ACUADS Chair’s Report (March 2006)

Posted on March 31, 2006

Posted on 31 Mar 2006

Su Baker, Head, School of Art, Victorian College of the Arts

The ACUADS Executive is charged with representing the interests of the sector and as such concentrates attention on the pressing issues confronting university art and design schools. The record of the meetings below is a guide as to the range of issues that are discussed.

Since the early 1990s when art schools entered the University domain, through the National Unified System, there have been many and varied outcomes, with each art school forging its own relationship within the new institutional arrangement, with a variety of degrees of success. While art schools as part of CAE’s were focused on teaching and university generally focused on research the Dawkins ‘marriages’ forced both sectors into new ways of working.

For the art schools, the shift was towards defining our professional engagement and advances of knowledge in our disciplines into the research mode familiar to the University sector. This is a long and familiar history to the membership of ACUADS and we continue to press for inclusion in the ‘research club’. It seems that after much effort by a number of people, the forthcoming RQF process will give a form to the assessment of research activities in the creative arts of which art and design is a part.

The Universities, on the other hand, were expected to re-focus on the undergraduate student experience and the quality of teaching. Fifteen years on these two fields of reform are now pressing on all of us in the higher education sector.

In 2003 the Australian Government announced it would develop a new institute to provide a national focus for the enhancement of learning and teaching in Australian higher education institutions and to be a flagship for acknowledging excellence in learning and teaching. The Carrick Institute was launched in August 2004.

Earlier in the 1990s ACUADS took a lead role in defining the terms for evaluating research in creative arts of publication, etc.

This earlier work has set the scene for the current engagement with the RQF process to be visited on us in 2008. As part of this process ACUADS is again contributing to this process as an invited member in the consultation process.

These issues will form the focus for the 2006 annual conference in Melbourne.

As a sector we are entering into a new phase of professionalization. This may be regretted by some as a loss or welcomed as a new set of opportunities. Perhaps both are true. However, it is in fact the reality of our times and this conference can be an occasion to set out these ambitions and take control of our future.

In ACUADS’ 25th year we have the opportunity to take stock of its history and the best strategies for the future.

The conference in Melbourne this year will outline and speculate on the new challenges facing the tertiary art and design sector. The ACUADS Executive looks forward to welcoming all to Melbourne in September and to ‘think the future’ together.

ACUADS sadly announces the death of artist Noel Sheridan.

Born in Dublin in 1936, Noel Sheridan was a painter, writer, video and performance artist and was deeply committed to the development and promotion of contemporary arts through his roles as eminent educator and gallery director.

He practised as an artist in New York from 1963-1972 and then taught in Sydney University’s Tin Sheds for a year.

He was invited to take up the Inaugural Directorship of Adelaide’s Experimental Art Foundation in 1973, where he championed new possibilities for contemporary art.

In 1979 he was appointed Director of the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, where he remained until 2003, apart from the 4 years (1989 – 1994) he spent as the Inaugural Director of Perth’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA).

Through his twenty years at NCAD in Dublin he nurtured an entire generation of Irish artists who are currently practicing internationally.

In four short years as Inaugural Director Noel was able to bring to PICA an international profile through the programs he initiated and the extraordinary artists and performers he invited to Perth.

One of his initiatives still currently thriving is ‘Hatched’, the national review of the work of graduate artists from most Australian art schools annually exhibited at PICA.

He is remembered for many of his remarkable and ambitious projects, his tireless championing of artists, his vast knowledge of the breadth of contemporary arts and his indefatigable wit, humour and charm.

ACUADS delegates were fortunate to see Noel perform brilliantly as our featured guest at the ACUADS Conference Dinner at AGWA in Perth last year.

On the 12th of July 2006 Noel passed away at his home in Perth, in the company of his loving family.

Diana Wood Conroy, of the University of Wollongong, has been promoted to Professor in recognition of her outstanding blend of research, creative and educational contributions to the university, tertiary art and design sector nationally and her fields of archaeology and textiles.

ACUADS Executive Meetings
ACUADS holds four Executive meetings and an Annual General Meeting each year. Following is a summary of the topics discussed at those Executive meetings since the previous newsletter: 12 December 2005 and 3 March 2006. The meetings are listed in reverse chronological order.