Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A collection of practice

The engage resource is currently housed at the Stuart Hall Library and is a specialist collection of gallery education materials including reports, case studies, teachers packs, exhibition catalogues, audio visual materials, and cultural theory. On November 19th The Stuart Hall Library will be hosting A Collection of Practice - a free evening event exploring the notion of the bibliography in gallery and visual arts education.

In preparation for the event we are asking engage members, gallery educators, lecturers, students, librarians and all interested parties to contribute their thoughts and to take part in the construction of an interactive online bibliography.We want your suggestions for key resources within the field of gallery education, please let us know in the comments below.

We will be using the Stuart Hall Library blog to debate the issues surrounding the canon of reading lists and bibliographies in gallery education. The event will be posing three questions to the guest speakers:

* Are there key books and resources that have informed or developed the practice of gallery education and visual arts learning?
* How are books chosen for reading lists for academic courses?
* How relevant are the texts to practice in gallery learning?

We are interested in reading your thoughts on these topics and enthusiastically welcome any personal recomendations of 'key texts' within this field. Are there resources that you feel are neglected in traditional bibliographies? Are there 'forgotten' materials or resources that you would like to suggest to be added to this bibliography? Have you ever contributed or constructed a reading list bibliography and if so what has this process been like?

As we get ready to explore these issues please use the library blog comments to suggest materials and voice your opinions. In the run up to the event we can begin to compile this shared interactive bibliography and debate the canon of gallery education reading lists.

engage is the National Association for Gallery Education: a professional organisation for those in the field of the visual arts and learning. Members include policymakers, curators, gallery staff, teachers and artists. engage supports Gallery Education through projects and programmes, Continuing Professional Development, publications and resources. For information about membership go to www.engage.org/join


  1. Hello! Can I suggest this? I can't find it on the website so I assume you con't have it

    Barr, J. Liberating Knowledge: Research, Feminism and Adult Education, pp. 182, Leicester, National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education (NIACE) (1999) ISBN 1862-010463

  2. I'd like to recommend 'A Manual for the 21st Century Art Institution', published to mark the reopening of the Whitechapel Gallery in 2009 and told in the format of a guided tour around the different areas of the building.


  3. Hi all - a couple of suggestions:

    Art with People: Edited by Malcolm Dickson (AN publications, 1988?). "Who is art for?" - A survey of the art and ideas of the eighties in the community arts and early gallery education sector,which I found important to give a grounding to some basic principles of engagement.

    Beyond Social Inclusion: Towards Social Democracy: Cultural Policy Collective (Aberdeen, 2004). A comprehensive and timely dismantling of New Labour's social inclusion agenda which confimred much misgivings in the gallery education sector and voiced the need for less instrumentalisation and control of the sector .

  4. Here are a couple of older classics, but nevertheless important I think, and should be acknowledged as forming the foundations for any discussion about gallery education:
    Bourdieu, P. (1969) 'The Love of Art: European Art Musems and their Public'. Cambridge: Polity
    Bourdieu, P. (1979) 'Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of taste. London: Routledge
    both critique the idea that certain audiences have an innate ability to 'read', appreciate or enjoy art, while for many it is seen as an exclusive and inaccessible world. Rather, this sense of 'taste' or 'cultural capital' has more to do with social class, background, education and therefore is not innate but can and should be made available for all to enjoy...

  5. Hi everybody,

    here are my suggestions:

    Engaging audiences, opening institutions
    Methods and strategies in education at
    documenta 12
    Edited by Wanda Wieczorek, Claudia Hummel, Ulrich Schötker, Ayse Gülec, and Sonja Parzefall. Berlin/Zurich: diaphanes, 2009.

    Between Critical Practice and Visitor Services. Results of a Research Project
    Edited by Carmen Mörsch and the research team of the documenta 12 education. Berlin/Zurich: diaphanes, 2009.

    The first volume gives an insight into education formats and models used at the Documenta 12 and the second volume focuses on methods and contexts, and reflects theoretically on
    the given examples.The books provide an excellent basis for practitionners and academia and encourage a critical reflection of dominant approaches.

  6. Robin Tanner's text 'Learning and the Arts' has always been my inspiration, it works for adults too: "...every boy and girl I taught was unique, with gifts and graces peculiary their own...it was my privilege to create a setting or environment or, one might almost say, a climate in which these startling powers could emerge and flourish" Robin Tanner, Double Harness, An Autobiography. London: Impact Books 1987.

