The creative teacher – able to inspire at many levels

Sorrel Kinley. Inspirational teacher and artist

Sorrell Kinley. Inspirational teacher and artist

One of the great advantages of working with teachers is that so many of them have tremendous talents. Today, Sara and I went to the opening of an exhibition at the Alfred East Art Gallery in Kettering, of superb prints and etchings produced by local artist Sorrell Kinley.

Sorrell was for many years a teacher in primary schools, and now does some work at the University of Northampton, inspiring students to develop their own skills as artists and to utilise this learning for the benefit of children in schools. As a well-respected artist, Sorrell has a particular interest in printmaking, and his work has been exhibited in galleries both in the UK and in other countries. He has had work selected for exhibition at the prestigious Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London on two occasions.

We have been fortunate enough to visit Sorrell’s studio in Northamptonshire and to see examples of his work, which includes aquatints, etchings and gum Arabic transfer prints. Much of his work is inspired by his travels, with beautiful and often atmospheric creations based upon landscape and architecture. His subtle use of colour and texture provides a unique interpretation of scenes that often draw the viewer’s attention to fine details that might otherwise be overlooked. His depictions of an old grain store at Aylsham in Norfolk and a tumbledown barn door are such that the viewer can almost feel the grain of the gnarled wooden planks that bind the structures together. The cold landscapes of the Nene Valley in flood contrasted with the light and heat that possess the prints of buildings in Poitou Charente are captured with a simplicity that can only be achieved by an artist with exceptional skills.

Sorrell is a fine example of a gifted artist who has a passion for teaching and a desire to share his skills with others. He is an unassuming man who wears his abilities lightly, and is always pleased to recognise the enthusiasms of other less gifted individuals.  Those of us who have no real talent often find ourselves in awe of others who are creative and can use their imagination to produce such inspiring works. But typically of many such teachers, Sorrell is modest about his own achievements and eager to encourage his students to achieve to the best of their abilities.

For many children and adults who may struggle to communicate, or express their ideas through the written word as is demanded and prioritised by our education systems today, finding an alternative means of sharing their feelings can be a critical factor in ensuring their self-esteem. Discovering an ability to express their thoughts through art, music or dance has been a source of joy and a liberating factor in the lives of many individuals.  In some instances these are learners who have been written off as failures or given labels that suggest that they are of lesser ability than others. Teachers and artists such as Sorrell often hold the key to enabling such learners to find their voice and have the confidence to express themselves to others. We should never undervalue the arts within our education systems, or under estimate the ways in which they may transform the lives of individuals.

The images presented on today’s blog hardly do justice to the full range of Sorrell’s work, but may give you a brief flavour of his artistic talent. Visiting the exhibition today served to reinforce the feeling that the importance of securing a place for art within the curriculum of our schools should never be over looked.


14 thoughts on “The creative teacher – able to inspire at many levels

  1. Wish i could get a chance to visit his exhibition,truly amazing!.This reminds me one of my kindergarten class activities.
    It was few days before Christmas,i handed children with plane white sheets,gave them crayons,color pencils,glue,some crepe paper,feathers,buttons,etc….all that a child can use on his/ her picture. Asked the children what they wanted to say or ask Santa Claus for Christmas.
    After may be 10-15 mins I was amazed to see the pictures,the thoughts, anxiety, Cheer and excitement in their drawings and colouring made.As most of the Children were not yet communicating, but their art exhibited all what they wanted,and what they wanted to say…..I wish i could attach pictures if possible…But yes!,its such a pleasure to get ones emotions out through Art,just like through Dance and music

    • Hi Sathyasree,
      Good to hear of your enterprising approach. I am sure that teachers who use art as a means of encouraging learning, enhance not only the lives of their children, but also their repertoire as teachers. I have seen this often during my visits to classrooms in many parts of the world, including India. I look forward to learning more about your teaching experiences in the future.

  2. Art is a way that many children find therapeutic; and a form that they use to express themselves.. I wish that many parents in India would open themselves, to allow their children to journey in art and chart a road for themselves..

    • Hi Malathy, there is so much wonderful art in India. I feel that it is really important that children have an opportunity to learn about their own culture through an appreciation of their national art forms. This can then lead them to a wider appreciation of international art.

  3. I am reminded of Gayatri, our Principal’s advice to us teachers ever so often – ask your students to draw periodically in their book about what they learn. It doesn’t matter if it is an English class, or a Social Studies; and regardless of their age.

    • Sound advice I think. When I was at school I recxall a boy who had many difficulties with reading and was a reluctant writer. However, he could express himself brilliantly through his drawings and often produced cartoon strips to tell a story in amuch better way than I could manage with words.

  4. Hello! There’s a student in my class who struggles with reading and writing but give him craft supplies and he churns out some innovative, it amazes me! And he figures out the easy way to make things which is very inspiring. He keeps me motivated to be a better teacher.

  5. Hello! There’s a student in my class who struggles with reading and writing but give him craft supplies and he churns out some innovative stuff, it amazes me! And he figures out the easy way to make things which is very inspiring. He keeps me motivated to be a better teacher.

    • Hi Maitreyee, you highlight a vital part of teaching here. Teachers being motivated by their students – this is part of the cycle of teaching where all parties teach and all learn. It is not just a matter of teachers teaching and students learning, it must be a mutual experience.

  6. Talking of Art … just wanted to share about a new Art initiative that was inaugurated on Nov 22nd in Cochin called Tender Hands … art by children with various disabilities..showcased in a hotel in Cochin … its tourist season here now and we have a large number of foreigners visiting Cochin at this time…..and what a great way to show their abilities to the general public not just from India but from across the world!

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