Exhibition Absurdities (just don’t look behind the boards)

I thought I’d share a few photos from our exhibition that took place this week. I was intending to write something a little more comprehensive but I can’t find the words at present. Everything gets tossed over an exhibition board in last-minute preparations, and it’s quite possible my brain went over too. Exhibition time can do that to art teachers. Still, no worries, it’s nice to not have so much to think about; it’ll be there on Monday, amongst the misplaced tools, half-empty wine glasses and overdue paper work.

How do you like your art?
This was a question we put to visitors as they arrived, just to provoke a reflection or two. A simple choice: Observed or Abstracted?

tornby Chantelle, Yr 13

Of course it’s not as simple as that, but two entrances, bridged by Beth’s opinion-dividing work (and explanatory video) made for an interesting start…


Which entrance would you choose?

Beth’s video below explains why she disrupted her carefully observed self-portrait:

Flaws & Perfections, by Beth, Yr13

One side of the ‘observed’ corridor then showed her portrait studies throughout the year, alongside those by other students who had worked from direct observation. In contrast the ‘abstracted’ corridor concluded with Hannah’s large Kandinsky inspired construction (a photography student no less).

At the end of the two corridors there was an opportunity to vote: Observed or Abstracted, not that anyone should really have to choose. It seemed appropriate to put Hope’s election inspired artwork next to this though:


Exquisite Corpse inspired Banker / Politician /Journalist by Hope, Yr 13

One of the most commented on artworks within the exhibition was Yr12 Emma’s Self-Portrait in a Car Crash. Because of its disturbing nature it needed to exist within its own space. Our solution was to create a box within which it could be viewed, across suspended broken glass too:


By Emma, Yr 13


With hindsight perhaps the window could have been a tad lower

Year 12 paintings have been a real highlight of this year and it was great to see these up together…


Sometimes smaller work can become a little fragmented when displayed together, so some old broken easels came in handy to resolve this:


In the photography room we wanted to host a couple of timetabled talks to parents throughout the evening.  My (possibly hare-brained) solution to this was to build our own tiered seating area.  I thought this might be handy for teaching longer-term too, creating a kind of TED talks stage where students could do mini-presentations.


We built this by using discarded palettes – mostly because we have no money and I thought it would be fun scouting around for them (it was), but also that it would make for an interesting ‘absurdity’ (our key theme for the room, contrasting with Year 10′s oh very serious political portraits). When we ran out of wood, in a half-arsed nod to Simon Starling, we incorporated my mum’s old shed too, as you do.


Year 10 students Seb and Tom did a great job manipulating interviews with politicians to create an accompanying film introduction.

It was fitting that all who entered the room were greeted with an image of Yr 13 Josh (and one of his films too), in response to Erwin Wurm’s 1-minute Sculptures. Josh has been an outstanding Photography Prefect and we will be very sorry to see him leave. He worked relentlessly to help set up the show.



Josh’s experiments with glitching 3-D models can be seen here, and one of his displays is pictured below:


Year 12 Emma knocked out a quick illustration, as only she does, to accompany Michael’s crow mask and subsequent responses:


At the other end of the department, things took another twist. Our small 6th form studio was hijacked by Year 10 Art students to create a laboratory. For their hybrid animals, (un)naturally.


Okay, that’ll do for now. Hopefully this post has offered some insights into the work on show. I’ll look to share some more examples at another time. Congratulations to all of our students, especially to those Year 11s and 13s that are leaving. We are very proud of all of your hard work and achievements. Go forth and share your biscuits.

Now, anyone seen…*

*the masking tape, staple gun, hammer, car keys, drill bits, daylight…Sandra…


If you would like to add any positive feedback for students below,  I will ensure this is passed on. And if you are interested in our approach to organising exhibitions you can read more in this previous post, An ethic of exhibiting. All thoughts welcome.


Some year 10 photography students testing for splinters.

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