Quentin Blake backs Tate campaign to keep arts at the heart of the curriculum


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The Independent Culture

Quentin Blake, the celebrated artist whose work includes illustrations for Roald Dahl’s novels, has backed the drive by the Tate to keep the arts as a core part of the revamped GCSEs as crucial for Britain’s future.

As the Department of Education announced its proposals to replace GCSEs with English Baccalaureate certificates, it revealed art would not be classed as a core subject. This prompted Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota to that Britain could lose its “cultural edge”.

“I agree with him,” Mr Blake said. “The arts in this country must be maintained. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about it, and the same with English literature.”

He said that people want to read not because they want to learn a skill “but they’re emotionally motivated and the people who want to organise teaching don’t understand that. Art and English are not tidy, and those in charge are worried by that”. 

Mr Blake will give a talk tonight at the V&A at the launch of the annual Big Draw festival about the relationship between drawing and design. “They’re essentially related; it’s a way of thinking, a way of exploration.”

The Big Draw, organised by the Campaign for Drawing, was launched in 2000 and Mr Blake has been involved since the start. “It has developed enormously since then, more than anyone could have thought,” he said.

There are 1,000 events around the country over the next month. “We’re more engaged with drawing than we were,” he said. “I think there is a significant move to accept illustration as a grown up job. Not fully though.”