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Andrew Demetrius on Educator and Author Kurt Rowland

  • Sat, 23 Sep 2017
  • 5.00 PM - 6.00 PM
  • Tickets: £4/£3

Andrew Demetrius is Visual Resources Curator, School of Art History, at the University of St Andrews, with research interests including art pedagogy and material culture, and art in schools. He will introduce the work of Kurt Rowland (1920-1980), educator and author of three series of textbooks for schools on ‘visual literacy’: Looking and Seeing (1964), Learning to See (1968) and Sight and Insight (1973). Rowland is an inspiration for the artists Simon and Tom Bloor's installation in Abacus 'New possibilities in familar situations' and also on their wider practice. 

Broadly speaking, visual education aims at releasing and developing sensibilities whose value is still often underrated and unrecognized in forming creative attitudes to the environment.

Rowland took his inspiration from the Bauhaus and the writings of Herbert Read. He wanted to counter the pure abstraction of Basic Design and encourage exercises in creativity and expression that were closely linked to the real world, recognising the importance of play and wishing to foster creative visual skills that would grow with the child.

Rowland pitched his ideas towards art and design education in primary and secondary schools, but his overarching vision was more holistic, encompassing the entire man-made environment, the history and evolution of design, architecture, town planning and art. He wanted to offer a means by which student could comprehend their entire visual world, and wanted all school subjects to use elements of visual education.

These pioneering works were commercially successful during Rowland’s lifetime, but since his death both the author and his work have been largely neglected. This presentation will reflect on his work, its critical reception and legacy, considering his position within mainstream education and hoping to draw audience responses regarding the place of visual literacy in contemporary education.

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