The Studio Art School: Dorset

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by Justin and Nicola

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The Studio Art School

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By Justin Cooke, Nov 20 2014 09:08PM

Great care was taken in selecting the equipment and materials we use. Tutor Justin Cooke explains how he chose the studio easels and how this inspired the ethos of the whole space.

When selecting easels I had very high expectations and looked at many different types. Always though, I had in mind the studios I used at University; particularly the three life drawing studios (two for painting, one for sculpture). Life drawing was available pretty much all day, every day; for the four years we were there. Those studios had an atmosphere. The Art School was established at the University in 1838, and you really felt that history around you.

When Life drawing, students need to work closely and have the space to work confidently, there is a particular, strong, beech wood easel that allows this. We used the same easels all over the department, even in our own individual studios and I selected the same easels for the classes and workshops to use.

Upwey Old School (the venue for our regular weekly classes) is also a Victorian building and somehow, when I see the easels around the room I am reminded of the old studios I knew so well. The easels set the tone for how the rest of the room was to look.

Both Nicola and I often meet people at our exhibitions who wish they had the experience of Art School, but it had somehow escaped them.

Well now we can say to them; if you couldn’t go before, we know a place where it is brought to you! And that in a way is what the Dorset Studio Art School project is all about.

We can’t say that our easels carry the history of generations of art students - they are all brand new. But that feeling of painting together whether in 1838 or 2014 never changes.

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