  7. Please note that the book 'Art with People' was published in 1995.

    I'd like to contribute my favourite book on the subject 'Community, Art and the State' by Owen Kelly which was published by Comedia in 1984. It very eloquently argued the case for cultural democracy as distinct from the democratisation of culture, and this remains a compelling debate which is still pertinent, as many of the comments at the recent Engage conference indicate.

    A second influence is David Harding’s tenure as 'Town Artist' in Glenrothes from 1969 to 1979 where he formed part of the planning team. David then went on to establish the Environmental Art Course at Glasgow School of Art, whose philosoophical cornerstone was 'Context is Half the Work' - borrowed from APG and used to a great degree in the fine work of the department right up until the late 90s. There is an article about it in 'Art with People' but also in an interview with him in Variant, issue 8, 1990: http://www.variant.randomstate.org/vol1/issue8.html

    Malcolm Dickson, Director, Street Level Photoworks

  8. Texts that have had a significant impact on my practice include:
    'Storming the Citadels: Community, Art and the State' by Owen Kelly (1984)
    'Essays on The Blurring of Art and Life - Allan Kaprow' edited by Jeff Kelley (1993)
    'Artists in Schools: A handbook for Artists and Teachers' by Caroline Sharp and Karen Dust (1990)
    'Pedagogy of the Oppressed' by Paulo Freire (1970)

    Dr Emily Pringle

  9. At the beginning of my career in Gallery Education, John Berger's 'Ways of Seeing' and a catalogue called 'Through Children's Eyes'(Arts Council/Southampton Art Gallery 1982) were inspirational.

  10. Hi

    Of great importance to me and how I work are two essay's from the canon of post modern theory which I share in case they are of interest to anyone else...

    Rhetoric of the Image by Roland Barthes in Barthes, R. Mythologies London: Cape 1972

    Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin in Benjamin, W. Illuminations London: Fontana 1992

    A report written by David Anderson, perhaps now a little out of date but the passion and committment still oozes from his words, has also been hugely influential. A Common Wealth, a report for the Government on the development of museums and learning in the United Kingdon DCMS 1997.

  11. was intrigued by the fact that there actually is a collection of practice in Gallery Education material.
    In 1978, one of my first professional positions was to run and to develop the Education programme at the National Gallery of New Zealand in Wellington. (I was the one and only Education Officer!) It was a very exciting time, with almost carte blance to do what I wanted, and, by today's standards, virtually no accountability, no peformance targets, no cuts, no political agenda to consider. Quite early on, about 1979 or 1980 - I attended a Museum and Gallery Conference in Melbourne, Australia. One of the workshops was lead by Eileen ? (Sorry, the surname escapes me, but could be found easily enough) who had created a brilliant and inspiring Education programme at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York. This was radical stuff! Her thoughts, her practice, her experiments, her enthusiam, extended my horizons and showed me what could be...As a result of this experience, I returned to start the country's first Docent volunteer programme at my Gallery, opened an Education Space, and expanded the repertoire of programmes on offer.
    Post script: Returning to teaching many years later, and having raised my family, I have been absolutly astounded by the high profile which Art Gallery Education practice is now experiencing. I have witnessed many changes over the years and am really pleased to be kept informed through the great work of engage.

    Moira Johnson

  12. Great publications on this list! Could I continue with a couple of classics: Carol Duncan Civilizing Rituals and Tony Bennett The Birth of the Museum (both 1995). In addition to Freire (mentioned above) I'd like to add bell hooks Teaching to Transgress (1994). And then, on a less academic note, an inspirational educator Janusz Byszewski, Poland, and especially experienced in a live situation!

  13. I would like to add The Nature of the beast : cultural diversity and the visual arts sector. A study of policies, initiatives and attitudes 1976-2006 by Richard Hylton. This book provides an analysis of cultural diversity policies in the visual arts within the publically funded sector.

  14. I'd like to recommend 'Access All Areas', edited by Helen O'Donohughue, which has influenced my work.

  15. Fantastic list - thanks to engage, InIVA and all who are contributing. I'd like to add Wendy Ewald and Alexandra Lightfoot's 'I Wanna Take Me a Picture' (2001, Beacon Press). It isn't specifically about education in galleries, but relates to ways of helping grow children and young people's visual and written literacies by focusing on representing themselves and their worlds.

    Janice McLaren

  16. This is great information – its encouraging to see online education is becoming more widely accepted and the benefits are backed up by a range of studies.