London-based Emily Pringle, 52, says that she is delighted every time she sees children involved in art. As Head of Learning Practice and Research at Tate Britain and Tate Modern, Pringle oversees various strategic programme developments. In Delhi, she was a speaker at the Eighth International Conference on the Inclusive Museum, held at the National Science Museum till August 9. The conference was supported by the British Council.
You started as an artist and then moved on to education. How does the former inform the latter?
My particular area of interest is looking at artistic practice and teaching, particularly around the idea of creative learning. I still think of myself as an artist, though. It informs everything I do. One thing that I had found when I was an artist is that most of them are able to take forward ideas, experiment and take risks simultaneously. At Tate London, we see it as a fundamental and, so, a lot of my role as an educator is to draw on those processes. Most of our education programmes are developed by artists.
Tate Britain and London have had a long engagement with Indian art organisations and artists. How do your art education ideas fit into this?
We are trying to build connections and it is really going to grow. I have been interested in the works of artist Astha Chauhan, who lives and works in Khirki, Delhi, and Khoj Studios has always been an an inspiring space. That model of providing residential opportunities for artistic work in a studio is a really valuable one. Astha’s work has been, in the past, about connecting Khoj to specific communities and, now, she does a series of projects. That area of practice is also something that Tate is interested in supporting and connecting with.
How do you see art education practice in India compared to that in London?
I think it is a growing area and I have had interesting moments. In India, at the moment, there isn’t a strong tradition of employing artists who work as educators, which, in the UK, is a way for the artists to make an income. So, if there was a way to develop that as a model in India, it would help develop an artistic and community-based education. In London, we have a different but challenging situation right now. We have a government which says that it supports art education but it is placing enormous importance on numeracy and literacy, which is fine, but there is only so much time in a school day and all that is getting lost is the arts.
Apart from Khoj, what else have you tapped in India?
One of the reasons we had reached out to Khoj is that they have an international profile. We have an international programme called BP Art Exchange in which we work with students from Bangalore. It’s an online programme and we have made long-standing connections.
Are you working on a collaboration right now?
I would like to develop some meaningful collaborations, particularly in research, and programmes of interest to the practitioners in India and see if there are any research questions that we could explore. These things take a lot of time to build but it’s more than just a general interest.