Art & Design

‘At moments of great enthusiasm it seems to me that no one in the world has ever made something this beautiful and important.’  M C Escher

The Art department aims to encourage all students to develop their creative, imaginative and practical skills. We teach a broad and balanced programme of art, craft and design activities. Project ideas develop primarily from direct observation but also from experiences, imagination and memory. Preparatory studies evolve into work in two and three dimensions and on a variety of scales. Students experience a wide range of media and processes, and enjoy exploring their qualities. Projects at all levels are inspired by the work of artists. Analytical skills develop through the school as does a critical visual vocabulary with which students express their own judgements. Students are challenged by the tasks that are set and expectations are high. They are supported by enthusiastic staff as they build confidence, create individual responses and reach their potential.

The Art curriculum is enriched with an extensive programme of museum and gallery trips and visiting artists. A Level candidates begin their course with a one day workshop of drawing from a professional life model. The annual summer Art exhibition is celebrated during a Private View when sixth form students are joined by friends and family to celebrate their achievements.

Art is a popular choice at GCSE and A Level and students perform well in external examinations. A large number of our sixth form students continue to study Art and Design at Foundation and degree level.

Lower School

The Lower School course aims to provide a solid foundation of skills. All projects develop from observation drawing and are informed by an exploration of the work of artists, designers and craft workers. Students will build a repertoire of specialist vocabulary with which to critically analyse and to express their own judgements. The sketchbook is introduced as a means to collect and record observations and to develop ideas through preparatory studies.

Year 7 lessons focus on developing a foundation of basic skills. Students begin by working from direct observation then experience a range of materials and techniques. The focus in the first half of the year is on still life. Students build a repertoire of drawing skills whilst exploring the formal elements line, shape and tone. The second project is inspired by a visiting ceramicist who teaches a day’s work shop in basic ceramic techniques. Students then fire and glaze these ceramics to take home.

Year 8 lessons focus on an exploration of the formal elements colour and texture, while looking at nature, animals and portraiture. Colour mixing and colour theories are applied as more experimental work evolves. Students work from a variety of starting points and build on the key skills learnt in Year 7 using an extended range of techniques including mixed media.

Upper School

Year 9 follow a Foundation programme which concludes the introduction to the Formal Elements and develops essential skills required for further study in Art.  The first two terms explore the formal elements form and space and offer a study of perspective which informs the creation of interior and exterior spaces.  This runs alongside the Art History project which provides students with an overview of the history of Art and an exploration of several movements in relation to context.  Students research one Art movement in depth working as a group on collaborative development of ideas towards individual outcomes.  A mini GCSE project concludes the year with students working independently in response to a question from a GCSE style exam paper.  A revisit to observation drawing allows students to apply the technical skills that they have accumulated.  This enquiry based project encourages independent learning as students have freedom in selecting their own theme and appropriate media.  An outcome is created during a timed assessment.  The Year 9 course prepares students for GCSE. Students are taught specific methods in research and presentation as well as developing essential practical skills.  By the end of the year, students will have an appreciation of the journey a project takes, they will be willing to take risks and will be able to review, refine and modify their own work.

Year 9 also incorporates a foundation in Photography contextual studies where a range of conceptual photography based artists are used to form a base for several mini assignments before the GCSE Photography course.

In Years 10 and 11, we follow the AQA GCSE course and enter students for the Fine Art title. Students gain experience in a wide range of media and approaches which may include a combination of printmaking, textiles, graphic design and sculpture as well as painting and drawing. The GCSE course is open to all students who show interest, enthusiasm and commitment to work in any area of Art & Design.

Students will study the work of a range of artists, designers and crafts people as an integral part of each project. Students will visit a gallery to carry out research in both Years 10 and 11. In addition to working imaginatively and expressively, the course also develops skills which are transferable to other areas of the curriculum. Among others, these are problem solving, observation, interpretation and presentation. The GCSE course opens opportunities for further study, either in the sixth form at A level or at a University or College of Further Education.

Sixth Form

We follow the Edexcel A Level course and enter students for the Fine Art title. The A Level course is made up of three extensive coursework units and an Externally Set Assignment. The overarching theme for the first unit is chosen during the induction week in July. This is applied to still life and the figure during an intensive first term of work. The figure drawing element is introduced through a day of life drawing from a professional model. Year 12 commences with an induction programme which introduces the major skills required by the A Level. The theme for the Year 13 coursework is self directed and takes the form of two closely linked areas, the practical element and the personal study (an illustrated dissertation). In each unit, students are required to produce an extensive portfolio of supporting studies, a journal in which ideas develop and up to two final outcomes. Students further their depth of artist research during gallery visits in both Years 12 and 13.

The A Level course develops the students' visual language and key communication skills. Students further practical skills in a range of Fine Art media and processes, initially working from observation, before specialising in a chosen area. They are encouraged to take responsibility for the development of their own ideas and to gain independence in their learning as the course progresses. Through a sustained investigation, students show sequential thinking and evidence of self-review. The artist research element requires students to be critical in their analysis of Artwork and to show an understanding of context.

An A Level in Art and Design is well respected by universities and future employers as it demonstrates creative ability. Many forms of employment require or consider qualifications in Art desirable.