23 March 2020

Cambridge offer and competition wins mark Spring Term success for Dhanesh

Spring Term brought good news for Upper Sixth student Dhanesh Jegatheesan, as he was awarded a coveted Cambridge offer, and then followed that up with victory in two competitions.

The John Lyon Art Scholar and Prefect received his Cambridge offer from Churchill College at the end of January, giving him a conditional place to study alongside the 500 other undergraduates at what is one of the university’s modern colleges which boasts 32 Nobel Prize winners amongst its fellowship.

Dhanesh, who has made the John Lyon Art Department a second home since beginning at John Lyon in 2014, was thrilled at his hard work being recognised by one of the world’s foremost universities, and thankful to those who had helped get him to this point.

He said: “I could have never have expected myself to get an offer from Cambridge; it was only ever a thought in my dreams. Opening that email from Churchill brought great euphoria and has motivated me to strive even harder for the very best. I aspire to become one of the greatest architects, such as Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid, and this offer is a big step for me to fulfil this goal. I spent my previous summer holidays doing work experiences at architecture firms, which helped give me an idea of what the job an architect does in order to help society, and it has now become a passion of mine. Cambridge is considered one of the best universities in the world, and their renowned supervision system would help me aim for the highest achievements. There was no doubt that I would apply to Churchill College, with its vast art collection and highly admirable modern architecture.

“I cannot thank John Lyon enough for the support that they have given me. I would’ve never applied if it wasn’t for the confidence of Ms Haynes and Mr Rowe, who believed that I could get into Cambridge. The Art Department has helped me immensely to the lead up to the interview, with the guidance of Ms Hope and support of Mr Brown. Mr Mepham also helped me hone my personal statement, so I could put into words all my reasons for wanting to become an architect.”

Alongside the work needed to complete his final year at John Lyon, as well as playing in the 1st XI Hockey team and captaining the 1st XI Cricket team, Dhanesh also found time to enter his work into two competitions, both inside and outside School.

With future plans to redesign The Mall, the large central area of the main School building, in February students were asked to submit their ideas and designs for what the space could look like, with shortlisted entries then presented them to a panel of judges which included the Head, the Bursar and special invited guest Angus Goodwin, architect at London firm ZMMA.

Having been whittled down from more than 50 entries, the final saw six Sixth Form students joined by three pupils in Year 7 and 8, all of whom presented interesting, well thought through proposals for the future of the Mall.

It was Dhanesh’s design which caught the judges’ eyes the most, with its study balcony, green wall, smart canopy and art exhibition space. Dhanesh’s ideas will now go on to planning and feasibility, with the hope that elements of his design can be incorporated into the future Mall work.

And finally, in March, there was one final victory for Dhanesh, as he won the 2020 Whitefriars Art Competition, a contest to celebrate the best young artists in Harrow Borough. Dhanesh’s oil on canvas work, Speechless, which looks at how art can communicate issues related to mental health, took the main prize at the award ceremony.

Explaining his work, Dhanesh said: “I wanted to portray how mental health affects people, especially men because they are less likely to speak out about it. When taking the initial photo I decided to use the cling film as a symbol for how we feel about this issue, being restrained and not willing to talk about it to keep our ‘manliness’, because apparently it is not ok for men to cry or show any signs of weakness in society. I asked the model to express anger and frustration, while using a purple/pink light from the side as a reminder of the mental health problems which are always lurking inside our heads.”

Furthermore, Lower Sixth student Adam George was named a runner-up and James Rosario (also L6) being highly commended. It was the second consecutive Whitefriars win for John Lyon, with Zak Samak (OL2019) having won in 2019.