The Art course aims to equip students with the skills to produce and engage with the visual arts by responding to multiple aspects of the world around them, and is designed to meet the needs of all students. It is through this approach that we hope to ensure both the development of students’ practical skills, and an increased awareness of broader political and societal issues.
We place a great deal of emphasis on the importance of observing and recording – looking and thinking through the process of recording is at the foundation of everything that we do. Learning is engaging and fully structured to encourage the development of the core creative skills through a variety of media, and it is through every creative journey that we aim to inspire an individual approach to art, craft and design making.
Our creative curriculum is aimed at broadening the creative experience of students, promoting a knowledge of the processes employed in the creation of artistic forms, developing artistic skills, and helping students to understand their own work and that of other artists.
Key Stage 3
At Key Stage 3, we offer a range of skills-based and thematic projects that will help students to develop a variety of skills in traditional and new media. Students develop creative confidence and visual recording skills through highly structured and engaging lessons which allow them to respond to the project brief in highly individual and creative ways. There are many opportunities for students to develop confidence in using critical language to discuss their own work as well as the work of others, while at the same time broadening their understanding of the context in which other artists have worked across time and culture.
Students will have the opportunity to develop their existing skills and learn new skills and techniques through varied learning experiences.
Project 1 – An observational drawing project aims to provide students’ with an appreciation of a range of natural forms while developing their ability to accurately record shape and detail whilst enhancing form, texture and depth using a range of shading techniques in a full range of media. Students will also develop their understanding of a range of still life images created across time and culture.
Project 2 – Students have the opportunity to observe and respond to a range of birds in a broad range of media with a focus on proportion and the representation of their physical and tactile characteristics. There are also learning opportunities which allow students to deepen their understanding of the impact of pollution and climate change on bird habitats and populations. It is through this project that we aim to develop the students’ understanding of colour mixing and their ability to respond to the work of other artists who have represented similar subjects.
Project 3 – Students continue to develop their technical skills whilst responding to the work of Hundertwasser and the context in which he worked. This project is focussed on recording objects within a three-dimensional space and on using realistic starting points to develop more abstract and imaginative ideas through line, shape, form and colour.
Project 4 – Students have the opportunity to observe and respond to a range of underwater creatures in a broad range of media while considering the impact of pollution on marine life. There is a focus on proportion, three-dimensional space and the representation of physical and tactile characteristics. We also aim to develop the students’ understanding of colour mixing and composition while responding to the work of Jason Scarpace and other artists who have represented similar subjects.
Throughout Year 8, we continue to build and expand on students’ technical and creative skills gained in Year 7 while providing opportunities to consider wider issues. This is achieved by furthering students’ ability to accurately record multiple subjects in a range of media in order that they are able to develop ideas in increasingly personalised ways, and respond effectively to the work of a range of other artists using the specialist vocabulary.
Project 1 – Students build on their mark making skills to respond to Albrecht Durer’s Rhino while developing confidence in their use of a range of artistic media. This project is focussed on continued refinement of technical skills while developing students’ confidence in employing different techniques to record the varying tactile qualities of reptiles. Students will also have the opportunity to consider the current threats to endangered species.
Project 2 – Introduction to the Impressionist painters and their working methods. Students will gain an increased understanding of colour theory, will be taught the concepts of linear and atmospheric perspective and will become increasingly confident in using multiple techniques and media to create the illusion of spatial depth.
Project 3 – An introduction to Guernica by Picasso. This project is focussed on developing students’ understanding of the context in which Picasso worked and aims to broaden their understanding of broader political and social issues. Students will develop their understanding of distortion as an artistic technique and means of expression while using a range of materials and techniques. Students will also refine their understanding of compositional devices while considering different ways to organise and present their work.
Project 4 – Students will study the work of other artists including the Pop Artists while recording from items of confectionery from first and second hand observation in a range of artist materials. This project is also focussed on developing students’ ability to gather their own photographic images to support the development of their ideas.
It is through a series of thematic projects that we aim to consolidate existing learning and develop and refine the skills which will allow students to access the GCSE course. The projects have been carefully designed to introduce students to a broad spectrum of artists and craftspeople in order to facilitate their understanding of art in its broadest context.
Project 1 – Students will refine their existing skills to further develop their ability to use line and tone to record from observation through the study of reflective surfaces in a range of media. Students will also respond in written and visual form to the work of other artists who have produced images of similar subjects.
