Sketchbook Circle is a year-long collaborative project established to encourage artist educators to make time for their own personal work.
Sketchbook Circle began seven years ago when Elinor Brass and fellow artist educator Tanya Paget brought together artist educator friends using sketchbooks as a vehicle for collaboration. They were looking for a way to commit time to their own making around their busy lives working in education and wanted to develop a community of practitioners. By 2013 TEA Sketchbook Circle was established with the support and encouragement of Susan Coles, who at the time was the President of NSEAD. This circle was set up in support of TEA (Thinking Expression Action) an initiative established by the NSEAD, Campaign for Drawing and NADFAS to develop the use of drawing in art education. Alongside talented artist educator Georgia Naish, Elinor has continued to run the circle and has seen it grow significantly with artist educators taking part across the United Kingdom and Europe.
How Does it Work?
Each January a circle is established and then every artist makes work in a book of their choice (although it needs to fit through the letter box.) They post their books to the person next to them in the circle by the end of January. Then every artist makes work in response to the work they have received and posts the book back to where it came from. This means that there are two in-depth artistic conversations occurring over the course of a year (it goes back and forth like a pendulum). Artists work in any medium and on any scale, sometimes working outside the book and using it just as place to record their making. The structure of having a deadline ensures artist educators make time for their own practice and there has been a lot of feedback from participants about the importance of committing regular time. It means a commitment to yourself and your own wellbeing and development but it can also build your confidence in what you deliver in the classroom. It is a demanding project as it is stretching to respond to someone else's artwork, but it is also incredibly rewarding.
The sketchbook community is also very important with a lively and supportive Facebook group sharing their work and ideas. Last year a monthly postal mail-out was established, which has been curated by artist educators from the group. Each month circle members have received a pack with materials, ideas and triggers to given them even more support in their own practice both as artists and educators. This year we have even more contributions from members of the circle through blog posts, a monthly e-newsletter and even more inspiring mail-outs!
Participating in Sketchbook Circle means belonging to a community of artist educators who are like minded and passionate about engaging with making and collaborating with others. You will be paired with 2 partners, with whom you will establish an in depth dialogue across the year. There is a lively and supportive Facebook group where you can share your work and ideas. Becoming a member also means you will receive a monthly e-newsletter featuring guest artists, products and other news. Members will also have the chance to sign up to practical workshops and participate in a group show in February 2018.