The world-renowned Cornish seaside town of St Ives was the destination for a group of Year 11 Art pupils during October half term. Teacher of Art, Mr Joseph Kopiel shares his account of an inspiring trip.
Friday 13 October was no bad luck, the sun fought through the rain and won as Studio's Year 11 artists boarded a coach to St Ives in Cornwall. The journey was over as quickly as the rain, six hours felt like three by the time the coach wound through the narrow lanes and over hills, we had arrived at The Cohort Hostel. Situated in the centre of town and within easy reach of the Tate, the beaches, and the Barbra Hepworth Museum, all of which we would visit during our trip.
The first evening consisted of a walk to get our bearings, followed by pizza and an early night. We needed to be up early for our first creative experience, dawn photography with Chris Webber, professional freelance photographer, and Cornwall enthusiast. When the 5.30am alarm sounded the next morning it is safe to say all were a little sleepy. Once outside, the fresh air and sea views quickly turned our attention from our beds to what St Ives is famous for, light. As the sun gradually rose above the horizon students experimented with shooting varied compositions with digital SLR and their phones. Changing the F stop on the iPhone was a revelation, if you do not know about this, ask, it will change your photos from snaps to money shots, a Chris Webber phrase, Miss Pinkney took several money shots.
Next stop we meet Professional artist Greg Humphries who for the following two hours led an outdoor painting and drawing workshop on Porthmeor beach. Most valuable was the opportunity to work outside, responding to the immediate experience of the Cornish elements. Following the beach drawing and some food we headed to the Barbra Hepworth house and garden, a gem of a place. Gaining knowledge of her historical significance as an artist and how she sculpted with materials had an impact on the 2D and 3D work students created during the afternoon workshop sessions.
That evening, inspired students filled the communal space of the hostel with their art materials and continued to work in their sketchbooks, this was to become an occurrence every evening. We had to buy more paper!
Sunday morning, back to the Tate for a sketchbook workshop, the phrase of the day, Making the invisible, visible. This related to ideas connected to abstraction and the reasons artists produce work that might not be immediately obvious. The sun was still shining as we headed back to the hostel to learn about paints and pigments ,using egg yolk to make egg tempera.
Monday, we headed out of St Ives to explore the area. Miss Pinkney had worked her birthday magic and arranged a workshop at the Kurt Jackson Foundation in St Just, usually closed on a Monday. Seeing Jackson’s paintings in real life allowed students to experience his work with an increased understanding of media, surface and texture, more often flattened by the ever-increasing trend of analysing art on a screen. Issues around conservation and the environment were discussed as well as screen time. The studio session led by artist and education officer Rachel Lochhead focused on interpretation of memory and place. Following this we headed to St Michael’s Mount for lunch and windswept sketching. Then we retreated to St Ives on the scenic costal road (often described at the most beautiful in England) stopping off at Greevor tin mine, a world heritage site for a quick photoshoot.
On our last morning was Miss Pinkney lead a Crit, looking at all the work students had produced. The work was impressive not just in terms of how prolific students had been, but the range and perspective were incredible. As we boarded the coach there was no doubt that students and staff had had a wonderful experience. Sketchbooks were filled with evidence of the impact St Ives had had on staff and students. Our students should feel proud of their achievements and their conduct during the trip. Miss Pinkney must be thanked for organising such a broad experience. Mrs Connolly and Mr Bramwell must also be thanked for giving up their half term and joining in all the workshops. Who knew Mathematics teachers could paint.
The work was impressive not just in terms of how prolific students had been, but the range and perspective were incredible. As we boarded the coach there was no doubt that students and staff had had a wonderful experience. Sketchbooks were filled with evidence of the impact St Ives had had on staff and students.
Teacher of Art, Mr Joseph Kopiel