A photography and design teacher at Sacred Heart College has successfully completed her Master of Professional Creative Practice after a year-long PPTA study grant last year.
Mrs Ashton Jamieson, who returned to school fulltime this year, completed the qualification in July through EIT’s IDEASchool.
Her project went down a path she “wasn’t anticipating” as the “very thing” she thought she wanted a break from, was at the centre of what she ended up creating.
“A goal for my year of study was to let go of the time pressures and structures that shape each of my days as a teacher. I initiated a project in 2019 that developed into this year using a self-designed system and set of rules to navigate where I was going.”
Mrs Jamieson came up with a rule-based regime where she assigned a set of rules to ensure she could get tasks done each day. Using her usual mode of ‘femmage’ she constructed her own collage ‘army’ using a richly detailed process of making.
“One of my rules was that the rules could change as long as I documented that process as it developed.”
For each task, she would cut out a figure and use magazines to collage “armour” onto them. As the project evolved, Ashton started collecting her off-cuts and storing them in a jar, including the silhouettes of the figurines which she mended back together. She then documented the timings for each piece and created a spreadsheet of that data and thoughts associated with it.
“It was about halfway through the year when it struck me that I was creating a system similar to that from which I had intended to have a break.”
For her exhibition at the end of last year, she created a “crypt” - a secret or sacred space for displaying her collection.
In her final presentation titled ‘Lexicographie’ – a play on her middle name and artist name Ashton Lexie, she explored her materials as a visual language.
“It was all about language and looking at what happens when as the artist you let the materials do what they want to do. I investigated what naturally emerged from these interactions and attempted to decipher each happening” she said.
Navigating fulltime work, the demands of study and Covid-19 proved to have its fair share of challenges, but she is relieved to have made it through and thoroughly enjoyed the process.
She has learnt the importance of “re-energising” as a creative and feeding that back to her students.
“For me, it was about reaching a point in my teaching practice where I thought I needed a bit of upskilling, time to have a little break and get my brain back in that creative space again.”
“It was about maintaining relevance in our ever-changing digital world, engaging in new research and learning a few new things and bring it back to my classroom.”
As an old girl of the college, Mrs Jamieson spent her formative years from 2002-2006 finding her passion and developing her skills.
“I quite often say to my students that growing up I was always the artsy kid in the class. And I think there is something in owning that, owning your talent.”
It wasn’t until she left school when she decided to merge her talents with teaching and “landed back” where she started. Now, 10-years later she couldn’t think of being anywhere else.
“I love it here. A lot of people ask me if it is time to move on, and I haven’t found anything yet that has pulled me away.”
She hopes to apply for some residencies around the country to take her personal practice further. In the future, she may look at completing her doctorate.
“I think a bit of space between studying is really important too, to grow as a person and let the ideas evolve.”
Principal Maria Neville-Foster said Mrs Jamieson has made the school “very proud”.
“You are a true inspiration and carry the mission of our school; ‘each young woman learning for life in a Catholic faith environment becoming a confident and contributing member of society’.
“You are an excellent example of what all these girls can become, and we are very lucky to have someone with your talent, passion and commitment as part of our community. It is not easy to work full time, study and continue to produce top quality art for exhibition.”
Mrs Neville-Foster said it is a testament to the high-calibre, and hard-working nature of the teachers at Sacred Heart College.