Head of Art, Bedales

B.A. (hons) Three Dimensional Design (Interior Architecture), Kingston Polytechnic

What makes a good teacher at Bedales?

Respecting and developing the individuality and creativity of pupils is at the heart of what teaching Art at Bedales is about. Of course this requires great patience, empathy and close working relationships with pupils. Flexibility is also key as we are expecting to teach a real diversity of approaches to our pupils and often in a range of media from traditional practices to digital outcomes. Instilling confidence and a “can do” attitude that will enable pupils to enjoy the subject knowing that they are supported in working beyond themselves is important here.

What are you trying to encourage and instil in your students?

Enjoyment and an appreciation of the visual world is at the heart of this subject. Art is a multimedia subject. The current generation of pupils are very lucky to have all of the advantages of the digital age at their fingertips alongside all the traditional skills (e.g. difficult stuff like life drawing), we encourage them to develop in their work. Nevertheless these advantages need to be managed into a robust artistic process to be worth anything creatively. Knowledge and first-hand experience of other artists' work are also essential ingredients to learning. Encouraging genuinely individual working practices is a feature of Bedales teaching as many of our pupils go on to Art and Design careers where they will need to stand on their own two feet creatively. Bedales has a reputation for fun and artistic eccentricity which we are happy to encourage.

Apart from your teaching role, what else do you get involved with at the school?

Over the past two years I have been very much involved in the design and planning of our new Art and Design Building. It has been very exciting to see a student group influencing the design and even providing designs for the tiles behind the sinks that were made in the Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke. Our new building, because of its location, will also give us the opportunity to work more closely with Outdoor Work, where we have been forming a Sculpture park.

It has been great fun selecting exhibitions and meeting the Artists who have exhibited in our Bedales Gallery with our pupils. It is also a real privilege to go to the visiting lectures, music performances, dance and theatre productions in the school.

As a tutor in 6.2 flat I get the opportunity to get to know a wider range of pupils than just the artists I teach in a really friendly co-ed boarding house.

In your opinion what makes Bedales Special?

When it is finished - the new Art and Design Department. This has to be one of the most exciting buildings for pupils to work in with its great facilities and views across the school estate. At Bedales, Art and the Arts are not just the icing on the cake, and creativity is encouraged in everything!

The opportunities pupils and staff have here for learning skills and about life are amazingly diverse and all in a lovely setting without the silly formalities that are usually associated with schools.

Where else would you hear a school assembly announcement that eight piglets had arrived into the world safely during the night?

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by Polymaths…. Richard Buckminster-Fuller, James Lovelock, Leonardo Di Vinci, Michelangelo, Goethe. They present a bigger picture and make extraordinary connections creatively.

Tell us something not a lot of people know about you.

I followed the Italian Journey of the German polymath Goethe from his Journal for a year, day by day two hundred years after his travels.