Spier Arts Academy

20 February 2012

Spier Arts Academy offers employment-based training in professional mosaic and relief ceramics, providing teaching by the best international tutors. The Academy is administered by Yellowwoods Arts, and is based at Union House in Cape Town's creative district, the Fringe. It specialises in collaborative and experimental work with world-renowned artists and architects, making it the only one of its kind in South Africa.

The three year, full-time apprenticeship focuses on Mosaic Art, with a new course in Relief Ceramics launched in 2015. Both courses include tuition in Drawing, Art History and Business Skills. Apprentices learn professional art practices by working on real-world projects learning to scale, quantify and systematically manufacture large mosaic and ceramic relief pieces over a period of time. Equipped with these hard skills, they are enabled to jumpstart their creative careers and run their own successful enterprises after graduation. The programme is designed to create a local industry with sustainable and meaningful employment for many hundreds, and perhaps even thousands of skilled mosaic and ceramic artists.

The employment-based training provides an interdisciplinary learning opportunity that enables trainees to rapidly expand their knowledge in a setting that promotes networking with professionals, tutors and their peers. Apprentices take pride in the knowledge that they have the opportunity to work alongside acclaimed artists on this specialised course, whilst earning a living. Attending training five days a week from 8h00 to 17h00, apprentices spend a lot of time together developing a wonderful energy of sharing and camaraderie.

A solid understanding of theory and practice is crucial in order to experiment and expand the boundaries of traditional mosaic and relief ceramics. Art History and Design Theory assist in the development of a conceptual approach in making art, and by studying the work and influences of other artists, apprentices can learn to express their own sentiments. Developing craft into the realm of art, apprentices quickly begin to move away from creating functional, decorative pieces to well-resolved, open-ended artworks with layered meanings.

Apprentices who maintain an average of 75% during their first two years of study, will at the end of their second year, be sponsored for a cultural tour to Europe that focuses on exceptional mosaic artworks. Each year' s tour is customised and a guide accompanies the apprentices to highlight aspects in major museums and introduce them to curators and artists of interest. This award serves as a great motivational factor for Academy apprentices to perform to the best of their ability throughout the first and second year of study. After travelling abroad and realising the degree of related industry competition, third year apprentices return with the enthusiasm and drive to succeed as mosaic and ceramic artists.

To date, several artworks have been successfully produced and installed both locally and internationally.

Further Resources