Spotlight on Art and Photography

In the latest feature in our Spotlight on… series, we shine a light on the senior school Art and Photography faculty to find out what’s new and discover what makes the department so special.

Set in three spacious, light-filled studios with plentiful work tables, a full adobe suite, a printmaking and screen printing area and separate photography studio and dark room, the Art department is a vibrant and dynamic department. As soon as our senior pupils start Year 7 their creative journey begins, as they explore two and three-dimensional skills, progressing to multimedia projects from Year 9 and if they pursue it, a GCSE course that develops and encourages a deeper level of creative thinking.

At A-level there is a choice of Art and Design or Photography, the latter introduced four years ago partly in response to a changing landscape of student interest. Both involve a deep exploration of themes and personal lines of enquiry, culminating in an end-of-year show that generates as much buzz as any professional private view.

The department is renowned as an open, welcoming space where pupils go not just for classes, but to sit with friends to complete homework, look at the artwork on display or just to hang out and soak up the creative atmosphere. There are also plenty of co-curricular opportunities to get involved, with weekly art and photography clubs, including a dedicated and very popular Lower School Art club run by sixth form art Scholars.

The department is headed by Naomi Gudge, who in her sixth year as Head of Art has seen an explosion in popularity in the subject at both GCSE and A-level.

Mrs Gudge explains why:

“The culture of the Colfe’s Art department is the most creative I have seen throughout my career. We have a holistic approach and are continually exploring new techniques and encouraging collaboration, and I think the increase in popularity of Art and Photography can be put down in part to the vibrancy of the department and how responsive it is. We have also tried to foster an atmosphere of creative collaboration, so for example have created a free-flowing space where sixth formers can work alongside pupils in Year 7, which is incredibly inspiring for our younger pupils who can see the movement and development of work.”

The department continues to progress, and from September 2024 will encompass the Design and Technology department within an overarching Faculty of Art, Photography and Design and Technology.

Mrs Gudge continued, “We are tremendously excited about the inclusion of Design and Technology under a new Faculty umbrella. This expansion reflects how the scope of the visual arts has evolved into something multidisciplinary and multimedia. Exploring such a variety of medium is key to enjoyment of the visual arts, as well as increasingly important in achieving success. Art takes many forms, and there is unlimited creativity behind the design and producing of functional pieces.

“The scope of what ‘art’ is at Colfe’s is what works to our students’ strengths and how they respond to their own ideas, whether that’s through drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, textiles, animation, the moving image, printing, or graphics.

“New pupils join us in Year 7 and might say “oh I can’t draw” but being creative is far more than that. It’s a process of developing ideas. Success is based on encouraging our pupils to think and to look. We never say ‘you can’t’ – we say find the right way to do it.”

 

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