Kevin Dean artist, editor, and tutor, talks about creativity and his ambitions for The Omega Art School
All humans are creative. We have a unique ability to conceive an idea and to bring it to life, whether it’s a building development, decorating our front room, writing a novel, or sending a witty text. Some people have the talent to become professional artists, actors, and musicians, but very often their talent is something they have nurtured through years of practice and determination. So often people new to art lack confidence in their ability and feel they are not good enough, comparing themselves to someone they perceive to be better than them. We should see the work that professional artists give us as a delight and inspiration, rather than something to measure ourselves against, in the same way as Sunday footballers enjoy a kick about on Southsea Common after watching Match of the Day the night before. Art can allow us to relax, to understand ourselves and what we care about, it adds enormous value to our lives.
The Omega Art School was an idea I had in 2020 just before Covid, after years of part-time teaching in art schools. The concept was simple to give adults an art school experience with well-designed classes, delivered by invited professional artists who are experts in their field, from drawing and watercolour to acrylics and printmaking. Since last autumn the school has become increasingly popular, with 6 half-day and evening classes running this term. Each class begins with inspiring talks, demonstrations, and hand-outs, along with access to online resources including art history, recommended exhibitions and artists, along with suggestions for homework, which can be sent to tutors for feedback. All materials are supplied. Most of the classes are held at the Omega Centre but also at Art Space Portsmouth, where I have my studio. The vision is to keep growing the school. To give more people of all abilities the opportunity to enjoy their creativity, with new skills and confidence, in a safe, fun environment. All our students are encouraged to be brave, but not perfect creatives.
The Omega Centre was built in 1881 by the Portsmouth School Board because they believed that ‘every child has a right to the best education’. When the school closed, the building continued to be used for education, housing university arts courses. Examples of student’s murals and decorations can still be seen on its ceilings and doors inside the building. Besides the Omega Art School, current occupants include The Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Academy and, The Pompey Pirates Literacy Club. Also, a ceramics studio, and The Portsmouth Printmaking Studios, managed by The Makers Guild, The Southsea Shakespeare Players and the Chris Wood Atelier Life Drawing workshop. Last month this eclectic mix of groups, formed a Charitable Incorporated Organisation to take over the management of the building from the councillor trustees who currently own it. The aim is for the centre to continue as a vibrant hub of creative and sporting activity. The city council is helping to put together a business plan. If you would like to help this ambitious endeavour, please contact Celia Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org).