When students 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, 3-d studies and photography from active and experienced practitioners that is the department’s strength.
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. 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 IVth form course is made up of short units allowing students to experience the range of specialist areas the department offers. Students develop work in painting, printmaking, 3-d and photography. It is often a chance for students to rethink their abilities and discover afresh an enthusiasm for creative work. Specialist teaching of drawing encourages the development of this fundamental skill. 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 IVth 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 range of two and three dimensions, informed by the example of other artists, photographers, 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. Students 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.
In the Sixth form we offer the reformed A level course. The A level is assessed on work produced over the two years, which allows for a period of exploration and the building of skills before work for assessment is produced. The course at Cranleigh is fine art based and provides a structured introduction using a set theme as a starting point. Students will begin by working in all 4 areas of the department in a series of induction workshops before developing work in two of our specialist areas (3-d studies, painting, printmaking and lens-based media). Finally, students develop their own personal projects in one of the specialist areas. Drawing is a fundamental skill in art and design, and in the autumn term a weekly life class for both Upper and Lower Sixth is run, where different approaches can be explored as well as producing work that can support studio practice and entry to further education in art. Sixth form students benefit from dedicated studio spaces and more time for personal tuition so that individual directions and ideas can be pursued. We regularly run trips to galleries in London and aim for a trip to a foreign city once a year. In 2014 we went to Paris, in 2015 to Madrid, and travel to Berlin in October 2016.
The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) can be pursued in art through the production of an artefact – in effect an A level standard art project that a student initiates and develops on their own with teacher support. As a stand-alone qualification it is worth about half an A level. For students who wish to keep practical work going in art while pursuing other A levels this can provide a structure and qualification for their efforts, as well as producing a portfolio that might support entry to higher education courses such as architecture.
Art A level forms part of a good general education, which is accepted as any other A level by universities as part of the UCAS 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.
Director of Art