The Art Department at St Catherine's is a dynamic and creative space that is open to all. We actively encourage the students to get involved in creative pursuits whether that be in class, exam studies or the wide range of clubs and activities we put on every week.
Art at St Catherine's
Full rein is given to creativity in every possible dimension, with experimentation and personal development of ideas actively encouraged. We do not have a house style and believe the heart of a good art department is one that helps the students find their own personal style and way of working. We do, however, strongly believe in teaching the formal elements and every course is started with a focus on drawing, observational skills and the use of colour. These traditional skills give the students the ability to express their ideas more clearly and therefore allows them to investigate a wide range of artists and concepts.
An awareness and appreciation of the History of Art and world cultures is a crucial aspect of the subject and we are proud of our superb Art Library and ICT resources in this respect.
The John Palmer Centre, opened in 1996, is a purpose-built building. It is light and airy with a very different atmosphere from the classroom, which encourages freedom of expression in the individual. We have our own gallery space, which is used by our students for end-of-year shows, House Art and professional artist exhibitions. Students’ art is also selected to be exhibited in the Headmistress' study and a Study Award is given for this highest honour.
Art is celebrated everywhere in the school and we are proud of our numerous artist-in-residence murals and installations and A2 student art commissions. Our annual GCSE exhibition is held in the beautiful Upper Atrium of the Anniversary Halls.
- Mr Alex Perry-Adlam - Head of Art
Joined St Catherine's in 2012, having had 18 months as a professional artist, working and exhibiting in London. His previous teaching role was as Head of the Arts and Sports Faculty at Claremont Fan Court School. He is an A level Art moderator for Edexcel and has a keen interest in the development of the new curriculum in the Arts. His specialisms are fine art painting and photography and he has worked extensively in new media in his own art. He is passionate about promoting and supporting up-and-coming artists and designers and his specialist field of study is late C20th Art.
- Miss Louise Chivers
Louise joined St. Catherine's as a newly qualified teacher in 2017, having worked as a University Studio Supervisor in Fine Art running group critiques. She enjoys engaging with Fine Art contextual studies to further the development of students’ work. Her own practice is predominantly sculpture and installation based. She strongly believes that Art is a core part of the curriculum, not only as a tool for communication and expression, but also in teaching resilience and problem solving skills essential for personal development and the workplace.
- Miss Emily Ward
Ms Emily Ward teaches Art History at St Catherine’s. She qualified in Art History and Art at The University of Western Australia in Perth and brings an inclusive educational ethos to the department. In Australia, Art History is studied by all students throughout their entire time in school, meaning that there is a deeply embedded respect for world cultures. She is therefore delighted to be introducing the new global Pearson specification to St Catherine’s.
Examination Board: AQA
Why study Fine Art?
Art is not only about making beautiful images and objects, it is also about creative problem solving, developing personal opinions about art works, as well as responding to historical events, and becoming more in touch with the visual world that surrounds us.
We are in the middle of an artistic renaissance with Britain being at the forefront of creativity in all areas from fine art to graphics, fashion to film. All the leaders in this new wave of creativity took Art for A level and credit the course with teaching them the foundation of how to work experimentally and creatively.
Most importantly the course is about you. It’s about finding your style of working and developing your personal interest in the subject.
The start of the course is more traditional where you will learn formal elements of Art and how to develop your ideas through sustained investigations to a number of outcomes. The second coursework project is more self guided and where you will investigate an area of Art that interests you. You will also write a 2500 word extended essay on the theme of the project you have chosen. The final exam is a topic given by the exam board in January of the final year.
60% Personal Investigation: Practical work and a personal study; a written essay of 2000 - 3000 words
40% Externally Set Assignment: assessed as an independent unit: 15 hour examination.
- 60% Personal Portfolio
- 40% Externally Set Assignment
- Examination: 10 hours over several sessions.
The GCSE Art course is for anyone who has an enjoyment and interest in the subject. They do not have to be the best drawer, painter or ceramicist as the course is designed to improve the core skills and understanding of the formal elements to allow the students to have complete freedom to express their ideas and create work that is in their style and is an culmination their own personal investigations.
The coursework is split into two projects that run for around 20 weeks each. In these projects the students will investigating a range of artists, experimenting with new and exciting materials, learning to develop ideas from initial concept to realisation and most importantly find their own style and way of working.
- Project 1 is a traditional drawing, painting and printmaking project that focuses on observational skills and the formal elements of art. The themes are very general, for example Still Life or Landscape and are about showing the students how to develop an idea and find their own style of working in 2D
- Project 2 is a ceramics project that looks at the more abstract elements of art and shows the students how to develop and design a 3D piece for initial idea to final construction.
At the end of the course there is a ten-hour practical exam, for which there are 8 school weeks to prepare for. This is a theme set by the exam. board, Edexcel, and is a culmination of the skills learnt over the course.
Sketchbooks are continuously used throughout the course and are an invaluable tool for recording, and developing ideas, refining skills and evaluating and realising their intentions. They provide the opportunity to experiment with new techniques and to carry out research from primary and contextual sources.
Examination Board: AQA
Why study Photography?
Everyone has a camera on their phone but not many people know how to take a truly great photograph. It is not about taking a snapshot, but about capturing the atmosphere, feeling and essence of a moment and expressing your view to other people. You will learn how to use the latest camera equipment and studio lighting to start developing your eye for an image. You will then go on to learn how to create a narrative and use the formal elements of colour, composition, perspective and form to allow you to express your own personal interests or style.
You will also be learning how to use film as a medium and how time and image can be brought together to enhance the message you want to express. Most importantly the course is about you. It’s about finding your style of working and developing your personal interest in the subject.
The start of the course is more traditional where you will learn formal elements of Photography and how to use digital manipulation to enhance an image and develop your ideas through sustained investigations to a number of outcomes. The second coursework project is more self guided and where you will investigate an area of Photography that interests you. You will also write a 2500 word extended essay on the theme of the project you have chosen. The final exam is a topic given by the exam board in January of the final year.
Key Stage 3
The Art department is a vibrant and creative area that is open to all pupils in the school. We want students to experience many aspects of Art over the KS3 years, introducing them to a range of techniques from painting to etching and ceramics to photography. We aim to enthuse and encourage the pupils through a range of projects where they will engage with art in its widest forms. The pupils are taught the skills to express themselves visually, develop personal projects and ideas and produce final pieces in a range of media.
We start with the belief that everyone can draw, they just have to be shown the techniques and skills involved and this is the basis to all projects. Learning to observe correctly and translate that through media is the essence of the subject and a skill that takes time and practice. Our key aim at KS3 is to create enthusiasm and passion for art within the students and help them develop their own personal style and interests.
The History of Art is also very important at KS3 and all the projects link to different areas of art, from Art from different Cultures such as the Aztecs and Greek art, all the way through to more contemporary movements. Pupils understanding of the contextual elements allow them to place their own work in the time line of Art.
In U3 and L4 the students have 2x10-week rotations with a prep. each week. In U4 they can choose to take the subject for the whole year and this allows them to develop a more in depth and personal expression within the subject. The U4 year is run like as a mini-foundation course, leading to GCSE.
There are many clubs and activities that take place on a weekly basis, allowing students to extend and develop their own projects outside the curriculum. The Art department is always open at lunchtimes and after school for students to use the facilities and to express their artistic side.