Art & Design

“If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint”

                                                                        (Edward Hopper)

In Art and Design pupils develop their skills through a wide variety of media in both 2 and 3 dimensions.  Pupils develop hand-eye co-ordination, problem solving and fine motor skills; transferrable skills that stand them in good stead for all career choices. The Art and Design courses offer lots of scope for personalisation and choice.  Specialisms offered include; fashion/textile design, jewellery design, architecture and product design.  As drawing is at the very heart of all that we do, special emphasis is placed on observational drawing, which is reinforced through the use of regular homework.  Each year of the course is designed such that it builds on prior learning and reinforces an awareness of the visual elements.  Pupils develop literacy in Art and Design through written work, group discussion and individual response.  The study of Art and Design equips pupils with the necessary skills to succeed in a wide variety of careers in the creative industries.

In S1-S3 (the Broad General Education) pupils gain confidence in using a variety of materials and techniques in both 2 and 3 dimensions.  Each year pupils study both Expressive and Design, which forms the structure of the SQA courses in S4 and S5.  Where opportunities exist in the community we aim to feed this into the courses.  For example, Artists in Residence have come in to school to work with S1 and S2 pupils on various projects. An S2 class are visiting the University of Highlands and Islands STEM Hub to work with a Graphic Design Company on branding and will have input towards the design of a new logo for the Science Skills Academy. An S2 class completed a brief from Gairloch Rowing Club to design the new colour scheme for their new skiff.

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Pupils with the skiff from Rowing Club.

In addition, pupils have the opportunity to enter various art and photography competitions.  In 2016 one of our S2 pupils won 1st prize in a competition organised by the Scottish Government and was awarded her prize by a Scottish Minister at the Agricultural Show in Edinburgh. Pupils also have the opportunity to visit the ‘Travelling Gallery’ every 2 years.  On the last visit pupils were very fortunate to see a selection of Scottish Turner prize winners and nominees.

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Pupils visiting the Travelling Gallery to see ‘Eyes on the Prize’ exhibition.

Pupils choosing Art in S4 will follow coursework from the National Courses or Higher and will be presented for a course suitable for their level of ability.  In special circumstances, pupils of outstanding ability can be presented for Higher level in S4. Pupils continue to develop painting and drawing skills in the Expressive Unit of work and choose topics of personal interest for their Design Units. These courses offer lots of scope for personalisation and choice and pupils usually achieve very good grades at National 5 level.

Pupils choosing Higher Art would normally have a pass at ‘A’ or ‘B’ grade at National 5 level. Pupils follow similar coursework to the National 5 course although work would be expected to be of much higher standard.

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Examples of Higher Costume and Jewellery Design

The Art Department produce the School Calendar which is normally launched at the annual Art Exhibition which showcases all the work from the certificate courses.  The School Calendar features a selection of work from S1 to S6 and is generously supported by local businesses.  Parents, calendar sponsors and members of the local community are all invited to the opening of the Exhibition.  Pupils take an active role in running this opening, with senior pupils providing musical entertainment whilst pupils from the West Highland College Hospitality.

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Senior pupils will also have the opportunity of going on the annual Art Trip, normally in November/December to Glasgow, to see the Advanced Higher Exhibition of exemplar material as well as visiting other exhibitions, galleries or places of interest.

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S6 pupils at the Turner Prize Exhibition held in Tramway, Glasgow

For entry into the Advanced Higher course pupils would normally be expected to have attained a Higher course award at grade A or B.  In exceptional circumstances, pupils can enter the course having completed a National 5 course award in 4th year.  As there is an in-depth critical analysis included within the course content, a pass at Higher level English is highly desirable.  Due to the volume of practical work required, pupils must exhibit a high level of commitment to the subject, an ability to work independently and to sustain an interest in researching and development visual ideas in their chosen area of study.  Pupils usually follow either Design Activity or Expressive Studies. Studying at AH level would be suitable for pupils who wish to pursue a career in the fields of Art, Design and Architecture.