Reimagining the Line: A Twenty-First Century Drawing Lesson

This series of short films documents a research experiment that was conceived to examine historical and contemporary assumptions about educational practices related to the life room.

To appreciate the significance of the interaction between tutor and student, as well as intergenerational dialogues upon the practice of drawing itself, over a five-month period, we invited five distinguished contemporary practitioners to teach a life class. A group of twelve art students from different art schools were nominated to participate and they offered feedback on their different experiences.

The experiment opened provocative dialogues about the place of the life room in contemporary art education. Since the publication of the first Coldstream Report in 1961, the life room has been decentred to the point of marginalisation. Once the apogee of an artist’s training, the life room has been, for over fifty years, burdened with theoretical complications and assumptions about the practice’s ideas of facility, gender and hierarchy.

The life room’s vexed history underscores the relevance of ‘Reimagining the Line’, since it aims to examine these commonly held assumptions as well as the life room’s presence in contemporary practice. The invited artist/tutors represent the generations who witnessed the demise of the life room in art education. They were either students at a time when the life was the main focus of their art education (for example, those artists who had trained on the skills based curriculum of the National Diploma in Design in the 1950s), or they had trained at a time when the life room had been decentred but not entirely removed from the curriculum (those artists who had trained in the 1960s on the Diploma of Art and Design, precursor to today’s BA Hons).

The five artists, who took part in ‘Reimagining the Line’ began their careers in the life room, so it is altogether fitting to invite them, after a lifetime of working practice, to engage once more with that complicated pedagogical space and practice.

Eileen Hogan

In both her teaching and her painting, Eileen Hogan considers the way that stories underlie how we see. Since her extensive training at Camberwell School of Art, the Royal Academy and the Royal College of Art, she has explored the complicated intersection of practice and pedagogy. While exhibiting widely, she also holds a Research Professorship at the University of the Arts.

Bill Woodrow

Bill Woodrow has dedicated the past four decades to rethinking themes of intersections and transformations. His work has examined the uneasy relationships between humans and the natural world, as well as the destabilised balance of history and contemporary events. Since his student days at St Martin’s School of Art and his first show in 1972 at the Whitechapel Gallery, Woodrow has exhibited in solo shows around the world.

Michael Sandle

Known foremost for his monumental sculpture, sculptor Michael Sandle believes that art must engage the profound issues of our times. After leaving the Slade in 1959 and working in Paris, Sandle taught with Tom Hudson at Leicester College of Art. He was Professor of Sculpture at universities in Germany for many years and continues to exhibit sculpture that reveals his insistence on draughtsmanship and technical facility.

Derek Boshier

Most readily known for his pop art, painter Derek Boshier has worked in many media, and continues practice as primarily a narrative figurative painter. Now living in Los Angeles, Boshier experienced the rigour of training on the National Diploma in Design, and then as a graduate student at the Royal College of Art. Boshier has exhibited his work – as well as taught extensively in art schools – all over the world.

Christopher Le Brun

Christopher Le Brun is a painter, sculptor and printmaker. A graduate of the Slade and Chelsea Schools of Art, his work makes patent his strong attachment to the imagery and emotional address of Romanticism and Symbolism. A founding trustee of the Prince’s Drawing School, in 2000 he became the Royal Academy’s Professor of Drawing, and in December 2011 was elected its 26th President.