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Ethos of Ambiguity: Artist Teachers and the Transparency Exclusion Paradox

Matthews, Miranda. 2019. Ethos of Ambiguity: Artist Teachers and the Transparency Exclusion Paradox. International Journal of Art and Design Education, 38(4), pp. 853-866. ISSN 1476-8062 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Addressing changes in conditions for practitioners that can be related to education policy in England and Wales since 2010, this article presents issues faced by teachers of art and design and theorises responses in practice. The current insistence on transparency in education emerges through policy that audits performativity, in a limiting skills bank. Practitioners in Art and Design are particularly affected by what I term ‘the transparency-exclusion paradox’, as they battle to maintain the subject area and are ‘othered’ by the EBacc and Progress 8. I will discuss an emergent ‘ethos of ambiguity’ among artist-teachers and contemporary artists, with a theoretical basis informed by Beauvoir and Foucault. Empirical data from research participants will be evidenced, to explore strategies of response in inclusive social practice. This article adds to literature that considers the effects of policy in implementation and it contributes to research on creative expressions of ambiguity in the arts.

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Additional Information:

This article was voted into an online edition of the International Journal of Art and Design Education. It was selected by the audience at the iJade conference at Goldsmiths 22-23.02.19. There may be further amendments to the published version. The conference presentation is also uploaded.


ambiguity, art and design education, Michel Foucault, Simone de Beauvoir, social practice, transparency

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


16 April 2019Accepted
25 November 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

24 Apr 2019 09:22

Last Modified:

11 Jan 2020 13:27

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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