In any Art Department’s calendar, the Summer Show is the grand focal point at the end of the year. It comes after the messy, explosive lead up in the studios, the final push and students then immersing themselves in the painstaking task of installing their works in the Great Hall over half term. This year we were in full throttle and just a few weeks away from completing our GCSE Art and Pre U A level courses, with students just adding the finishing touches to their pieces, planning their installations and making final improvements to their sketchbooks when the world came to an abrupt standstill. Students had to hurriedly raid the department for oil paint, paper and anything else they could find to complete their work at home; vans arrived shipping large scale pieces back home.
Now the dust has settled after our lockdown evacuation, we can celebrate students’ work and their final pieces that would have formed this year’s summer exhibition. This year’s Pre U Year 13 Art groups have produced daring and edgy work. All have pushed themselves to take risks and as a result have ended up with a sophisticated body of work, already exploring complex concepts alongside an experimental approach to materials and processes, all underpinned by a genuine engagement with contemporary art. The themes that they chose to investigate are equally varied; fairytales, the last supper, the environment, technology, gender, therapy, memories, pattern and colour. Students have found their own pathways through this territory, arriving at works that have a deeply personal resonance. It is not a surprise that the majority are going on to Art Foundation courses or straight onto Arts/Art History degree courses.
The graduating year 11 GCSE artists have equally excelled, producing an impressive range of works, from highly skilled oil paintings, to exciting sculptural work, photography and film. Students have made incredible progress over their two-year course. It is brilliant to see the ambition and confidence of their final coursework pieces, made with a sense of purpose and personality. Their engagement with contemporary art is evident too, leading to informed, savvy work. We look forward to teaching lots of this cohort next year as they continue to pursue A level Art.
Although they have missed out on their show, this cohort of students will form part of a generation who have experienced at first hand the world in flux and it will be fascinating to see how they continue to use their creativity to navigate these uncertain times.
Click on the images below to display GCSE and Pre U Year 13 work from the Summer Show: