The School was once again transformed into an impressive gallery space, in which GCSE and A Level Art, Photography, Graphic Design and Media Studies work were displayed. Maryam Eisler, mother to Ariana (13P), member of the Tate International Council, art book editor and patron of the arts, officially declared this year’s exhibition open.
She spoke enthusiastically about the importance of art in society, complimenting Harrodian on its ability to provide a richly artistic and creative education (her full speech can be read and is attached below). She was particularly impressed by the passion injected into all the artwork – whether in the form of film, painting, graphics, sculpture or installations. Maryam also very kindly donated Art Studio America books that were given to all the Upper Sixth art students on leaving the School this year. Congratulations to all the students on the high quality of artwork submitted and to all the teaching staff for their hard work.
Welcome Address - Harrodian Senior Art, Photography, Graphic Design and Media Studies Exhibition
by Mrs Maryam Eisler
It is my great pleasure to be here today with you sharing the fruits of your often arduous, but always joyful artistic endeavours.
Having had the privilege of visiting over 200 artist studios in the last three years, both here and over the pond, I can state that what I see here today has great promise. You should all be proud of your achievements.
I would particularly like to thank the Harrodian art department and Mr Hooke for having invited me to share a few thoughts with you here today, and I must confess that I accepted this challenging invitation without a moment’s hesitation, as I am as passionate about artistic production as I am about arts education. And it all starts right here - with you.
The arts, in all their forms, are not only an integral part of our history and society but they are most importantly a vital component of cultural transformation.
Shakespeare’s language has become part of our everyday life, enabling us to express every feeling, from hatred to envy to love. Great architecture gives us a glimpse into man’s genius and insatiable ambition. Powerful paintings offer complex emotions, from war to existential angst, from self doubt to affirmation, from religious to carnal passion, allowing us to connect the past to the present, possibly even giving us opportunities to view the future in a different light.
The arts’ emotional and social content permit people to reach beyond their daily lives and look into each other’s souls, separate from religious or political sentiments, unencumbered by dogma and agenda. In fact, I am always first to say that where politics fails, art and culture win- allowing for a forum of free expression and dialogue void of intellectual and geographic barriers.
Imagine a society without the civilising influence of the arts. Take the collective memory away from our museums; remove music from our schools; ditch theatre and consign dance to the periphery …. and you're left with a society bereft of a national conversation … a society without identity and individuality - one without the colours of hope and the spirit of continuity.
You are all lucky to be attending the Harrodian, a school that has consciously chosen to place such emphasis on artistic education- and this, especially at a time when there is national curriculum and government budgetary pressures to reduce the time and financial support for the arts.
A little strange, if you ask me, given that the creative industries have been growing three times as fast, in proportion to the national economy.
Your school leads the way in understanding the importance prioritizing the arts. It is NOT about creating artists, necessarily, but it IS about allowing students to think out of the box, to try and better understand themselves and the world they live in.
It is also about offering different ways of expressing thoughts, experiences and feelings with a new language - enabling satisfaction through creation whilst grasping a profound sense of the values that permit civilised life to go on.
On a final note, I believe that what distinguishes a great school from others is its ability to help its students prepare for a rich, meaningful and engaged life that goes well beyond university placements, job titles and salary levels… Helping students acquire life-long skills such as analytical thinking, clarity in written and spoken expression, collaboration with others, and creativity, all of which can be developed through the arts.
So go out there and imagine the unimaginable. Think differently and always passionately. Create with your mind and let the logic of your heart speak through your art.