Erika Winstone

Tutor, Fine Art (Chelsea Centre)

Erika Winstone has been teaching Fine art at Morley Chelsea for nearly 40 years. She teaches HNC, HND and the Third year BA Fine art top-up, which together are Internationally recognised as the equivalent of a Fine Art degree. As a discipline, Fine Art includes drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, performance and video.

“I studied BA in painting at Camberwell Art School followed by MA Fine Art at Slade immediately afterwards. This was in the early 80s. I soon got my first teaching job at Reigate’s East Surrey College of Art, and also began teaching at Camberwell on the Art Foundation course. A couple of years later I also got a job at Kensington and Chelsea College teaching what was then called the ‘Pre Foundation’ course in art. That was 40 years ago this September. It was a course that was very welcoming to mature students who were trying to find out if art was what they wanted to do. It’s the equivalent of the Level 3 course run by Stuart Denyer, running at Chelsea.

In my own practice I’ve always taught drawing, painting and for the last 24 years this has extended to include video. I’ve just had a show at Patrick Heide Gallery.”

“I enjoy mixed media and working across these areas questioning, ‘where does a drawing become a painting?’ or ‘Where does a painting become a video?’ Fine Art as a discipline keeps things open allowing students to investigate, test things out and explore whilst studying with us.”

You say you like to collaborate within a team – how does that affect teaching and learning?

“Teamwork and collaboration are fundamental to me and I think to any successful course. I have been very lucky to have taught for all this time as part of a close team with inspirational artists and teachers such as Peter Stanley, who I worked with as a job share for over 20 years. Then artist Brian Deighton until he retired and currently Greg Rook and Jane Eyton. I’ve really valued these working relationships and believe the students really benefit when there are such positive working collaborations between their team of tutors. It is one of the main reasons why I stayed working hereat the college, this as well as the inspiration of teaching such an incredibly wide demographic of students with so much to contribute and witnessing the difference this can make.

As a team of tutors who are practising artists we each offer particular knowledge and expertise. For example Greg Rook is both a wonderful painter who also has knowledge of NFTs which offer new cutting edge opportunities for artists. Jane Eyton is a sculptor with a wicked sense of humour and the haptic. Our courses also include Professional practice which help to prepare students for both work and higher level career developments. In addition I have also developed and run the ‘Morley Fine Art Mentoring’ for five years at Waterloo Centre which complements HE Fine Art courses aiming to form a bridge for students wishing to gain confidence to work independently or apply for an MA.

“I guess the main thing reflecting on my time working here is I feel that I have learned hugely through teaching. I’ve gained confidence and extended my knowledge and practice through teaching and working alongside other artists I greatly respect and learning from both them and the students.”

I encourage try to involve the students very actively in their own learning. Sometimes they say something which is exactly what I need to hear. As artists we really need our own space. We need time alone. But then if you only have that, it can be very isolating and hard so having a sense of community, testing ideas through dialogue and feeling part of something that’s incredibly important.”

You have a special collaborator, your daughter, tell us more about that?

 “My work involves combining elements of my practice together; silver point drawings, paintings and video layered to form installations. I work with my daughter Anna Dean, who is now 25 and she’s a performer. Both of us are in my film called London Project that is currently being exhibited. I have, collaborated with her through film since she was born. I don’t tell her what to do when I’m filming, but record her movements, energy and improvisations which I find an ongoing inspiration!

When I’m teaching my students there’s also an exchange I hope. As teachers we’re very much trying to encourage the individual voices of each student to develop. However when I’m working with my daughter, I am making art with her, it’s not that I don’t see the students also as artists, but with Anna we are collaboratively making work together.

“My work is about the energy, fragility and preciousness of life and how we interact in relationships with other people, and I’m trying to really value that and capture moments and gestures between people and how they relate to one another. Both fictional people, who we would like to be or identify with. But also real life relationships as well. I’m attempting to capture traces of these transitory energies.

Morley Chelsea has been a very good place for me.”

Let’s talk about your students and their journeys – what are you most proud of?

“I am so proud of all my students. I’ve taught Monster Chetwynd, who was nominated for the Turner Prize. Luke Caulfield, Jala Wahid, Seb Patane, Valerie Jolly, Susan Sluglett , Jillian Knipe . Most recently Emily Moore, Luca Bosani and Hannah Uzor to name just a few.

“I feel especially proud of people that are not necessarily well-known but who have made an incredible turn-around from coming to us with very few previous qualifications. Who haven’t got a degree already but have gone on to access degree courses. Some of those people have come up from Level 3 courses and then completed the whole journey with us. And it’s wonderful to have helped on this journey in some way.”

We teach a lot of people who would not do well in very large groups in a university, as they would not get the amount of support that is possible in our more intimate setting. And the thing about our courses is they get a lot of  individual time, personal tutorials and one on one attention.”

Thank you to Erika for her time – here are more details about her courses:

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