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.

Year 7 and Year 8 | core subject

Art at John Lyon School is based on teaching pupils the traditional skills, from which they can develop and express ideas in a variety of media and styles. We focus on drawing, painting, printmaking and 3D skills as well as developing contextual knowledge related to a broad range of artists. 

Pupils are motivated and prepared to experiment with both media and ideas to develop a broad range of skills, which they will continue to develop as they progress through the School. 

In Year 8, pupils develop their research skills through exploration of the work of artists and designers, which is then combined with practical skills development. The focus is to develop knowledge and understanding of media and processes to communicate ideas considering IT, print, 3D and fine art. 

Year 9 | option subject

By the third year Art becomes an option subject, giving pupils a further year of studying Art before making a decision about GCSE choices. 

In Year 9 we review pupils’ skills to date and access the students who enter the school at 13+, through a series of drawing and observational exercises. From this we develop all pupils’ skills through differentiated teaching and learning, with a focus on traditional skills and creativity. We also focus on developing pupils’ analytical skills through written and verbal studies of artists, individual and peer work, focusing on the use of appropriate artistic terminology. Pupils complete the ‘portraiture’ project where they explore the work of artists and designers to produce a body of work based on the theme. Leading to exploration of the self, represented by traditional portraiture, this leads into a graphic pop art project as the year continues. 

Year 10 and 11, GCSE | option subject

At GCSE we follow a fine art syllabus, allowing pupils and teachers to focus on the development of traditional drawing and painting skills alongside more contemporary disciplines including graphics, animation, print and 3D work. Knowledge and understanding of art, craft and design are developed through research, the development of ideas and making activities work from first-hand experience and, where appropriate, secondary source materials. We encourage personal exploration and experimentation with both ideas and media. All GCSE Art pupils receive excellent access to our studios at lunchtime and after school. 

Sixth Form, A-Level | option subject

A-Level Art and Design (Fine Art) introduces students to a variety of experiences exploring a range of media, processes and techniques. Areas of study include painting, drawing and mixed media, collage and assemblage, sculpture and installation, printmaking, animation, photography and video. A printmaking, photographic and animation studio is housed in AD3, as well as two purpose-built classrooms, a kiln room and photographic darkroom. Students are encouraged to use these facilities during free periods, lunchtimes and before school to develop their individual work. 

A qualification in Art and Design demonstrates a student’s capacity to construct and develop a sustained line of reasoning from an initial starting point to a final realisation. It will also allow students to develop enquiry skills as well as the ability to modify and refine work as it progresses, visually presenting ideas and research. 

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.

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

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.