Why Art? By Mrs. Pruce

Posted on: 10/09/2021

“Every child is an artist”, said Pablo Picasso, and I know he’s right.

My second year at St. Helen's College is now underway and what a first year it was! Yet, throughout the turmoil of Covid, our art work has held the classes together, united us in our new joy for the subject and had us chuckling during online lessons (especially when dressed as royalty in crowns and tiaras with Year 2).

Art is all around us, not just in galleries but on TV, packaging, book covers, graphic design, the restaurant industry and stage and film to name a few. The career options are numerous and it is a subject to be taken seriously.

The subject of art dates back thousands of years, all around the world, and allows us to know what we now know about history. From cave paintings to Henry Moore’s chalk work on the shelters during the war and Banksy’s political graffiti. Without these we can only guess at what has really happened.

In itself, art can be a way of communication to express ourselves, healing our souls when troubled or telling a story. Art can be an experience to share our thoughts and feelings or just to while away time.

For me personally, art has been something that I have only had the courage to embrace in the last 15 years or so. I say courage as I was the child at school who was too tall, stuck out like a sore thumb and went easily red faced when the art teacher told me that it wasn’t my best subject; it crushed all creativity I had for many years.

I promised myself that no child in my class would ever be made to feel this way about their own talents. The introduction of new skills at St. Helen's College has proven that Picasso was right. The child that can draw superbly may not be the best painter; the painter may not be the best sculptor, who in turn may not be the best print maker; but they are all good at something and seeing that realisation dawn on their faces is what drives me on.

As teachers we have a role to play in encouraging our students, focussing on the good and inspiring in them the confidence to try. FAIL is the First Attempt In Learning and even as adults we are - and should be - still always learning. 

As adults we have a lot to learn from our children, in school and at home. The artistic response to the pandemic blew my mind. The explanations given as to why the children drew what they drew were clear, simplistic and openly honest. Arya A with her “Rainbow Tree” and Riya C with “Breakout” were stunning examples that gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes. Have you ever been reduced to tears by art in any form - perhaps poetry, music or a piece of writing? Seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time from far away actually made me cry, not an emotion I expected to feel at all over a building.

The use of sketchpads at St. Helen's College has been changing, and is changing further this school year. The desire to scribble out something not liked is natural but also pointless, since we need to see our failures to perfect our abilities. In the book 'The Dot', Peter H Reynolds shows us the power of one single adult's actions to change a child's life. “The book shows the importance of teacher-student relationships, and our connections as human beings. It shows how creative thinking on the part of a teacher can unlock a child's own creativity, confidence, and growth.”

So, however old you are, don’t forget that the child you were has now grown up. I encourage you all to go and enjoy whatever art form you would love to explore the most, and remember… in art you are never wrong.   

Mrs. Pruce