Art at the Festival 2014

Art at the Festival is an inspirational display of artwork from the infant and primary schools of Letchworth Partnership of Schools, with an open theme and online competition to pick your favourite. The display was up throughout the Festival at 50 Leys Avenue, Letchworth.

The following schools took part:

Grange Junior School, Hillshott Infants & Nursery School, Northfields Infants & Nursery School, Norton St Nicholas CofE School, Woolgrove Special Needs Academy (Primary), Pixmore Junior School, St Thomas More RC School, Icknield Infants & Nursery School, Lordship Farm School.

Many thanks to:

  • Collette Hoefkens from Norton Way Gallery for judging the competition, kindly donating Gallery Window Space for one week and artist-led workshops for first, second and third place winners.
  • Wendy Marsh of Garden City Framers who donated professional framing for the winning picture.
  • Sylvia Daintrey (Letchworth Partnership of Schools) and Alastair Stewart (Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation) for judging Best in Window.
  • Jane Glynn who donated a handpainted invitation to take a tour of the Fenners Building, meet the artists and take part in workshops.
  • Mel Wold (Letchworth Festival 2014 chairman) for judging the Chairman's Favourite and donating the trophy and framed certificates.
  • Denise Poynter for offering the window at 50 Leys Avenue to host the display and excellent MC for the prize giving.
  • Special guest prize presenters at the prize giving: Kim Barratt - Love Letchworth, Sam Alexander - Letchworth Arts Centre, Rebecca Leek - Rhapsode and Dot to Dot Craft Gallery.

Here are the winners, each with Collette's critique:

First Prize

Girl Through Train Window
Girl Through Train Window
by Alice Thornton
Lordship Farm Primary School

This powerful painting, by Alice Thornton, immediately arrested me. Again and again I was drawn back to it. Sombre and sad, it commands a huge amount attention and reflection.

Her choice to paint in monotone quickly suggests a period for the painting. Reminding us of old black and white films, she has made an interesting connection to her subject matter. The figure appears to be on a train and her tears suggest she is leaving, someone or somewhere, in very unhappy circumstances. For me her message, borne out of her studies of World War II, quickly reveals itself.

Alice has striven to capture the sense of depression and loneliness. I feel that she has done this with very sophisticated visual economy and some good observation skills.

Second Prize

Mountain Landscapes
Mountain Landscapes
by Alexandra Hill
Norton St Nicholas School

There are many things that drew me to this piece of work. Depth, brushwork, composition and intrigue!

I admire the way the artist has achieved perspective, not just with line but also with colour, tone and brushwork. The foreground is darker but brighter than the mountains beyond. Thus we see and accept the mountains as being further away. The darkness of the foreground urges us to step into and through the painting, travelling towards the lighter distance beyond. Not only has this created depth and space, it also urges the viewer to interact and imagine exploring the landscape. The distinct brushstrokes add to this sense of direction, again creating depth and leading the viewer onwards.

The careful consideration of every inch of the paper has produced a strong composition. Personally, I like to be able to escape into a painting and this piece was both inviting and a little foreboding at the same time. This sort of combination makes a work quite exciting. Immediately one starts to wonder what kind of place these mountains represent.

Third Prize

Lowry Landscapes
Lowry Landscapes
by Rebecca Tweena
Norton St Nicholas School

I was particularly attracted to the strength of composition and completeness in Rebecca's, Lowry inspired, painting. One feels that nothing has been left unconsidered. There is a strong sense of space, depth and an essence of the theatre.

The imposing wall, of industrial type buildings, creates a powerful backdrop to the scene of small, dark, sticklike figures going about their daily business. She has used strong line to suggest the perspective of some of the buildings. This effect has produced a stage type environment. The figures almost appear imprisoned within. There is certainly a feeling that the people in this painting have no means of escape.

Her sombre and earthy colours suggest the dreariness that we often associate with Lowry. Her brighter choices, of oranges and yellows, add to the drama and action of the piece. I feel that Rebecca has produced an exciting and original interpretation of Lowry's work.

Fourth Prize

My House
Inspired by My House
by Cheniel Kimara
Icknield Infant School

I love the use of colour and composition in this painting. There is so much activity in what appears, at first, to be a simple subject.

Cheneil's house is full of rooms and there seems to be something happening in each of them. I enjoy the way that the texture of the brush strokes and the many daubs and dashes of colour, combine to the excitement and motion of the picture.

I feel the understanding of the ground, horizon and sky has produced a very convincing painting from this talented young pupil.

Pick Your Favourite

Dory from Finding Nemo
Dory from Finding Nemo
by Neve Howard
Hillshott School

The Public Vote was won by Neve Howard, for her picture of Dory from Finding Nemo.

Well done Neve, this is a lovely piece of work inspired by “Dory” from “Finding Nemo”.

I am very impressed with the attention to detail with this oil pastel and ink painting. The character has been very well observed and recreated. The colours and markings of the original fish have been faithfully represented. This good use of observation skills has been combined with some excellent experimental techniques to obtain the effect of bubbles and moving currents of the ocean.

Best Infant School

The Sheep
The Sheep
by Seth Richardson
Hillshott School

I was immediately cheered by this lovely piece of work by Seth. I particularly enjoyed the richness of texture in the sheep's wonderful woolly fleece. The contrast between the bubbly coat and the intensely dark face and legs, makes this a strong and simple image.

Seth has caught the startled, wide-eyed look of the sheep so well.

Best Primary School

The Birds and the Bees
The Birds and the Bees
by Rebecca Dock
Pixmore Junior School

This is another very uplifting and cheerful painting.

I really admire the careful way that Rebecca has drawn and painted, each individual, beautiful creature. Her solid and bright colours contrast well with the texture and translucency of the turquoise sky.

Rebecca has created space in her painting by positioning her bird in front of her butterfly and her bee in front of her flower. It is these considerations that help to make the piece a convincing and successful picture.

Best In Window

Shell Design
Shell Design
by Alice Willans
Lordship Farm Primary School

This is another wonderful example of original printmaking. Alice has used a process that takes quite a few stages to achieve her desired results. Well done Alice, this requires a lot of forethought and stamina.

Alice has created four prints from her original polystyrene plate. By placing and arranging them, carefully, together she has produced an exciting geometric type pattern. Alice's work demonstrates beautifully how each print, taken from her initial plate is unique and original.

The choice of such powerful colours as blue and red has added a strong dynamic to her composition.

Chairman's Favourite

by Aaliyah Miles
Woolgrove School

What a beautiful and uplifting piece of work.

I am very fond of original printmaking and this piece uses a very traditional printing technique. Applying different colours of paints or inks to one wing of the butterfly, the colours can be transferred to the other wing by folding the butterfly in half. When opened, the colours have mingled and interacted producing beautiful mixes and combinations of colours and marks. The original daubs of colour have now created an organic symmetrical pattern.

It can take many attempts to create the desired effect. This very successful piece captures all the transient beauty of the fluttering wings and also the wonderful fragile softness of the butterfly's body.

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