‘Imagination is superior to knowledge’ – a statement by Einstein used on one exhibit at the Creative Show, which also aptly described the flourishing of ideas in this wonderful exhibition of students’ work at Longley Park Sixth Form College. This is not, of course, supposed to undermine the knowledge and understanding taught in other academic areas at the college!!
There was a real end-of-year celebratory buzz of appreciative visitors to the college at the preview evening on Monday 4th June. The display then ran for the rest of the week.
The show covered works of Art and Design, Textiles, Product Design, Music, Photography, Media, Dance and Performance.
What struck me, and others, was the confidence that students felt that enabled them to express, not only optimism, fun, and quirky visions of life, but also anxieties and concerns about current problems, such as alcohol abuse and child neglect.
Although much of the work was the product of a given topic for a unit, it was refreshing to see the diversity of approaches to a subject. For example, ‘Time’ was a title for a photography project. This produced clever, evocative studies of fashion photography styles over several decades, but in contrast there was also a series of images portraying minute sequences in domestic routines – fetching in morning milk, preparing fruit juice.
The following comments are from students, parents, and visitors that I talked to afterwards –
‘inspired by quality of the teaching’,
‘students have really developed’,
‘kids helped to find their own style and means of expression’,
‘really good relationships with the teachers’,
‘one of the performances was fantastically brave’,
‘encouraged to do whatever we wanted’,
‘really showed their potential’,
‘my son has done really well’,
‘over the year my daughter has moved from small scale controlled drawings to large expressive oil paintings.’…
On the preview evening, I walked around the exhibition at least twice to try to pick up on the range of the work and some of the detail. I was impressed by two David Hockney style views of Ladybower and the Humber Bridge; images of a girls’ football team and also a pleasingly non- star-studded portrayal of local football, demonstrating ‘commitment and determination’. There were superimposed shots of babies nestling in flowerheads, alongside a representation of an ignored child bunched up under a table overhearing parents fighting.; there were clever distorted photos of break-dancers, several promotion posters for gigs, images of Sheffield – a welding workshop, the new railway station in photos and 3D models.
Paintings included striking large scale human heads, a wildly colourful domestic interior and big, bold abstract canvases. A conceptual art exhibit showed the everyday and the exotic – the Royal Mail uniformed postman on his daily rounds, but later breaking out into women’s underwear. There were also interesting textile exhibits – patterns, materials – the dress made from newspaper and wall paper. I missed the performing arts shows, but heard enthusiastic, favourable reports on the solo performance and the dance sessions.
Longley Sixth Form College offers a range of courses – A Levels, BTEC National Diplomas, BTEC First Diplomas and National Awards – in various different subject areas. The students are very well served by the quality of the teaching and resources at the college. Congratulations – this show was impressive!