Art is an important aspect in life that people sometimes forget we use daily. We spoke to Mr Cook, head of creative and expressive arts at Malet Lambert, to find out his experiences with art and what he think Hull has to offer creatively.
At what age did you decide you wanted to be an art teacher?
Probably from about 14 or 15. When I was at school I decided I wanted to do something arty, and I enjoyed the teaching aspect of it. I liked talking about other people’s work as well as my own work, and because art was my favourite subject, I felt like all lessons should be art lessons.
What were the art courses at your secondary school like in comparison to the art courses the GCSE students are currently doing now?
They were relatively similar, actually. We still did GCSE back then, and the structure of it was very similar, as was the exams. What we do differently is to do with choices and the different projects you can do, also the scale of the work we do now. We didn’t do the 6ft sculptures like the students are doing now either. But like now, it very much depended on who you were and what you wanted to do, and everyone had their own projects that they could work on.
Do you know any former students from the school or students that you have personally taught that have continued to pursue a further career in art?
Yes, a lot of students went onto study at college, I know a few that have studied art at university too. I know one student I taught fairly early on who has started teaching art, which I find weird and makes me feel very old. But yeah, a lot have gone on to study at college and at university level.
Do you know any artists around Hull and the local area that students may be interested in knowing about?
There’s some, although not many. There’s various forums you can visit to find out about that sort of thing, Red Gallery is good to look at more local things. Also, the gallery in Princes Quay often has local art exhibitions that rotate regularly.
And what about any art events?
Events-wise, there’s all sorts of festivals to get involved in. Like the Freedom festival every year, there’s a big art element in that with the installations. Freedom festival is full of contemporary art, as well as the kind of applied stuff like costume design and different elements like that.
What do you know about the Turner Prize coming to Hull in 2017?
Well, it’s for City of Culture, and it’s going to be in the Ferens gallery. The last time the Turner prize came to a place with the City of Culture prize, it had a big impact and gave the city’s art scene a lot of media coverage. The Turner prize is a big event, and when it’s held outside of London then it does get a lot of attention from the news. So when it does come to Hull, it will be a good opportunity for us. We have had elements of the Turner prize here before, so to have the main event held here it will certainly be interesting to see.
Finally, why is art so important to you?
Art is massively important. The human race is a creative species, and without creativity we wouldn’t be where we are today. In terms of where we have come and what we do now, it wouldn’t have happened without creativity in art and all the other fields. If art isn’t practised, it withers and dies. You think of adults and think they’re sort of boring and don’t want anything to do with them, but everyone is born with creativity. Its very taught out in school terms, especially with everyone having to wear a uniform, I think it stops the creativity and that art is one of the only things that keeps that individuality. I draw most days as I find it relaxing and useful and I find that there’s nothing quite like it. It totally keeps you in a world of your own, and I don’t think much else can do that. Art is just transcendent.