Kevin Dalton-Johnson joined the art department for two days as a resident artist. Taking over the main sculpture space to create a demonstration clay head, he delivered a fantastic workshop to our LVI sculpture group. In addition, he gave talks to Upper Sixth form and Upper Fifth form groups as well as many informal tutorials and conversations with students about his own and their work. As well as spending time in art, he found time to speak to Alliance.

Sitting in a room hearing first hand of racial abuse is tough, to hear that this abuse has spanned the lifetime of the artist in front of us wasn’t easy. However, Kevin delivered his talk about his work and its subject with humour, dignity and humanity. He delivered a vital message: lived experience turned into art.  He was open, honest and laid himself bare, explaining the clear links between his symbolic art forms and his personal life experience and inner mental health. 

Mr Will Kinnersly, our sculpture teacher, said: “Kevin’s artwork is fantastic – his sculptures have presence, and his technical skill and knowledge, his passion for clay and the making process is self-evident. It’s direct and tactile, urgent and beautiful. His message is simple, “why?” Why the hate? Why the fight? Why the abuse? He highlights the fact that if you are not born lucky in Britain then life is a fight. This is not something our students hear too often; a life that is less secure is often glamourised through the media, but Kevin challenges this stereotype of the black male.”

Students were left with a combination of knowledge which covered: race relations in contemporary Britain, how an artist uses symbolism and emotion in their work, and how ceramic sculpture can be made to communicate these complex issues.

Kevin’s honest, engaging personality and the personal insights and charismatic turns of his delivery will not be forgotten for some time. Skills were shared, friendships created and students inspired.