Susan McFarlane
Susan McFarlane
Head of Art and Design, Bedales Prep, Dunhurst

MA (Hons) Fine Art,  University of Edinburgh with Edinburgh College of Art
HDFA ( Painting) The Slade School of Fine Art (UCL)
PGCE Art and Design, Bath Spa University

What makes a good teacher at Dunhurst?

A good teacher at Dunhurst is happy to be here and finds teaching a pleasure! They are delighted by the surroundings; the beautiful location set in the South Downs. They are open to learning from others, gaining inspiration from pupils and staff. Most importantly, they are enthused and engaged in their subject and able to transfer this to their pupils.

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

It is my firm belief that Art is a subject open to all. I urge pupils to look closely at the world around us. I encourage a craftsman-like approach to practical work, as reflected in the Arts and Crafts heritage of Bedales, a patience, stamina for creating artwork that requires time and attention to detail. Finally, through looking at artists through time and across continents, I hope to instil in pupils a questioning approach to the meaning and purpose of Art and Design in the 21st century, helping them to be more open, flexible and adaptable in their mindset.

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

The majority of my time is taken up with teaching Art, running art activities, creating set designs and props for the annual school productions. I am also a Block 1 tutor, which is a role I relish, as seeing my tutor group in different contexts, performing in school plays, musical concerts and Camps week, gives me a better understanding of the school from a pupil perspective.

In your opinion, what makes Dunhurst special?

The staff, pupils and surroundings at Dunhurst make it special. Without doubt Dunhurst is an exciting place to work where staff are genuinely enthused by their subjects and very talented too! The pupils, like all children, are imaginative, creative and engaging. I feel privileged to work in a place where Art is a subject that is positively encouraged, treated equally and pupils are excited to get creative. The history and surroundings of Bedales are also special, the role call of artistic alumnae is pretty spectacular!

What is your best memory of Dunhurst?

I have so many great memories of Dunhurst, with the best one to date seeing a group of Block 2 pupils deliver the assembly on ‘Art that inspires them’. This was a moving moment to hear them articulate their feelings on particular works of Art and Architecture.

Who or what inspires you?

My family are my biggest inspiration, particularly my mother and my late father. My mother is a sculptor and my father was a Bio-chemist. Their passions in Art, Literature, Music and Science have coloured my life. Growing up, our house was alive with questions: ‘Have you listened to this? Have you seen that? What about reading this book?' They inculcated in me a love of learning, an optimistic spirit and a sense of wonder in the world. They continue to inspire me in my approach to life.

Tell us something not many people know about you.

I used to play tennis for the West of Scotland at junior and senior level. I have a Blue from Edinburgh University and a Purple from University of London Union (UCL), for representing them at tennis.

Visit Susan's website here.