Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Satellite, A Fine Art Course Approach


please contact:

Babette Pauthier
Satellite Outreach Coordinator

London Metropolitan University
Department of Art Design and Media

Central House , Room 309
59-63 Whitechapel High Street
London E1 7PF
020 7320 1900

Satellite is a project, which has been established to enable BA Fine Art students form London Metropolitan University to work as artists on live projects as volunteers, either in community settings or within a more traditional gallery environment, with dedicated support from the university and partner organisations.
Satellite has established a strong outreach and external project programme throughout the last four years in order to support staff and student initiatives, which contribute directly to enriching the course curriculum and extending student experience.
Satellite has established successful partnerships and networks at a local, national and international level. Students have been able to work with a wide range of artists and community groups. Although Satellite has only been established for four years, students have been able to work with a wide range of artists, community organisations and schools groups: So far we have undertaken projects with organisations as diverse as Tate Modern, The Women’s Library, The Tower of London, DITO – a disability training information and advocacy Organisation, The Museum of Installation, Hales Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, The Royal London Hospital, Artism – an art project for autistic children’s, Poplar Day Centre for the elderly, and most importantly a number of local primary and secondary schools in Poplar, Newham and Tower Hamlets.

Satellites role within the course

Satellite grew out of the ethos of the course – that art is about communication and thinking creatively to enable audiences to access the world of ideas. For students to be able to employ their ideas and use the skills they have learned in a live project situation is tremendously exciting, and gives them a real world perspective on their chosen academic discipline. Reaching an audience and contributing towards cultural life is a priority of most artists’ practice. To experience this first hand whilst studying helps to equip students for their future career and helps them to develop strategies for their own work. Working on live projects builds an awareness of professional standards, and the roles an artist can play in variety of contexts.

Opportunities for artists to work on community projects, or within education programmes based at galleries and schools have burgeoned in the last ten years. Within the market driven art press this activity tends to be marginalised but it is tremendously important for a number of reasons:

1. It brings art to new audiences
2. It engages new participants in the arts
3. It raises the standard and range of arts provision locally
4. It employs artists and gives them a valued role

Satellite's initiatives include academic and community oriented projects, which facilitate an enhanced understanding of fine art as a discipline. Satellite is innovative in its methods and aims to enable students to gain experience of working on live projects with practising artists. This covers the diverse range of applications of fine art, from using art as an educational tool through to assisting and working alongside renowned practitioners and theorists. Satellite projects - from school based workshops to group discussions with visiting theorists - enable students to develop a broad based experience of fine art practice and its effects in a wider cultural context.

One of the main points of the Satellite project is to give students an opportunity to develop ideas and be innovative in their practice. Students need to be responsive to context and show a level of flexibility in their approach to each new project.

Satellite Objectives

* To offer students live project experience; putting theory into practice
* Enable students to engage with artists’ networks on a professional level.
* Develop students ‘employability’ and careers awareness.
* Enhance local arts provision and engage new audiences.
* Promote the value of higher education in the local community
* Encourage local initiatives

Key strategies

* Building links with arts providers and organisations
* Engaging with arts networks - locally and internationally
* Creating a diverse and wide range of professional practice opportunities for students
* Reflecting course values in projects
* Maintaining good practice and providing models of excellence

Key factors in making Satellite work

* Course staff commitment – students work with a team of practicing artists, writers, critics, and theorists; dovetailing with course objectives
* Internal funding support
* Strong long-term relationships with external partners
* Maintaining good communications between students, tutors and project partners


As an inner city campus based in one of the poorest boroughs in London, outreach projects play an important role, in promoting higher education – and the arts – as accessible and relevant. Therefore our location is tremendously important. We are based in the East End of London, and as well as being ideally placed in relation to many artists’ studios and independent galleries, we are an inner city campus in the poorest borough of London. In Tower Hamlets, 56% of school age pupils are from first or second-generation immigrant families, and London Metropolitan works to reflect the diversity of that demographic within our student cohort. We attract a great many students from the local area, and outreach projects play a vital role in raising awareness of the value of higher education, and the role that the University can play in terms of enhancing cultural provision.

Consequently off campus projects, our work with local schools and community groups, and the networks we have established with other arts providers and organisations in the area are an incredibly important means of promoting the course - and the arts - as accessible and relevant.

Professional Practice

The course had always encouraged students to work off campus, interacting with external organisations, working with and establishing links with galleries and artists’ groups as part of their own work and as a result of set projects and staff initiatives. Elements of the Profesional Practice course– initiating projects, contacting partners, seeking funding, writing press releases, enforce the need for students to recognise how creative ideas require organisational ability and communication skills to achieve concrete outcomes and enable the work to operate in the public realm.


Proof of the efficacy of this strategy is the success of our alumni who have a strong record of setting up successful galleries, public arts events and creative enterprises. Often we work with alumni on Satellite projects – ie workshops for students and local teachers creating artists books with Earwig Press – a creative print company formed by two alumni. We have employed Alumni as workshop leaders, photographers and project managers to pass on their skills and experience to current students, it is a great incentive for students to see how it is possible to progress from their own course and meet artists at different stages in their careers. We also have a gallery on-site, Unit 2, curated by Richard Hylton, where students volunteer to assist in the running of the space and the organisation of its programme, and an alumnus is training as an intern.