Sarah Jackson, Head of Art at Jumeirah College Dubai, recently exhibited her work at World Art Dubai. Here, she discusses the importance of letting her students witness the artistic process.
How did you start your career in education?
Even before I pursued my art degree in the UK, I always felt that I wanted to go into teaching. I loved art in school, and I knew that I was going to follow that path. After I studied my PGCE I taught in two different schools in the UK for four years. I applied to schools in Dubai 11 years ago and I got a post at Jumeirah College. Within six months I was appointed as the Head of Art and I have remained at the same school. We have a strong team and I think the kids are amazing.
How did you get involved with World Art Dubai?
I had an exhibition in 2011 which was quite a long time ago, and I wanted a new challenge. World Art Dubai called for emerging artists and I had a blank canvas I’d been staring at in my office for six months, so I stayed after school one afternoon and I painted a piece on the Burj Khalifa. I sent it to my friend who is a curator at World Art Dubai, who loved it and asked for two more for my application to be considered. I did three paintings in two weeks, applied, and I was accepted. But I thought I couldn’t just show three pieces. I was shortlisted in December; the exhibition was in April. I set the goal to do 12 paintings in that time and I did it. The best part of the process was doing it after school and having my students stay with me while they do their own work. They’ve watched me paint and it’s been great to have them in the room.
What would you say to anyone who wants to exhibit their work?
I never intended to show my work on social media; I was going to keep quiet about it and wait to exhibit before putting it online. But I found that showing it on social media encouraged me because people gave good feedback. Aspiring artists need to share their work, talk about it, and not shy away from it. I think Dubai is a great place for supporting up and coming artists because the art market has grown.
How has this experience tied into your teaching?
It was quite brave to put myself out there and have my students watch me do it. I could have not been accepted, or the paintings could have been hideous. I’m glad I did it, and I am inspired to do more. I sold three paintings at the exhibition, which has shown my students it is possible to have a career as an artist.
Who is your favourite artist?
Picasso is my favourite. He was the rebel of the art world; he revolutionised and changed how art was seen. He didn’t follow the norm.