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Goodbye to Drawing Programme Tutor Charlie Duck - The Open College of the Arts
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Goodbye to Drawing Programme Tutor Charlie Duck

As Programme Leader for Drawing I have been privileged to work with Drawing Programme Tutor Charlie Duck over the last year. Working in partnership with Helen Rousseau, Charlie has brought his passion for creative and critical processes to students at all levels, using novel teaching techniques and a demonstrable attention to the individual. I am happy to say that Charlie is about to take up a new role at Falmouth School of Art – the start of something great I am sure. Whilst happy for him, I am of course really sad that we are losing him and wanted to take this chance to say goodbye and benefit from his words of wisdom one more time:

ED: I have followed your relationship with ceramics, and the risky traditional firing processes that have left you often on tenterhooks, with interest. As you move to your new role, I know you are really keen to sustain your own art practice – what is in the pipeline for you creatively?

CD: Settling into a new studio is first on the list! I’m taking a beautiful studio at Cast which can’t come soon enough. I’m really excited to build on my experiences from a recent residency in Denmark where I worked a lot with alternative firing, using gas and wood kilns rather than the electric kilns I’m used to. In London I haven’t had the opportunity to do this so that’s going to be something I’m keen to do as soon as I get to Cornwall. I’m hoping the increased space will also allow me to build my own kiln! 

ED: I am minded to send down a fire blanket and extinguisher! I am imagining a fire pit on a sandy beach at sunset too though – how lovely. Yes, rural life brings space. I remember my small daughter saying ‘it feels like a weight has lifted from my shoulders’ when we moved to a rural place. What weight exactly she was bearing I am not sure but I think it might have been just what you are expressing. You will also be teaching differently, and I know OCA is unique in lots of ways, not least the online delivery. What will you remember about your time at OCA and the students here?

CD: Your daughter sounds very sage. I have so enjoyed working at the OCA, first as a freelance tutor and then as Programme Tutor in Drawing working so closely with you and Helen. My favourite aspect has been the students, undoubtedly! The range of life experiences, backgrounds and perspectives of the students I’ve worked with has manifested in so many different approaches to practice and ambitions for making, and I’ve really enjoyed being able to support each one on their own learning journeys. Alongside this, the group work sessions that I’ve run with Helen. Working with Helen and yourself so closely in the planning and delivery of these sessions has been brilliant and seeing familiar faces come back session after session was a joy – we had a little gang of regulars and the camaraderie and kinship of these sessions was very special.

ED: Thank you Charlie, yes the students are the secret superpower of OCA no doubt. I do want to say thank you so much for all you have contributed and just to cheekily ask you for one more thing: what parting words of advice would you give to OCA drawing students to achieve a happily creative life (asking for a friend)?

CD: It’s been a pleasure to contribute to the shape of the department, so thank you for having me as part of the team! I always find making far from straightforward, and as much down as it is up, so I don’t know that I’m necessarily best qualified to advise on a happily creative life; however, something I wish I’d known earlier was that it’s ok to walk away from the studio when things aren’t going well, and that time spent outside of the studio is just as valuable as time spent in it. I would also always say take risks, and embrace failure, it’s ok to feel uncomfortable and unsure. Doubt is a brutal but loyal friend, stick with it!

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Posted by author: Emma Drye

2 thoughts on “Goodbye to Drawing Programme Tutor Charlie Duck

  • So sorry to hear Charlie is leaving OCA, I am not a drawing student but have had the pleasure to participate in a couple of Charlies workshops and they were all very informative and helpful. The one that left the most impression on me was actually the presentation/interview session with him where he talked about his own work and path as an artist. He shared his experiences with such honesty and generousity and I learnt so much from that talk alone!
    Thank you Charlie for charing your knowledge so generously and good luck on this new adventure!

  • I am REALLY sorry to see Charlie go. The group sessions I have attended have been wacky and fun, deigned to make us think sideways and outside the box. Charlie’s departure is our loss for sure but hopefully it will bring him good things.

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