Suffering for Art

The pain we all feel

Extraordinary times. Unprecedented times. Strange times. Kingston School of Art is breaking up it seems. Jo Addison, acting head of fine art, works alongside Lucy Renton, acting head of architecture. They both work for Mandy Ure, acting dean. That’s a lot of acting. Mostly they do what Steven Spier tells them, but Ms Addison has turned on her employers in the most unpleasant way. She has assumed the role of apologising to her students and colleagues in the cause of Black Lives Matter. We all feel the pain and frustration that Ms Addison expresses. We all want change. Even those teachers like Ms Addison who are white, middle-aged, well-paid and work for an authoritarian institution like Kingston University. But why is she attacking her employers like this?

She says of Steven Spier and Mandy Ure: ‘The way our university has managed this has been deeply saddening but I hope we, as a department of staff students and alumni can have faith in its contrition. We represent the university and it is up to us to gather strength to help to shape it for the better. Together we must work harder and do better to understand our part and to address inequalities of all kinds. In our department we have such a long way to go towards what we aspire to and it sometimes feels painfully slow…Too many us, students, tutors, friends and fellow artists suffer burnout from their efforts to survive as artists and to make a difference in our sector.’

There’s the clue. Ms Addison IS feeling the pain. Part of this pain is the brutality of managers Steven Spier and Mandy Ure. Will poor struggling Jo find she is also oppressed by management when they read her words about them? Does Many Ure throw Ms Addison to the cops, or say sorry on her behalf to Steven Spier? Are they all going crazy over at Kingston School of Art?

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