The staff in the department firmly believe in the value of creativity and the benefits of studying a challenging and thought provoking subject such as art and design within a school environment. At Chigwell we believe it is very important that young people have an opportunity to explore their own and other people’s creativity in an in-depth and engaging manner that is personally relevant to them.
Art and Design It is a lively and interesting subject that has made an immense contribution throughout history to the whole of culture, and it also has great relevance to contemporary life. It influences how we think, express ourselves and understand being human. Art and Design is an intellectually and emotionally stimulating subject and each person who studies it at Chigwell is taught to closely link their practical skills to conceptual ideas and in so doing, develop both their visual and intellectual abilities.
We believe that Art and Design is a highly rewarding subject, and an area of life at school which offers the pupils a great amount of freedom to express their views and their feelings. Studying Art and Design is stimulating and inspiring, and at Chigwell, traditional artistic approaches are fully integrated with the latest IT and digital technologies to form a highly flexible and rewarding area of study which helps a young person gain confidence and develop their capacity to think for themselves and work in an independent manner.
During this stage of their studies the pupils start to explore their creativity using a range of artistic media and influences. As well as looking at the work of famous, well established artists and designers the pupils also look at Art and Design artefacts from contemporary life such as Punk. The focus is upon building and developing skills connected to recording from observation and experience, and experimenting with different practical materials (this also includes an introduction to using digital software such as Photoshop). One-to one help is given in lessons and the pupils are encouraged to think for themselves.
In years 10 and 11 the pupils continue to develop their skills at making and thinking about Art and Design. During their GCSE they have lots of opportunities to investigate a topic that they are interested in and to create their own practical work in a manner that they enjoy. There is great freedom to pursue a number of practical approaches and the course facilitates the creation of a body of work and a final outcome that the pupils have had a great influence upon. They continue to look and discuss the work of other artists and designers and they are strongly encouraged to visit exhibitions and use their experiences outside of the classroom to help inform and influence their own practical work. As before help is offered by the staff and the individual needs of each person are catered for and addressed in a mutually supportive environment.
In the Sixth Form pupils have the greatest degree of freedom to explore a topic using a range of materials and media of their choice. The teaching is based on a tutorial system that enables each student to receive specific advice and constructive criticism. The course encourages a broad approach, which allows candidates to develop a sound grounding in a number of skills while still exploring their chosen subject in depth. Over the two years they learn a variety of practical skills in the areas of drawing, painting, sculpture, photography (digital and analogue), printing and collage. A key area of focus continues to be the use of Mac computers to develop a range of artistic and design based IT skills. In the Sixth Form the pupils explore in depth:
- Skills that relate to observing and recording visual stimuli.
- Experimenting with a range of ideas and methods of making art.
- The work of other artists and designers taken from both contemporary and historical sources.
- How to look at their own work and increase their ability to discuss ideas and issues relating to art and design with confidence and authority.
- The activity of developing their own work in a personal and thoughtful manner.
The A Level is a very ambitious course that encourages and motivates students to achieve the highest standards. In previous years the A Level course has facilitated some of the most impressive work made in school. At the end of the A Level many students choose to continue to study Art or Design at HE level (Degree) or FE level (Foundation). Previously we have helped people gain places at Nottingham University and Manchester University. (BA Architecture), London College of Fashion (BA Fashion Management, and Foundation), Loughborough University (Foundation/Graphic Design), Chelsea College of Art (Foundation), St Martin’s (Foundation) and the University for the Creative Arts (Foundation).
As a vibrant and engaging subject there are many ways for pupils of all ages to extend their learning and deepen their engagement with art and design. We take advantage of our close location to central London by organising trips to galleries and museums. All Junior School pupils are welcome to join Art+ which is our KS3 enrichment programme, and all Senior School Pupils are part of the senior school art society ‘CAP’ (the Chigwell Arts Programme). Both of these schemes utilise the skills and abilities of professional practicing artists and designers in a series of practical workshops, talks, studio visits and exhibitions in the school gallery. Art and Design is a subject where personal input is essential. As such, our pupils are constantly encouraged to think and work independently and to discuss their ideas with the staff (and each other) both during their formal lessons and in our various enrichment sessions.
There are many opportunities for pupils to pursue their interest beyond the classroom. The art rooms are open after school and at lunchtimes and we strongly encourage our pupils to enter both local and national Art and Design competitions. These have included the Royal Academy A Level Summer Exhibition, The Saatchi Gallery Art Prize for Schools, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation Global Canvas Art Competition and local art competitions organised by The Rotary Club. We have also actively supported and participated with art projects in support of local charities such as the Chigwell Riding Trust and the school gallery has also hosted exhibitions by local art societies and artists. For several years we have participated in the ARTiculation Prize. This is a prestigious national competition organised by The University of Cambridge and the Roche Court Educational Trust. Over a number of years many of the presentations that have been given by our pupils in this competition have been highly commended and our pupils have been very successful indeed – reaching the finals twice!