Dover College

Weekly Blog

Weekly Blog

When asked to write this blog I really could not imagine anyone wanting to read about my working week. However, if you find yourself reading this, I hope it comes across that what I really enjoy about my job is working with our pupils. Teaching Art and Design, is both satisfying and challenging, but best of all I’m continually able to explore new creative ideas with pupils.

The day started celebrating our pupil’s achievements and effort in Art and Design with Headmaster’s certificates awarded in this morning’s assembly. Always a nice way to start the week!

Our visitors from No. 80 High School, Beijing, joined some of our lessons this week, working alongside our own pupils. Today we had the pleasure of welcoming some into our art classes. The children certainly seemed to enjoy their art experience and we were very pleased by some of their observational drawing skills. However, what has impressed us most of all has been their willingness to have a go and try their best, and also how well our pupils have engaged with them.

In the art department all GGSE and A Level pupils are currently working towards their examination projects. With our guidance, pupils have selected a broad range of topics. As I write we have some students photographing the inside of pianos, guitars and an assortment of other musical instruments, while others are making drawings from looking inside washing machines and dishwashers. Some pupils are researching plastic pollution and one of my pupils today started working from a series of photographs she took of the sunrise on her recent flight between Shanghai and London. I love how diverse my subject can be and having the opportunity to explore this with students.

Experimenting with emulsion printing and studying the abstract trees of Piet Mondrian were just two of the topics some of my pupils explored this morning. Hanne Van Daele, studying for her teaching qualification at Odisee University College, Belgium joined my year 11 class for a lesson observation. It was an ideal opportunity for pupils to speak about their own artwork and explain the process of their projects.

Also from Odisee University College, I have been fortunate to work with Robert De Block. Last week he observed my year 7 Design Technology lessons in which pupils leant about orthographic drawing. Today the same year 7 group continued with their drawing project and learnt about two-point perspective in an inspirational lesson taught by Robert. The pupils were drawing three-dimensional blocks with Mr De Block! All enjoyed the experience and Mr De Block’s parting words were, ‘Dover College is in my opinion a great school that really values its pupils’. I couldn’t agree more.

I’m continually discovering new contemporary artists that I am able to introduce to my pupils when there are relevant connections with their work. Selena Maestrini is an Italian artist that I recently came across and today I showed her mixed media paintings to some of my year 11 pupils. Her work is small, but there is a beauty in how she carefully looks at forgotten corners, table surfaces, expanses of floor, and finds evocative patterns and shapes. 

Other contemporary artists and photographers we have recently explored include; Alvaro Tapia Hidalgo, Ryuta Iida, Matt Siber and Tammy Ratcliff, a Canadian printmaking artist who I discovered in London, Ontario. 

Art Club was lively this evening with lots of pupils undertaking different painting and drawing activities, cartoon drawing, and even a few last minute valentine cards were made by some. 
It’s my birthday today, off home to celebrate with my family.

How many ways you can photograph a paper clip? One of my A Level photography students was doing just this as part of his preparatory work towards his exam project on the theme of ‘silver’. 

I also managed to spend some unexpected time with some of my tutees from School House today, the last time we could all meet before they start leaving for half term.

It was really nice to hear from a past pupil today who studied both A Level Art and Photography with me. She has now completed her education in the UK and is returning to take up a job in China as a town planner.

This evening we hosted our Sixth Form Information Evening in the Great Hall. It was a great opportunity to showcase some of our students A Level Art and Photography work, and it was good to speak with prospective students about the courses we offer and look forward to working with them next year!

During Art lessons this morning pupils have been trying to do what they can on their projects before half term. In my GCSE groups I had two pupils making large oversized three-dimensional flowers as part of their coursework projects, and others using mixed media printing and acrylic painting.

In our Chapel service at the end of the day we said goodbye to Justine Laws after her long service to the College. It was fitting to see her singing with the choir as she has so often done and Jack read a special reading ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling, one of Justine’s favourites.

As we break for the holidays it’s always exciting as pupils travel to their many different destinations.

During half term I’m looking forward to visiting an exhibition that I have recommended this week to some of my A Level pupils because of its relevance to their examination projects. ‘Plastic – Our Future?’ opens at the Pie Factory in Margate next week. Heidi Burgess and Elena Portius are two young artists with a passion for the environment, and in this new exhibition they address the topic of plastic pollution.

Writing for this blog has made me think a little differently about my working week. I thoroughly enjoy what I teach as pupils responses can be so varied. I also love discovering the artwork of contemporary artists that can inspire my pupils as they develop and explore their own individual ways of working. Always a great week when I get to speak to prospective pupils, work with current pupils and hear from former pupils about what they have gone on to do.