Artist Sets Up Exhibition in School

February saw us welcoming our first ever “Artist in Residence” week here at St Faith’s. Artist Paul Hobbs, who exhibits in a variety of contexts including galleries, art centres, schools, churches, cathedrals and festivals, took over Ashburton Hall, turning it into his own personal gallery.

The exhibition entitled ‘The Heart of Things’ includes figurative, abstract and conceptual images, news articles and ready-made objects. Variously playful, disconcerting, heart-warming and thought-provoking, the works exhibited reflect on the questions of life and its timeless concerns – compassion, justice and human dignity – in a context of faith. With wooden blocks coloured like liquorice allsorts and coated with news headlines, a table set curiously for dinner complete with live goldfish, a circle of shoes arranged around a tree, there is plenty to amuse, challenge and intrigue here.

Margaret White, Director of Studies, at St Faith’s, who commissioned Paul Hobbs, commented, “I am delighted that we have Paul Hobbs with us for the week. It is a wonderful opportunity for the children to engage with an artist in person and to look at and discuss painting, sculpture and installation pieces in detail. Paul’s work addresses big ideas which matter to us all – such as compassion, justice and faith –in a way which is intriguing, engaging and thought-provoking.”

As we progressed through the week and an increasing number of people engaged with the art, whether staff, pupils, parents or local residents, all came away with a deeper understanding of the meanings and themes that Paul urges people to explore. “It was great to see the children engaging with the art and hearing their thoughts on what it meant to them. It was particularly exciting to see them with the more interactive pieces and to see how they engaged with those.”

The exhibition further enriched the ongoing work that pupils are undertaking in their art classes and gave another opportunity for them to engage with art in a new way. Head of Art, Debbie Bowes said: “This week provided a great opportunity for the children to meet a real artist and hear first-hand, about the thought processes that go behind creating a piece of art. It was also fantastic to hear Paul unpack the meaning behind his art and for pupils to question him on this.”

Year 8 pupil James H said of Paul Hobbs’ art: “Very impressive and thought provoking art, very diverse.”

Margaret White concluded: “The exhibition has proved to be all that we hoped, receiving tremendously warm appreciation by both staff and pupils. It has generated a lot of excitement but also reflection. It has been a pleasure to see our pupils looking intently at the exhibits, not only in their Art lessons, but voluntarily spending their own break and lunchtimes to look further, engage with the interactive pieces and talk with Paul about his work and the big ideas it addresses. One piece which seems to have intrigued many children is the installation ‘Holy Ground’, made up of pairs of shoes donated by Christians from diverse parts of the world, and telling their stories of finding light, love and hope to live by.”

To see a video that was made especially for this occasion by the Cambridge Evening News, click here.


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