The Moseley School of Art Association
Dr. John Swift, NDD, ATD, MA, FRSA, FNSEAD
John Swift taught at Moseley from 1964 to 1975, the last six or so years as Head of Arts and Crafts.
John moved from Yorkshire to Birmingham, with a painting and teaching diploma, some teaching experience, and his wife, Jacquie and two sons, Marcus and Julius. He had not greatly enjoyed being taught and was a reluctant recruit to education. However, Moseley Road changed his attitude because it was family-sized, had interested and supportive staff, keen and visually able students, and a powerful and wide-ranging art and craft department.
This was an unusual situation which John soon learned to use, for example, for the annual exhibition the 6th form were released from academic classes, given a small budget, a deadline, and staff support, and jointly took responsibility for deciding and executing a themed exhibition for the entrance hall. Many of these showed outstanding ideas, technical ingenuity, and practical, social and artistic skill. In addition to teaching fine art and art history, John helped to form and run the art and design Foundation Course (the 6th form) prior to higher education or employment.
From the late 1960s, there was a protracted struggle by staff, students and well-wishers to retain the art school in the face of the comprehensive school movement. Eventually this was lost and the School was closed (merged) in 1975. John resigned in 1976 after a one year secondment at the School of Art Education in Birmingham. His wife, Jacquie had been an eloquent and energetic fighter trying to retain the school, and their eldest son, Marcus, although at a different school, came on most 'Broads Trips', and the youngest, Julius, was a pupil at Moseley during its change and still has many friends from the time.
In the mid 1970s, John and Jacquie became mature students at Birmingham Polytechnic, John gaining an M.A. Art Education and a Ph.D., Jacquie with a B.A. Sculpture and M.A. Art History. Jacquie then worked in several art colleges, full-time at Chesterfield and Stourbridge, and part-time at UWE Bristol and UCE. Meanwhile, I worked at Birmingham Polytechnic as the Head of the School of Art Education from 1985, and Professor of Art Education from 1990. When the Polytechnic became the University of Central England, I continued to run the School, teach, maintain the School of Art archives, supervise research students, address international conferences, and publish on the history and theory of art education. Jacquie and I produced a series of conferences and books on art education at UCE from 1995, and from 1993 to 2000, I was Editor of the Journal of Art and Design Education.
John was forced to retire due to ill health in 2000 and moved to southwest Scotland in 2001.
Since then he has opened a small gallery in the smithy at the bottom of their garden, above which is Jacquie's studio, John's studio being in the main house overlooking the harbour. The gallery exhibits their work in the summer on Sundays. They have been grandparents for nearly 20 years. Their 'children' are now both over 40 years old, one working for Her Majesty's Prison Service, the other working as a probation officer. Both John and Jacquie are proud that their sons have a social conscience.
The very small coastal village where they now live is in a forgotten part of Scotland; it is a delight they would recommend to anyone "who does not confuse what they do with what they are". John says "Here, previous status or title mean little, and judgment about us as incomers, is based on how our personalities, honesty, generosity, lack of side, are assessed - different sets of skills are called for up here. The landscape is breathtaking, the people welcoming, and when we get a rare urge to travel, we have the Scottish Book Town five miles away, and Glasgow and Edinburgh for galleries, libraries, etc., around 90 miles or more away. We are more likely to be found either writing or working in our studios, walking along the coast, bird watching, or reading, eating and drinking. Despite both of us having health problems we are happy and wished we had made the move much earlier".
John feels that his full title is too onerous to use, and says that "Dr. John Swift" or just "John" would be fine.
Seaside House, 2 South Street, Garlieston, Newton Stewart, Scotland DG8 8BH
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The Moseley School of Art Association is an association formed to:
- promote and maintain, through exhibitions, reunions and other means personal contact between all former pupils and staff members of the Moseley Secondary School of Art, Moseley Road, Birmingham 12 England
- promote the restoration and continued maintenance of the Moseley School of Art building, and
- to promote the activities of members who are active in any of the fields of art and the crafts, by means of publicity, sponsorship and procurement of artist materials at discount rates
© Graeme Collins 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
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The Moseley School of Art Association 2003
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The Moseley School of Art Association 2003