What is Education For?


What is Education For?

14 November – 18 November 2016

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WHAT IS EDUCATION FOR?

Public Opening Friday 18th November 5.30 – 8pm

A collaboration between the Portman Gallery and the Marx Memorial Library & Workers School.

With contributions from Chad McCail, Andrew Cooper, Phill Wilson-Perkin, The Rainbow Collective and students and staff of Morpeth School & Cambridge Heath Sixth Form.

For International Education Week (14th Nov – 18th Nov 2016) the PORTMAN GALLERY brings you a selection of works highlighting the empowering nature of educational communities, whilst asking important questions about the purpose of teaching and learning.

What is Education for? We have asked both staff and students of Morpeth School to contribute to the debate by asking questions such as “Why do children need to go to school?”

The Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell, have kindly allowed us into their huge archive to reproduce pamphlets, video, and photographic material focusing on democratic learning, youth-led organisations and the power of protest. Photographs from the Morning Star newspaper dating from the late 1970s to early 1980s documenting young people in protest to education cuts, caning and corporal punishment in schools are powerful reminders of the continuing struggle to decide who should control our education.

On the following wall we have included reproductions of pamphlet covers from youth-led organisations and chapters from books taking radical approaches to education from; the Radical Education Forum / Ultra-red, Bell Hooks, The Socialist Sunday School, and an illustrative interpretation of Marx’s labour theory of value by Andrew Cooper.

Also included is Chad McCail’s Food Shelter Clothing Fuel. The work, first exhibited on billboards in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and in Budapest, attempts to state or restate a series of ideals which belong to a radical tradition. The style of the work mimics the simplicity of the Peter and Jane children’s books of the 1960s while the messages speak clearly of socialist ideals.

Two videos and a 7″ record are also on show to accompany the works from MML:

Recorded in the Swedenborg House in London, 2014, Knock Knock presents an audio of Phill Wilson-Perkin Knocking on every door in the building. Taking the idea of spiritual guidance as a means to making important, public decisions, Wilson-Perkin questions Emanuel Swedenborg’s ‘spiritual awakening’ in which in 1744 he claimed to have numerous out-of-body experiences where he would find himself communing with angels and other holy figures. They fed him very radical ideas, like universal suffrage and an end to slavery. Wilson-Perkin asks “Is knowledge acceptable only when it flexes to shape and fit into the established order and what if it doesn’t?”

The Rainbow Collective have worked with year 9 pupils at Morpeth School on an animation project which integrates the individual students art practices with a group-led activity, highlighting the value of self-realisation and self-expression and the power of animation to inspire, motivate and facilitate working together.

The exhibition will be up in the Portman Gallery for the whole week but please join us on Thursday the 17th November from 5.30pm for a public opening where we hope to voice some of the important issues raised from the work in show.

***PUBLIC OPENING DATE CHANGED!*** To Friday 18th Nov due to the London NUT “Invest Don’t Cut” Education Funding March taking place on Thurs 17th Nov.

 

 

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 THE ABOVE VIDEO FEATURES…

KNOCK KNOCK by Phill Wilson-Perkin

In 1744 Emanuel Swedenborg had what he called a ‘spiritual awakening’. He claims to have out-of-body experiences where he would find himself communing with angels and other holy figures. They fed him very radical ideas, like universal suffrage and an end to slavery. Would these ideas have been taken so seriously if they hadn’t come from such divine sources? Were these ideas and teachings presented in this way so that were more palatable to the establishment? Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for presidency of the USA, also had to present her own radical ideas as spiritually guided. Claiming she learnt them in seances, communicating with the likes of Plato. Is knowledge acceptable only when it flexes to shape and fit into the established order and what if it doesn’t?

Recorded in the Swedenborg House in London, 2014, Knock Knock presents an audio of Phill Wilson-Perkin Knocking on every door in the building. The unrhythmical pace of the knocking is set by the artists own pace as he walks from door to door. Made after Manos Tsangaris’ Pfahle, 1981, were Tsangaris followed the route of a religious procession, chiming all the metal street furniture on his way. Here Wilson-Perkin cynically uses the language of Swedenborgs spiritualism (the disembodied knocking of a séance) to communicate with the unseen and unknown, looking for knowledge. Knock Knock, but nobody asks “whose there?”. Maybe the keepers of knowledge have moved on from spirituality to something more expensive and private.

7” record with audio on side A and engraving on side B