On Thursday 21st January 13 GCSE and A Level students were joined by Mr Spence, Miss Fretche and myself on a trip to Penang to take part in the ISAE art weekend organized by Uplands School. After a nice ‘relaxing’ start to the day we arrived in Penang and met with the 3 other schools taking part in the intensive art workshops being held by practicing artists and architects. Randy and Judith, the organizers, encouraged the students to meet and make new friends from the beginning by giving them various activities to do which encouraged them to perhaps step out of their comfort zones; this included yoga poses, group interaction and stretches.
The Friday brought with it an early start (the first of 3) and a very busy day. After breakfast we all met and went to the Spice Gardens as our first stop for image collection and experimentation. Here the students took photographs and drew the various plants, spices, insects and monkeys that were to be found amongst the jungle the garden was set in. Some students had photographs printed out and worked on top of these using the things around them to manipulate their images, others went to the sea and developed ideas there. Lunch was mountains of sandwiches and buckets of pasta which ensured full stomachs were had by all and gave energy for the next part of the busy day.
After lunch the groups split up into their chosen workshop areas in order to collect more information for their particular projects. They visited relevant art exhibitions and parts of Georgetown then to arrived at the studios that they would be creating their artwork in. Each group was based in various parts of the city. The painting groups were either at Uplands School or at a working gallery/studio in Little India, the drawing group at an amazing house belonging to one of the instructors and the printmaking group set up at an old mansion amongst high rise buildings near to the sea. Each place gave the students inspiration and ideas and enough space to really develop ideas without feeling constrained. Friday evening we all went to a local Indian restaurant where food was served on banana leafs and the daring ate with their hands.
Saturday morning was another early one, starting off with Randy’s breathing and stretching activities, something that we all got used to. We all then dispersed to relevant studios to work on individual art pieces inspired by the surroundings of Penang and the instructors. Students were in their relevant workshops from about 0900 to 1730. They were focused and creative throughout this, something that was extremely impressive. Amazing pieces of work were created and great experimentation was developed. Saturday evening was spent at Batu Ferringhi where some well earned free time was spent shopping and eating. By the time 2130 came all students, and staff, were exhausted and ready for bed……ready for the final early start and last day of the trip.
Sunday morning arrived too quickly, and after everyone had checked out of their rooms we all headed to Uplands School to add the finishing touches and to hang the exhibition. Once the work was on the walls it looked even more impressive and really showed off the skills and talent of every student. Once all work was hung the students had to explain what they had done to the rest of the group, something that can be quite intimidating; however all our St John students were brilliant and made Mr Spence, Miss Fretche and myself very proud. A big lunch followed and then our plane journey home.
Thank you to all students who made this trip an amazing experience and for working so incredibly hard throughout the entire trip. You have created some amazing pieces of work, well done!