A multidisciplinary centre for research and creation:
Historically, the school was founded in 1756 under the regime of Austrian Netherlands, to respond to a need for decorators in the Manufacture Royale et Impériale de Porcelaine (Royal Imperial Manufacture of Porcelain) in Tournai. A short time later, it also taught tapestry cartoon designers upon request from the weavers.
The school grew from a relationship of dependency on a world that invents and multiplies the means of expression.
The 20th century would call into question the very notion of plastic, visual and spatial arts. Decorative arts, at the service of high art, would quickly become a dead-end.
The 21st century possesses a specific reality that we want to experience fully, without betraying the history that led to the creation of the Academy of Fine Arts. We are not denying the art of the past, it was the contemporary art of its time.
In tune with the lessons of past and contemporary art, with ideas and sciences, teaching is forward-thinking, it stimulates openness to the future, to innovation.
Such as we see it today, the school is evolving towards an interactive multidisciplinary centre for research and creation where the arts and their teaching innovate together inextricably.
By postulating the sincerity of all creations, the school must become a laboratory for fundamental research where the arts taught are not limited to the production of identifiable works in the known social context, but also as a social agent that participates in the invention of new means of expression, even redefining the context in which it evolves.
Our educational centre is open to others and to the world. It promotes the expression and research of a personal language. This research should not be confused with an aesthetic style, empty of meaning, but is an affirmation of the individual who commits to a certain type of behaviour and critical thinking with regard to current society. This commitment should be transformed into adequate artistic language and appropriate technique. We attach great importance to respect for experience and we do not want to impose a school aesthetic style.
To listen and guide, encouraging individual freedom and respect for others, speaking the language of today, these are the recurring themes of the teaching community.
Our teaching must therefore favour exchange, provoke discussion, encourage listening with respect for each other. Questioning oneself, through the practice of doubt, must take place in a constructive spirit, therefore the students are regularly invited to step back from today’s world, from their own creations, or from themselves. In certain programmes, reflection on the evolution of ways of life brings about forward-thinking proposals.
The education community wishes to teach students to go beyond the fear of the unknown and thereby allow them to open up to new types of action and reflection. Our initiation to art favours research and experimentation based on concrete facts.
Art is not a question of technique and style but of the content and the quality of communication and expression inherent in the process.
The school places the students in situations that develop their creative autonomy and establish the uniqueness of an approach without neglecting their social responsibility. The school ensures the acquisition of methodology and knowledge skills at the highest academic level. The school provides theoretical and technical knowledge as well as the practical training that is essential to artistic synthesis and the recognition of the competency.
By developing critical thinking through multidisciplinary and interactive research, the school helps and supports the students in their development, to understand the place that they can occupy in society, to use the practices that will allow them to pursue their sensitivity and creativity. The school is a place for humanism that prepares the students to take on their role of citizen who actively participates as an artist in the world.
The text in italics is an extract from the decree of classification of 17 May 1999 (D: 17.05.1999 ; MB: 29.10.1999).
The technical approach:
The technical approach in the different programmes is fundamental. It allows for a feasibility study before progressing to the concrete realisation of any artistic project. Often a new technique, or new materials are the source of new expression. We could cite a series of names of contemporary painters who would never have painted as they do if computers and the new spatial perception that they allow hadn’t existed.
The theoretical approach:
The general classes allow the student to acquire a set of specific references that go beyond the strict field of plastic arts. These classes do not aim exclusively to transmit knowledge, but to give meaning to knowledge. This knowledge is also plastic! As with the artistic classes, the teachers guide the students through the intricacies of information overload, they stimulate their critical thinking, their capacity for analysis and synthesis.
Artistic research indicates all reflective, analytical or prospective work, linked to artistic expression, training, practice or creation in all its forms. It is developed on the basis of the personal artistic experience and practice of the researcher and is organised within the ESA – Academy of Fine Arts of the City of Tournai or in collaboration with the University and Higher Education Institutions.
The Academy of Fine Arts of the City of Tournai consists of an Art College with a ‘long programme’, in the field of Plastic, Visual and Spatial Arts.
The ESA – Academy of Fine Arts of the City of Tournai is entitled to organise 9 options or study programmes (annex 2 of the classification decree of 17.05.1999, update of 10.09.2008):
⦁ Interior Architecture;
⦁ Textile Design;
⦁ Visual and Graphic Communication;
⦁ Digital Arts.
The initial ‘long’ programmes are organised in two study cycles (article 70 of the decree):
⦁ the first cycle contains 180 credits in 3 blocks of one year, leading to the Bachelor’s degree (article 70 §1 of the decree);
⦁ the second cycle covers 120 credits in 2 blocks of one year, of which 30 credits are specialised, either taught or research based, leading to a Master’s Degree (article 70 §1 and §2 of the decree).
The credit is a relative measure of all of the work of a student for one or more learning activities within a study programme, considering that the work of a student who is devoted full-time to his studies for an academic year, represents a charge of 60 credits. (article 67 paragraph 1 of the decree)
The study programmes for all options organised by the Academy of Fine Arts of the city of Tournai can be found on the ESA website (www.actournai.be) and on the school’s intranet. In accordance with articles 124 to 127 of the decree, for each option, the programme includes:
⦁ the list of the teaching units;
⦁ the related learning activities (course titles);
⦁ the number of hours of lessons;
⦁ the weighting of points and credits;
⦁ the competency framework for the study cycle.
Each course will have its own description, covering the content, objectives, pedagogical methods, methodology and means of evaluation (ECTS sheets).
The Academy organises the ‘Agrégation de l’Enseignement Secondaire Supérieur’ - Teaching Qualifications for Higher Secondary School (AESS -training in 30 credits) accessible to all holders of a diploma of a ‘long programme’ in Plastic, Visual and Spatial Arts as well as to students of the final year of studies.
The language of teaching and evaluation of the learning activities, as well as the administrative language of the ESA – Academy of Fine Arts of the City of Tournai, is French.
However, the learning activities can be given and evaluated in another language (see article 75 §2 points 1 to 6 of the decree).