Talented Shaftesbury Art Students Showcase Their Work At The Grosvenor Arms

The Grosvenor Arms Hotel’s Assembly Room is filled with art, textiles and graphic work from young artists this week.

Shaftesbury School’s Year 13 pupils are hosting an exhibition upstairs at the hotel. Alfred’s Keri Jones was impressed by the students’ talent and he wasn’t alone.

Shirley Butt is a proud mother. She’s just seen what her son, Isaac, can do. “I’m very impressed because we hadn’t really seen any of it. He kept it all under wraps. We didn’t know what it was going to be like until we got here today,” Shirley beamed.

Each of Shaftesbury School’s A-level art students is displaying a portfolio of work which counts towards their final qualification. The school’s Head of Art and Design, Graham Handyside, says mums, dads or guardians are often unaware of the abilities of their sons and daughters. “Some parents have never seen what their kids can do. They’re at school or they are upstairs in their bedroom working on their computer. Therefore, they think it’s amazing. They didn’t realise that their son or daughter could work this hard. It’s a showcase for the parents more than anything else,” Graham said.

The exhibition isn’t just for friends and family, though. Anyone can browse the art in its new venue. “We have this show every year, but this is the first year that we’ve done it at The Grosvenor,” said Graham. “We historically used to do it at Shaftesbury Arts Centre, but the course has outgrown the space there. We used to have probably ten students doing art at A-level. Then in the last five or six years, we’ve grown to forty students doing art, graphics or textiles.”

Graham says that Shaftesbury School has developed a good reputation for creativity. “I think that our school is a beacon for good art and design. I really do believe that. I think that we’re also benefiting from a really strong year this year. We have got a number of students who are going on to do graphics, art or textiles at university. We often get one who is going to go to architecture or one going to be a designer. This year we’ve got probably half of them that are going on to do something artistic at university.”

Some of the students hope to pursue art professionally. Isaac Butt would love to find a job or apprenticeship in graphics, particularly if he can follow the minimalist design style he enjoys. “I use typography and different symbols that you might find on a keyboard and then create a different image from that. I like doing a lot of gaming marketing stuff, too,” Isaac explained.

Graham says this art showcase can bring the young artists work opportunities. “One student who is not going to go to university has already got a job as a graphic designer. Tonight, one of our students has been approached by someone who could get him work in the games industry. He wants to be a game designer,” said Graham.

Students have created branding, the designs and logos on labels and packaging, for a host of imaginary products, from beers to tee shirts. “The whole of the work in the middle of the room is the graphic designers, the biggest cohort that we have at A-level. We have 18 students,” said Graham. The design is impressive, and the overall impression is of a polished and commercially focused display.

One of Isaac’s pieces was branding for an imaginary coffee shop chain. “They just said, ‘they are a coffee company, here’s the name, revitalise their image, do what you want, just make them into a company’. So I looked at different existing ones, like Nescafe, and thought, ‘what can I do with what I see here and my skill?’ I came up with what you see on the board here. From what I’ve done, if there’s anyone that looks at it and thinks ‘he might be able to help us here’ then hopefully it will boost me and get me out there,” said Isaac.

Isaac Butt with his artwork

He stood next to a display board featuring an image of a takeaway coffee cup sporting the logo of ‘Lovezzo’. Another mock-up presented the made-up café’s store frontage. The design colours included red, green and white, from Italy’s flag, to instantly convey the concept of Italian coffee. The letter ‘o’ from the brand name was portrayed as a coffee bean. “It just tells you straight away, without there being too much on it,” said Isaac.

Graham says he’s proud that many browsers quickly forget that this is a school exhibition. “I think that we forget that these are still students, still children really. You look at the work and you think, ‘I couldn’t do that when I was 17 years old’. That’s what I’m most proud of. They are hardworking and the standard is already there,” Graham added.

You can continue to view the students’ work until 1st July.