Jaci M. Dunsford

How would you describe our Lifelong Learning course to someone you met on the street?

The Lifelong Learning Course has opened up a new world for me, filling gaps in my education, helping me to appreciate so much more about what makes the world tick. Being able to attend these short courses nearby and getting personal help from friendly tutors has made it possible for me to reach a higher level of skill and understanding than was otherwise possible. Sitting and working alongside other struggling students has been fun and rewarding: I've made new friends and that's always a joy.


Having completed the Certificate, what highlights can you share?

It's always satisfying to produce a good piece of work, but I must say that the 'process' itself has been most rewarding for me. I'm a slow and fairly contemplative worker, becoming aware as I go along of the stunning opportunities I am being given right now in this present moment: to spend time listening and responding to accomplished and practising artist/tutors has been a real privilege, giving me memories I treasure and a source of inspiration I can continue to tap into.


What advice would you give someone who hasn't studied art history before?

I joined the Certificate Course initially to learn about art history. Having done the first Art History Course I got the bug and just had to do the Contemporary Art and Discussion module which continued at the same venue. They are well-illustrated lectures from gentle tutors who love their subjects and who like to get students talking and discussing together. It was fascinating to make connections on both social and political levels – seeing how artists were responding at crucial times in history, to poverty, say, or to war or exploitation – and I feel enriched as well as humbled. How will I respond as an artist today – do I have anything to say that is worth saying in my work? The Art History Wales Course, in which we looked at the development of landscape painting in Wales within the wider world, was really helpful and I particularly valued studying Mary Lloyd Jones and visiting exhibitions of her work, which is pervaded with both social and political history. We had to do some written assignments which were challenging, but also very interesting. One can buy books that help with writing about art history topics which I would recommend but the tutors themselves are very helpful; you are not on your own.


Which artist or sculptor would you take to your desert island and why?

This is a difficult one as I like many artists (and sculptors) for different reasons! Matisse for his use of colour and of fabrics – I came to art through textiles. Van Gogh because of his use of colour and for his passion – and because I lived in the Low Countries for a few years in the 70's and used to be a Lay Reader myself. Mary Lloyd Jones because of her sense of the past, for her use of fabrics and for her rootedness in Wales – my home for nearly half my life but, since my maiden name was Evans, my sense of belonging may go back a good deal further! Wales has exacted some severe demands of me, but has showered me with blessing nonetheless! And I would not have been able to answer this question but for SELL!


How important are courses based in the community for our students?

I used to work as a Health Visitor in Powys; rural deprivation/isolation were acknowledged to be risk factors where health and social welfare are concerned: long distances from centres of higher learning, limited provision of bus and rail services, the cost of petrol/diesel and running a car in general, can all contribute to a lack of achievement of potential and an associated lack of self-esteem and personal fulfilment. These factors could, over time, affect the emotional health of isolated and house-bound mothers, and in turn, through no fault of their own, that of their infants and young children. I would like to see SELL promote its courses to younger adults who have perhaps missed the university option and had their families young. But whatever age one is, there are always ties that make access to higher education difficult – care of elder relatives, spouse, grandchildren. SELL offers a real service to all who want to extend themselves for the good of society, for their own economic improvement or for personal fulfilment. Speaking for myself, I think the Welsh Assembly shows great wisdom and compassion in sponsoring this sort of provision.


If I won the lottery I would..... love to do the 21st Century Grand Tour: New York and Paris and Florence at least! That is after having sorted my kids' mortgages! Then I would love to buy the old Vicarage here in Llanfair, offering a centre for creativity, contemplation and community interaction - and hope to live there for the rest of my life!!!! So the lottery win would have to be a big one – and I'd have to remember to buy my ticket and not forget where I have put it! (lol)


Jaci M Dunsford  www.jacimdunsford.co.uk