Jewellery Design teacher continues to pile up the awards
For 30-year-old Gillian Batcher, teaching comes naturally – after all, she has 17 years of experience.
“When I was in junior high, I went to other schools and ran art workshops,” Gillian says. “I was happy to be asked to do it because I got to be immersed in art – and leave school – all day.”
These days, as a jewellery instructor in Continuing Education, she is able to bring that passion to George Brown. In 2003, she graduated from George Brown’s full-time Jewellery Design program and opened a studio, PASH Jewellery Design, with another artistic jeweller (www.pash.ca).
Over the years, Gillian’s work has earned a great deal of recognition. She has received a long list of awards, including Awards of Excellence from the Ontario Crafts Council and the Burlington Arts and Crafts Show as well as a number of first place finishes at shows all over the world. Most recently, she was presented with an Award of Merit in the Apparel/Fashion category at the 2008 Design Exchange Awards.
“I’m always looking for things to apply to online; it seems I’m always working on an application,” Gillian says. “To me, preparing something for a competition takes me out of my regular comfort zone and pushes the boundaries of what I can do as an artist. Above all, competition keeps me fresh and current – and I can pass that on to my students.”
When she joined the School of Continuing Education in 2007, Gillian discovered an unexpected advantage.
“Teaching increases my own technical ability because it makes me think about my steps; the experience has been great for me because I’ve become stronger technically,” Gillian says. “In addition, students have a different perception of things – just as any group of people might. It has been informative to work with people with artistic vision.”
But, naturally, it has been Gillian’s students who have really benefitted – through access to her real-world experience and award-winning skill.
“A good technical teacher is always good, but somebody who can tell students what’s going on in the industry is just as important,” she says. “I think I combine the two. In addition to teaching the curriculum, I’m open to all of my students’ industry-related questions. We want them to succeed once they finish the course or program, and I’ll help them do that in any way I can.”
Gillian is quick to point out that George Brown’s location also plays a role in the success of her students. The school’s close proximity to the jewellery industry and community affords students better access to suppliers, events and (perhaps most importantly) other artists. Couple that with the connections Gillian herself has in the industry and it’s no wonder Continuing Education students in the Jewellery program continue to find success.
In fact, because of her studio, Gillian interacts with a number of people who want to pursue jewellery design as a career – and she never hesitates to promote the school.
“George Brown’s Continuing Education program is a very technically sound program and features a fully-equipped studio – which is crucial when you’re learning about and working with jewellery,” she says. “If it’s something you want to do as a career, I suggest George Brown. We get you industry ready.”