Integrated Design program coordinator Barr Gilmore creates ‘prep school’ for design and life

barr-gilmoreWhen creating the Integrated Design program at Fleming College’s Haliburton School of Art + Design (HSAD), professor Barr Gilmore wanted to ensure students received more than a foundation in design studies.

“I think of it as not only a ‘prep school’ for a life in design, but also for life itself,” he says. “I encourage my students to dig deep, to develop their own manifestos and philosophies on life through self-knowledge. I ask them to listen to their dreams and personal desires, and to empathize with others less fortunate and/or different from themselves. In short, I ask them to design their own lives.”

The Integrated Design program, unique in Ontario, allows students to develop the fundamental design thinking, problem-solving skills and hands-on material culture needed to further their design education in whatever field they decide to pursue – graphic, fashion, interior or industrial design, urban planning, landscape architecture, sustainable building or architecture.

Barr, a graphic and industrial designer since 1996, has worked with numerous high profile clients. A former senior design associate at Bruce Mau Design, Barr started his own company, Barr Gilmore Art + Design, in 2005. He has won the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal as well as numerous awards for his book and exhibition designs. In 2009, he was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts for his graphic design work.

Now, as an educator, Barr believes he needs to lead by example. As such, he developed for his class an Integrated Design Manifesto, which sums up both his teaching and design philosophy:

  • DREAM BIG… then dream a little bigger.
  • LISTEN TO YOUR INTUITION… and your heart.
  • COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY… efficiently and with conviction.
  • SELL YOUR IDEAS… not your soul.
  • COLLABORATE WITH THE BEST… don’t neglect the rest.
  • PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS… and don’t drop the ball.
  • EXPERIMENT WITH LIFE… but take responsibility for your actions.
  • LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES… then try, try again.
  • APPLY YOURSELF NOW… make it happen.
  • BE A VISIONARY… more importantly, be yourself.

Back in 2012, when Barr was first contacted by HSAD Dean Sandra Dupret about creating a new program, he had never been to Haliburton and didn’t know much about the School.

“But I was intrigued at the possibility of starting a new program from scratch,” he says, having just completed his MDes in May 2011 at OCADU with an Interdisciplinary Masters in Art, Media and Design.

And so, Barr made the trip to Haliburton to check out the campus, the town and the possibilities.

“It was a beautiful fall day,” he recalls. “The leaves were on fire with colour and Head Lake was crystal clear and still. As I drove up to the school, I remembered thinking, ‘Wow, what a beautiful blue school nestled into the highland woods.’”

Entering the signature red doors, Barr says he could feel the energy of the place as he passed studios filled with people working calmly on their art.

“Everyone greeted me with a warm smile and made me feel welcomed.”

Though he was initially consulted about creating a graphic design program, Barr surmised his vision of a traditional classroom where students were sitting at desks, glued to laptops didn’t jive with what was happening within the creative culture at the Haliburton Campus.

“For me, it was more important that I create a program where art and design and craft meet on equal footing and that our students get an opportunity to experience hands-on material culture, as well as developing software application skills – in the hopes that interdisciplinary breakthroughs, inventions and methodologies would have a chance of happening on a regular basis.

As such, the idea for an Integrated Design program was born and the compressed, three-semester diploma program first launched in September 2014.

Since then, Barr has assembled a “kick-ass” line-up of practicing design professionals – material culturalist J.P. King, graphic designer and photographer Michael Barker, landscape architect and documentary filmmaker Joseph Clement, and 3D animation guru Chris Bahry, amongst others – to come up to Haliburton for intensive two-week courses, so as to provide his students with the most current contemporary culture and design wisdom.

Barr still maintains his graphic and environmental graphic design practice with an international client base, though, the more time he spends in Haliburton, the more his practice is shifting towards industrial design and the art of making, he says.

While teaching wasn’t something he initially set out to do, Barr says it has been a rewarding experience.

“It’s important to be adaptable to change,” he emphasizes. “I love seeing the light go on in a student’s head when you introduce them to an idea or an ideology that they hadn’t previously thought of. It’s exciting to see a student truly find themselves, become engaged and take ownership of their creativity. I also learn a lot from my students and I think that is what keeps me young at heart, current and engaged. I’ve been pretty lucky in life and love, in art and in design, so it’s nice to share my knowledge and experience with others.”

And since his first visit to Haliburton four years ago, Barr has become completely enamoured of it.

“I love the clean air, the fresh water, the abounding nature, the free-roaming wild animals, the friendly people, the talented artisans, the cross-country skiing at lunch behind the school, the social life of the curling club, swimming, kayaking, canoeing and floating aimlessly in the lakes and rivers of Haliburton County, the local micro brews, the farm fresh farmers’ markets, and the push toward sustainable living as well as owning a farm, an Airstream trailer, a truck and a ride-around snowblower/lawnmower and being able to share it all with my partner, our dog, our two horses and all the friends and family from the big bad city that come to visit us.”

Barr adds that he may not know what the future will bring, “but right now, at this moment in time, Haliburton is the place to be – and there is a lot of opportunity here. I love it.”

Child and Youth Care coordinator brings the real world to her classroom

cyc-coordinatorChild and Youth Care program coordinator Heather Sago brings the real world to her classroom. With more than 20 years of experience across Canada (Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Lethbridge, and Peterborough), Heather brings a national perspective on practice with children, youth and families.

Child and Youth Care (CYC) workers are an integral part of a treatment team and are involved in all facets of care. Fleming’s CYC program features leading-edge curriculum, including certification in the Therapeutic Use of Daily Life Events and over 1200 hours of field practicum experience.

