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15th June 2018 – Ars gratia artis: Art for Art’s Sake

Some of you will recognise this Latin phrase from the logo of the film company MGM (the one with the roaring lion); others of you will perhaps, like me, remember it is as a cracking 10CC song written back in 1975 and on the album “How Dare you!” I am married to a professional artist and one of the things that I love doing is visiting art galleries and exhibitions with my wife. Over the years I must have been to dozens of different exhibitions all over the world. Memories that stand out for me include visiting Barcelona and being inspired by the visually arresting architecture of Gaudi in Parc Guell, Caso Mila and, of course, the incredible Sagrada Familia. A couple of Easters ago we also had the opportunity to visit Rome where there is stunning art, sculpture and architecture literally at every turn. The Vatican was simply mind-blowing as there is so much to take in; definitely too much for one visit. My favourite moment in Rome though was admiring the superb Bernini sculpture, Apollo and Daphne which was created between 1622-1625:

The story being told here may be known to some of you. When Apollo (aka Phoebus) glimpses Daphne he is filled with wonder at her beauty and consumed with desire. He pursues her but she has been struck by Cupid’s love-repelling arrow (I think today’s equivalent might be Lynx deodorant?) and this forces her to deny the love of men. As Apollo finally catches her she pleads with her father, Peneus, to “destroy the beauty that has injured me, or change the body that destroys me life”.

It is this very dynamic moment that Bernini captures in breath-taking beauty and with such a delicate touch. As we observe the sculpture and move around it we can see Daphne in the throes of turning into a laurel tree. The skill of the sculptor is quite remarkable and the piece had a profound impact on me when I saw it in Rome.
It has been great to have had the opportunity to be up in the Kingsley School Art Room looking at the work our GCSE and A level art pupils have produced this summer. We have a fantastically well-equipped Art Department at Kingsley. I am very excited about how art at the school might progress in the coming years as pupils become adept at new techniques and skills, including photography in our recently constructed dark room.

My thanks go to Ms Southam, Miss Timms and Mr Dickinson for all that they are doing to inspire our artistic pupils; it is exciting to think what the future may hold!
This really will be a week of art for me as on Friday Debs and I have the tremendous privilege of travelling
up to London to the Private View of our youngest daughter’s (Sophia) Art Show as she comes to the end of her 3 year degree course at Chelsea College of Art, right next door to Tate Britain. She has had an amazing time, studying both in the heart of London and also spending a year studying in Budapest through the ERASMUS programme. I am very excited about seeing my daughter’s work and watching her enjoying being in the limelight along with the rest of her peers on the degree course. Perhaps some of our own pupils might consider a similar path once they leave Kingsley?

We welcomed pupils from West Down and Berrynarbor schools into the Art department this week as well. The pupils were at Kingsley, under the guidance of our Head of Art, Lorayne Southam, to start a project on pottery, totem-poles and glazing. It was great to see the Art Department buzzing with the pupils making clay pots to represent their “Spirit Animals”. We will be welcoming the children back next term to glaze and fire their pots and then we will also be running an additional session for them to help them understand the science behind firing and glazing a pot.

Whatever you might be doing this weekend, I hope that you have a wonderful time and if you ever get the chance to be in Rome, please do visit the Villa Borghese and say hello to Apollo & Daphne from me…

Pete Last – Headmaster

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