House Art Competition 2016

House Art Competition 2016

In February, the Pasmore Gallery welcomed the much-anticipated House Art exhibition. The space featured nearly 200 works by boys from all year groups.

Art captains in each of the 12 Houses had curated the works and there was eager competition for the grand prize, a palette-shaped trophy, as well as the numerous individual Highly Commended prizes. Ms Lorna Hope, Head of Art at The John Lyon School, adjudicated the competition.

In anticipation of the exhibition, the art captains could be seen with spirit levels in hand and pencils tucked behind their ears as they prepared their spaces under the oversight of their designated Beak. In the spirit of the Royal Academy’s Summer Show, wall space was maximised in a celebration of Harrow’s art scene, featuring work from all departments, including exciting sculptural works produced at the new art space in Churchill Schools. This variety was reflected in Ms Hope’s selections for the evening’s prizes.

Third place for the overall competition was awarded to the The Head Master’s. The work was captained by Ed Rowe, whose own piece was a highlight of the exhibition. His three large caskets represented a memento mori in response to the Paris attacks. They provided sensitive, thought-provoking windows into a destruction scene, with half-submerged items in soil. The installation piece had traces of Ai Weiwei’s show at the Royal Academy. Cameron White’s black-and-white photographs of London brilliantly evoked the poignant quality of city life; lone figures and detached people filled space in gritty scenes. The House also featured the winning entry for the Shell category, Freddy Anton-Smith’s portrait of a young girl executed with superb technical ability.

Second place was awarded to Elmfield. The pieces had been curated by Ben Maxwell and shared a somber quality. This was most evident in Oliver Atkinson’s distressed portraits made with ink and torn paper layers. It was accompanied by Ned Salvin’s moving photograph of a perched man desolate with news of his diagnosis; the use of light was particularly impressive. Maxwell’s paintings showed virtuosic handling of oil paints and colour in his flesh-like paintings of popcorn and stuffing. His painting of a fish foetus, having made its debut at the Ghoti exhibition last week, impressed the new crowd. Ms Hope prized two of the pieces on show. Anthony Cho’s sensitive portrait of a woman won the evening’s drawing prize and Pasa Suksmith won in the Remove category for his etchings praised for their “wonderful sense of depth”.

First place was awarded to Rendalls. Delicate draughtsmanship was to be seen in Luca Pittalis and Harvey Fry’s work of London monuments. Henry Adeson’s pen drawing of a screaming lady in profile had the touch of delicate academic drawing and its composition gave it a modern air. His crosshatching was masterfully achieved. Tom Thacker won the Lower Sixth prize for his photographs of London and Cambridge. His original photographs were projected onto bin bags and recaptured to mark them with creases to achieve a rugged, nostalgic feel. His innovative process set it apart. The Upper Sixth price was awarded to Lennaert Woudt for his chalk portrait. Dusting chalk and charcoal powder onto a self-made paper surface had produced the ghost-like face. This piece was placed above a triptych of Lucian Freud-inspired portraits.

The Fifth Form prize was awarded to Harry Toller of Druries. Ms Hope commended his painting of a stadium scene for effectively using the subjects in the foreground to render a sense of proximity. Toller was especially successful at conveying the sense of crowding with Lowry-like figures in the background. Will Bryant, also of Druries, produced a series of striking, small portraits in black-and-white. The subjects bore charged poses and the surface of the paint had been sanded off to reflect the psychological intensity of the pieces.

Ed Bankes, Newlands, produced a fantastic series of ink scenes that captured the transience of London. While the reference photographs were contemporary, the use of sepia tones and loose figures evoked a sense of timelessness. This, in conjunction with the dynamic and spontaneous marks of the ink, gave the city an ephemeral quality. Cityscapes were also present at The Grove. Seb Mahal created a skyline with watered-down blue tones. Details of the buildings were bleached; creating a successful use of negative space. Victor Paul (Moretons) used photoshop to create a dystopian reality with buildings on scorched earth. This was complemented by a tilt-shift effect that created a mirage-like background. Nature was further explored by James Cole (Bradby’s) with his superb paintings of tumultuous cloud formations.

Commentary was made by Jack Wang (The Knoll) on the role of technology in our lives. His humorous reimagining of Hamlet’s “to be or not to be?” was perfectly executed in the form of a chiaroscuro rich photograph. Alex Rutherford (Lyon’s) appealed to the same sense of familiar detachment through his Hopper-esque scene of a petrol station. Rickey Sliwinksi (Lyon’s) and Nick Lau (The Park) were praised for their photographs. Sliwinsky captured the essence of solitary city movements and Nick Lau beautifully captured light in a derelict interior.

Thanks must go to the House Art captains and for curating and assembling their respective spaces and the art technicians for their time and effort in preparing the art schools and artwork for the exhibition. We are especially grateful to Ms Hope for her erudite adjudication and to Mr Hedges for making the competition possible. The evening was a success and we look forward to the next year.

Article by Lennaert Woudt (Rendalls)