Head of Department
E-mail: Mr J.P. NairneBFA, PGCE
James Nairne is Head of Art and a practising professional artist. He came to Cranleigh in 2012, attracted by the School's amazing facilities for art, and a desire to return to the county where he was born and raised. He has previously played club hockey and coaches Cranleigh teams along with tutoring in Loveday.
James is about passionate drawing from first hand and is rarely anywhere without a sketchbook. www.jamesnairne.co.uk/sketchbooks. He is married to a doctor and they have two grown up daughters. They have recently been renovating an old cottage – so, as well as painting and drawing, James' spare time is filled with DIY and gardening.
The Woodyer Art Studios are superbly resourced and provide opportunities to work in a wide range of media, techniques and approaches. Specialist teaching from active and experienced practitioners is offered in painting, printmaking, 3-D studies and photography. Within these areas students can develop their own personal responses. These can range in outcomes from video installation to textile based sculpture; from mixed media printmaking to ceramic vessels, as well as more traditional pieces.
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; success in art requires imagination, determination, organisation, creativity, and dedication.
The Fourth Form course is made up of short units allowing students to experience the range of approaches and media the department offers. 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 – even for those who struggle with this area. 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 Fourth Form and earlier. The requirement for success is not technical talent but an enthusiastic and positive attitude. As in other subjects, basic skills 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 are allocated to art, though they may use the studios whenever they wish.
The GCSE consists of two components. 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, is 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 students achieve high standards and, most importantly, feel proud of their achievements.
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. A good GCSE is the best preparation for this course although we have accepted those who haven’t studied GCSE art and design. The course at Cranleigh is broadly fine art based and provides a structured introduction using a set theme as a starting point. Students will begin by working in all four 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 photography) Finally, students develop their own personal projects focused on one of the specialist areas. Like GCSE there are two components, the first, including an illustrated essay, is developed over a sixth month period, the second a shorter project which requires a final outcome to be produced in 15 hours of supervised time.
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. Recent trips have been to Paris, Madrid and Berlin.
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.
Trips and Events
Regular visits are made for our exam groups to London Galleries and Museums. Sixth formers can join an annual trip in the Autumn half-term to a European city. Workshops, to enable extended time, are organised each year. Recent workshops have been based around drawing (The Big Draw) and Art History, held jointly with Classics.