Unique art opportunity for Steyning students

Artist in residence Jake Spicer, centre back, with students and, front, left to right, head of creative and performing arts Claire Vilday, Steyning DFAS chairman Ann Blakelock, NADFAS Sussex area co-ordinator for young art Susie Beale and Steyning DFAS young art co-ordinator Pam Childs. Pictures: Liz Pearce LP1600236
Artist in residence Jake Spicer, centre back, with students and, front, left to right, head of creative and performing arts Claire Vilday, Steyning DFAS chairman Ann Blakelock, NADFAS Sussex area co-ordinator for young art Susie Beale and Steyning DFAS young art co-ordinator Pam Childs. Pictures: Liz Pearce LP1600236

Students at Steyning Grammar School have been given a unique opportunity to develop their artwork in a more professional environment.

For the first time, Steyning Decorative and Fine Arts Society has funded an artist in residence to work with 15 selected year-ten students for two full days.

Amelia McNeilly, 15, with her work LP1600234

Amelia McNeilly, 15, with her work LP1600234

The £850 donation was made to encourage young art and builds on the society’s links with the school.

Chairman Ann Blakelock said the young art project had seen author and illustrator Jake Spicer, a former Steyning student, working at a professional level with the teenagers.

Jake has been encouraging the students to work on life drawings in the way they would for A-levels, giving them a taste of the next level in art and the chance to work with a live model.

“They would not normally get to work with a model, or in this kind of environment, with an easel,” he explained.

Emilia Cornwell, 15, Lauren Richards, 15, and Emily Underwood, 15. LP1600237

Emilia Cornwell, 15, Lauren Richards, 15, and Emily Underwood, 15. LP1600237

“They have also been able to use much a higher quality of materials than they would normally have in school.

“They have been able to work in a more mature way and hopefully that is going to encourage them to continue their art studies.

“They have taken to it so well, considering it is such a challenging process. They are used to working from a photograph and they have found you have to work more quickly with a model.

“They used a similar process to professional artists, starting with sketching in charcoal and working through composition sketches before the actual painting.”

Year-ten student Ren Pyner LP1600235

Year-ten student Ren Pyner LP1600235

The young art project had a circus theme and the model was dressed in a harlequin-style costume.

The students were encourage to use the model as a starting point then develop their own ideas, so some used different colours and one included a lion in the painting.

Claire Vilday, head of creative and performing arts at the school, said the aim was for the students to feel like they were at art college.

“It has been really challenging but they have totally got on board with it,” she said.

“It has been a great opportunity and they would not have had this otherwise.”

Mrs Blakelock visited the school to see the finished pieces on Monday, along with Pam Childs, the Steyning group’s young art co-ordinator, and Susie Beale, NADFAS Sussex area co-ordinator for young art.

Susie said the impact was difficult to quantify but it would go beyond art and have a knock-on effect for confidence.

“With the Government cuts in the arts, the work we are doing is absolutely vital,” she said.

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