Inspiring curiosity, creativity and confidence is at the core of the Art Departments in both the Junior and Senior School.
As part of The National Gallery's annual Take One Picture programme, the children in the Pre-School and Junior School responded to George Bellows’ 1912 painting, Men of the Docks in various ways across their year groups. Depicting workers on the docks of New York's frozen East River, the skyscrapers of Manhattan and a vast ocean liner towering in the background, Bellows' painting was chosen for the cross-curricular themes and subjects from cities and 20th-century New York, to immigration, working animals, and the riverfront as a place of work. The creativity and imaginative interpretation of the work shown by all the children was wonderful – do watch this short film summarising all the work they undertook.
The Senior Art Department has been cauldron of creativity with pupils using a wide range of materials, refining techniques and challenging themselves to master new skills.
Amongst the work undertaken this term, Year 9 Art pupils have been promoting their traditional printmaking skills through a project that considered the influence of Der Blaue Reiter, a group of German Expressionists that were active before the First World War. Pupils initially thought that the artists’ work seemed easy to understand, though by attempting the work for themselves and producing their own self-portraits in the Expressionist style, the task was much harder to deal with both technically and conceptually.
Year 10 GCSE Art pupils have been working on a series of large-scale charcoal studies as still lives of natural forms for their ‘Growth and Decay’ project. Each drawing was created in small groups of pupils on paper that measured around three or four metres square. The biggest problem was not the scale but dealing with all the use that the chalk and charcoal created.
Phoebe Clarke (Year 12) has been working on a triptych sequence of clay slabs, crafted as bas-reliefs. This is a type of sculpture that has less depth to the face and figure than in reality, when measured proportionately, yet keeps the natural shapes of the figures, allowing the work to be seen from many angles. Phoebe’s work has been considering the relationship between artist and model, from a feminist perspective.
Olivia Spink (Year 12) has been getting to grips with painting by looking at mirrored and reflective surfaces. She has been using different coloured grounds (base-colours) to consider pentimento, the visible trace of earlier painting beneath the canvas. She has been using watercolours alongside oil paints to make decisions about her next stage of work.
Sophie Reeve-Foster has been promoting a return to History Painting within her final A Level Art year. She has been working on a canvas proportionate to a cinema screen and measuring 2.43 meters in width (pictured above). Her piece offers an oil painting in response to the first national lockdown last summer. It will eventually depict a reflection of her family on a blank tv screen, passively sitting in their front room.
Daisy Summerskill in Year 13 has been considering the role of symbolism in storytelling and still life. As part of her research, she recently visited The Bethlem Museum of the Mind, a gallery space linked to the Bethlem Royal Hospital, that records the lives and experiences of people with mental health problems and celebrates their achievements. Daisy has plans to retell the story of Hogarth’s The Rakes Progress, after studying the archive work in Bethlem.Olivia Spink (Year 12) has been getting to grips with painting by looking at mirrored and reflective surfaces. She has been using different coloured grounds (base-colours) to consider pentimento, the visible trace of earlier painting beneath the canvas. She has been using watercolours alongside oil paints to make decisions about her next stage of work.
Amongst the other Sixth Form work, Evie Beard has been sewing furiously for the last six months. She is in the process of re-purposing and re-upholstering an old armchair, using appliqué and old textile fragments alongside political graphics, as a metaphor for feminism. This will become a major outcome for her A Level Art qualification. Having just received the Year 11 Art Prize, Rosie Sambles has continued to find success in Year 12 in her A Level studies. She has been challenging herself to work analytically whilst using almost uncontrollable equipment, developing figure studies using a willow stick, a paintbrush and ink.