On Thursday we left for our first residential trip in two years to Ironbridge and Birmingham with our Lower Sixth Artists. This was an opportunity to launch their A-level course and to visit a range of museums, art galleries and historical sites. Students were encouraged to draw form first hand, to take photographs and to collect information to bring back into the studio to enable further research.
We visited the Bevere Galley contemporary craft gallery and workshops near Worcester on the journey to our base at the YHA Coalport. After supper we did a walking tour along the river Severn looking at a range of historic architectural features.
On Friday morning we visited the Ironbridge and the Bedlam Furnaces to draw. This was followed by work at the Jackfield Tile Works and their contemporary Art space The Fusion Gallery and workshops. The National Trust house Wightwyck Manor and its Arts & Crafts collection inspired students in the afternoon.
Each evening during our stay students were expected to work on their studies from 8.00pm until 10.00pm.
On Saturday we drove to Birmingham to do a walking tour following the canals through the heart of the city. Buildings such as the Round House, The City Library, The Grand Central Station, The Mailbox and Symphony Hall generated a range of ideas. A visit to the Ikon Gallery and Castle Fine Arts encouraged the girls to look at the work of some contemporary artists. The social and multicultural history was evident when we visited the back to backs and China Town. A tour back through the city centre on foot gave a chance to view areas of prosperity and cultural diversity.
Having checked out of the YHA Coalport we visited the reconstructed Victorian Town of Blists Hill for more drawing, photography and interaction with the guides dressed in period costume. Students were given starting points relating to the industrial heritage of the area and conversations with the guides helped students to understand the struggle that workers of the time endured. Due to technical issues at the Barber Institute collection at Birmingham University we were not allowed to visit as planned however a trip to the Bourneville area of the city and to the Cadbury factory shop seemed to boost morale.
Nick Eggleton, Head of Art