Matthew Kolakowski Interview

Matthew Kolakowski, Curriculum Leader in Fine Art and Photography at Kensington and Chelsea College, describes his career in Fine Art and education.

Text Version

Matthew’s story is part of a collection of inspirational videos commissioned by icould, an independent organisation managed by CRAC: the Career Development Organisation

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Tapescript for Matthew Kolakowski

My name is Matthew Kolakowski, I’m Curriculum Leader in Fine Art and Photography, and I work at Kensington and Chelsea College. It’s a job I always wanted to do. I wanted to be in charge of an Art Department. Satisfaction I get from my job is in seeing learners progress, seeing them actually at those moments they get excited about the work they produce. That’s very rewarding.

I came to Art through, I think, being a sort of rather sickly child, and spending a lot of time in bed with asthma and bronchitis, and doing a lot of drawing. Actually, you know, copying from Marvel comic books, and that sort of thing. What it did was it made me sort of forget about being a – being ill.

Art was probably the only thing that I was any good at school, I think that’s often the case for people that have a career in art, it’s the only thing they could do. Somehow I – I knew that I wanted to be a – be an artist, be a painter. It was – it was almost as if the decision had been made for me.

I continued throughout my career in education, to practise as an artist, to produce art, to have a studio, to exhibit. That’s quite important. And even thought it’s not, let’s say, financially viable, it’s – it’s still the passion that informs everything else – everything else that I do.

Obstacles to the sort of career of Fine Art are everyday life, I think. It’s a lot easier to get up and go to the pub, I don’t know or – or, you know, go swimming, or go and lie in the park, or just get on with all the – you know, answer your emails, or read a book. They’re all so much easier than actually going into the studio and facing up to the fact that you’ve – you’re in the position of producing artwork that somebody might not value at all.

For the future I really want to be exhibiting my work more, and getting whatever response I get. It’s very important for me to – still to teach, and have direct contact with the learners, and be involved with them, and the teaching staff very directly.

This is a portrait of Margaret McInerney, who was my great uncle’s housekeeper. She was going to Art College, and they were drawing from the nude. And the Art College got a male model. And her parents stopped her going. I always think that’s just so sad, that here was a woman who had obvious drawing skills, and the fact that she could not see through that career, because of her – I don’t know, the morals of the time or whatever. This is a self portrait of – that Margaret did of herself at the time. And it’s sort of a – a reminder if you like of that – to me – of that person who was very, you know, we used to go and stay with, but who, you know, couldn’t see through that career that she wanted to.