Matthew Kolakowski, Curriculum Leader in Fine Art and Photography at Kensington and Chelsea College, describes his career in Fine Art and education.
Matthew’s story is part of a collection of inspirational videos commissioned by icould, an independent organisation managed by CRAC: the Career Development Organisation
You can find more inspiring stories at http://icould.com/
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.
Date published: 1 February 2010