Denny art teachers looking to inspire with Collective

A group of art teachers at Denny High School have teamed up to support each other as practicing artists away from teaching, while sharing their knowledge and industry expertise with pupils.

By Fiona Dobie
Monday, 13th September 2021, 4:30 pm
Members of Denny Collective: Karen Macready, must-illustration; Katherine Gallagher, Braw Artworks; Charity McArdle; Fiona Macfarlane, Fimac Design and Michelle Sloan, Michelle and Patch. Not pictured Robert Laing, Tri Geometrica.
Members of Denny Collective: Karen Macready, must-illustration; Katherine Gallagher, Braw Artworks; Charity McArdle; Fiona Macfarlane, Fimac Design and Michelle Sloan, Michelle and Patch. Not pictured Robert Laing, Tri Geometrica.

Six members of staff from the school’s art department have formed the Denny Collective, bringing their own creative businesses together for a special pop up exhibition and shop in Partick to showcase their talents and wares.

The range of disciplines the teachers work in provides inspiration to students in terms of the many mediums through which they could channel their creativity.

Those teachers involved in the Denny Collective are Charity McArdle, Katherine Gallagher, Fiona Macfarlane, Michelle Sloan, Karen Macready and Robert Laing.

When not teaching, each of them are practicing artists and makers, some with their own businesses.

Charity is an abstract oil painter, while Katherine creates cyanotype art through her business Braw Artworks.

Milliner Fiona runs Fimac Designs; Michelle is an illustrator and doll maker with her Michelle and Patch brand; Karen’s illustrations are done under the name Must-Illustration and Robert’s concrete and jesomite jewellery and homeware business is Tri Geometrica.

Katherine Gallagher explained that the collective has many benefits for both pupils and teachers.

She said: “We’re all art teachers at Denny High and in our own time we are all artists and makers, many with our own businesses.

"Some have been doing it for quite a few years, and others took theirs up more recently.

“Although we all work in our own disciplines outside of school, we help each other and support each other.

"We regularly bounce ideas off each other and share each other’s work on our social platforms.

"We decided to get together and find a space to showcase our work together.

"We all come from different backgrounds but it all feeds back into our teaching and it’s got a lot of benefit for us as teachers, but also for the students.

"As we are all practicing artists we bring wealth of knowledge, continuing artistic development and industry expertise to our pupils and have a thriving art department, with many pupils continuing their education and careers in the creative sector.

“With us practicing outwith school it lets the pupils see there is an avenue for their talents.

"The creative industry in Scotland is so huge, there are opportunities way beyond what we’re doing in school and we’re not just sitting in the classroom telling them to do it, we’re actually doing it ourselves."

The colleagues hope one day to repeat the collective format with some of their pupils.

Katherine added: “We’re looking to build on the success of our current exhibition and we’re hoping to take that in to a space in Falkirk.

"What we’d love to do though is replicate what we’re doing but with pupils.

"We have so many talented young people and there’s more to their art than just school work.

“It would be great to be able to have them form a collective and enable them to showcase their own works and to share that experience.”

Thank you for reading this article on our free-to-read website. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a subscription to our print newspaper to help fund our trusted, fact-checked journalism.