Project 2 – Students will continue to develop and refine their technical skills whilst exploring the genre of portraiture. It is through this project that we aim to deepen students’ understanding of facial proportion and the ways in which mark making can be employed to create a full range of tones to enhance the tactile and three dimensional properties of the face. Students will study a broad range of artists across time and culture, will have multiple opportunities to consider cultural diversity and artistic activism and to fully explore the contexts within which other artists have worked.
Project 3 – Students will have multiple opportunities to consider the working methods of abstract artists and the context in which they have worked. Using scientific cellular images as a starting point students will develop their technical skills and broaden their knowledge of all elements of the visual language while exploring abstract ideas in mixed media. Each individual will then create a multimedia, visual interpretation of a cellular formation which is then presented in a petri dish.
Project 4 – Through this issues based project we aim to broaden students’ understanding of a broad range of issues such as racial inequality, global warming, plastic pollution and the Syrian refugee crisis. Students will then develop their ability to employ the process of creating images by gathering their own photographic images to record a range of subjects to support the development of their ideas using multimedia techniques. The teaching of graphic techniques will then support the students’ in designing and making an issues based poster which highlights their individual concerns.
Key Stage 4
Art at GCSE is a popular choice at Ashlyns, and is an exciting, highly structured and engaging course taught by Art and Design specialists through the EDEXCEL specification. Our KS4 curriculum has been designed to promote the skills, creativity, imagination, independence and artistic understanding needed to succeed at GCSE and beyond. The course consists of three thematic projects and an exam project which are explored through drawing, painting, three-dimensional work, digital media and multimedia techniques. Students will have multiple opportunities to investigate their personal ideas in their chosen media. Particular emphasis is placed on the acquisition of visual recording skills.
Project 1 – This project is designed to promote the development of students’ technical skills in drawing and painting whilst studying the work of the Surrealist artists. Students will record multiple objects associated with the Surrealist device of juxtaposition, and will have the opportunity to develop their individual ideas. This development phase will ultimately lead to the completion of a three dimensional and two-dimension final outcome.
Project 2 – This project is submitted as the coursework unit and allows students to fully investigate the work of abstract artists and the contexts in which they have worked. Students will be taught how to use realistic starting points to develop abstract ideas and to communicate meaning in their work through their manipulation of the visual language and use of multimedia techniques. Students will also have many opportunities to consider broader political and societal issues, this helps to prepare them for the more conceptual approach expected at A Level.
Project 3 – This is the exam project and the theme is determined by Edexcel. Students are guided through this project in a highly structured and engaging way which promotes individual expression and the continued development of artistic skills.
Fine Art at Key Stage 5
Students are encouraged to work independently and grow into confident young artists as they explore a variety of media and techniques throughout a structured and engaging course. Students support the development of their ideas through visits to museums and galleries and additional places of interest. The course begins with a skills-based project and is followed by the coursework unit, and finally the exam project. Our students’ work is highly personal and innovative and we enjoy celebrating their achievements in our annual exhibition.
Project 1: Through this project students develop their understanding of linear and atmospheric perspective, still life, portraiture and figure work. The emphasis is on developing students’ recording skills in a range of media and encouraging independent thinking and planning in the development of personal ideas. Students are also taught how to successfully analyse their own work and the work of other artists using the specialist vocabulary.
Project 2: This is the coursework unit and encompasses a practical portfolio and extended essay of approximately 3,000 words. This is a highly ambitious project which has personal significance for each student and is based on their individual interests and strengths.
Project 3: This is the exam project and the theme is determined every year by Edexcel. Students select a starting point from an early release question paper and complete a fifteen-hour practical exam to develop their ideas into a final outcome.
Learning Beyond the Classroom
We run a variety of extra-curricular clubs which allow students to try out new processes and techniques and experiment with media. At KS4 and 5 sessions are run at lunchtime and after school to allow students to receive additional support with their coursework. KS5 students independently undertake two gallery visits to support their Personal Investigation and Personal Study. We enjoy celebrating the successes of each individual student at our end of year exhibitions.
At Ashlyns, we believe that the development of students’ love of learning is of central importance in our curriculum. In order to give students every opportunity to develop this, we have developed a Challenge Curriculum which provides the opportunity for students to enhance their learning across the subjects. The activities contained within the Challenge Curriculum are for students to undertake independently, and take lots of forms, including watching films or clips, visiting museums, conducting independent research, listening to podcasts, and watching lectures online. They are by no means exhaustive, and we encourage all activities that enable students to engage with subjects beyond the classroom and further their learning. Students should let their teachers know which activities they have completed, and are able to earn merits for doing so.