When pupils enter the art department at Cranleigh they are struck by the amazing facilities of the recently refurbished Rhodes Centre. However, it is the committed specialist teaching in painting, printmaking, ceramics and sculpture from active and experienced practitioners that has been the department’s strength in recent years.
We start from the premise that the best art, craft and design comes from an imaginative and thoughtful interpretation of first hand visual experience, informed by an understanding of historical and contemporary practice. We believe art is important for every pupil’s general education. Developing skills in the basic visual language of art is increasingly important in a world dominated by the visual, while success in art requires imagination, determination, organisation, creativity, and dedication.
The 4th form course is made up of short units allowing pupils to experience the range of specialist areas the department offers. Pupils develop work in painting, printmaking, sculpture and ceramics. It is often a chance for pupils to rethink their abilities and discover afresh an enthusiasm for creative work. The course should prove enjoyable as well as provide an insight into the skills required for GCSE art and design.
Art at GCSE builds on the knowledge and confidence that will have been gained in the 4th form and earlier. The requirement for success is not technical talent but an enthusiastic and positive attitude. As in other subjects, basic skills, especially drawing, are taught and learned, and with practice improved upon. The course allows work to be developed across a rage of two and three dimensions, informed by the example of other artists, crafts-persons and designers. Skills of problem solving and research, inventive playfulness and critical thinking are required and assessed. Ideas and studies, analysis and thoughtful reflection are all documented in workbooks and ambitious outcomes encouraged and produced. Regular study trips are made to galleries and exhibitions. Pupils are encouraged to spend extra time on their coursework projects, and to this end two activity slots per week per year group are allocated to them, though they may use the studios whenever they wish.
The GCSE consists of two units. The first is a personal portfolio developed over the two years through work in three of our specialist areas. The second, worth 40% of the marks, is an externally set project, the final piece of which, after almost a term of preparatory studies, has to be completed in ten hours. All the work is then marked internally and moderated by an external examiner who views an exhibition of the work in the school.
The GCSE is an enjoyable, informative, highly creative, personal course where pupils achieve high standards and, most importantly, feel proud of their achievements.
The Pre-U Art and Design examination is a two-year linear course broken down into three components:
Portfolio: work undertaken in the first (Lower VI) year which can be added to at any stage during the second (Upper VI) year.
Project: work undertaken in the second year inspired by one of 24 themes set by the examination board.
Evaluative Study: a 3,000 to 3,500 word essay on a topic relating to art and design and usually relevant to the candidate’s current work.
The aim is to encourage pupils to experiment in year one and then develop and refine their practice in year two.
In their first year candidates are encouraged to continue to explore a range of media and ideas whilst always underpinning their work with sound art historical research and linking, and some traditional drawing skills.
In the second year the emphasis is less on experimentation and more on an individual path of creative enquiry. At this stage many candidates specialise in one medium exploring their ideas in a more in-depth way, the evaluative study often feeding their development. At the end of the two-year course each candidate puts on an exhibition selected from his or her two years’ work.
The Art Department make provision for students’ independent study by providing studio spaces where students can leave work in progress. In addition to independent studio time, students are also required to attend life-drawing classes one evening a week.
Pre-U art forms part of a good general education, and is accepted, like A levels, by universities as part of the UCAS application process. Art and design at degree level is normally accessed via a one-year foundation course. Sixth form artists at Cranleigh have gone on to courses in graphic design, product design, animation and fashion, as well fine art.
For those thinking of studying architecture, art is almost essential as a portfolio of visual work is normally required. The experience of art and design can be useful for those thinking of careers in advertising, marketing, publishing, museums or galleries and work in the media.