In 2015 Miss Emma Bowater, art teacher at Wolverhampton Grammar School, was awarded a research grant by the Education Committee. The project was focused on Introducing Experimental Photographic Processes in A level Art & Design, which evaluated the impact on the traditional photographic practice of cyanotype on students’ outcomes.
The aim of the study was to introduce teaching practitioners and art students to an unusual photographic process, in order to evaluate the use of the medium as a means of exploration within A level Art & Design.
In October 2016 Miss Bowater presented her research to the Education Committee. She explained that four different schools took part in the research from the autumn term. Staff and students were surveyed before and after the workshop to assess their opinions.
In total, 10 staff and 81 students took part in the research. The surveys allowed the collection of a range of quantitative data, regarding staff and student perceptions of media within Art & Design, using Likert scales as a method of gauging opinions. Towards the end of the academic year in the summer term, each department was contacted to discuss if the process had any impact in each school. Three of the four schools had continued to use the technique, which allowed the collection of qualitative data through interviews with each Head of Department.
Miss Bowater noted that the opportunity to work with a new media allowed both teaching staff and students to broaden their understanding of the value of different approaches to art. Photography and Fine Art specialist staff saw the medium as a way of encouraging students to experiment, without focusing on the idea of producing a resolved final outcome each time. Those students that did develop the process into a final piece used the familiar styles that were already well-established in their department, but now combined them with the cyanotype medium to create mixed media artwork.
The Education Committee were highly impressed by Miss Bowater’s work. She aims to take this process to more schools in the future.