“CYC to me is not just a job, but part of who I am,” said Heather, who has a BA in criminology from the University of Manitoba, a BSW from the University of Calgary, and an MSW with a child and youth care specialization from McGill University. “I hope to help students discover where their passions lie and how to integrate this into their personhood.”

Heather currently sits on the At Risk Youth Justice Committee & Judge’s Roundtable, Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies Research Evaluation Advisory Committee, the Development & Implementation Committee for the Child and Youth Care Educational Accreditation Board of Canada, and international working groups.

“While I may have lots to share, I also can’t wait to see what the students will teach me. Everyone has something to bring to the table and every moment is a teachable one!” said Heather.

She is excited to bring the Indigenous Perspectives Designation to the table this year. This designation is optional for CYC students, and those who choose to access it will have a strong foundational basis in Indigenous Studies, which is marketable in the employment sector.

If you would like to provide opportunities for change in the lives of children and youth, Fleming is currently accepting applications for the January 2017 intake of the CYC program.

Michael Fortune wins 2016 John and Barbara Mather Award for Lifetime Achievement

MichaelWe are excited to announce that Haliburton School of Art + Design instructor Michael Fortune has earned the 2016 John and Barbara Mather Award for Lifetime Achievement from Craft Ontario!

Fortune is a furniture maker based in Peterborough, Ont., who designs objects in wood, commissioned residential furnishings and items in limited editions. His work can be found at the Museum of Civilization, the Royal Ontario Museum, Claridge Collection of Canadian Art and Craft, The National Capital Collection at Rideau Hall, Massey Foundation Permanent Collection, Craft Ontario, and Fleming HSAD.

The Craft Awards, which will be held at the John B. Aird Gallery in Toronto on August 18, recognize the best of contemporary craft. In honour of Craft Ontario’s 40th anniversary, there is an exhibition of recipient work from the 2016 Craft Awards, which will be on display from July 26 to August 19. The John and Barbara Mather Award for Lifetime Achievement will also be presented at the Craft Ontario Gala Event on October 19.

“I am truly honoured to receive this award,” said Fortune. “My 40+ year career in the arts has been absolutely everything I hoped for.  It has enabled me to pursue my artistic vision while contributing to both our culture and economy.”

Sandra Dupret, Dean of Fleming’s Haliburton School of Art + Design, nominated Fortune for the 2016 John and Barbara Mather Award for Lifetime Achievement. In her nomination letter, Sandra writes, “He is also an outstanding teacher and mentor to many aspiring designers and makers across the globe. HSAD knows this first-hand because Fortune has been a part of our summer teaching team and his courses are always in demand and well received. In the classroom, he openly shares his talent, knowledge and experiences with the students. His enthusiasm and passion for design and the handmade is contagious.”

In addition to Fleming HSAD, Fortune has taught at Ryerson University, Australian National University, Sturt School New South Wales, Centre for Fine Woodworking (New Zealand), the Marc Adams School in Indiana, and the Savannah College of Art and Design, among others.

Fortune has also been travelling the world to help developing economies. He works with governments, international aid agencies and private investors to create wood-based manufacturing opportunities. He has been to Trinidad, Belize, Mexico and Guyana to help train locals in the craft so they can be self-sustaining.

Congratulations, Michael Fortune!

Jessica Steinhäuser wins Craft Ontario Volunteer Committee Award

kachelofen 3
Photo credit: Dean Palmer

Congratulations to Jessica Steinhäuser, Ceramics program faculty at Haliburton School of Art + Design, for winning the Craft Ontario Volunteer Committee 40th Anniversary Award! The Craft Awards recognize the best in contemporary crafts and Steinhäuser was selected by the volunteer committee at Craft Ontario to win this award.

Steinhäuser is a renowned ceramic artist famous for her kachelöfen – wood-burning ceramic stoves – which are in private collections around the world. Not only does it serve a functional purpose, but a kachelöfen by Steinhäuser also serves as a stunning design piece. Her work has been featured in BBC Scotland, World Architecture News, The Globe & Mail, Ceramics Monthly, and more.

“I am so honoured to win this award. My journey has been quite a long one, with lots of failure and funny disasters – and some not so funny ones – and I cannot believe I am being recognized for all of that hard work. Thank you Craft Ontario,” said Steinhäuser, who trained and apprenticed in Germany at the State School for Art and Design, and earned her Graduate Journeyman Potter certification from the State School for Ceramics.

Steinhäuser said her dream of building kachelöfen started when she was 18 years old. “To now, finally 32 years later, be designing, making and installing these efficient wood stoves – and to be recognized for this super long journey – is just so cool,” she said. “If someone would have told me that I would travel the world installing these stoves, I would have just laughed, but this is what I do now. It is crazy.”

Steinhäuser jokes that although her journey to bring kachelöfen to Canada and North America has felt long, the process she uses to build them has existed in Germany and Austria since the 1400s. “So my journey of 32 years suddenly does not seem so long,” she said.

After her studies in Germany, Steinhäuser immigrated to Canada and established Stonehouse Pottery in Guelph, Ont., in 1989. She generously shares her skills and expertise at Fleming HSAD, where she is a faculty member for the Ceramics full-time and summer school programs.

“I enjoy sharing my expertise at the Haliburton School of Art + Design. I stopped making production pottery two years ago as the demand for my kachelöfen has risen so sharply. But as much as I am passionate about kachelöfen, I am a master potter on the wheel and I absolutely love teaching it,” said Steinhäuser. “This past Potters Market in Guelph I saw many of my students from over the years, who are now successful potters. I can see the tricks and skills I taught them reflected in their work, and that is so rewarding to see. I am so proud of them!”