Meet Ellie Greenwood, artist and Art Teacher at Eastbourne College

What inspired you to become an art teacher?  

My degree course was very collaborative. I often led workshops for other pupils, but it was my experience as an artist-in-residence at a secondary school which ultimately inspired me to teach. I learnt so much in such a short space of time – applying for a PGCE seemed like the perfect next step. 

What do you enjoy most about your work? 

I really enjoy the moment a pupil finds their sense of direction with a project – this often happens to a few pupils at the same time and suddenly there’s this energy in the studio that really excites me. Plus, I get to play with art materials all day for a living! 

Do you have a favourite artist or art movement? 

This subject is so broad. It’s almost impossible to choose favourites but that’s what I love about art. I do love large scale installation pieces and lots of forms of printmaking. I also like work made from every day or unusual materials like Tony Cragg’s Stack sculpture. 

How do you encourage pupils who don’t believe they have natural talent? 

Because of the breadth of this subject, there’s a way in for everyone whether that’s through digital media, printmaking, sculpture… Many people measure artistic talent by looking for a certain type of drawing style, but I value ideas and imagination. I would never discourage anyone from making art. 

Did you have a favourite teacher at school? 

My art teacher of course! She was so enthusiastic and encouraging but wasn’t afraid to tell you if something wasn’t working! I loved how she would do demo drawings or write notes on the surface of our desks with a whiteboard pen. I sometimes do that now! 

Why is it important to get creative? 

Over the last couple of years we have seen what a lifeline creativity is in supporting mental health and in tackling loneliness. We’re also going to need creative thinking to resolve some complex issues around the world, particularly those concerning the environment. Now with social media there are endless ways of being creative and reaching people with ideas. 

How do you relax outside work? 

I have a two-year-old daughter, so life isn’t particularly relaxing outside work but it is great fun! When I find the time I enjoy sea swimming, reading and making my own work. I love being outdoors and feel really lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country.

If you could take your pupils to any inspiring gallery or sight in the world where would you go? 

I’d like to take pupils to see the prehistoric drawings in the Cave of Altamira. It would be interesting to demonstrate the idea that humans are innately creative beings and that we have been using drawing to make sense of the world for millennia, before schools even existed.  

For more information and details of open days visit eastbourne-college.co.uk

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