THIS TEXT HAS BEEN WRITTEN BY UK ARTIST MAXIMILIAN FREDERICK HERBERT:
Within the educational sector there is a division between some private schools or academies that retain the practice of teaching traditional technical skills, as you suggest museums were first intended to facilitate and support, whilst conversely public, government supported universities have often adjusted their curriculum and syllabus to the point that there is no technical tuition of craft skill at all, traditional or otherwise.
Many of these latter institutions perceive themselves to be more progressive than those still retaining craft tuition, in that they feel or proclaim to feel, that a broad departure from historical values is a positive, evolutionary thing; enabling them to separate themselves or their image and reputation from historic prejudices and atrocities, and as such appeal to political sympathies as a novel unbiased environment without sin.
Whilst the private ateliers are often excellent places for the pursuit of a refined technical training, which might be in glass blowing, silversmithing, oil painting, stone carving, cabinet making etc, the arrangement as it stands limits the opportunity of students from less affluent families who wish to develop a technical grounding, as they cannot afford the private tuition.
Meanwhile, the same applicants are accepted into the public education system, accruing considerable debt over time, and not equipped with even the basic tools of design craft, but told that they must experiment and explore. Then when they are critiqued they are taught to take offence and assume that the basis of the critique is politico-ideological rather than technical, as the basis of their work is ideology, so they make no technical progress.
At the more extreme academies of the traditional kind, experimentation and exploration are discouraged, as it is feared that deviation from technical refinement will be retrogressive. So, we are left with a polarised system in which, at the outer limits one can choose from either experimentation without technique or technique without experimentation. One private and one public.
The main mistake as I presently perceive it is that technical values are conflated with ideological values, so for example a preference for white Carrara marble sculpture might be equated with white supremacy and the subordination of darker skinned peoples. In reality, whilst racial prejudice of this kind was certainly prevalent historically when appreciation and production of marble statuary was at its zenith, the present circumstance prevents the majority of less affluent blacks from studying stone carving, as its association with historic prejudice has resulted in it being removed from curricula, only to be taught in private studios that are less affordable. As such, the pretence of supporting social mobility for less affluent blacks does exactly the opposite of what it proclaims to; failing to equip poor students with tools that continue to remain available to wealthy students.
Moreover, the ideological framework of the public institution that presents itself as equitable, unbiased and fair, uses as its fundamental basis an oppositional stance rather than an affirmative one, in that it is built against the traditional system of values, rather than, say, alongside it. As such, promotion of historical or traditional work or critique according to traditional values is seen as aggressive, in that it is perceived to impinge upon the territory that is sought by the apparently progressive institution, where the foundational principle is the devaluation of said values. This ensures that any effort to bring tradition into line with experimentation is negated, as it is feared that the power held by either extreme will be lost, rather than enhanced.
Concurrently, the division enables power to flow in two directions; towards technique which presents itself as an ideology, or towards ideology which presents itself as technique. Whilst the power that this affords to the figureheads at the pinnacle of each institution is considerable, the separation prevents Art from reaching its highest potential, in that the maximum pool of resources are not utilised.
Furthermore, the principle of divide and conquer applies, in that, although it is unclear what force has caused this rift, it has prevented Art from becoming as energised and vivacious as it must have been when, in a smaller, more enclosed system such as Renaissance Italy, the total field of knowledge was drawn upon, and creative figures worked up to and beyond the limits of their technical and ideological understanding, creating excellence not solely on the basis of values, but on the excelling of values.
Whilst it may be argued that this process must be like breathing, and that, after a consolidated period of contraction and effort, the creative industries must expand and come to accommodate more before the next surge of creative growth, that period cannot and shall not come until either a unity is found between the divided schools, or they learn to stand independently from one another as separate and unrelated disciplines.