Since taking over as head of Art at Chestnut Grove School in 2002, one of Adam Butcher’s personal ambitions has been to give sculpture recognition as an essential part of the curriculum. Recently, Chestnut Grove School became part of the BSF initiative and in light of this had to reconsider its future environment carefully. This gave Adam the perfect opportunity to launch site specific sculpture projects within the new GCSE and GCE Art and Design Applied double award courses. These were so successful in engaging pupils in the learning process that other non vocational art courses agreed to follow the idea of a more vocational focus. Briefs became an essential part of all projects. More and more these briefs were linked to outcomes sited (in most cases virtually using CAD) into the school grounds or the local community.
Chestnut Grove – a visual arts specialist college
Chestnut Grove School achieved ‘outstanding’ in its recent Ofsted report. We are very proud to be the first school in London to achieve Visual arts Specialist status and are now a High Performing Visual Specialist School with our CVA in the top 1% in England. Our aim has been to ensure a ‘Creative Learning Environment’ for all of our community. Chestnut grove has recently become a National Support School and Leadership Partner. We have built a reputation for developing land-mark educational projects that are both innovative and original. Two examples are: the Art and Design GCE Immersive Environment Project in collaboration with ‘Punch Drunk’ – lead by Jo Egan (Arts College Community Links) and the ‘Diversity in the community’ Annual Exhibition in liaison with the TUC – lead by Mary Holder (Learning Lead Practitioner – (Art – regional/national)). We aspire to become an important centre for the Arts in Wandsworth.
The Chestnut Grove Site Specific Sculpture Project has been a new and exciting venture in which y10 students, teachers and artists worked in collaboration to design, make and site a large scale sculpture in the grounds of the school. The student brief was to produce a sculpture that was site specific (made for a specific space), enhance the environment of the school and raise the profile of the arts college status. The budget of each project is justified through our arts college funding as it touches on three important aspects of our school improvement plan. Improving teaching and learning, enhancing the environment of the school and creating vocational links.
After a number of artist/teacher-led sessions, pupils experimented with 3D making, using a wide range of simple materials, techniques and processes. The final maquettes were made in card, paper and modelling wire. The results were displayed in our new gallery space (opened in 2009 by Anthony Green) and two student maquettes (by Shapali Kalam and Varunan Kumar) were shortlisted and chosen as potential ideas for the final large-scale sculpture. Diarmuid eventually managed to make both ideas. One was sited in the main foyer of the school and the other outside the main entrance.
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