Visuals: Features

Live from the Big Apple

Toni Sant and Christine Trala spent a decade living in New York before coming to Scarborough to lecture at the university. We asked for their impressions so far.

Ever shot a video clip with your mobile phone? Used a digital camera to snap a sunset? If so, you are a digital artist. Not only that, says Toni Sant, when you use MySpace or Wikipedia you are taking part in a major paradigm shift in economics, education, culture and politics.

In other words, everybody can make art. ‘There's a breakdown of the traditional hierarchy where the supposedly learned few pass knowledge down to the many,’ he says.  

But this process of making it easy for everyone to create does not mean education has no value: quite the reverse. ‘University education is so special,’ he says. ‘It is the place where we can continue to see what's going on as we do it. It gives us the time and space to critically consider what's going on.’

As a lecturer in performance and creative technologies at the university, he is well placed to study the changes underway. His wife Christine has also been working there for the last year and is now a lecturer in educational studies.

The two had previously lived and worked in New York, though Toni is originally from Malta. They have adjusted to the culture change moving from a ‘cosmopolitan mega-metropolis’ to a seaside town, and say they love Scarborough precisely because it is different.

They were attracted by Scarborough Campus’ innovative approach to arts and new media. They wanted to move, too. ‘After 9/11 we started feeling that New York was not such a nice place to live any more. Additionally the political climate in America felt somewhat oppressive for free thinking individuals like us.’
As for their students, they detect just a hint of mollycoddling. Says Toni: ‘Students here are not always so self-sufficient. To our foreign sensibilities, they have an easier life than their counterparts in a big city like New York.’ On the other hand, with fewer distractions they can concentrate on their work, he admits.

It’s an exciting time to be studying the new democracy of ideas in art. Toni is not concerned that free access will dumb down what is produced. ‘While it may be argued that quality is being compromised because there's a lot of junk along with the good stuff, this will subside in time as the next generation comes to deal with almost everything in society this way,’ he predicts.


Fond farewells rub shoulders with radical plans for the new this month in the arts scene. It's finally goodbye to the old museum at Wood End, now partly demolished to make way for the creative industries centre – though some collections will stay open until the end of the year.

Those walking along Valley Road below Wood End can get a spectacular view through the huge conservatory windows on to empty space behind. That part of the building will be rebuilt and extended for the new centre, opening next year.

That means the museum collections need a new home. The art gallery next door is a possibility, and you have the chance to have your say in modelling these services for the future.

Consultants ABL Consulting are working on options, which will also take account of the Rotunda geology museum, due to reopen fully refurbished in 2007.

The focus is on the art gallery, and whether it can be adapted or extended to house a combined art and museum collection. The options study is due to finish by the end of the year.

Send your views to Sophie Roehrig, ABL Consulting, 31 St Martins Lane, London WC2N 4ER.

An Unfamiliar Place

The latest in a series of temporary shows in the upstairs rooms of the art gallery starts this month. The shows have been a welcome shot in the arm for Scarborough culture over the last few years. Britain is, after all, one of the world centres of contemporary art, with its artists eagerly sought by galleries all over the world.

Comfort Eating by Jane PoultonIt's good news then that three nationally acclaimed artists living in or near Scarborough - David Chalmers, Julia Gatie and Jane Poulton - are coming together for a major new exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery, starting on 7 October. All three use photography to explore unfamiliar places and themes.

David Chalmers' black and white prints use the subtle light of dawn and dusk to illuminate the coastline; Julia Gatie's lipstick-kissed tissues offer a striking narrative of an abusive relationship, while Jane Poulton's collections of objects resonate with stories of people she has known. Don't miss.

An Unfamiliar Place
Scarborough Art Gallery
7 October -24 December 2006
Tues to Sun 10 to 5


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