David Blyth, who lectures in Contemporary Art Practice (CAP) at Gray’s School of Art, is a shining example of a lecturer who goes the extra mile to ensure his students have an experience to remember while under his supervision.
An RGU alumnus who has been teaching at the art school for 13 years, David was recognised for his personal approach to teaching with a STAR Award, picking up the prize for best personal tutor at the ceremony which is organised by the RGU student body.
“I was emailed to say I had won an award and I wasn’t aware of what award I’d actually won until we got to the ceremony”, David said.
“I was astounded! I had obviously put a lot of work in over the year for no other reason than I wanted to do a good job. To have then been recognised by a number of students was an extraordinary honour, it really meant a lot to me.
“As much as I work for the University, it is the students’ experience that you really want to have an impact on.
“I just do what I do, I wouldn’t like to say it’s because I’m excellent, it’s just the relationship which I seem to develop with my students.
“We are all artists here, it’s not the student and teacher dynamic. The way I look at is the students are on a journey – they have a starting point and a place they want and need to get to. I want to go with them on that journey, together. Some will go further than others but you just have to do your very best for each and every one of them.”
David’s personal approach to pedagogy has been taken to the next level with a recent private art project, which he decided to use as an opportunity to involve his students.
He successfully won a project to deliver a community arts service in Corby with a group of disadvantaged adults. On his second trip he was joined by six of his students.
“So, as an artist in the world myself I got a commission for the project by a company called Fermynwoods Contemporary Arts and was lucky to get the job.
“I ended up working in the woodlands with a group of volunteers who are all vulnerable adults and I thought that this would be a fantastic opportunity for my students to get involved and take them down on a study trip.
“Some days we spent doing things like litter-picking and then we used litter to create handmade paper and they did a little bit of printmaking and that kind of thing.
“The students were just incredible, they responded so well to the live scenario and the needs of the people we were working with. As much as it was supported by me, I felt comfortable and trusted the students to allow them to do it themselves.
“It was clear that it meant something to the volunteers and it ended up that they were teaching us things about the woodland so it was a reciprocal, trusting relationship that we developed and this will have a lasting impact on the students and their practice.”
by Rob Smith
Press and Media Enquiries