Sensitive Issues in Art and the ‘spectrum of offence’

A while ago I posted a blog entitled ‘Nude vs Prudes’. I was a little exasperated that our life drawing workshops appeared to make a colleague so uncomfortable. But of course, nudity is just one of a number of sensitive topics and we need to be sensitive to the culture we are in, This issue becomes more complex when submitting work. For example, what are the implications if, as a teacher, I submit a student’s semi-naked self-portrait photo and it goes to an examiner ...

Nudes vs. Prudes

Discussions, and what is 'acceptable' I recently had a conversation that reminded me that even in my school, which I considered to be fairly enlightened and progressive, there are corners of old-fashioned, conservative and conformist thought. The discussion was about our regular figure drawing workshops for DP visual arts students, and it clearly made this person uncomfortable. Of course, if my school was located in a more conservative culture, this attitude would be predictable and understandable. But my school is located just outside ...

What Price Freedom of Expression?

It would be stretching things to call me a rebel, or subversive, or even a dissident, but I have recently had my words censored! Well, OK, maybe not 'my' words exactly, but the words of a student in two pages of a book I co-authored together with S. Poppy and J. Paterson, The Visual Arts Course Companion (Oxford University Press, 2017). What happened? Large sections of two pages were obscured by what looks like brown paper, because the Chinese authorities clearly took exception ...

When does art become offensive?

When does art become offensive? I’ve recently come back from a visual arts workshop in Dubai (United Arab Emirates). One of the things teachers touched on was the impact of cultural context of what and how we teach art, and the need for sensitivity to that context, responding to it and on some cases working around it. Teachers talked about the limits on what could be discussed openly with students, and explained that some things absolutely could not be part of the visual ...