Art is of great importance to pupils at John Lyon, with many pursuing a desire to create artworks in a great range of media through their time at School, whether or not they study Art as an academic subject.

The John Lyon Art Department offers a creative working environment filled with professional equipment. Our facilities include a suite of computers in every classroom featuring extensive art and graphic packages, as well as a print and animation studio. A darkroom and studio lighting ensure that we can support and foster budding photographers.

Every day sees an Art club of some description, including Portrait Club, Watercolour Club and Open Studio.

Our pupils’ artwork is displayed all around the School site, but notably in the Mall Gallery, where we have at least five major art exhibitions every year.

Recent work

Year 7s have been learning the art of mark making, drawing insects in black ink, using only natural tools, including twigs, feathers and leaves gathered from St Mary’s churchyard on the Hill.

The lockdown period brought creativity closer to home for Sixth Form student Odin, who created a set of detailed sketches of his home for his A-Level portfolio.

Each year, A-Level and GCSE students’ portfolio and examination work is displayed in the Mall Gallery. During the lockdown, 2020’s work was shown online.

Photography continues to be a popular option, with 200 pupils entering the most recent House Photography Competition.


Art competitions have proven a valuable way for pupils and students to hone their craft, and success has come in the form of back-to-back wins in the Whitefriars Art Competition, a contest to celebrate the best young artists in Harrow Borough.

In 2020 Dhanesh Jegatheesan (OL2020) won with his oil on canvas work, Speechless, which looked 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.”

It was the second consecutive Whitefriars win for John Lyon, with Zak Samak (OL2019) having won in 2019 with his Mediterranean Landscape.

2019 saw works by Zak Samak (OL2019) and Fritz Storp (OL2019) displayed on the Royal Academy’s website as part of its first ever Young Artists’ Summer Show, a new initiative inspired by the Academy’s world-famous Summer Exhibition, which has run every year since 1769. Designed to showcase artworks by talented artists aged 7-19 from the UK and beyond, the online display contains 329 works, which were chosen from more than 6,200 submissions.

In submitting Charcoal Self-Portrait, Zak wrote: “In this piece I have used charcoal to create a self-portrait reflecting the complexity of human emotion. The sketchiness of the charcoal and the dark tones reflect the ambiguity of the self in adolescence, and the focus on selected expressive points of the face convey a sense of vulnerability.”

Of Anatomical Stitch-Up, created with embroidery on linen, Fritz wrote: “I wanted to change the way people viewed the insides of our bodies from something that can be gory for some to something unique and pleasing to look at, yet still semi accurate. The idea behind the piece was to bring what is on the inside of the body to the outside.”

artistic success for John Lyon pupils artistic success for John Lyon pupils

Our Artistic History

The popularity of Art goes back a long way at John Lyon and many pupils have gone on to careers in related areas, notably architecture and graphic design.