“Creative thinking is a shining light for young minds”
Bryanston takes steps to nurture creativity as an antidote to pandemic frustrations and extends initiatives to include other local schools.
Special workshops delivered by acclaimed and award-winning artists are the latest in a series of online events at Bryanston to ensure pupils are challenged to explore their own imagination and develop their artistic skills and ideas while they are away from the school environment. An invitation has also been extended for pupils in Years 11 and 12 at The Blandford School to join the next live online workshop to be hosted by highly respected portrait artist Paul Brandford. Bryanston’s Art Department is also exploring the possibility of producing a series of short films to promote creativity in online art lessons for primary schools within the Blandford Schools Network once current restrictions are lifted.
Aside from ensuring academic continuity and maintaining individual support through its dedicated Guided Learning Programme, Bryanston’s Head of Art, Doug Knight believes the extra steps taken by the School have helped to encourage and stimulate intelligent curiosity and original thinking among all pupils during the pandemic.
“Delivering an effective and fulfilling remote learning experience for pupils has been a challenge for all schools, all teachers and all parents,” he says. “It’s all the more challenging when something as nebulous and individual as creative thinking lies at the very heart of the educational model. Creativity is a practical and essential thought process in all disciplines and it underpins all learning experiences here at Bryanston. Moreover, we believe it is something that represents a shining light for young minds as they grapple with the unusual circumstances and restrictions arising from the pandemic.
“We know how pupils thrived from the experience of earlier pre-lockdown workshops at the school so we were keen to add similar variety and interest to our own online resources. However, the new initiatives have also provided us with the opportunity to extend similar support for neighbouring schools which has been really well received.”
The first of the two virtual workshops was delivered by Jeanette Barnes, a London-based artist who is widely respected for her large, energetic and distinctive drawings of urban landscapes. The ‘Urban Challenge’ workshop featured instinctive and imaginative exercises to help pupils use drawing to explore the vibrant and dynamic character of a city and to encourage personal expression in their own artwork. The workshop was developed primarily for two distinct year groups but was also optional for other pupils at the school.
“We’re delighted that, as well as our art scholars, so many pupils attended the 2 hour live online workshop with many others in different time zones also watching a recording of the event,” continues Knight. “It was a rich, hectic, amusing and inspirational afternoon and the positive feedback from the different year groups has been outstanding – so too has the quality of art produced by pupils during and after the workshop.
“Jeanette has an infectious enthusiasm for her work, and her workshop certainly opened minds and captured the imagination of every pupil who attended by encouraging them to take risks, explore new possibilities and to be decisive. Such a mindset will certainly help those keen to move on to an Art College, but they are also important qualities in so many other careers and pursuits.”
The second online art workshop on Portraiture Drawing will be delivered by another London-based artist and will be attended by pupils from both Bryanston and The Blandford School. Like Jeanette Barnes, Paul Brandford regularly hosts workshops and tutorials for the Royal Academy and has previously held a live workshop for pupils at Bryanston. He helps pupils to explore new ideas that bring drawings to life, and uses fast-paced exercises to help develop inventive approaches to portraiture and encourage artistic confidence and conviction.
Bryanston continues to champion the importance of creative thinking for all pupils. The School’s Art Department also remains keen to reach out to the wider community following cancellation of the 2020 Dorset Art Weeks where it had planned to hold a series of special art workshops for local residents. Plans remain in place for future community workshops once the organisers of Dorset Art Weeks are able to confirm when the popular event is able to proceed.
The Art Department staff – who are all experienced and respected artists in their own right – are also now in discussions with local primary schools in the Blandford Schools Network to assess the potential for providing additional art education support as pupils return to their schools after such an unsettling period in their education. Although at a formative stage, one idea currently under consideration is the production of a series of short films to provide art lessons that encourage and enthuse young children to explore and develop their artistic interests.