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News > Alumni Stories > Janina Cebertowicz (Retired Teacher, 1983-2012)

Janina Cebertowicz (Retired Teacher, 1983-2012)

Find out what Ms Cebertowicz is up to now, read more about her life after BGS…
14 Feb 2023
United Kingdom
Alumni Stories

It has been lovely to catch up with Janina Cebertowicz, retired BGS Arts Teacher. During retirement Janina has taken on the exciting role of becoming Vice-President at the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts (MAFA) and was recently invited to give a presentation on Art and Surgery at a 3-day medical conference in Autumn at Barcelona University. Many of the drawings used in the presentation were completed in the 1990s when Janina was teaching at BGS.

It is wonderful to hear more about Janina’s retirement journey, her role at the MAFA, her plans for the future and her fondest memories of teaching at BGS.

I joined Bury Grammar at the start of the summer term in 1983 after teaching as Head of Art at Bolton County Grammar, followed by a couple of years at Withins School. I am still in touch with one or two of my very first pupils from 1978 and through the sometimes much maligned Facebook, I hear news of many of the students I taught at BGSG.

I earned my runner's crop top from Abigail Irozuru when I supported her in her bid for a place in the 2016 Olympics. In contrast, I was cast as Woman at Bus Stop, the only extra in Vanessa Hehir's short film 'Cuckoo' and ended up standing on a red carpet at the Manchester Film Festival.  In September I visited the studio of Tracey Cartledge, mosaicist and one of my earliest BGSG pupils. She is currently working on a commission to renovate the mosaics in Manchester Town Hall.

Most recently, I accompanied the President of MAFA to the FEDs Ladies' Lunch where the speaker was Nicola Shindler, a member of the BGS Alumni, who has done so much over the years to put the Creative Industry in the North on the map. I was also delighted to catch up with ex colleague Rosemary Rosenthal at the event. There are many, many pupils and staff whom I remember with affection.

I retired in 2012, the summer the RHS visited our new school garden. I consider teaching at BGS, with some highs and some lows, of course, to have been fundamental to my development as an educator, an artist and a person. 

In May 2022 I became the Vice President of Manchester Academy of Fine Arts. Having been a member for forty years but unable to take a more active role whilst teaching, I contented myself with exhibiting and continuing 'under the radar' with my own work in the studio and at the Royal Northern College of Music. I decided I needed to update my LinkedIn profile.  

The president of MAFA Kath Lowe and myself are the first two women to run the Academy since its establishment in 1859. We have been working together to resurrect the MAFA profile through a series of exhibitions, collaborating with business and the community.  Most significantly with Manchester Cathedral on an exhibition and project entitled 'The Contemplation of Drawing', running during September and October, later this year. This will be our first engagement in the centre of Manchester for some time and has been generously supported by Sir Norman Stoller, an exemplary philanthropist in Greater Manchester. The logistics behind all events is time consuming but is the result of vision and cooperation. Little did I know where updating my profile might lead!

At the beginning of this year, I was invited by Jonathan McFarland, President of 'The Doctor as a Humanist' to speak at an Arts and Medicine conference hosted by the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Hospital del Mar in Barcelona from the 19th to 21st July. Jonathan is the son on John McFarland, a personal friend and an enterologist whom I had invited to speak at one of our BGSG Sixth Form Lectures in the 1990s.

Jonathan's father had a passion for Art and the Arts and was a significant figure in Liverpool when it came to setting up the Royal Liverpool University Hospital in the 1970s. He commissioned artists, including Adrian Henri, Bridget Riley and Don McKinlay (some of the latter's work displayed in BGS Arts Centre) to be involved in the creation of a positive and healing environment; nowadays we take the displays of art on hospital corridors for granted. Following on from our friendship I was invited to make some documentary watercolours at RLH of John performing surgery and subsequently studies of the urologist, David Gough at Manchester Children’s' Hospital. My talk will begin with my experiences of working in the surgical environment and branch out to exploring how the Arts and Medicine can work together in the 21st century.

Arts in Health has grown in importance over the decades and the Global Arts in Medicine Fellowship is one of a number of organisations promoting a closer relationship between apparently diverse fields. This week I was delighted to meet the artist, Kunle Adewale, a fellow speaker at the conference and the Founder / Executive Director of the Fellowship. A recent article in The Lancet (7th January) describes his journey from his family life with 13 siblings, through deprivation in Nigeria to his visit to the USA where he met with President Obama. It is worth a read, but most significantly it was his connection with Sickle Cell Disease which prompted him to set up an engagement programme for the SCD community. He is a dynamic and engaging character and I look forward to meeting him again, both in Manchester and Barcelona.

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