Inspiring works outside of the classroom

RACHEL BULLER It is an unfortunate phrase but one that is regularly thrown at the teaching profession by way of a subtle insult – “Those that can’t, teach”. But as Rachel Buller discovered, a group of Norfolk teachers are determined to shed that label by holding an exciting new exhibition showing off their own artistic talents.


It's not often that teachers get the chance to practice what they preach, let alone have their work pored over, criticised and praised by an audience.

But a group of art teachers from across Norfolk are holding an exhibition of their own work, celebrating the diversity of the numerous disciplines practiced and taught across the county's schools.

As well as previously unknown artists, some familiar names will also be exhibiting their work, such as Nigel Skinner - a landscape painter who is an art tutor at Paston College in North Walsham.

There will be a huge diversity of work on display ranging from traditional oil paintings and water colours, to prints, photography and sculpture.

In total 19 practising art teachers are taking part and they hope it will inspire their pupils to work hard and practice their talents and aspire to having their own work exhibited.

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Sally Hirst, head of art at Hethersett High School, near Norwich, says: “They say that those who can't, teach, well we can and do. We all feel that it is important to be practising artists as well as dedicated teachers. It not only benefits our students but also our art work, we are often inspired by our enthusiastic and vibrant students.”

She adds: “Students are often shocked that you are actually a practising artist, they think that you are just a teacher and don't see you outside of that setting.

“This exhibition helps them realise that art can be part of real life and not just about being at school. It makes them think about potential job opportunities in art and design and helps them understand the place of art in another location other than school.”

City of Norwich School art teacher Sally-Ann Logan, who uses recycled materials to produce unusual pieces, says: “We like to encourage our students to exhibit their work, and we decided that we should set an example to all the talented students that we teach.”

Many of the works will be for sale so it could be time to snap up a bargain for the future!

t The exhibition, at St Margaret's Church, St Benedict's Street, Norwich, opens on November 12 and runs until until November 17.


Matt Phelps, head of art at Paston College, North Walsham -

“I have been working on landscape painting for several years now. My methods have changed over the years, however there are common themes which have emerged.

“I tend to work within a dark tonal range, this allows me to strip the image of detail and create an atmosphere of quiet. I prepare the canvases or board through applying several layers of under-painting.

“Once I have prepared the ground I begin making marks which evolve into forms which allude to memories of certain places.

“Recently, I have started to experiment with varnishes and other media and want to allow random marks and effects to assert themselves more within the image.”

Jim Collins, head of art at Cromer High School -

“I am a painter and print-maker and am interested in the landscape, and the sea in particular.

“My work is based on the patterns and effects created by nature which, when isolated, take on a unique character of their own.”

Nigel Skinner, art tutor at Paston College, North Walsham -

“For some time now, it has been a desire of mine to make a body of work based on walls. Ever since travelling to Barcelona as a student and finding myself transfixed by the history etched into the surface of the walls of the Gothic quarter.

“A recent residency at Wensum Lodge allowed me to revisit the idea of the wall. I spent two weeks working in an 800-year-old building, the outer walls of which are situated on King Street.

“Since then I have continued to explore the walls of Norwich, taking inspiration from their many layers of history.”

Sally Hirst, head of art at Hethersett High School, near Norwich -

“The subject of my work is based on both the built environment and the multiples. I am currently working on three projects - The City, Abstract Squares and Still Life.

“All my projects are intrinsically linked by format, process and experimentation, but varied in resolution.”

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