Column: Art history is not just for the elite
It was announced last month that history of art, along with anthropology and creative writing,will no longer be an option for young people to study at A-Level.
This is apparently due to examiners not having specialised knowledge in the subject area. It is considered ‘risky’ to continue tuition in the subject.
I can only state my devastation for the younger generation, knowing that I would be an entirely different person without this schooling.
With only the ‘elite few’ afforded this education, the views of the less fortunate will be underdeveloped and unheard.
Without the option to undertake creative studies I would probably not have continued with further or higher education at all (a statement that seems ridiculous to me as I sit here with a Masters Degree and an aim to study for a PhD).
Without this education I would have a much diminished understanding of the history and cultures of the world.
My earliest experience of art history was when I was in my second year of primary school when we were taught about the methods of Vincent van Gogh.
I remember even now how this challenged my opinions around art and the world as a whole.
The work of this artist still challenges me 20 years on.
Knowing this, I can only imagine how long the knowledge I retained during my later teens will stay with me and affect me in years to come.
I believe that it will allow me to keep evolving intellectually and creatively, for how can one make, curate and write about current debates in contemporary art without knowing what came first?
Without this familiarity, will the infrastructure of the art world collapse, causing the development of new practices to halt or even move shakily backwards?
From a curatorial perspective it is already challenging to engage children and young people with the history of art.
It is becoming impossible to attract teachers to bring pupils to art museums as it no longer fits the national curriculum.
This lack of education could lead to the closure of some of England’s most valued institutions.
Surely the lack of ‘sufficient experienced examiners’ gives reason and purpose for such a course to continue.
Does this statement not proclaim the urgency of the matter?