Art & Design: Fine Art – Sixth Form

What do you most enjoy teaching?

Miss Fairbank: I really love teaching the Personal Investigation unit. I am always impressed with the creativity and imagination shown by the students and their willingness to tackle challenging themes. I like how individual the work is and the quality is always amazing.

Mr Archer:  I enjoying talking to the students about different artists and art movements. It’s great to see the students learn more about Art history and start to understand the context and place in time of great works of Art.

Miss Hamrouge:  At the start of year 12 we run a series of workshops introducing students to new medias and techniques. I love teaching these workshops, particularly the intaglio printmaking, it’s great to see the students learning new techniques and becoming more confident and skillful in their work.

Miss Davies: Getting to know the students better through their artwork is wonderful. The work is always so individual at A-level and I love seeing the students’ personalities shine through their work. I enjoy talking to the students about their work and encouraging them to try new things and be more experimental.

What are the differences between Fine Art at GCSE and A Level ?

Fine Art: At GCSE the expectations are that you will explore a range of different artists, learning about their work by producing your own interpretations and primary source responses.

At A- level it is different because you have to demonstrate a much deeper understanding of the work of artists, you will be expected to be more analytical in your understanding of context, purpose, technique and genre.

You will be expected to be more experimental and to take risks in your work. You will start to develop your own style and in the personal investigation, design and develop your own project brief. Students seem to really enjoy the freedom to set their own direction and produce work inspired by their own lives and interests.

Can you give us a quick summary of each of the units of work you do?

Miss Fairbank:  In year 12 we start with a series of workshops where we introduce new techniques and materials. We use natural forms as a starting point and we focus on drawing skills. Sometimes students can find it hard after a long summer break to recapture their observational skills but they really love learning new media such as print making and Ink and bleach.

Miss Hamrouge:  After the workshops with move onto an independent project. This year the starting point was ‘Time’. In this project the students are encouraged to be more experimental and take risks. Maybe step outside of their comfort zone in their choice of artists and media. We really want them to be imaginative with their ideas whilst developing their artistic skills.

Mr Archer:  At the end of year 12 we introduce Unit 1, the personal investigation. This unit accounts for 60% of the final grade. Students must select their own starting point, it could be anything, over the years we have seen such a wide variety for example, urban art, Architecture, body image, landscapes, concept art. This list is endless. It has to be something the student is passionate about.

Mrs Davies: Unit 2 is the eternal set task. You are issued with an exam paper at the start of February which features different starting points set by the board. You pick one and explore in a sketchbook. This unit culminates in a 15-hour exam where you produce a final outcome.

How is it different to Photography? 

Fine Art and Photography both come under the Art and design heading and the unit structure is very similar. In Photography you will produce images using a camera. It could also be moving images or animations. In fine Art you will create work using fine art media and techniques, for example: Drawing, painting, printmaking, textiles, 3D, even some photography.

The media used to create the artworks is the main difference, though they do support each other and there can be some crossovers in technique and media. Some students decide to study both as they do complement each other.

I’m sure your subject will suit lots of different ‘types’ of student, but are there any characteristics that you think can be useful?

Hardworking. Committed. Imaginative. Creative. Independent. Risk-taker. Organized. Dedicated. Passionate. Talented. Artistic. Analytical.

Can you show us some examples of the type of work that students do?

Comments from some current students:

I like the freedom it gives you. You work independently to explore your ideas.

I like exploring my ideas through the media of paint. I like producing studies of facial features and portraits.

I like the creativity of art and find it helps to relieve the stress of my more academic studies.

You can make people see different perspectives.