In our continuing series about the creative process, we asked glass-maker Stuart Akroyd about his art school experience. Stuart is one of the Design-Nation makers profiled as part of Hatch’19, NCCD’s exploration of the creative development process, on until Sunday 22 September.
Design-Nation: Where did you study and what course did you do?
Stuart Akroyd: My studies were in three stages and places:
1988-1989 International Glass Centre, Postgraduate Diploma, Brierley Hill, West Midlands
1985-1988 B.A. (Hons), 3D Design, Glass with Ceramics, Sunderland University
1984-1985 Foundation Art, Huddersfield Polytechnic, West Yorkshire
DN: Are you still working in the discipline and material that you studied?
SA: Yes, the same material for over 30 years, but I’ve experimented and continued to learn, I’ve taken the glass to the limit of its physical possibilities.
DN: If you didn’t work in glass, what other discipline or material would you like to explore?
SA: I would have wanted to be a chef: I suppose working in hot and physically demanding environments must be my thing! I love cooking at home, creating weird and wonderful new dishes, and of course eating them.
DN: How did your time at art school or university shape you as a person?
SA: It focused my world into that of hot glass making, at Sunderland where I tried hot glass for the first time, I knew I had found the path for me. It was my eureka moment.
DN: What is your strongest memory from your time at art school / university?
SA: Being made to push my creativity further.
DN: How do you think creative education has changed since you were a student? Are you optimistic about creative education in the UK or do you have concerns about the future for those wanting to study arts subjects?
SA: Hot glass-making in this country is in a sad state of affairs, so many courses have closed. It takes a big budget for equipment, materials and running costs. Education is so much more money and vocation oriented – what happened to experiencing and learning for the sake of it? This can still make you a person fit for earning a living rather than shaped to fit the exact hole society requires. The USA has a much better offer and we really will lose out unless the way schools and universities are funded changes. I am concerned about the future, definitely. People don’t see the value of arts subjects because they’re short sighted about how much being creative develops society and contributes to everyday life.
DN: Knowing what you know now, what three pieces of advice would you give your student self?
SA: 1. Embrace new technology
2. You can do more, even though you think you’ve done enough
3. Don’t pass up opportunities, there may not be another one around the corner.