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.