Assessment Highlights

Last week was assessment time at AIVA…time to assess the 21 art and design students’, their progress and work from semester one. In a few words it was exhausting, enlightening, inspiring and somewhat disappointing (in part)…and a very big learning curve not only for the students but for myself. Learning whilst teaching, oh the irony, though I think most people in the teaching profession have to do this. My Mom calls it Continued Professional Development (CPD) as part of her line of work and I think it’s the same for the industry I’m in. Again, I’m learning…also learning that students have the power to surprise you every single day, which is fantastic and what you want in the land of creativity.

So from the 21 students, the panel of seven gave out five fails…25% fail rate is not good. Some students I think expected it, others really did not. There were a few tears here and there, and a request from my Visual Communication students to be more negative and critical! I really did not expect that feedback so next semester I’ll have to try to put my serious and brutal hat on…not something which I’m used to as I’m quite a positive-criticism kind of person. This comes back to how the process of teaching in China and the UK are very different in so many ways…that’s another conversation. Shown below are some images of the students work…jewellery, graphics and animation…

One of the most passionate and promising students is Kin Lao (Lao Zheng shown on the left below), a pre-MA Product Design student, here shown talking to Claire Farrell from EC Arts, Birmingham, and course leaders Edward Liao and Zhang Hong. Before I talk about Kin’s work, I’ll tell you why Claire was with us at AIVA. She was in Shanghai after world travels in New Zealand and Hong Kong, to talk to the MadeIn Company (contemporary Chinese artist Xu Zhen) about their involvement with her current project ’48SHEET’. Opening in April 2012, ’48SHEET’ is a National and International project that will transform the city of Birmingham throughout April 2012 into a unique urban gallery by utilising up to 100 advertising billboards across the city for visual art. The two key artists for this project are MadeIn Company and Raqs Media Collective along with other emerging and established artists. As I have recently worked with both these groups, Claire and I had really good conversations about how the project will develop. ’48SHEET’ will also be included as part of the ‘Fourth Guangzhou Triennial 2012’ too, which I am Curatorial Assistant for…it is definitely going to be an interesting year for me in terms of projects and I’m looking forward to seeing Claire’s project unfold…a shame I won’t be in the UK to see it.

Anyway, Kin Lao…one of the few students who constantly surprises us with his ideas and enthusiasm, and keeps us all smiling in the office. In the last semester, he experimented with paper-making techniques for use in products, going through rigorous experimentation and testing processes. What is most interesting about his practice is that he decided to focus on the discarded parts of fruit as the organic base to make his paper, looking at the idea of recycling and no waste. His main source was the Chinese grapefruit, pomelo, 柚子 yòuzi…so the peel of the pomelo. He also experimented with how coffee, grape and other organic foods worked on their own and with the pomelo. His work really did blow us away in terms of concept and experimentation as he used very simplistic techniques to make the works….and as you know some of my background is in paper-making so it certainly made me happy. We are looking forward to how he develops his practice next semester…and Claire is too. Certainly one to watch.


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