Sausage meat, silly putty, metal foam: MA students explore unusual materials

We are well into the delivery of the first year of our brand new MA in Art & Materials Histories course here at the Art School. It’s not only the subject itself which is new, as it draws from contemporary critical thinking and material-based artistic practices, but also the way we are teaching it. We are working with the idea that in order to appropriately engage with new ways of material thinking, we also need to engage in new ways of learning, and the course is proving to be exemplary in this respect.

This week, our students took part in a day-long workshop with artist and researcher Laura White and materials expert, Senior Lecturer in Design at Goldsmiths College and joint founder of UCL’s Institute of Making, Martin Conreen. Blobs of silly Putty, blocks of metal foam, jars of impossibly light Aerogels and Mummy Black pigment and much, much more were handled, played with and critically evaluated in relation to future technologies and artistic practices.

Photo credit: Laura White

Last week, students took part in N16’s Meat & Delicatessen’s organic Poultry and Sausage workshop. Lead by expert butcher Paul Grout we learnt the craft of dissecting and tying a chicken and de-boning meat for the stuffing of Cumberland sausages. Reflecting on the sustainability of the meat industry and the increasing popularity of its alternatives, students worked side-by side with their teaching staff to experience hands-on the pleasures (and for our 2 veggie student’s, challenges) of organic meat preparation.

Photo credit: Laura White
Photo credit: Laura White
Photo credit: Laura White

Next week, our students will be out and about in London’s museums and galleries in order to discover and reflect on artworks material value, shifting status depending on their material context and the constructed narratives around them.

All in all, the course is shaping up to be one of the most innovative and progressive MA’s in contemporary Art History.


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