Welcome to the website of Susan M. Coles, Artist & Arts, Creativity & Educational Consultant.

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I knew when I looked at my calendar in August that November 2013 would be a challenge, with the many Conference activities, but would also have a powerful influence on both myself and others who campaign for and advocate for Art Craft and Design Education in the UK (and world). Three Conference weekends followed each other and the first one was TEA.

Saturday 9th November was our much awaited TEA Symposium at the National Gallery in London. I walked through the rooms on the Friday and imagined them full of art teachers and educationalists and thought what a very fitting location this was going to be for our celebration of TEA (Thinking, Expression, Action). A national gallery hosting a national event which brings together the work of the teachers who signed up for TEA, the work of their students and the work they did together in collaborative projects. That is indeed a very fitting place to be.

The day was busy, powerful, inspiring, rich, varied, action filled and extraordinary. Have we ever had such an event just about “drawing”? With every seat filled? With a rousing opening few minutes from Helen Goodman MP and shadow Arts Minister, who made us believe that we still counted in their curriculum vision? With such a great range of keynote speeches from the likes of Colin Wiggins, Christopher Egret, Paul Sproll, Eileen Adams, Ian Middleton, and the TEA team of myself, Elinor Brass, Karen Wicks and Georgia Naish? Wasn’t it nice to also showcase the partnership between The Campaign for Drawing, NSEAD and NADFAS? Working together in this climate of austerity and change is so very important. Contributions from Ken Baynes, James Faure Walker and Bob and Roberta Smith were also welcome and appreciated. The workshops were engaging and special with many TEA teachers involved: Tricia Brown, Elinor Brass, Louise Wisdom, Charli Capp, Dan Firth Powell, Orla Crean, Heather Leach, Olly Hurd Thomas, Jane McDonald, Jo Walton, Karen Wicks, Craig Longmuir, Becky Mizon and Georgia Naish, all sharing their experiences and their expertise with interested and pro active audiences. The display of TEA inspired work also attracted attention and comments and gave people a chance to see, touch and hold some of the creative items that have been a part of this project.

The event was beautifully organised and orchestrated by the Campaign for Drawing team through the guidance and skills of Sue Grayson Ford and Kate Mason. Thanks also to the National Gallery team, without whom this event would never have happened. Thank you to my co-facilitator Eileen Adams, who has taught me so much about drawing.

I have said it before and will say it again, I really do believe that TEA has been one of the most satisftying experiences of my working life. To find that common focus which reaches out and draws in such creative, passionate, inspirational people, and to work together across the miles and the contexts and then to see it develop into a quite awesome programme has been fulfilling and important for me. To see this much needed programme shine a light on drawing in schools and to watch teachers develop in their confidence and their understanding of drawing as a tool for learning, to see their own artistic practice revived and renewed, to be an active part of this….well, that has been more than I could hope for as an educator.

Feedback was positive and re-affirming about the worth of the project, the resources produced and the day itself. Karen Wicks’ little “more TEA” match box inspirations were snatched up quickly and we expect this to be a good focus for work in schools and work in teacher’s own spaces too.

TEA projects continue through the enthusiasm of those who have set up new developments, a good way to follow this is through the moreTEA blog and through the new Facebook page:
TEA may well find new life in future projects too, and there are certainly many people who want to be involved.

The Sketchbook Circle group also met on the Sunday to discuss future plans and the 2014 exhibition of work at the Gerald Moore Gallery. It’s always nice to have something to look forward to! More TEA is coming your way.

Thank you to CfD, NSEAD and NADFAS, thank you each and every teacher who has been involved in this. We have become colleagues and friends with a common cause. We have been empowered and strengthened in our beliefs about the values of art, craft and design education. Remember that twitter hashtag #moreartnotless? Use it!

Twitter talk on TEA:



3102 days ago

TEA is the example to all people that one thing can bring the people together when times are hard when times are lonely. Art heals.


3101 days ago

We even heard about this in the USA, I am wishing we had such chances to unite and train our Arts teachers. You have set us a good example and I think that is important- as we can aspire to be like TEA in your UK style.


3001 days ago

I think this is the best example ever of keeping your hand in.

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