Welcome Tom Cubbin!

Tom Cubbin är den nya enhetschefen för utbildningarna på HDK-Valand i Stenebymiljön. Vi på Mötesplats Steneby vill välkomna honom, och passar på att ställa några frågor för att lära känna honom och se hur har ser på sin omgivning och nya yrkesroll.
[Samtalet är på engelska]

Who are you? I have an untypical background for somebody working with design and craft. I originally trained as a linguist – studying Russian and Czech at University in the UK. While living in Russia, I became fascinated by the aesthetics of Soviet design, but found very little written on the subject. This led to me take an MA in Design History at the Royal College of Art in London, before writing a Phd on the History of Soviet Design. I came to Sweden five years ago, where I have been working as a senior lecturer at HDK-Valand’s design unit.  In Gothenburg, I have been developing ways of working with history and theory in practice-based education. In my recent research, I have been working on a design history project that explores the relationships between professional and amateur crafts and design in the formation of the gay leather scene.

Where does your passion lie? A key theme in my work together is an interest in how communities of practice emerge and develop. Understanding what ideological and socio-economic preconditions exist that influence and shape design practice. I am driven by working with specialists to see their work in a bigger picture.

Why did you choose to move to Dalsland? I think it was fate. I first visited HDK-Steneby five years ago and had some extremely rewarding and interesting exchanges with students about the nature of craft. These talks with students influenced my thinking about craft quite significantly. A little later, I ended up visiting Dalsland for a weekend away and ended up spontaneously buying a cottage as a fritidshus! It wasn’t long before we felt absolutely at home here, and we moved permanently in March. I have lived in many big cities: London, Moscow, Gothenburg and Prague, but Dalsland is where life makes sense to me!

Congratulations to your new role as enhetschef (department boss) for the educations in the HDK Valand at Steneby!
What are you looking forward to? 
I think like most people, I am looking forwards to this pandemic subsiding: to meeting our students and staff and engaging with material, which is what we’re all about. In the meantime, we have to start work on imagining how post-Covid education will look. This is work that I think can bring us all hope.

What will you bring to your new working role? I think I have good experience as a historian in working within craft and design settings to understand how practice is shaped by outside forces – by organizations, funding bodies, general social currents. I’m excited to have the opportunity to work practically with some of these questions, and to facilitate our staff and students’ development as artists and educators.

What do you think are the predominant needs for higher education in a geographic setting such as HDK Valand? The most important ingredients are there: we have an absolutely dedicated teaching team, as well as world class facilities and technical staff. Continuing and expanding our work with collaborative partners means that we can offer something unique that is not replicated elsewhere world.

In an international context, we have seen the closure of many craft-based educations in recent years, but at the same time a revival of interest in learning and practicing craft as an alternative to 9-5 employment. I think that by increasing our international reputation we can engage with many more practitioners from different cultures that can only enrich what we do.

What can HDK-Valand contribute to the society around where it is located? On one level, if the school means that more people move here, work here and pay tax here, then we are contributing something very important in the context of depopulation of rural areas. These are effects that are the foundation for regional development work.

Projects like Långed Park have also shown a growing appetite and interest in developing partnerships that arise from local needs. I have been impressed by the grass-roots nature of many projects initiated by our students and teachers. HDK-Valand is home to many experts in areas that include co-design, public art and teacher education that we can engage even more.

Finally, I am a great believer in life-long learning. As people grow, change and look for new ways to lead fulfilling lives, universities have a vital role to play in welcoming people back – perhaps for shorter periods to develop new ways of working. Together with Stiftelsen Stenebyskolan, we offer a broad range of education from post-gymnasial, YH to MA – perhaps even PhD’s in the future. The recent green light for Campus Dalsland shows that the local government is serious about the tools for life-ling learning in the local area – and we definitely want to be part of this!