Spirit of Artifex

Spirit of Artifex

Pupil-led Artifex is the best of Charterhouse: energetic, collaborative and full of spirit. Mr Mark Begbie, Director of Creative Arts reports on this year's artistic highlight in the School calendar. 

It is almost ten years since the first Artifex, and this year’s was one of the finest. As the domes arose on J Ground, the mood of the School shifted to celebration and summer fun. Artifex is all about pupil leadership and giving everyone the chance to set up an event, no matter what year group they may be in. Year on year, more and more pupils step up to the mark and with tickets for many events selling out within minutes, it was clear that this year’s programme caught the attention of all Carthusians. 

Right from the start, the festival packed a punch with our ever-exciting Inter-house Pushkart Derby. This year, Gownboys dominated, with great efforts being made to trim down the all-important driver/pusher changeover times. As always, though, every House made a valiant effort both to build their karts and to co-ordinate their team. A quintessentially Carthusian event. As the karting finished, the crowds poured out onto J ground to the strains of Charterhouse Rocks in the Artifex Dome. From Blur to the Stereophonics, the appreciative crowd were entertained by a superb mix of bands trained up within our own School of Rock. Audiences rushed to the BTT for an incredibly accomplished performance of songs Six Wives Revived, ably coordinated by Fleur (Year 11) and her five fellow ‘wives’ of Henry VIII. An entirely pupil-led production, this was undoubtedly one of the artistic highlights of Artifex 2023.

Our Artifex Café (managed by Tianzong (Year 12) and the ever-patient Mr Patel), as well as our Coffee Concerts and Concerts in the Cloister returned this year and proved why they are such an important part of the annual programme. As always, Cinema on the Ceiling filled the Chapel apse with films aplenty, curated for the final time by Felix and Emmett (Year 13). The Escape Room, too, drew some attention with another sell out year, co-ordinated by Ivan (Year 10). Our inter-house graffiti competition, won by Sutton focussed on a Subway Surfers and was a typically messy affair for all concerned. Such was the case with this year’s Colour Run, in which 60-70 Carthusians engaged in a quest to make their friends unrecognisably covered by powdered paint. Inspired by the Holi festival, this event continues to be a great draw for Artifex. This year also saw the return of one of our most popular events, the International Food Fair, with fourteen street food stalls from the UK’s finest markets, from Lebanese to Vietnamese food, this was a certainly a feast to remember. Many thanks to Mr Martucci for co-ordinating this most delicious of annual Artifex events. 

Artifex is always about innovation and evolution, with changes always emerging as different groups of pupils take the reins of leadership. This was the first year in which Artifex was run by a pupil executive committee, commanded by Rohan (Year 12) and his team. This year was no exception, with floristry workshops (with the fantastic team at Boo-Kay LDN), bracelet making, cupcake decorating, a bake-off competition and AI generated art among the many new events this year. Artifex 2023 also saw the introduction of our woodland theatre, hidden in the woods beyond BTT, with two performances of Alibi with our Year 10 thespians. We also returned to our Fireside Tales late on the Friday night of Artifex, with pupils gathered around the fire to hear the best of our LAMDA performers. Our first foray into Laser Tag also took advantage of our woods, with sell out sessions in a course devised by Richard (Year 10). Slipping back into the BTT from the woods, we were treated to scenes from The 39 Steps, among other theatrical tidbits, performed by our Year 10 GCSE Drama pupils. Comedy came to Artifex with Mr Tink and his pupil team led by Thomas (Year 13) and Defne (Year 12) returned with another hilarious re-creation of the hit show, Would I lie to you?. Another sort of comedy emerged with our first Artifex Karaoke giving a chance for the possibly less vocally talented to stretch their sometimes tuneful (!) muscles in the Dome. 

The Friday night of Artifex saw the return of C’house Got Talent, a cornucopia of the finest Carthusian talents, all organised by Ayah, Kade, Cianan and Kingston (Year 10). But, Artifex 2023 ultimately came to a close with a beautiful summer’s evening concert out in front of the dome. Our fantastic Jazz Band serenaded the gathered crowd to some joyful classics which brought Artifex 2023 to a happy close. 

Artifex simply could not could happen without the extraordinary work of the operations team, catering, grounds and estates, nor without the stalwart support of the teaching staff who enabled pupil ideas to come to fruition. 

Artifex is the best of Charterhouse: energetic, collaborative and full of spirit. 2024 is the 10th anniversary of Artifex and time for an even bigger celebration than normal. We cannot wait.

Mr Mark Begbie, Director of Creative Arts