Eleanor Roosevelt famously said that education is essential to good citizenship and enables people to contribute to their community and their country. Others believe that education is important because it teaches people about the world around them and that world is rapidly changing.
There is a growing awareness amongst professionals that creativity and creative thinking deserves a bigger role in education as they will be important skills in future. In 2016 St Cuthbert’s College students Francesca Qu and Jessica McDougall topped New Zealand in Scholarship Music and Scholarship Design.
We have a thriving Arts Department which offers an Artist-in Residence programme each year. The programme began in 2007 and extends learning by providing the opportunity for students to observe processes and procedures used by artists in creating works. Students also have an opportunity to work alongside and to be mentored by working professionals.
Another event every two years is the Venice Biennale and Paris Visual Arts Trip. This trip significantly enhances the students’ knowledge of contemporary and established practice. Both extraordinary cities offer a wealth of art and culture to explore. LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA, essentially the ‘Olympics of art’, presents the most avant-garde and topical art and claims to have a “prepositional place” in the international art and culture scene.
Today at lunchtime Senior School Art students were fortunate to hear Lisa Reihana (an artist who is very well known for her video works and installations and is the young lady in the painting, by Martin Ball hanging in the Atrium). Lisa has been chosen to represent New Zealand at the Venice Biennale with her piece “In Pursuit of Venus”.
Lisa is known for her fearless imagination, her technically ambitious and poetically nuanced work draws on historical evidence, fictional narratives, mythology and kinship to disrupt time, truth, gender and representation. Working at the forefront of contemporary practice, Reihana has helped forge the development of time-based art in New Zealand, and she continues experimenting across different media, including film, sound, photography, spatial design, live-action, costume and sculpture. Reihana’s art making is driven by a deep connection to the communities she works with, which informs her collaborative working method described as kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face).
After the Biennale our students move to Paris the emphasis shifts to more historical and established practice as they view exhibits ranging from the Louvre to the Pompidou Centre. The experience affords maximum opportunity for in-depth discussion and debate, critiquing the art, design and architecture of these two cities. The more our girls can travel internationally and explore other cultures whether through art or history or through other disciplines the more they will appreciate how connected we are globally.
Senior art programmes are also punctuated by specialist workshops. We have Professor Simon Ogden working with L3 and Scholarship Painting, Print, Design and Photography; Dr Carole Shepheard for L2 and L3 Print and IB; Deborah Smith with L3 and Scholarship across disciplines; Peter Madden for L3 and Scholarship across the disciplines and Michael Shepherd for L1 drawing, L3 and Scholarship Painting and IB. These workshops, as with the Artist-In-Residence Programme, offer students the opportunity to work alongside and to be mentored by working professionals.
It broadens their context and importantly extends their critical and creative thinking, their reflection and depth of discussion.