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6th Form Art National Gallery London

Date: September 16, 2015

ART VISIT 16th September 2015

The Annual Critical Studies visit to the London Galleries took place on Wednesday 16th September. This year we broke from tradition by visiting the National Gallery, followed by the National Portrait Gallery instead of our usual visit Tate to Tate. This was quite deliberate as one of our Art students from the previous year had a portrait of a colleague, ‘Ben’, whom he worked with at the Kerith Centre during his gap year.

We had encouraged Lee to enter the prestigious BP Portrait Award during his gap year and he was selected for exhibition amongst some well-known international artists, and therefore too good an opportunity to miss.

Travelling by coach we arrived outside the National Gallery and enjoyed an hour of research there before going to the National Portrait Gallery. We then enjoyed a great talk on ‘Image and Identity’ from one of the resident art historians, Mark Woodhead. Year 12 were first and were challenged in their thinking to consider how portraits can be interpreted. Our first portrait for discussion was of Henry V111, looking at both a large scale drawing and painting side by side. This was part of a small exhibition based on ‘The Face of Britain’ which Simon Schama was filming whilst we were there to be produced on the BBC at the end of September. This particular room we were in, was looking at ‘Power’. There are four other rooms exploring: – ‘Love, Fame, Self and People’.

We then compared Henry the V111‘s portrait with a hologram portrait of Queen Elizabeth 11 and then in another room Queen Elizabeth the 1st. How do artists portray their sitter? Realistically or to flatter? We also studied a portrait of the Bronte sisters, painted by their brother Bramwell. This was really an unfinished painting when comparing it to other paintings in situ, more like an underpainting with evidence of the brother being painted out of the background. It provided us with much consideration and discussion before moving to another room to discuss an abstract portrait by Patrick Heron.  We finished in the BP portrait award room and were pleased to see Lee Simmonds Portrait amongst many international artists, some of the portraits being absolutely amazing.

The Year 13’s equally had an hour’s lecture/ discussion looking at some different portraits, but with the same starting point. All students engaged themselves well, in both discussion and personal research and we left promptly at 4pm on a quick route march in the pouring rain to get to our coach, very damp but enthused by the day’s events.

We are now looking forward to the developing artwork from our brilliant young artists.

Ms Edmunds