Art, Music and Drama
The school’s philosophy of developing the unique abilities of every girl and boy is nowhere more visible than in the work of our artists at Clayesmore. Our students are encouraged to think and develop individually, extend their knowledge and carve out their own creative paths.
Traditional skills are valued and developed in all age ranges. We believe that these skills are essential and they form the backbone of our courses and our ethos as a department. We aim to make disciplines like drawing fun and diverse, with different approaches, both within the Art Department and on location. We have introduced ‘Drawing Days’ into the calendar, as a means of developing students’ confidence and skill, and the Sixth Form also takes part in life drawing sessions.
Cultural trips are an essential element at both GCSE and A-Level, often forming important foundations on which coursework is built. Students are given the opportunity to study artworks and artefacts in major galleries and museums: the Pitt-Rivers museum and the Ashmolean in Oxford; the National Museum of Wales; The Victoria and Albert Museum; the Tate and National Galleries; The Royal Academy; The Photographers’ Gallery and others nearer to home, such as the renowned Hauser & Wirth in Somerset.
In addition to cultural trips, we regularly hold workshops with professional artists and practitioners within the school and out on location. We encourage an interest in artist makers and art history.
At Sixth Form level, the Art and Photography courses are designed to allow our students to explore their own ideas and pathways. They are encouraged to think creatively and to extend their contextual and cultural knowledge. Photography A-Level provides exciting opportunities to develop skills in lens-based media and to push the boundaries of image making. Fine Art provides a more materials-based approach, with opportunities of combining different disciplines and techniques. We endeavor to make our teaching exciting and stimulating at all levels, and to equip students for Foundation and Degree courses in Art and Design. Many Sixth Form artists go on from Clayesmore to achieve highly in creative areas such as Fine Art, Illustration, Photography and Film.
The Art Department benefits from excellent facilities in a wonderful building full of character and history. There is also a well-equipped photography studio on the main site. We have seven teachers in the Art Department, specialising in drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, ceramics, and sculpture. This provides our students with the opportunity to explore a wide range of media, and to develop as both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional artists. Work by our students is always on display throughout the school and we encourage participation in exhibitions and competitions.
Our aim is for these creative experiences to have a formative impact on the thoughts, lives and work of our students and to perhaps, in some cases, help to shape their futures.
The musical life of Clayesmore is immensely rich and varied and offers something to pupils of all musical interests. And they never want for opportunities to perform, whether individually, as a member of a small ensemble, or as a member of one of the school’s principal groups, such as the School Orchestra, Choral Society, Concert Band or Chapel Choir.
Concerts take place almost weekly and there is at least one major concert each term. Some concerts will be small, intimate events which will be held in the beautiful reception rooms in the Main House, others will be bigger festivals, perhaps in the chapel or on the lawns in the summer. In addition, our musicians perform in venues in the local area. Our premier instrumental group, the Concert Band, has regularly performed overseas on tour in Italy, Belgium, Germany and Spain. The choir has also performed in Italy and was immensely privileged to be invited to sing Mass in St Mark’s Basilica, Venice.
We are very proud to say our musical events are of an astonishingly high standard and this, and the sheer variety of activity (everything from a full performance of Purcell’s opera, “Dido and Aeneas” to Handel’s “Messiah”, from the immensely popular House Music Competition to Battle of the Bands) is what characterises this enormously enriching aspect of our school life.
Concerts and master classes are also part of the programme. Events of this nature have included the world-renowned baritone, Stephen Varcoe, the pianist Helen Yorke, concerts by percussionist Evelyn Glennie, the a capella vocal group, The Swingle Singers, and a recital by the Organist of St Paul’s Cathedral. And of course we get out to plenty of concert venues including the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, the Lighthouse in Poole and the Salisbury Playhouse.
Pupils between the ages of 13 and 18 accomplish extraordinary things within the theatre, and pupils of all academic abilities are capable of remarkable achievements. As a department, we strive to achieve these and we aim for truly professional standards in every aspect of our work here.
Our theatre is a place for pupils to make discoveries about themselves and about their position within a community. And to be the best they can be. In every theatrical venture, there is a role for every pupil who is prepared to work with commitment. And every theatrical venture is the product of the whole company, on stage or off. We ensure all our pupils absolutely understand the value of their contribution.
Of all the opportunities available to me at Clayesmore, working and playing in the theatre was one of the most exciting, enjoyable, and rewarding. One of the best aspects was meeting and working with like-minded (or similarly dramatic!) people and forming strong creative friendships with them.
“After being involved in several productions, I decided to write a play for myself. When it was finished, I took it to the Director of Drama to ask what he thought. I wasn’t embarrassed to do this, even though there were aspects of the play which were very personal, because in the Drama Department, you know it’s safe to show your ideas.
He suggested that we put on a performance of my play to help me develop it further. When it came to the performance, I was nervous, but elated, because the theatre was full, and then, to hear my words in a real performance was just amazing and surreal and all the actors were fantastic, I was really proud of them, and I think I cried – I often do.” Thomasin Bailey, Old Clayesmorian
“Many congratulations on (the School production of “DNA”) last night. We were blown away. It was a profoundly powerful, moving and mature production. Every element was excellent from the exceptionally high standard of acting across the board (frequently better than professionals, particularly impressive given the actors’ ages), to the choreography, set-design and choice of play. I appreciate DNA is one of the Drama GCSE set texts, but I continue to be impressed by the play choices that Clayesmore makes. They are provocative, counter boundaries, push potentially naïve rural-bound Clayesmorians out of their comfort zone and into the wider world. This production further concreted our son’s pride in Clayesmore – which was a joy to see and hear: it’s absolutely the right school for him.” A Parent (Summer 2017)