D’Art 2014: Conran MD praises school for teaching originality, not just technique

Britain demotes art and creativity in the education system at its peril, warned the Managing Director of Conran and Partners, Tim Bowder-Ridger, at the Private View opening of this year’s Sydenham High D’Art exhibition (24-26 June 2014).

Mr Bowder-Ridger, who offers students from the school work experience opportunities at the iconic design firm, said that the economic contribution of the country’s creative industries is second only to banking yet it receives far less acknowledgement.

“Many schools can teach technique and tick the boxes but that won’t get students entry to the best art schools and into the best design companies,“ said Mr Bowder-Ridger.  “What happens here is all about original and clear ideas and I’d like to congratulate everyone, including the teachers on their leadership because the quality (of work) is exceptional and some work is quite honestly of undergraduate standard.  I see ideas growing here and sparks coming right through from the early years.  I’d be absolutely astounded if some of these students aren’t at a top art school very shortly and applying for jobs as designers in the future.”

The D’Art exhibition, which is now in its fourth successful year, showcased the school’s outstanding GCSE and A-Level entries as well as the results of sixth-form led art workshops with the junior pupils.  The exhibition was open to members of the public on Wednesday and Thursday.  Additional special visitors to the show were prospective parents, who had come to an Open Evening, and a group of 50 returning alumnae from 2007-2010 who were clearly impressed to see the heights being reached in art and design by their successors.

For Sydenham High’s headteacher Kathryn Pullen, the annual show demonstrates both her students’ talent and also the role of their teachers.  “No matter what the age or subject matter, what shines through is the truly impressive way in which our girls are able to produce ambitious, interesting art with tremendous skill under the guidance of inspirational teaching.”

Click here to view and listen to Mr Bowder-Ridger’s speech.

Twitter: #DartSydHigh

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