Students Inspired by Neighbours
(22 March 2016)
On Wednesday 16th March a unique privilege was granted to Burnham Grammar when Sir Stanley Spencer's painting 'Neighbours' came to school for the day. Complete with its own security guards the painting was admired and was the focus for teaching throughout the day.
Starting with its unveiling at assembly by students and Dr Gillespie, headteacher, the curators then explained to the audience the significance and inspiration behind this wonderful painting, which was voted as one of the nation's most beloved British paintings in a recent 'Art Everywhere' project. This resulted in the image of 'Neighbours' being displayed on posters all around the UK.
Commemorating a gift of red tulips between Stanley Spencer's cousin and his sister, passed over their shared garden hedge, the painting seems to evoke everyone's treasured experiences with their own best neighbours.
Most of our students were unaware that we have such an important 20th century artist as Sir Stanley Spencer on our very doorstep and this initiative of bringing one of his paintings into school has raised Spencer's profile significantly to a younger audience.
Last summer, a small class of Burnham Grammar GCSE art students visited the Stanley Spencer Gallery on the High Street at Cookham to assist them on their theme of Rivers, to see the inspiration behind Spencer's landscapes and local scenes and to be inspired themselves. Mrs Ward who has been instrumental in co-ordinating this latest collaboration, says:
As a teacher of art, I'm constantly searching for new and inspiring ways to encourage my students to enjoy works of art. As any teacher will tell you, arranging a visit can be a bureaucratic nightmare, but after visiting the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham for source material as part of our rivers project for GCSE Art I had a conversation with Paul Grandidge, the Education Officer at the gallery and it was he who told me they were introducing a new scheme, whereby an original Spencer painting could be brought into school. What an opportunity!
Headteacher Dr Andy Gillespie said "This has been an exceptional inspirational and cultural experience for our students, thank you so much to the Gallery and their trustees for making this possible!"
Elina Dhaliwal 9C (13) It's such a rare and special opportunity to have it right here today, seeing the texture of his brush strokes is amazing.
Kristian Ulan 9C (14) This was a new
experience for me and I am curious to learn more.
Harry Dennis (14) who helped to move the painting on to the stage before assembly says "I was particularly impressed by this unique experience and having the responsibility to manoeuvre such a cherished painting was an honour. I am keen to visit the Gallery now to see more."
Paul Grandidge, Education Officer at Stanley Spencer Gallery said, "We were delighted with the interest and enthusiasm shown by students and staff at BGS. Taking an iconic image from the gallery into a school is a wonderful and exciting way to introduce hundreds of young people to the world class art of Stanley Spencer. Our team of four volunteers presented six excellent talks covering subjects as diverse as Religious Studies, History, Drama, conservation of works of art, plus Art itself and all from one Spencer painting!"
Chrissy Rosenthal another member of the Gallery team reported that, at one point, the Year 9 drama class were invited to emulate the auditory environment that would have surrounded this painting. There ensued the noises of cows mooing, dogs barking, blacksmiths hammering on the anvil, geese honking and Stanley Spencer in the garden playing football with his brothers. That is, all the sounds of Cookham High Street at the turn of the century. Well done, Year 9 drama class!
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