CultureTrailblazing Tutors

Trailblazing Tutors

Many tutors at our local Highlands Adult & Community Education (ACE) are trailblazers in their fields. From chefs to yogis, a graffiti artist to a drag diva, a master potter to a jewellery maker, watercolourists to best-selling authors, a coder to an upholsterer, the tutors are blazing trails that are inspiring to their students.

Trail blazers like to do what’s never been done before. Carolyn Rose Ramsay observed how many young people there were in Jersey who studied dance but who had to leave island to explore that career path. So she set up a ballet company in Jersey. Herself. She is the Artistic Director for Ballet d’Jèrri, the Channel Islands’ first professional dance company. She also teaches Dance Appreciation courses for Highlands ACE. 

A former dancer for Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Miami City Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, and the Norwegian National Ballet, Carolyn has lived and breathed dance her entire life. She says that she teaches “to share the deep knowledge that I have acquired throughout my lifetime as a professional dancer and to encourage people in Jersey to learn more about dance. In many other parts of the world, children grow up with a national ballet company, so they have an ingrained appreciation of dance. Because Jersey has never had that before, it is not ingrained, so I hope to give them an appreciation for the art form.” 

So far, she has taught dance appreciation courses for ACE that focus on ballet in Britain, the origins of contemporary dance, and an introduction to Ballet d’Jèrri with the dancers describing their histories. “People tend to think that they don’t like dance because they don’t know that much about it, or maybe they saw one thing that they didn’t like. But dance is so broad and varied, and there is something for everyone. Students have told me that they now see dance on TV and they start to recognise what they are seeing, and form opinions about different techniques, choreographers, and individual dancers, which makes them invested in what they are seeing.”

If it’s possible to be a trailblazer by going back in time, then that’s what Tim Le Breuilly is doing at Luddite Press. In contrast to high-speed, digitised, mass production printing, the ethos at Luddite Press is to slow down and hand print one item at a time on one of several ancient printing presses. This ethos is similar to the slow movement—an approach which encourages people to slow down and truly be present with what they are doing instead of scrolling or streaming. 

Tim teaches printmaking workshops for Highlands ACE at Luddite Press in Grève de Lecq Barracks. “At Luddite Press, we’re coming towards the end of a successful year’s project to improve people’s wellbeing through printmaking,” he says. In addition to the ACE workshops, they have gotten referrals from Older Adult Mental Health, Community Navigators and Eye Can as well as walk-ins from people accessing other services. “For those accessing these ‘one-to-one’ sessions,” Tim says, “we hope that an hour or two out of the house trying something new and creative with tangible results lifts the mood.” He adds that “the ACE classes are more sustained and students can expect to get a deeper insight into some of the processes involved as well as an opportunity to develop their own art work further.” Tim also leads a mountain biking programme with the Sea Cadets Jersey, teaching them how to literally blaze their own trails.

Tim finds teaching “hugely rewarding” and appreciates the opportunity “to pass on skills and understanding to others and see it enrich their lives.” In addition to the benefits to the students, Tim also finds that teaching helps artists have a deeper understanding of their craft. “From a personal perspective,” he says, “I find it also helps to solidify things I may have been experimenting with myself. Students can sometimes give a fresh perspective on a process I’ve gotten so used to doing a certain way.” 

While many artists in Jersey give up their paint brushes to go the corporate route, Lisa MacDonald decided to make money from her art. She is a professional artist who started a homeware business 14 years ago, MollyMac, and most homes in Jersey have at least one MollyMac product, whether it is a tea towel, coffee mug or wooden bunting. She blazed the trail for other Jersey creatives to market their artwork commercially as housewares and souvenirs. “My work constitutes a patchwork of components,” Lisa says, “but I make my living from my creativity.” In addition to the MollyMac brand, Lisa paints her own work. She says, “I spend much of my time painting and drawing. My current work is about journeying through safe spaces.” She says that whenever someone buys one of her paintings, “it makes my heart sing.” 

Lisa uses her expertise and experience in teaching the adult learners at Highlands ACE. “My general advice is about taking yourself and your work seriously, get as skilled as possible in and out of education and respect your worth,” she says. “Learn to build work that really resonates with you and then find your audience.” For students who want to become professional artists, she advises, “There are lots of ways to be an artist and there are some ways to make it a financially viable choice. Being a professional artist means a compulsion to create and make with all the joys and frustrations that that brings. It is also about believing in your value, making money from your work, and spending most of your time creating.”

She adds that she is “always keen to make suggestions for students to progress even if it is just encouraging them to take the next step on their journey” and mentions that one “doesn’t have to be a professional to enjoy learning about a subject,” rather, students can “just be quietly learning and improving and enjoying the process. Art in all its forms, feeds the soul, changes the way people think and should be celebrated more.”

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