St Philomena’s Elephant in the Room Project and Exhibition

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.


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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.


New Building


We continued to be excited to work in our new Art studios. The new fit for purpose building has large windows which have views across trees and green spaces in the school grounds.

We have a small photographic studio space and have updated our Photography resources with new improved studio lighting and cameras.  Energy saving climate controlled systems provide even temperatures throughout the year along contemporary classroom lighting systems.  The classrooms are twice the size of our previous smallest art room in the old block. Younger students have the benefit of A level Art and Photography students completing independent study alongside them as the rooms have the space. Ten new PC’s have been installed in the classrooms along with a dedicated printer. Students also continue to use the schools wireless network on their iPads. Storage cupboards for student bags and blazers are provided during practical lessons.

Students have benefitted from lessons that can start quickly and be cleared up with greater efficiency due to the new room layouts.

“In the Future” Workshop

IMG_0269Twenty five students from years 8 to 13 students were selected to participate in a workshop led by the artist Andy D’cruz  at the Honeywood museum in Carshalton  earlier this year. The workshop was funded by Art Council England as part of Sutton’s Imagine Arts Festival 2016.

Based upon the writer H G Well’s novel “The Time Machine”, Andy D’Cruz led the students in discussing what they believed the future would be like. They worked together to come up with ideas and a description of what would happen to them, the world of work, human health and what the local area of Sutton would be like in the future. Students produced drawings representing their visions.  Sound recordings were made of all their ideas.

Following the workshops these recordings were placed, by the artists from Output Arts, into modified old radios using digital media to make a steam punk style objects. These were exhibited at Honeywood Museum from in October as part of the Imagine Arts Festival.

The dials could be turned on the he old fashioned radios to tune the listener into student voices. Students produced a range of interesting drawings and ideas on the afternoon. It was a good opportunity for some of our most able students to meet and work together.

Former Art Technician Jo Lovelock’s Art work from her MA exhibition at Farnham University for the Creative Arts

Our Former Technician, Jo Lovelock, successfully completed her MA at Farnham University for the Creative Arts  with



an exhibition of her Art work. Jo describes the process in her statement:

“Through the processes of transition and transference I explore our emotional states. Using the projection of childhood memories onto evocative objects, I weave psychological narratives between the real and the imagined, and investigate textiles’ ability to create a holding or containing environment for our emotions.

Drawing parallels between transitional objects and talismanic charms I am exploring the importance of haptic engagement to our sense of self and relationship with others.”

Old Abandoned Art Studios at St Philomena’s School.

We moved out of our old art studios at St Philomena’s School a year ago, in July 2016. At the time I took some photographs of the empty abandoned rooms. As we were preparing to leave, many students – who had come to love working in the old studios – expressed their disappointment to be leaving. They would miss the old architecture, former nuns dormitories, paint splattered walls and floor; their own space. They would miss the rotting, blocked sinks with only cold water,  and the tiles and paint peeling off the wall.

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Now, one year on, they do not miss the rooms any more. Our new rooms are well lit, warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. Before, thirty students were squeezed into one classroom that was half the size of our new rooms. Now, there is ample space for the students (and larger sinks). 

The old rooms have been modernised, refurbished, and redecorated. They are now the Faustina Centre. A  new department at the school has moved into the rooms, and will make them their home.