At St Philomena’s we have been working with a selection of students in Year 8-13 exploring how art work can be used to consider, explore and produce a response to issues of health and well being, particularly we have been working with students to present visually the School’s Core Values of Community, Happiness, Generosity, Kindness, Forgiveness, Faith, Resilience, Achievement, Integrity and Fairness which were collectively agreed upon by both students and staff.
At Key Stage 3 some students were set the challenge of researching, designing and developing a painting that represented a Core Value of their choice. Many students initially used iPads to research, manipulate images and design the proposal. It was exciting to see the enthusiasm of students in a sophisticated and individual personal response that communicated their own message.
Students also wrote a personal statement that was often also very insightful to describe what the meaning of the image was to them.
Targeted students in GCSE and A level examination groups were given the opportunity and encouraged to develop their artwork making links to and reflecting on emotional well being. In these examples students responded to themes such as “Out of Place”, “Groups” and “Personal Study”. We were delighted that some of our strongest and most able students developed whole bodies of work with interest and that these images will also contribute to successful Examination Coursework and Controlled Assessment.
The best of art work from these projects has been exhibited in prominent locations in the school.
Selected artwork was also entered for the Perspective Art Prize run by Children and the Arts supported by the Jack Petchey Foundation. We were delighted that one painting by an A level Art student was shortlisted for the prize. Samantha Simpson’s image developed as part of her research into the representation on addictions and psychology in art was exhibited, with other shortlisted entries, on the Children and the Arts website with Samantha and her family attended the prize giving ceremony.
In another example of an activity that we tied to this project twenty students in Years 8, 11, 12 and 13 participated in an afternoon workshop exploring Art Therapy with the school’s therapist, Kerry Kinnell. They completed some practical activities exploring how relationships therapy and feelings can be explored through the process of drawing. Students did work in an entirely different way to what they would have previously experienced in their normal lessons. Kerry works at the school each week meeting a range of students in regular appointments to provide support.
Examples of drawing activities at the therapy taster workshop included drawing an imaginary building and using this to consider ones emotional state. In another exercise all participants drew a continuous line on one large piece of paper. Initially they made a line in their own space on the large sheet. They then had to move their line next to or to combine with another participant which gave the opportunity to reflect on how the students saw themselves in relation to others.
The activities delivered through Art have complemented Whole School Pastoral Strategies to develop student understanding of our Core Values, Emotional Intelligence and Well being. This included staff training, a rewards collection scheme for students and assemblies.
We were delighted that three of our students had their work exhibited at the Menier Gallery in Central London. The art work of Georgia Hersey, Ashley Lim in Y8 and Kyra-Sky Foster (Y12) was exhibited alongside images from other schools and paintings, costume and digital print from professional artists. Georgia Hersey in Year 11 was awarded first prize in the secondary schools category.
Participating in this project as allowed some of our students aged from 12 to 18 years old to intelligently consider what mental health and wellbeing means to them, to produce, present and reflect upon sophisticated, successful in-depth artwork in response.