a very faithful cohort of students. Groups in all the classes that come back regularly or go elsewhere for a while and come back again. We’ve built that reputation up over a long, long time and it’s a sort of culture at Morley. And I think it’s the same probably at our Waterloo Centre.”
“It’s quite a community, you know, a flourishing community. A lot of the people who study with us were grandchildren or children of the people that came to do the short courses with us right back when we started out.”
What are your Masterclasses at Morley College London?
“Three of us in the department are doing Masterclasses. I’m doing one on viscosity printing, which is a colour printing technique, and there’s some photopolymer and a Mezzotint masterclass; these are very specialist things being taught at a high level. There are a lot of courses out there, so we need students to choose us for the variety and high level of what we offer.
And I think we should do some more work asking the students because they’re the ones who will tell us why they come to us and what is important to them. A lot of them have used other studios in London and they have a really good overview of what’s out there and how we compare. What makes us unique.”