Tobias: Past, Present and Future Hopes
Written in 2004 by Anne Stockton,
the co-founder of Tobias.
The Pioneer Stage
On Michaelmas morning 1979 my husband Kurt Falk and I walked up the hill and past the golf course to the old and expanded forester’s ‘Bank Cottage’. There was an auspicious rainbow around a hazy sun and we were about to open our new school, Tobias School of Art, Art Education and Artistic Therapy.
I had awoken one morning and said to Kurt – I have an idea! Let us use my totally unexpected inheritance from unknown cousins to move the painting training from Emerson College, where I was teaching. Although Emerson was a marvellous and stimulating place where I learned as much as my students, but which was growing fast and without enough space for all its magical opportunities.
Kurt and I made a team supporting each other in this adventure. Neither would or could have done this alone. Marrying at 60, too late for children, it must have been a destiny to create Tobias. We searched for a space, prepared ourselves and hoped for a few students, surprising ourselves with 12 for the first year!
Earlier I had, for the umpteenth time, woken with ‘Kurt, I have an idea!’ ‘Oh no! Not another!’ ‘Yes, we should read the Apocryphal story of Tobias.’ ‘But it’s much too early for a name.’ It was not! An hour later the lawyer called: your papers are ready. What’s its name? Tobias’ needs were being taken care of.
In creating Tobias, it was my dream to open the windows, develop judgement and sift what was limited and superficial in ‘styles’ for the essences and principles, working around what Steiner calls ‘universal human style’: to bring art to an expression of the spirit. In Tobias’ case this would be through colour, and colour did indeed flow. With the white ‘image’ colour we painted (and built up) the tumbling down Bank Cottage. Then all the delights and wisdom of the rainbow and artistic imagination were let loose, to be tamed and directed in the second year towards conscious use in therapy.
The curriculum was a first year of Goethean studies, colour theory with nature studies, fairy tales, drawing and modelling and anthroposophic studies. This included soul moods, temperaments, Steiner’s philosophy and projective geometry. From the beginning we strove to understand the world of life, the quality of life as a forming force working on the colour and not a deadened, mechanical, too finished and set-formed world. Not coloured form, but ‘form out of colour’. The second year sought to work with Steiner’s understanding of colour, and a fundamental understanding of mankind, physical and spiritual, as a basis for therapy. Throughout, we ran DIY history of art course and Dr Twentyman’s artistic-scientific lectures on medical aspects.
Tobias grew rapidly at first from 12 to 20 to 30 and 45 enjoying a distinct success and artistic flowering. It outgrew its cradle and the council found it brought too much traffic to the narrow roads. We were fortunate to find in Peredur a new and larger home made to fit! The foundations for professional art therapy, lazure, mural painting and education training for art teachers had been laid. The pioneer stage was over. In 1986 Kurt died, and I retired in 1989.