How Repton School Inspires Pupils With Artistic Opportunities

An insight into Repton’s innovative art curriculums, advanced facilities, and inspiring artists in residence scheme.

As students await their return to the classroom, schools must think carefully about how to motivate pupils through home learning. And Derbyshire’s leading co-educational school, Repton, has taken a creative approach to its remote curriculums – particularly when it comes to artistic subjects that typically require practice-led learning. Usually, Repton’s Art Department inspires its students’ creativities by hosting visits to London galleries, inviting visiting artists to give lectures, and arranging at least one annual trip abroad. Students may not be able to return to the classroom and enjoy these activities yet, but this hasn’t stopped Repton’s art teachers from inspiring them with a variety of artistic projects under lockdown.

While several pupils have created full-length films to an impressive standard, others have taken part in Repton’s weekly remote art challenges, seen their fiction and poetry printed in Repton’s Creative Arts Michaelmas newsletter, and entered outstanding submissions into Repton’s termly art competition – this time on the theme of COVID-19.

As Repton prepares to welcome students back to campus, here’s the lowdown on the artistic opportunities and facilities that pupils will soon return to.

Repton’s Art Facilities and Curriculums

Repton looks forward to welcoming students back to its impressive artistic facilities as soon as possible. These include a light room, dark room, ceramics studio, textiles studio, five art studios, and a modern IT suite. Each facility provides students with ideal spaces to practise their artistic interests. Pupils enjoy studying fine art, photography, textiles, critical and contextual studies, digital manipulation, performance art, animation, illustration, film making, graphic design, and digital imagery. What’s more, Repton invites life models into the department every week so students can develop a sound understanding of drawing.

Repton also boasts two impressive gallery spaces. While Gallery No 1 offers a traditional Victorian space in the centre of the village, New Court Gallery offers a modern, purpose-built, space. Both feature students’ artwork and provide an atmospheric backdrop for Repton’s solo shows, end-of-year exhibitions, and workshops with international, national, and local artists. These include new-to-the-scene and well-known artists such as Bernie Rutter, Geoffrey Machin, and Jayne Faulkner.

On top of this, Repton offers numerous outreach initiatives with partner schools, Oxbridge Interview Outreach, and community life drawing groups.

Repton’s Artist in Residence Scheme

Not only are all Repton’s art teachers practising artists specialising in painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, printmaking, and textiles, but the school also welcomes artists in residence to enrich the Art Department’s skills. The scheme attracts young and emerging artists, usually fresh from master’s degrees at prestigious universities, to share their practices at Repton.

The artists in residence teach pupils alongside full-time staff for half of the school week and spend the other half furthering their practices in Repton’s studios. The artists in residence also present their works in Repton’s galleries during their stay. Not only do the artists inspire pupils with possibilities for their future artistic careers, but they also inject up-to-date developments in contemporary art into Repton’s teaching, so students gain rounded insights into artistic concepts.

Meet Artist in Residence Tom Voyce

In 2019, Repton welcomed British painter Tom Voyce as one of the school’s artists in residence. Voyce made his first contribution to a Reptonian exhibition when he won the Sky Arts Landscape Painter of the Year award in a 2017 televised competition. This success resulted in a year of travel for Voyce, who took up residencies and presented at institutions as far and wide as America and New Zealand. Repton then invited him to join the school as an artist in residence, where he balances his teaching with international exhibits. Voyce’s work is concerned with place and transit; he takes inspiration from interiors and semi-abstracted landscapes.

‘Tom’s artworks consistently demonstrate an interest in the formal elements of composition: structure, perspective, shape, and light,’ says Repton’s Director of Art, Ian Whitfield. ‘The strength in these pieces lies not in their faithful depiction of a landscape, but in their suggestion of a sense of place, of being present within a particular space at a particular moment.’

‘I am thoroughly enjoying my experience working at Repton as an artist in residence,’ adds Voyce. ‘The opportunity to work in a wonderful, dynamic, and passionate department, with fellow artists who all value the creative experience, has been hugely rewarding. Being able to balance my own time in a dedicated studio space whilst teaching keen and creative students has worked both ways with my teaching – benefiting from discoveries in the studio and vice versa in the classroom.’

‘Working and living in the Repton community has been special, and I have felt very welcomed, not just in the art department, but also in my role as a tutor in the school house. Even with the difficult times since I started in September 2019, the way we have all adapted to new ways of learning and teaching has been admirable. I am certainly looking forward to sharing my processes in workshops and lessons when we are able to return to school. I am also looking forward to having the opportunity to share my artworks with students, parents, fellow staff members, and the wider community in an exhibition in the brilliant gallery space at some point soon!’

Learn more about Repton’s impressive Art School.

About Repton School

Founded in 1557, Repton School offers an extensive legacy of awards, outstanding exam results, and student success stories. Pupils study on the site of a 12th century Augustinian Priory, tucked away in rural Repton, a Derbyshire village. The school campus blends some of its original buildings with an array of modern, state-of-the-art suites and facilities and welcomes over 1,000 students, aged 3–18, of all nationalities. Students enjoy Repton’s vibrant curricular and extra-curricular activities, which enable them to develop all interests and skills.

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