Islington Mill Art Academy launches new PhD partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University to explore how alternative art school models are working to reimagine art education

Islington Mill Art Academy (IMAA) is a free peer-learning art school which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2018. IMAA was established at Islington Mill in Salford as an artist-led response to the introduction and subsequent increase in university tuition fees, as well as the drop in the teaching of art in schools, and a strong desire to explore alternative ways of teaching, learning and developing artists.

Since its beginning, IMAA has offered a radical alternative approach to education, operating as a non-hierarchical, entirely peer-led project, in a facilitated supportive, non-judgemental environment. No credentials are required for enrolment, there are no assessments, and no teacher/student hierarchy. The student body decides the focus of their learning and makes a joint commitment to encourage, challenge and support one another in their development.

Since its beginning, IMAA has had a broad and influential impact, with a number of other alternative art schools springing up in its wake internationally. In recognition of ten years of development and pioneering influence, IMAA will embark on a new PhD partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) in 2019.

The new post is a rare and prestigious Vice-Chancellor-funded research position from MMU which will see a successful candidate explore alternative art school models and how these are working to reimagine art education. The researcher will closely observe IMAA as it embarks on a series of exciting and challenging developments over the coming years.

Amanda Ravetz of MMU explains:

‘IMAA was founded from necessity at a time of rising fees and widespread financial crisis. As one of a network of alternative art schools it has its own specific histories that reflect its location in Salford, Manchester’s ‘other city’, the strength of its members’ cooperation and solidarity, and the influence of Islington Mill’s DIY ethos. We hope the research will assist IMAA in continuing to model and test peer to peer learning in reflective and critically engaged ways, whilst exploring the commons as a matter of real shared concern to other organisations both local and international, including Manchester School of Art where we take a great interest in art pedagogies.’

Founder of IMAA, artist Maurice Carlin adds:

‘Islington Mill is well known as a venue and workspace, yet our core objective has always been to assist in the development of people, their learning and growth. As one of the founders of the Mill, I went on to found IMAA specifically to create an experience of education for myself within the vibrant context of the Mill and its community. I’ve been interested in not only making art but in working to reshape the wider context that art and artists operate within. I’m interested in addressing these wider structures, not only because they directly affect what is possible for artists, but because they have so much bearing on our perceptions of what art is and who it is for.

To see this recognised and supported through a Vice-Chancellor funded research post at MMU, with the chance to reflect, evaluate and document our work is a crucial step for us. Capturing the energy, commitment and value of the artist-led and DIY sector, particularly in the context of learning and growth, is crucial in these challenging times for arts education.’

From October 2019, a PhD researcher will work alongside IMAA to understand how peer-led education can offer radical non-commercial alternatives, to expand definitions of success for artists, and to hopefully foster a new generation of cultural leaders, while considering other alternative art schools in these contexts.

Click here for application and further information

The deadline for applicants is midnight on 14 January 2019.
The post will commence October 2019.

Please contact Maurice Carlin for further information:


Notes for Editors

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