‘Step in right direction’

A New graphic design course is among efforts to show art education “is alive, but may not be well” in Gippsland.

Renowned glass artist Tony Hanning made the comment after being appointed as a lecturer at Federation University’s Churchill campus last week, in a renewed focus for art and design.

Mr Hanning acknowledged a FedUni media release stating a “major boost to art and design courses in Gippsland” was in response to former GippsTAFE teacher Peter Biram’s campaign to re-instate the visual arts course at TAFE institution, Federation Training.

When asked why FedUni was responding to an education gap at TAFE level, Mr Hanning said there was a public perception FedUni and Federation Training were “one and the same”, but were actually two separate entities.

“It doesn’t matter what level you’re talking about, art education becomes an entity in itself,” Mr Hanning said.

“In order for this art school to prosper and provide art education, we need to understand why the community didn’t get behind it.”

The first intake of seven graphic design students will start today at the Gippsland Centre for Art and Design, which is undergoing a restructure after 40 years under Monash.

The university will continue to offer a Bachelor of Visual Arts, Bachelor of Communication and Design, Master of Visual Arts and Master of Fine Arts at its Gippsland and Ballarat campuses.

Former GippsTAFE visual arts teacher Peter Biram said FedUni had gotten it wrong, stressing he was talking about visual arts being offered at TAFE level.

“They have taken it upon themselves that we’re talking about the ‘death knell’ of art education in general,” Mr Biram said.

“I would be just as devastated if they closed FedUni art.”

Mr Biram said plans for arts at FedUni were “virtuous” but many students were not able to study art at university because of lower ATAR scores.

“I was never advocating TAFE was the ‘be all and end all’, and if you remove that there is no art education. It’s all about choices and strengthening and providing support,” he said.