Art in schools is a subject close to my heart, for obvious reasons, the future of art in schools is looking quite bleak.
Back in November (2016), I received this message:
“…The Arts are currently being squeezed by the government in Britain using something called the EBAC and we need your help… Currently children in Year 9 have 3 real option choices because they have to take Geography, languages, Triple science or History with their 4th choice [this is at my old high school so may not be the same for every school]. This means that parents often think that their child should take two of these which means we have seen a real drop in numbers, where as Geography have 160 kids! It is also fair to say that we are also a victim of our own success and kids think that they will never be able to do what the Sixth form do despite us telling them otherwise. This is because the standard of the work is so high around school and the results are the best in school both at GCSE & A Level. Here is what we need- Either a short note to say what Art, Btec or Digital Photography helped you with, meant to you or what you enjoyed. If you have gone on to an Arts /design career a note saying what you do now… If the Government get their way the EBAC will become compulsory and this means all children will have one option subject- bleak times!”
Of course, I wanted to help in anyway I could and so I sent in this:
My life without art
Well, it wouldn’t be the same at all – it’s as simple as that. Art was the highlight of my entire school week! I took Art for: GCSE, AS and A-Level, I gained my first portrait commission at the age of 17 and became a full time Artist after graduating from the University of Leeds with a degree in Contemporary Art Practice BA (Hons).
The opportunities I’ve been given and the ways I’ve been able to use my artistic skills: from creative problem solving in everyday life to inspiring young people to believe in themselves (though talks and workshops in schools), art workshops for cancer patients (to aid mental well-being) at St James Hospital in Leeds, to raising awareness and funds for countless other charities, making a living and being the first female artist to be commissioned to paint a portrait of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Leeds. If I hadn’t have taken GCSE Art, where would I be now?
To those who do not believe they can do it, I would like to leave you with this…
Taking art doesn’t mean you have to become an artist, but what if the creative way you are taught to think helped you to become the world’s next leading scientist or engineer?
All the best,
Artist and Portrait Painter