Creative skills being stifled

I’m not usually grumpy, but sometimes seemingly unimportant things grate; others are far more significant.

I was looking for a photographer elsewhere to whom I could refer a client. Some plastered their online images with logos, a bugbear of mine, so they didn’t get a call. Many said they were “passionate about photography”; I ignored them too. Such clichés are as annoying as ‘business-speak’ and political slogans, revealing a lack of imagination.

Education used to be about honing imagination and gaining useful life skills and knowledge. Now it seems concerned mainly with exam results. Saying that, walking around James Calvert Spence College’s sixth form with my son, students’ photographic art for their A-levels was excellent.

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Society is dependent upon artistic creativity. Everything from architecture to zoology has always relied on creative inspiration. Cave paintings, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Roman statues, the Terracotta Army, the Bayeux Tapestry, illuminated religious texts, printing, town planning, fashion and websites all stem from artistic design.

Photography is vital in conservation, used for studying behaviour and population changes. Digital imaging technology is the foundation of many medical diagnostics. Biologists once stared down microscopes sketching specimens, now even I have a microscope with a camera.

A complaint from academics and students alike is that even undergraduate courses seem to be about ticking boxes. Many clients have undertaken photography courses elsewhere, but found they met prescriptive criteria and lacked opportunity for true creativity.

Art education is under attack financially. Lottery ticket sales have fallen. Initially, this seems a good thing. You have a greater chance of winning an Oscar (one in 11,500) than the jackpot (one in 45,057,474). But it resulted in a £156million drop in Arts Council grants.

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As reduced government funding to schools and universities continues, creative arts courses are first to be hit, and the student loan system leaves people with huge debts – 75 per cent of art students will never repay their loan because they won’t earn enough.

I got tickets for The Photography Show at Birmingham’s NEC, but getting to the station, trying to park, then travelling by train would be little faster than driving, and cost four times more. I didn’t go.

It’s bonkers that it’s cheaper to drive and park in Alnwick than catch a bus from Amble. Aren’t we supposed to be protecting our environment by using public transport?

Rant over. I’m off to take photographs.

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